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This is today’s edition of The Download our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s going on in the world of technology.

Why business is booming for military AI startups

Exactly two weeks after Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Alexander Karp, the CEO of data analytics company Palantir, made his pitch to European leaders. With war on their doorstep, Europeans ought to modernize their arsenals with Silicon Valley’s help, he argued in an open letter.

Militaries are responding to the call. NATO announced on June 30 that it is creating a $1 billion innovation fund that will invest in early-stage startups and venture capital funds developing “priority” technologies, while the UK has launched a new AI strategy specifically for defense, and the Germans have earmarked just under half a billion for research and AI.

​​The war in Ukraine has added urgency to the drive to push more AI tools onto the battlefield. Those with the most to gain are startups such as Palantir, which are hoping to cash in as militaries race to update their arsenals with the latest technologies. But long-standing ethical concerns over the use of AI in warfare have become more urgent as the technology becomes more and more advanced, while the prospect of restrictions and regulations governing its use looks as remote as ever. Read the full story.

—Melissa Heikkilä

Computers will be transformed by alternative materials and approaches—maybe sooner than you think

In less than a century, computing has transformed our society and helped spur countless innovations. But while we fundamentally owe these capabilities to our ability to build progressively better computing devices, the transistor at the heart of computer chips is reaching its limits.

Those on this year’s list of MIT Technology Review Innovators under 35 list are overhauling computer performance and energy efficiency with fresh ideas. Read more about their exciting contributions to computing’s next wave in this essay by Prineha Narang, the Howard Reiss Chair Professor in Physical Sciences at University of California, Los Angeles.

This essay is part of MIT Technology Review’s 2022 Innovators Under 35 package recognizing the most promising young people working in technology today. See the full list here.

The must-reads

I’ve combed the internet to find you today’s most fun/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.

1 The US and UK are gravely concerned by China’s industrial espionage
Beijing is hellbent on stealing western technology, the countries’ spy chiefs warned (FT $)
The US is weighing up expanding restrictions on exports to China. (NYT $)
It’s also pressing a Dutch chipmaker to stop selling its gear to China. (Bloomberg $)

2 Apple’s new security feature defends against government spyware
Activating Lockdown Mode is designed to prevent Pegasus-style spyware from transmitting data to other devices. (WP $)
The vast majority of iPhone users are unlikely to ever benefit from it. (Ars Technica) 

3 Why molecules could become the next microchip
Bioscience holds great promise—but it’s advancing frustratingly slowly. (FT $)
+ Biologists would love to program cells as if they were computer chips. (TR)

4 It’s a bad time to be a startup
Funding has fallen to its lowest level in three years, and more layoffs are looming. (NYT $)
It doesn’t look too rosy for the wider industry, either. (Bloomberg $)

5 Growing numbers of women want their tubes tied
But they still have to convince their doctor first. (Wired $)
+ Google should delete abortion search queries. (Bloomberg $)

6 Disinformation is Washington’s elephant in the room
The problem is, no one can agree on how to tackle it. (NYT $)

7 The UK wants to make deepfake porn illegal
The country’s Law Commission says that current laws haven’t moved with the times. (FT $)
Deepfake porn is ruining women’s lives. Now the law may finally ban it. 
(MIT Technology Review)

8 Sorry, we’re not living in a simulation
Despite some theorists’ best efforts to convince us that we are. (Big Think)
This super-realistic virtual world is a driving school for AI. (MIT Technology Review) 

9 Walking to earn crypto is as pointless as it sounds
Yet still, people have fallen for it. (NY Mag $) 
Some American cities are still pinning their hopes on crypto. (Slate)

10 Viral hikes are becoming a problem

Instagram geotags are causing overcrowding and disruption. (The Guardian)

Quote of the day

“I think that we just assume that something so simple must have a right answer, and it bothers us that it doesn’t.” 

—Developer Neal Agarwal, who developed the game ‘Absurd Trolley Problems,’ tells Vice why it’s a philosophical question we can’t resist debating.

The big

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By: Rhiannon Williams
Title: The Download: a military AI boom, and China’s industrial espionage
Sourced From:
Published Date: Thu, 07 Jul 2022 12:08:48 +0000

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The Download: the threat of microplastics, and mitigating AI bias




This is today’s edition of The Download our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s going on in the world of technology.

Microplastics are messing with the microbiomes of seabirds

The news: While we know that tiny pieces of plastic are everywhere, we don’t fully understand what they’re doing to us or other animals. Now, new research in seabirds hints that it might affect gut microbiomes—the trillions of microbes that make a home in the intestines and play an important role in animals’ health.

The findings: Seabirds ingest plastic from the ocean, which can accumulate in their stomachs. The research shows it leaves the birds with more potentially harmful microbes in the gut, including some that are known to be resistant to antibiotics, and others with the potential to cause disease.

Why it matters: The report expands our view on what plastic pollution is doing to wildlife, and shines a light on the wide spectrum of adverse effects brought about by current plastic levels in the environment. The next step is to work out what this might mean for their health and the health of other animals, including humans. Read the full story.

—Jessica Hamzelou

What if we could just ask AI to be less biased?

Think of a teacher. Close your eyes. What does that person look like? If you ask Stable Diffusion or DALL-E 2, two of the most popular AI image generators, it’s a white man with glasses.

But what if you could simply ask AI models to give you less biased answers? A new tool called Fair Diffusion makes it easier to tweak AI models to generate the types of images you want, such as swapping out the white men in the images for women or people of different ethnicities. A similar technique also seems to work for language models.

These methods of combating AI bias are welcome—and raise the obvious question of whether they should be baked into the models from the start. Read the full story.

—Melissa Heikkilä

Melissa’s story is from The Algorithm, her weekly AI newsletter. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Monday.

New report: Generative AI in Consumer Products

In the fast-paced world of consumer products, it’s essential for designers and other creatives to stay ahead of the curve. MIT Technology Review has compiled a new report exploring how generative AI will change the way consumer products are designed and made, digging into how new generative tools could inspire early adopters, and help them to gain an edge on the competition.

It contains case studies plus practical guidance explaining how generative tools can help designers, and what AI’s successful integration into the consumer goods sector could look like. Download and share the report with up to 10 colleagues today for $975.

The must-reads

I’ve combed the internet to find you today’s most fun/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.

1 The US has banned the use of commercial spyware
It comes after at least 50 government workers were targeted using spyware. (WP $)
What’s next in cybersecurity. (MIT Technology Review)

2 AI is creating convincing historical records of fake events
This demonstrates how easily AI systems can be used for generating misinformation. (Motherboard)
Fake images of the Pope have also spread across the internet. (The Verge)
Chatbots aren’t going to read our minds any time soon. (NYT $)
Why those cashing in from AI right now may lose out in the future. (The Atlantic $)
ChatGPT is everywhere. Here’s where it came from. (MIT Technology Review)

3 China is restricting researchers from accessing a major database
Researchers outside China won’t be able to access its biggest academic database from next month. (FT $)

4 US regulators are suing crypto’s biggest exchange
They claim Binance has willfully evaded US law. (Reuters)+ The company reportedly encouraged its customers to use VPNs. (The Verge)

5 Twitter won’t recommend unverified accounts anymore
Its default “For You” feed will only show tweets from users paying $8 a month. (Bloomberg $)

6 A grim market for deepfake porn is surging
Demand is so high, some of the creators are hiring staff to help them. (NBC News)+ A horrifying AI app swaps women into porn videos with a click. (MIT Technology Review)

7 When and why Facebook bends its own rules
Researchers worry that malleable moderation policies are open to exploitation. (Rest of World)
Facebook employees are on course for lower bonuses this year. (WSJ $)

8 What happens when our device backups fail
When we lose our photos and messages, our memories disappear with them. (The Guardian)

9 The internet just loves packing

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By: Rhiannon Williams
Title: The Download: the threat of microplastics, and mitigating AI bias
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Published Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2023 12:10:00 +0000

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Delivering insights at scale by modernizing data 



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Greater speed and agility are helping organizations address an increasingly competitive marketplace, heightened customer expectations, and the lingering impact of the pandemic. To compete more effectively, companies are gathering and analyzing increasingly large and disparate sets of data. But only with cloud solutions, like Microsoft Azure, can this data provide insight into every corner of the enterprise, from maintenance of the factory floor to boosting customer loyalty.

cover art with data, industrial, travel, and health care icons

However, companies that continue to rely on legacy systems and fragmented IT environments to gather and store data will fall behind faster. The problem, says Lindsey Allen, general manager of Azure Databricks & Applied AI at Microsoft, is that “organizations need to be able to access their data in a reasonable amount of time to support business decision-making.” Accessing and analyzing this data across the enterprise at speed and scale is difficult to impossible with siloed data.

This data is often siloed in enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. However, with ERP data modernization, businesses can integrate data from multiple sources, which will ensure data accessibility and create the framework for digital transformation. Migrating legacy databases to the cloud also gives companies access to AI and ML capabilities that can reinvent their organization. According to Anil Nagaraj, principal in Analytic Insights, Cloud & Digital at PwC, companies that modernize their ERP data see increased efficiencies, costs savings, and greater customer engagement, especially when it’s built on a cloud platform like Microsoft Azure.

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Cloud transformation—along with ERP data modernization—democratizes data, empowering employees to make decisions that directly impact their segment of business. And in an increasingly competitive marketplace, becoming data-driven means organizations can make faster, timelier, and smarter decisions.

Download the report.

This content was produced by Insights, the custom content arm of MIT Technology Review. It was not written by MIT Technology Review’s editorial staff.

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By: MIT Technology Review Insights
Title: Delivering insights at scale by modernizing data 
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Published Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2023 16:00:00 +0000

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The emergent industrial metaverse



MIT Siemens Cover REV

The industrial metaverse—a metaverse sector that mirrors and simulates real machines, factories, cities, transportation networks, and other highly complex systems—will offer to its participants fully immersive, real-time, interactive, persistent, and synchronous representations and simulations of the real world.

MIT Siemens Cover REV 1

Existing and developing technologies, including digital twins, artificial intelligence and machine learning, extended reality, blockchain, and cloud and edge computing, will be the building blocks of the industrial metaverse. These will converge to create a powerful interface between the real and digital worlds that is greater than the sum of its individual parts.

Annika Hauptvogel, head of technology and innovation management at Siemens, describes the industrial metaverse as “immersive, making users feel as if they’re in a real environment; collaborative in real time; open enough for different applications to seamlessly interact; and trusted by the individuals and businesses that participate”—far more than simply a digital world.

The industrial metaverse will revolutionize the way work is done, but it will also unlock significant new value for business and societies. By allowing businesses to model, prototype, and test dozens, hundreds, or millions of design iterations in real time and in an immersive, physics-based environment before committing physical and human resources to a project, industrial metaverse tools will usher in a new era of solving real-world problems digitally.

MITTR Siemens Timeline

“The real world is very messy, noisy, and sometimes hard to really understand,” says Danny Lange, senior vice president of artificial intelligence at Unity Technologies, a leading platform for creating and growing real-time 3-D content. “The idea of the industrial metaverse is to create a cleaner connection between the real world and the virtual world, because the virtual world is so much easier and cheaper to work with.”

While real-life applications of the consumer metaverse are still developing, industrial metaverse use cases are purpose-driven, well aligned with real-world problems and business imperatives. The resource efficiencies enabled by industrial metaverse solutions may increase business competitiveness while also continually driving progress toward the sustainability, resilience, decarbonization, and dematerialization goals that are essential to human flourishing.

This report explores what it will take to create the industrial metaverse, its potential impacts on business and society, the challenges ahead, and innovative use cases that will shape the future. Its key findings are as follows:

MITTR Siemens SagiQuote

• The industrial metaverse will bring together the digital and real

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By: MIT Technology Review Insights
Title: The emergent industrial metaverse
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Published Date: Wed, 29 Mar 2023 08:00:00 +0000

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