Link About It: This Week’s Picks

Dreaming spiders, an AI that fixes roads, a remote-controlled robot surgeon and more this week

This Free AI Tool Fixes Old Photos

GFP-GAN is an open-source photo-restoration tool that uses AI to transform old photos that may have faded over time or become damaged. The algorithm makes an educated guess about missing or damaged details from each image, smoothing out creases and enhancing color. While the AI may not always recreate an exact replica of the original photo, the restored images have been meaningfully impressive. It’s also free and incredibly easy to use, as users only need to upload the image they want to fix, click “restore” and wait for the results. Learn more about the new tool at BGR.

Image courtesy of BGR

Pioneering Japanese Fashion Designer Issey Miyake Dies at 84

This morning, Miyake Design Studio announced the passing of its founder, Issey Miyake, the pioneering Japanese fashion designer who first rose to fame in the ’80s for eye-catching, avant-garde designs. Miyake was born in Hiroshima in 1938 and studied graphic design at Tokyo’s Tama Art University. He moved to Paris where he transitioned from studies at the renowned École de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne to positions with Givenchy and Guy Laroche. In 1988 Miyake introduced his signature micro pleating—born of a proprietary heat treating system that pressed into place permanent accordion-like pleats. Miyake won over many devout collectors, including Steve Jobs (whose signature look included Miyake’s black turtleneck). His designs are enshrined at NYC’s Museum of Modern Art and London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, among other prestigious venues. Read more at CNN.

Image courtesy of PL Gould/Images/Getty Images

Reimagining Roads To Be Walkable and Bike-Friendly, With Help From AI

Streets that cater to pedestrians and bikers not only offer more commuter options, but they also create areas that look and feel community-oriented—as evidenced by Brooklyn-based artist Zach Katz’s new project. Using the second version of DALL-E, the AI system from OpenAI that generates images and art from written descriptions, Katz feeds the program an image from Google Street View with details on how the street should look instead. The program generates a new, redesigned version that often inputs sidewalks, biking lanes, fountains and other public spaces. The new street attests to how accessible areas are welcoming and desirable. Since sharing his project, many people, including council members and urban planners, have reached out to the artist with requests for reimagined roadways. Learn more about how Katz hopes the project can help envision better cities at Bloomberg.

Image courtesy of Zach Katz/OpenAI

New Environmentally-Friendly, Heat-Resistant Plastic is Developed

In developing a new technique to create polymers (large molecules that are composed of smaller, structured molecules), Japanese scientists have opened the door for the creation of environmentally-friendly plastic. These scientific researchers were able to gain control over molecular weight (crucial to the formation of plastic) using two pre-existing techniques called “living cationic polymerization” and “asymmetric cationic polymerization.” This novel strategy allowed them to manipulate benzofuran, a naturally-derived precursor to a polymer that is chemically recyclable, heat resistant and transparent. “While polybenzofuran is not used as a commercially available plastic, it has a stiffer molecular structure and a higher glass transition temperature than polystyrene. We see it being used as a new plastic with good thermal properties,” says Mineto Uchiyama, a researcher from the study and lecturer at the Graduate School of Engineering at Nagoya University. Read more about the innovation at

Image courtesy of Journal of the American Chemical Society 2022

New Study Suggests Spiders Dream

In a new study, researchers from the University of Konstanz in Germany discovered that spiders, specifically the jumping spider species Evarcha arcuata, experience moments of rapidly shifting eye movement while they sleep—a sign that indicates they may be dreaming. These twitches are similar to that of other animals who experience REM sleep, the phase in slumber in which dreaming occurs. To find more concrete proof of a dream state, the ecologists will continue to observe spiders, experimenting with rousing spiders from slumber to ascertain how much they depend on sleep or if they are just resting their eyes. While the research is still ongoing, the study has raised interesting questions about sleep’s purpose and evolution, reflecting how humans and animals may be more alike than previously thought. Read more about it at The Wall Street Journal.

Image courtesy of Daniela C Rößler

Remote-Controlled Robots Could Perform Surgeries in Space

Slated to board the International Space Station in 2024, MIRA—which stands for Miniaturized In-Vivo Robotic Assistance—is a remote-controlled surgical robot created by Virtual Incision Corporation, a Nebraska-based medical technology company that recently signed a contract with NASA. The robot is purported to perform medical surgeries by being remotely guided from Earth, a service that could provide longterm help aboard deep space missions. MIRA is uniquely suited for the undertaking as it weighs only two pounds. While it still has to undergo further testing before it performs lifesaving surgeries, the invention could be a major development for health providers who need to reach people in remote areas—whether in space or on Earth. Learn more about it at Futurism.

Image courtesy of Virtual Incision Corporation

New Online Encyclopedia Spans Palestinian Art and History

Launched by the Institute for Palestine Studies and The Palestinian Museum in Birzeit, the Interactive Encyclopedia of the Palestine Question is a free interactive resource that journeys through Palestine’s history, art and culture. The platform, which is in English as well as Arabic, is comprised of four chapters: Beginners commences in 1795 with the development of icon painting; Pathfinders stretches across a period of art in the mid-1900s that was predominately pioneered by refugees; Explorers includes censored works that were created under occupation; and Present Tense: New Directions is a chapter on international and conceptual art. There is also a section devoted to Palestinian embroidery that details how the Nakba (the Arabic word for “catastrophe,” used by Palestinians to refer to the mass eviction created by the founding of Israel) birthed new art. In linking history and politics to visual art, the project depicts the agency, creativity and strength of Palestinians whose legacy is often obscured. Read more about it at The Art Newspaper.

Image of Ismail Shammut’s “At Erez Crossing (The Queue)” (1997), courtesy of the Institute for Palestine Studies

Link About It is our filtered look at the web, shared daily in Link and on social media, and rounded up every Saturday morning. Hero image courtesy of Virtual Incision Corporation