Elon Musk Supports AI Project Decoding Roman Scrolls Elon Musk Supports AI Project Decoding Roman Scrolls

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By Ronald Tech


Renowned entrepreneur Elon Musk has pledged financial support for a groundbreaking project that harnesses the power of artificial intelligence to decode ancient scrolls that have mystified scholars for centuries.

The project, dubbed the Vesuvius Challenge, was kickstarted in March by Nat Friedman, former CEO of GitHub, along with Daniel Gross and Brent Seales. The team, which includes Youssef Nader, Luke Farritor, and Julian Schilliger, has made a significant breakthrough using AI to decipher paragraphs from charred scrolls preserved by the volcanic eruption that engulfed the Roman town of Herculaneum, in addition to burying Pompeii.

After the recent announcement of this milestone, Musk took to social media platform X (formerly Twitter) on Wednesday and expressed his intention to support the project through his charitable organization, the Musk Foundation.

The tech billionaire declared that his foundation would provide funding for the upcoming phase of the project, although the exact amount of his contribution is yet to be determined.

“Whatever amount is useful,” Musk stated. “I’m in favor of civilizational enlightenment.”

The next phase of the project, estimated to cost around $2 million, aims to enable the team to read entire scrolls. The total cost of deciphering all the scrolls from Herculaneum could reach $10 million, according to Friedman.

“I was shocked and thrilled to see Elon tweet his support of the next stages of the Vesuvius Challenge, and we welcome any contribution he will make!” Friedman told Bloomberg. “All donations are extremely helpful. We’re in touch with Elon’s team and working out the details of their support.”

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The Vesuvius Challenge represents a significant advancement in the intersection of AI and historical preservation. The project, initiated by Friedman and others, is focused on decoding the Herculaneum Papyri, a set of ancient papyrus scrolls charred by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius almost two millennia ago.

The challenge, which offered over $1 million in rewards, attracted a global array of participants and collaborators to tackle the issue using computer vision and machine learning.

This development underscores the expanding role of AI in various realms, from historical preservation to safeguarding artists’ work from unauthorized usage by AI image generators.

Previously, AI was utilized to interpret human thoughts into written words, illustrating the diverse applications of AI in different sectors.

Meanwhile, Musk’s endorsement of this AI project coincides with the enduring fascination on social media with the decline of the Roman Empire. Musk himself shared an image last year featuring volumes of Edward Gibbon’s “The Decline & Fall of The Roman Empire,” published in 1776, expressing a meme that humorously depicted an ancient Roman soldier observing the empire’s collapse “with Wi-Fi and memes this time.”

Photo courtesy: Thomas Hawk on Flickr


Wealth Tax: Debating the Top Tax Bracket

Debate Over the Wealth Tax

Are the wealthy getting away with not paying their fair share of taxes, or are they carrying an unfair burden? The debate over the top tax bracket rages on as concerns about income inequality and the concentration of wealth at the top of the economic ladder continue to make headlines. Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have both proposed a wealth tax on the ultra-rich, while even multi-billionaire Warren Buffett has vocally expressed support for the idea, suggesting that it is fair for wealthy Americans to be taxed at a higher rate.

Currently, the top federal income tax rate stands at 37%, applicable to incomes of $539,000 and higher for single taxpayers and $647,850 and higher for couples filing jointly. However, historical data reveals that the top marginal tax rate has been significantly higher in previous eras. In 1944 and 1945, it peaked at a staggering 94%, and in the late 1980s, it hit a low of 28% under former President Ronald Reagan.

Historical Context and Present Day

The taxation of the wealthy has fluctuated significantly throughout U.S. history, demonstrating both higher and lower levels of taxation than the current status. This historical perspective adds complexity to the ongoing debate regarding whether the rich are paying their fair share of taxes. Despite the disputes, recent data from the IRS sheds light on the current tax scenario.

Top 1% Tax Contributions

In 2020, the top 1% of taxpayers—those earning $561,351 or more—contributed a significant 42.3% of the total tax revenue collected. This translates to the top 1% paying more income taxes than the bottom 90% combined. Astonishingly, the top 1% paid a staggering $723 billion in income taxes, while the bottom 90% collectively contributed $450 billion.

State-Level Analysis

Examining the tax burden on the wealthiest individuals at the state level yields interesting findings:

Alabama

  • Minimum income to be considered 1%: $404,560
  • Average income of the 1%: $1,107,769
  • Average income tax paid by the 1%: $263,845
  • Average tax rate of the 1%: 23.82%

Alaska

  • Minimum income to be considered 1%: $466,905
  • Average income of the 1%: $999,772
  • Average income tax paid by the 1%: $253,754
  • Average tax rate of the 1%: 25.38%

Arizona

  • Minimum income to be considered 1%: $485,146
  • Average income of the 1%: $1,464,848
  • Average income tax paid by the 1%: $369,426
  • Average tax rate of the 1%: 25.22%

Arkansas

  • Minimum income to be considered 1%: $387,666
  • Average income of the 1%: $1,483,925
  • Average income tax paid by the 1%: $313,266
  • Average tax rate of the 1%: 21.11%

California

  • Minimum income to be considered 1%: $726,188
  • Average income of the 1%: $2,430,790
  • Average income tax paid by the 1%: $655,180
  • Average tax rate of the 1%: 26.95%

Colorado

  • Minimum income to be considered 1%: $609,919
  • Average income of the 1%: $1,799,148
  • Average income tax paid by the 1%: $465,284
  • Average tax rate of the 1%: 25.86%
Analysis of Minimum Income of the Wealthiest 1% and Average Tax Rates by State Analysis of Minimum Income of the Wealthiest 1% and Average Tax Rates by State