Weekly 3 minutes of reading

Weekly ※ Friday 10.02.23

Article author :

François Genette

News addict, geek culture fan, digital tech aficionado and hardcore gamer, François Genette is passionate about everything related to digital. A journalist for nearly 15 years in the major national and local media, he now uses his pen to share his discoveries from the worlds he loves.

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Friday is weekly: a summary of what the team has seen, read, listened to and wants to share with you.

A French robot caterpillar to prevent wasting drinking water

It is French, has the shape of a cyborg caterpillar and slips into the water mains. No, I am not talking about the latest Stephen King, but about an invention which on its own could hold the key to solving part of the growing problem of the shortage of drinking water.

It is Acwa Robotics, a start-up based in Bastia and Aix-en-Provence, in France, which came up with this great idea, rooted in an extremely worrying observation. In France, between 20 and 40% of the drinking water passing through the distribution networks is lost during transport. That is on average 32 billion cubic metres per year. And this whilst studies are forecasting a global deficit of drinking water in the region of 40% around the year 2030.

© ACWA Robotics

The main problem is the very high cost of water mains diagnostics. The work involved in checking the watertightness and condition of the water mains requires the excavation of the pipes, which, considering the hundreds of thousands of kilometres of infrastructure, is quite simply unaffordable, even for a State.

Do you see it coming? By crawling like a caterpillar inside the water mains, the Acwa Robotics autonomous robot can map all of it without any excavation work being required. With its small diameter of 90 mm, it doesn’t even interrupt the water flow. And its integrated sensors and cameras function perfectly well in these circumstances. In short, a simply immense financial gain is in sight, which will stop in its tracks the wasting of billions of cubic metres of water in France alone … before perhaps being used all over the world.

And what if ChatGPT revolutionised video games (as well)

More on future of RPG Games

As you know, I love talking about ChatGPT (a lot). I find this textual AI completely amazing (and scary). But mostly, I sincerely think that we are only at the beginnings of what it could offer us in terms of revolution.

You want an example? Perfect timing, as a pretty crazy new application of the OpenAI programme has just been placed online by seasoned ‘modders.’ Modders? That is the term given to these enthusiastic developers who modify the lines of code of video games in order to change the content in any way they please. 

Here their target is named Mount & Blade II, Bannerlord. This game is what is called an RPG, or Role-Playing Game. In it you basically play a character in a medieval world who can explore it as they wish and who will have adventures during which they can make choices more or less freely. And inevitably, in this world they will encounter a large number of characters, especially inhabitants of the villages they will visit, travellers on long journeys, bandits, etc.

And it is here that ChatGPT steps in. Normally, secondary characters, called NPC for ‘Non-Player Character,’ are simple and repeat on a loop at the most a few lines of pre-written dialogue. But this game’s modders have had the great idea of integrating textual AI into these characters’ dialogue. As a result, they respond to each of your questions in ways which are incredibly realistic whilst staying in the ‘mood’ of the game. It seems totally crazy, but the first trials have produced pretty enjoyable results!

Obviously, this is a mere scrap of the possibilities offered by this new experience. But in it you can see a potential revolution in the way of creating stories through video games, which could again push the realism and the immersion to a level quite simply unimaginable just a few years ago. So I can’t wait for what’s coming next! 

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