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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.

What’s next for OpenAI

The past few days have been a fever dream in the AI world. The board of OpenAI, the world’s hottest AI company, shocked everyone by firing CEO Sam Altman. Cue an AI-safety coup, chaos, and a new job at Microsoft for Altman.

The news has sent shockwaves through the industry, particularly because Altman has become generative AI’s poster boy over the past year. Hundreds of OpenAI employees have since signed a letter threatening to quit, following in the footsteps of a number of senior workers who chose to resign in support. It’s clear that AI’s biggest player is in a state of flux.

If you’ve been offline, our AI experts Melissa Heikkilä and Will Douglas Heaven have drawn up a blow-by-blow timeline of what happened, and what all the drama means for the AI industry as a whole. Read the full story.

This story is from The Algorithm, our weekly newsletter giving you the inside track on all things AI. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Monday.

Want to learn more about the latest goings-on at OpenAI? Join MIT Technology Review’s AI team Will Douglas Heaven and Melissa Heikkilä, along with executive editor Niall Firth for a virtual event as they dissect this news at 11am ET on Wednesday. We’ll have more details on how to sign up in tomorrow’s edition of The Download, so stay tuned!

Meta is giving researchers more access to Facebook and Instagram data

The news: Meta is releasing a new transparency product called the Meta Content Library and API. The new tool will allow select researchers to access publicly available data on Facebook and Instagram in an effort to give a more overarching view of what’s happening on the platforms.

Why it matters: The move comes as social media companies are facing public and regulatory pressure to increase transparency about how their products work, specifically recommendation algorithms, and their impact. Read the full story.

—Tate Ryan-Mosley

The 2024 35 Innovators Under 35 competition is now open for nominations

For more than two decades, MIT Technology Review has been celebrating brilliant young innovators through our annual 35 Innovators Under 35 competition. Past winners include Andrew Ng, Feng Zhang, Joy Buolamwini, among other distinguished scientists, entrepreneurs, humanitarians, and businesspeople.

This year’s competition is now open for nominations, right up until Monday January 22, 2024. it’s easy to nominate someone, or to apply yourself, and you can do it right here. For more information, read the full story.

The must-reads

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

1 Sam Altman is plotting a return to OpenAI  
But he’ll need the remaining board members to leave first. (The Verge)
The founder has a touch of Steve Jobs about him. (NYT $)
Microsoft is determined to keep working with Altman, no matter what. (Bloomberg $)
Why OpenAI’s investors had no say in Altman’s sacking. (Economist $)
OpenAI’s current CEO has a colossal task ahead of him trying to steady the ship (assuming he stays in post). (WP $)

2 The EV industry needs to clean up its game
That’s the prevailing message from climate activists protesting the LA Auto Show. (Wired $)
The shipping industry is making decent headway, though. (Knowable Magazine)
Cars are still cars—even when they’re electric. (MIT Technology Review)

3 China is cracking down on anonymous social media accounts
And it’s leading some influencers to quit the platforms altogether. (Rest of World)
Now China wants to censor online comments. (MIT Technology Review)

4 We’ve been getting online algorithms all wrong
Researchers have successfully turned a long-standing conclusion on its head. (Quanta Magazine)

5 India’s IT workers are in high demand
The world wants skilled IT professionals, and they’re waging a war for the top talent. (FT $)

6 Commercial flights are being targeted by powerful spoofing attacks 
Their GPS systems are receiving false signals, and no one knows who to blame. (Motherboard)+ Ghost ships, crop circles, and soft gold: A GPS mystery in Shanghai. (MIT Technology Review)

7 Christopher Nolan isn’t planning on tackling AI 
Mainly because he doesn’t believe he could surpass 2001: A Space Odyssey. (The Atlantic $)

8 Nothing’s iMessage app was a colossal failure
Its end-to-end encryption promises weren’t strictly accurate. (Ars Technica)

9 We can’t stop watching massive families online
They’re increasingly becoming anomalies, as American families are shrinking. (Vox)

10 Tinder is trying—and failing—to get down with Gen Z
How do you do,

Read More

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By: Rhiannon Williams
Title: The Download: OpenAI’s dramatic breakdown, and Meta’s transparency library
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2023/11/21/1083779/the-download-openais-dramatic-breakdown-and-metas-transparency-library/
Published Date: Tue, 21 Nov 2023 13:10:00 +0000

Tech

The great commercial takeover of low Earth orbit

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Washington, DC, was hot and humid on June 23, 1993, but no one was sweating more than Daniel Goldin, the administrator of NASA. Standing outside the House chamber, he watched nervously as votes registered on the electronic tally board. The space station wasn’t going to make it. The United States had spent more than $11 billion on it by then, with thousands of pounds of paperwork to show for it—but zero pounds of flight hardware. Whether there would ever be a station came down, now, to a cancellation vote on the House floor.

Politically, the space station was something of a wayward orphan. It was a nine-year-old Reagan administration initiative, expanded by George H.W. Bush as the centerpiece of a would-be return to the moon and an attempt to reach Mars. When voters replaced Bush with Bill Clinton, Goldin persuaded the new president to keep the station by pitching it as a post-Soviet reconstruction effort. The Russians were great at building stations, which would save NASA a fortune in R&D. In turn, NASA’s funding would keep Russian rocket scientists employed—and less likely to freelance for hostile foreign powers. Still, dissatisfaction with NASA was a bipartisan affair: everyone seemed to agree that the agency was bloated and ossified. Representative Tim Roemer, a Democrat from Indiana, wanted to make some big changes, and he introduced an amendment to the NASA authorization bill to kill the station once and for all.

Goldin had made more than 100 phone calls in the day and a half before the vote, hoping to sway lawmakers to endorse the station, which he saw as critical for studying biomedicine, electronics, materials engineering, and the human body in a completely alien environment: microgravity. Things down to the molecular level behave profoundly differently in space, and flying experiments a week at a time on the shuttle wasn’t enough to learn much. Real research required a permanent presence in space, and that meant a space station.

Supporters of the space station had gone into the vote expecting to win. Not by much—20 votes, maybe. But the longer the vote went on, the closer it got. Each side began cheering as it pulled ahead. The 110 new members of Congress, none of whom had ever before cast a vote involving the station, revealed themselves to be less reliable than expected.

Finally, the tally reached 215–215, with one vote remaining: Representative John Lewis of Georgia, a civil rights legend. As Lewis walked down the hall toward the legislative chamber, Goldin’s legislative aide, Jeff Lawrence, told the administrator to say something—anything—to win him over. As Lewis walked by, Goldin had only one second, maybe two, and the best he could get out was a raw, honest, “Congressman Lewis, the future of the space program depends on you.” He added: “The nation is counting on you. How will you vote?”

Lewis smiled as he walked by. He said, “I ain’t telling you.”

The station, later named the International Space Station, survived by his single vote, 216–215. Five years later, Russia launched the first module from Kazakhstan, and since November 2000, not a single day has elapsed without a human being in space.

NASA designed the International Space Station to fly for 20 years. It has lasted six years longer than that, though it is showing its age, and NASA is currently studying how to safely destroy the space laboratory by around 2030. This will involve a “deorbit vehicle” docking with the ISS, which is the size of a football field (including end zones), and firing thrusters so that the station, which circles the Earth at five miles per second, slams down squarely in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, avoiding land, injury, and the loss of human life.

As the scorched remains of the station sink to the bottom of the sea, however, the story of America in low Earth orbit (LEO) will continue. The ISS never really became what some had hoped: a launching point for an expanding human presence in the solar system. But it did enable fundamental research on materials and medicine, and it helped us start to understand how space affects the human body. To build on that work, NASA has partnered with private companies to develop new, commercial space stations for research, manufacturing, and tourism. If they are successful, these companies will bring about a new era of space exploration: private rockets flying to private destinations. They will also demonstrate a new model in which NASA builds infrastructure and the private sector takes it from there, freeing the agency to explore deeper and deeper into space, where the process can be repeated. They’re already planning to do it around the moon. One day, Mars could follow.

From the dawn of the space age, space stations were envisioned as essential to leaving Earth.

In 1952, Wernher von Braun, the primary architect of the American space program, called them “as

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By: David W. Brown
Title: The great commercial takeover of low Earth orbit
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2024/04/17/1090856/international-space-station-axiom-low-earth-orbit/
Published Date: Wed, 17 Apr 2024 08:00:00 +0000

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The Download: commercializing space, and China’s chip self-sufficiency efforts

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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

The great commercial takeover of low-Earth orbit

NASA designed the International Space Station to fly for 20 years. It has lasted six years longer than that, though it is showing its age, and NASA is currently studying how to safely destroy the space laboratory by around 2030.

The ISS never really became what some had hoped: a launching point for an expanding human presence in the solar system. But it did enable fundamental research on materials and medicine, and it helped us start to understand how space affects the human body.

To build on that work, NASA has partnered with private companies to develop new, commercial space stations for research, manufacturing, and tourism. If they are successful, these companies will bring about a new era of space exploration: private rockets flying to private destinations. They’re already planning to do it around the moon. One day, Mars could follow. Read the full story.

— David W. Brown

This story is for subscribers only, and is from the next magazine issue of MIT Technology Review, set to go live on April 24, on the theme of Build. If you don’t already, sign up now to get a copy when it lands.

Why it’s so hard for China’s chip industry to become self-sufficient

Inside most laptop and data center chips today, there’s a tiny component called ABF. It’s a thin insulating layer around the wires that conduct electricity. And over 90% of the materials around the world used to make this insulator are produced by a single Japanese company named Ajinomoto.

As our AI reporter James O’Donnell explained in his story last week, Ajinomoto figured out in the 1990s that a chemical by-product from the production of the seasoning powder MSG can be used to make insulator films, which proved to be essential for high-performance chips. And in the 30 years since, the company has totally dominated ABF supply.

Within China, at least three companies are developing similar insulator products to rival Ajinomoto’s. For decades, the fact that the semiconductor supply chain was in a few companies’ hands was seen as a strength, not a problem. But now, both the US and Chinese governments increasingly see it as a problem to be fixed. Read the full story.

—Zeyi Yang

This story is from China Report, our weekly newsletter covering tech and policy within China. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Tuesday.

The must-reads

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

1 Starlink is cracking down on internet thieves
Users have been connecting to its services from countries where it’s not licensed to operate. (WSJ $)
Antarctica’s history of isolation is ending—thanks to Starlink. (MIT Technology Review)

2 Microsoft has invested more than $1 billion into an Abu Dhabi AI firm 
The company, called G42, recently cut its links with its Chinese hardware supplier. (FT $)
Behind Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s push to get AI tools in developers’ hands. (MIT Technology Review)

3 How wartime British scientists worked how how to keep humans alive underwater
Their extraordinary findings played a key part in making D-Day a success. (Wired $)

4 The longevity movement is full of contradictory arguments
But who really wants to live forever anyway? (New Yorker $)
The quest to legitimize longevity medicine. (MIT Technology Review)

5 Audiobooks are a hit with Spotify subscribers
But they’re limited to 15 hours’ of listening per month. (Bloomberg $)

6 Farewell to Atlas the robot
🤖
Boston Dynamics’ dancing, backflipping humanoid robot is retiring after 11 years in the spotlight. (The Verge)
Is robotics about to have its own ChatGPT moment? (MIT Technology Review)

7 Everything is so expensive these days
And covert personalized pricing systems are set to make things even pricier. (The Atlantic $)
It turns out Gen Z is a lot richer than their elders. (Economist $)

8 Amazon is a swamp of trashy ebooks
They were a problem before the AI boom, but generative AI has made the issue significantly worse. (Vox)

9 TikTok’s hottest product is industrial-grade glycine from China
The amino acids are feeding the platform’s insatiable appetite for ironic obsessions. (WP $)

10 Behold—the straw that won’t give you wrinkles
Unsurprisingly, it’s the kind of nonsense that will take off on social media. (NYT $)

Quote of the day

“People can giggle and say, ‘Oh, look, there’s Brutus plunging a knife into the back of Julius Caesar

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By: Rhiannon Williams
Title: The Download: commercializing space, and China’s chip self-sufficiency efforts
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2024/04/17/1091462/the-download-commercializing-space-and-chinas-chip-self-sufficiency-efforts/
Published Date: Wed, 17 Apr 2024 12:10:00 +0000

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The Download: the problem with police bodycams, and how to make useful robots

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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

AI was supposed to make police bodycams better. What happened?

When police departments first started buying and deploying bodycams in the wake of the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, a decade ago, activists hoped it would bring about real change.

Years later, despite what’s become a multibillion-dollar market for these devices, the tech is far from a panacea. Most of the vast reams of footage they generate go unwatched. Officers often don’t use them properly. And if they do finally provide video to the public, it’s often selectively edited, lacking context and failing to tell the complete story.

A handful of AI startups see this problem as an opportunity to create what are essentially bodycam-to-text programs for different players in the legal system, mining this footage for misdeeds. But like the bodycams themselves, the technology still faces procedural, legal, and cultural barriers to success. Read the full story.

—Patrick Sisson

Three reasons robots are about to become more way useful

The holy grail of robotics since the field’s beginning has been to build a robot that can do our housework. But for a long time, that has just been a dream. While roboticists have been able to get robots to do impressive things in the lab, these feats haven’t translated to the messy realities of our homes.

Thanks to AI, this is now changing. Robots are starting to become capable of doing tasks such as folding laundry, cooking and unloading shopping baskets, which not too long ago were seen as almost impossible tasks.

In our most recent cover story for the MIT Technology Review print magazine, senior AI reporter Melissa Heikkilä looked at how robotics as a field is at an inflection point.

A really exciting mix of things are converging in robotics research, which could usher in robots that might—just might—make it out of the lab and into our homes. Read the three reasons why robotics is on the brink of having its own “ChatGPT moment.”

This story is from The Algorithm, our weekly AI newsletter. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Monday.

The must-reads

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

1 AI startups are covertly developing their chatbots using OpenAI data
Which raises questions about why investors are paying them, exactly. (The Information $)
Training an AI model is seriously expensive. (IEEE Spectrum)
We could run out of data to train AI language programs. (MIT Technology Review)

2 SpaceX is running rings around its competition
🚀
But for how much longer is unclear. (WP $)

3 Why the dream of flying cars refuses to die
Hundreds of startups are committed to making the fantastical vehicles a reality. (New Yorker $)
These aircraft could change how we fly. (MIT Technology Review)

4 The future of advanced chips hangs on how they’re packaged
Stacking semiconductors closely together makes them more efficient. (FT $)
Why China is betting big on chiplets. (MIT Technology Review)

5 Meta is working on a new VR product for schools
It’s part of the company’s latest foray into populating the metaverse. (Bloomberg $)
How many schools will be able to afford it, though? (The Verge)
Welcome to the oldest part of the metaverse. (MIT Technology Review)

6 The US government keeps giving Microsoft free passes
It keeps buying the company’s products, despite a series of cybersecurity failures. (Wired $)

7 We don’t know what taking Ozempic for 20 years could do to someone
We should look at how we treat diabetes as a cautionary tale. (The Atlantic $)
Hundreds of drugs are in short supply across the US. (Ars Technica)

8 How to save a coral reef
🪸
Reefs in East Asia are thriving when others are struggling to survive. (Vox)
The race is on to save coral reefs—by freezing them. (MIT Technology Review)

9 What it’s like to eat at an autonomous restaurant 
CaliExpress in Los Angeles encourages its customers to “pay with your face.” (The Guardian)
An Argentine startup gives gig workers coffee in exchange for their data. (Rest of World)

10 We may be living in a colossal cosmic void
🪐
If it can be proved, it would upend everything we know about the cosmos.

Read More

————

By: Rhiannon Williams
Title: The Download: the problem with police bodycams, and how to make useful robots
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2024/04/16/1091317/the-download-the-problem-with-police-bodycams-and-how-to-make-useful-robots/
Published Date: Tue, 16 Apr 2024 12:10:00 +0000

Did you miss our previous article…
https://mansbrand.com/how-to-stop-a-state-from-sinking/

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