A Data Visualization Newsletter

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259 ai

Since the release of OpenAI’s ChatGPT a few weeks ago, millions of people have been experimenting with cutting-edge AI tools that can write copy and generate original images. But how do these systems actually work? This article from The Washington Post breaks it down, showing how researchers have used millions of pictures from across the Internet to teach machines how to associate images with words.

259 music

If you’ve gone shopping for holiday gifts at a retail store recently, you may have noticed Christmas music blasting over the speakers. That’s no accident: from malls to grocery stores, highly curated playlists are part of a bigger scheme to create the optimal experience for consumers. Some retailers, like Gap and Old Navy, are now starting to play holiday music in stores before Halloween.

259 climate

New research from UC Berkeley gives us a granular picture of how U.S. households in different areas of the country contribute to climate change. When you look at the data city by city, a clear pattern emerges: households in more densely populated areas tend to emit fewer greenhouse gasses, as they rely less on cars to get around and live in tinier quarters that require less energy to heat. But it’s not just density that matters; higher-income households tend to emit more too.

259 opioid

The rise of fentanyl has brought the opioid crisis in the United States to a head. Twenty years ago, most opioid overdoses were related to prescription painkillers or heroin, not synthetic opioids like fentanyl. But in 2021, opioids took the lives of over 80,000 Americans — more than automobile accidents and suicide — and fentanyl played a role in 88% of those deaths. Bloomberg dives into the data to see how the opioid epidemic got so out of control.

259 dams

Fifteen years ago, the Mekong River carried some 143 million tons of sediment downstream to Vietnamese floodplains each year. Now, estimates suggest that only about a third of those river-borne soils are actually reaching their destination, because China has built numerous hydroelectric dams up river. This has the potential to disrupt life for millions of Vietnamese who rely on the sediment to keep their rice fields intact and productive.