New machine learning algorithm produces "near-perfect" fake human faces

Face-synthesizing algorithms often struggle with facial details like eyes and teeth. These features sometimes get pinned to a fixed spot as a head turns, resulting in an uncanny valley dweller.

A new algorithm, StyleGAN2, fixes this problem and produces "eye-poppingly detailed and correct images." It can also generate never-before-seen cars, churches, and animals.

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Scientists create fake rhino horns to disrupt poacher market

Scientists at Oxford and Fudan University in China have developed a way to make fake rhino horns from horse hair. They hope these phony horns will be used to "confuse the trade," and make poaching less lucrative.

From BBC:

The scientists say the "horn" of a rhino is not like the horn of a cow, but is formed from tufts of tightly packed hair that are glued together by secretions from the animal.

And the team of zoologists in Oxford and molecular scientists in Fudan University in Shanghai have developed a way of compressing and moulding horse hair in a way that looks and feels similar even when the "horn" is cut.

If credible fakes could be produced cheaply, the scientists say it would cut prices and reduce the incentive for killing the rhinos.

"It appears from our investigation that it is rather easy as well as cheap to make a bio-inspired horn-like material that mimics the rhino's extravagantly expensive tuft of nose hair," said Prof Fritz Vollrath, from the University of Oxford's Department of Zoology.

He said he hoped the technique could be used to "confuse the trade, depress prices and thus support rhino conservation".

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Why some people carry passports of countries that no longer exist

Camouflage passports let people pretend to be a citizen of a country other than their own. This video explains the weird world of passports for countries that no longer exist, and how they are used.

You can buy them online. Here's a place that sells camouflage passports and camouflage driver licenses.

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Review of a $100 counterfeit iPhone X

Motherboard reviewed a "device that looks just like an iPhone but is actually an Android that has been reskinned from top-to-bottom to seem as close to an iPhone as is possible... the phone is also loaded with backdoors and malicious apps."

Once I started trying some of Apple’s more recent and advanced features, though, things started going off the rails. Siri’s graphical interface has been recreated, but it doesn’t really work. My favorite thing about the phone is its “Face ID” system. I clicked over to Face ID in the settings menu, clicked “Add a Face ID,” and was hilariously bounced over to the camera, which did manage to draw a green box around my face. It said “Face Added,” and closed. I was then able to unlock the phone with my face. So was literally anyone else who put their face in front of the phone.

Clicking around further betrayed the phone’s actual software: the keyboard is clearly an Android keyboard; when the reskinned App Store crashed, I got a popup notifying me that the “Google Play Store” had malfunctioned. The “Weather” app is just Yahoo! Weather. The Health App is a third party thing that asked me to click cartoon avatars selecting whether I was a “boy or girl.” The “Podcasts” app just opens YouTube. Apple Maps opens Google Maps.

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