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This week’s great tech stories from around the web (through July 2)


We asked GPT-3 to write an academic article about itself – then we tried to get it published
Almira Osmanovic Thunstrom | Scientific American
“On a rainy afternoon earlier this year, I logged into my OpenAI account and typed a simple instruction for the company’s artificial intelligence algorithm, GPT-3: Write an academic thesis in 500 words on GPT-3 and add scientific references and citations to the text. When it started generating text, I was amazed. Here, new content was written in academic language, with well-researched references quoted in the right places and in relation to the right context. It looked like any other introduction to a pretty good scientific publication.”


We are training AI twice as fast this year as last year
Samuel K. Moore | IEEE spectrum
“According to the best measures we have, a set of benchmarks called MLPerf, machine learning systems can be trained almost twice as fast as last year. It’s a figure that surpasses Moore’s Law, but also one we’re used to. The majority of the gains have come from software and systems innovations, but this year also provided the first look at what some new processors, most notably from Graphcore and Intel subsidiary Habana Labs, can do.”


Mojo’s smart contact lenses begin in-eye testing
Scott Stein | CNET
“The lenses make eye-activated head-up displays appear to float in the air, approaching a sort of monochromatic Google Glass-esque AR interface without glasses. The company is currently only doing tests with one lens in one eye, although the next goal is to wear two lenses at once for 3D visual overlays.”


CRISPR, 10 Years Later: Learning to Rewrite the Code of Life
Carl Zimmer | The New York Times
i“I remember very clearly that when we publish this article, it’s like starting a race,” she said. In just a decade, CRISPR has become one of the most celebrated inventions in modern biology. It is rapidly changing how medical researchers study disease: cancer biologists are using the method to discover hidden vulnerabilities of tumor cells. Doctors use CRISPR to edit genes that cause hereditary diseases. “The era of human gene editing is not coming,” said David Liu, a biologist at Harvard University. ‘It’s here.’i


Protein blobs linked to Alzheimer’s disease affect aging in all cells
Vivianne Callier | Quanta Magazine
“The aging brains of people with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases are infused with telltale aggregates of proteins in or around their neurons. … But a recent study by a team of researchers at Stanford University suggests that protein aggregation may be a universal phenomenon in aging cells and may be involved in many more diseases of aging than suspected.”


Cruise Robotaxis Blocked Traffic On This San Francisco Street For Hours
Rebecca Bellan | TechCrunch
“More than half a dozen Cruise robot axes stopped working and sat on a San Francisco street late Tuesday night, blocking traffic for a few hours until employees arrived and manually moved the autonomous vehicles. …The accident comes less than a week after Cruise launched its first fully self-driving commercial robotic taxi service in the city.”


NASA’s DART Mission Will Completely Distort Dimorphos Asteroid
Passer Rabie | Gizmodo
“NASA’s DART spacecraft is currently on its way to a binary asteroid system known as Didymos and will essentially crash into one small asteroid to test a deflection method. But instead of leaving behind an impact crater as originally intended, it could DART spacecraft even distort the mini-moon, making it almost unrecognizable.”


The government is developing a solar geoengineering research plan
James Temple | MIT Technology Review
“The White House is developing a research plan to guide and standardize how scientists are studying one of the more controversial ways to combat climate change: solar geoengineering. The basic idea is that we might be able to intentionally modify the climate system to release more heat into space, cooling a further warming planet. The move, which has not been previously reported, marks the first federally coordinated U.S. effort of its kind.”


This warehouse robot reads human body language to become a better colleague
Will Knight | wired
“Rodney Brooks knows a lot about robots. In addition to being a pioneer of academic robotics research, he has founded companies that have given the world the robotic vacuum cleaner, the bomb disposal bot, and a factory robot that anyone can program. Now Brooks wants to introduce another revolutionary type of robotic helper: a mobile warehouse robot with the ability to read human body language to tell what the workers around it are doing.”


The World’s Oldest Trees Reveal the Biggest Solar Storm in History
Ethan Siegel | Big Thinking
“One of the greatest threats to humanity’s entire electronic and electrified infrastructure is a solar storm, which has the potential to cause a multi-trillion-dollar disaster. Currently, we don’t have enough protection to defend against an event like the great storm of 1859: known as the Carrington event. But in the years 774-775, an even greater cosmic event took place that struck the Earth with an unprecedented fury. After a 10-year investigation, we have discovered that the sun is even more violent and threatening than we ever imagined.”


By exploring virtual worlds, AI learns in new ways
Allison Whitten | Quanta Magazine
“Whether they exist in simulations or in the real world, embodied AI agents learn more like us, about tasks that are more similar to the tasks we do every day. …’I see a convergence of deep learning, robotic learning, vision and even language,’ [Fei-Fei] said Li. “And now that I’m thinking of embodied AI through this moonshot of North Star, we’re going to learn the fundamental technology of intelligence, or AI, that can really lead to major breakthroughs.”i

Image credit: Maxim BergUnsplash

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