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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 two words that pushed international climate talks into overtime

The annual UN climate negotiations at COP28 in Dubai have officially come to a close. Delegates scrambled to get a deal together in the early morning hours, and the meetings ended a day past their scheduled conclusion (as these things tend to).

It’s understandable if you’ve tuned out news from the summit. The quibbles over wording—“urges” vs. “notes” vs. “emphasizes”—can all start to sound like noise. But these talks are the biggest climate event of the year, and there are some details that are worth paying attention to, not least the high-profile fight about those two words: fossil fuels.

As negotiators start their treks home, let’s sort through what happened at COP28 and why all these political fights matter for climate action. Read our story.

—Casey Crownhart

This story is from The Spark, our weekly newsletter giving you the inside track on all things energy and climate-related. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Wednesday.

This new system can teach a robot a simple household task within 20 minutes

The news: A new system can teach robots a domestic task in around 20 minutes. The system, called Dobb-E, was trained on iPhone videos of people carrying out a range of household jobs, recording data on movement, depth, and rotation—important information when it comes to training a robot to replicate the actions on its own. That data is then fed to an AI model which instructs the robot how to carry out the actions.

Why it matters: This new system could help the field of robotics overcome one of its biggest challenges: a lack of training data. While other types of AI, such as large language models, are trained on huge repositories of data scraped from the internet, the same can’t be done with robots, because the data needs to be physically collected. This makes it a lot harder to build and scale training databases. Read the full story.

—Rhiannon Williams

Vertex will pay tens of millions to license a controversial CRISPR patent

The news: Vertex Pharmaceuticals has agreed to buy rights to use a CRISPR patent owned by the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, avoiding a potential lawsuit over its new gene-editing treatment for sickle-cell disease.

Why it matters: The agreement allows Vertex to start selling its treatment, approved last Friday, without fear of patent infringement claims. Under an agreement with Editas announced today, Vertex agreed to pay it $50 million and annual fees of between $10 and $40 million a year until 2034. Read the full story.

—Antonio Regalado

The bigger picture: read Antonio’s story from earlier this month explaining the background, and context, to the fight over the first CRISPR cure to be approved in the US.

The must-reads

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

1 Google’s AI search tool could upend the internet
Publishers in particular fear it could take a sledgehammer to their traffic. (WSJ $)
OpenAI is partnering with a major publisher. (The Guardian)
Chatbots could one day replace search engines. Here’s why that’s a terrible idea. (MIT Technology Review)

2 Tesla has to update nearly all 2 million of its vehicles in the US
To address a defect in the autopilot system. (The Verge)
Here’s what to do if you’re affected. (WP $)

3 What you need to know about plastic pollution
One fact stands out: the US produces more plastic waste than any other country. (one5c)
Think that your plastic is being recycled? Think again. (MIT Technology Review)

4 What’s the point of Meta’s smart glasses?
👓
Despite all the time and money thrown at them, they still lack a killer app. (NYT $)
Why Facebook is using Ray-Ban to stake a claim on our faces. (MIT Technology Review)

5 Amazon is under growing pressure
If tons of its products come from China anyway, why not buy from its Chinese competitors? (The Atlantic $)
The counterfeit lawsuits that scoop up hundreds of Chinese Amazon sellers at once. (MIT Technology Review)

6 Apple could sign X’s death warrant
Soon it could become such a toxic platform it violates Apple’s standards, triggering a removal from its app store. (Bloomberg $)
X’s ad revenue reportedly fell by $1.5 billion this year. (Ars Technica)

7 Why weight loss drugs are so significant
Their impact will ripple across our societies over the coming years. (New Yorker $)
Weight-loss injections have taken over the internet. But what does

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By: Charlotte Jee
Title: The Download: what we learned from COP28, and an advance for household robots
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2023/12/14/1085310/the-download-cop28-household-robots/
Published Date: Thu, 14 Dec 2023 13:10:00 +0000

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The search for extraterrestrial life is targeting Jupiter’s icy moon Europa

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We’ve known of Europa’s existence for more than four centuries, but for most of that time, Jupiter’s fourth-largest moon was just a pinprick of light in our telescopes—a bright and curious companion to the solar system’s resident giant. Over the last few decades, however, as astronomers have scrutinized it through telescopes and six spacecraft have flown nearby, a new picture has come into focus. Europa is nothing like our moon. 

Observations suggest that its heart is a ball of metal and rock, surrounded by a vast saltwater ocean that contains more than twice as much water as is found on Earth. That massive sea is encased in a smooth but fractured blanket of cracked ice, one that seems to occasionally break open and spew watery plumes into the moon’s thin atmosphere.

For these reasons, Europa has captivated planetary scientists interested in the geophysics of alien worlds. All that water and energy—and hints of elements essential for building organic molecules —point to another extraordinary possibility. In the depths of its ocean, or perhaps crowded in subsurface lakes or below icy surface vents, Jupiter’s big, bright moon could host life.

“We think there’s an ocean there, everywhere,” says Bob Pappalardo, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “Essentially everywhere on Earth that there’s water, there’s life. Could there be life on Europa?”

Pappalardo has been at the forefront of efforts to send a craft to Europa for more than two decades. Now his hope is finally coming to fruition: later this year, NASA plans to launch Europa Clipper, the largest-­ever craft designed to visit another planet. The $5 billion mission, scheduled to reach Jupiter in 2030, will spend four years analyzing this moon to determine whether it could support life. It will be joined after two years by the European Space Agency’s Juice, which launched last year and is similarly designed to look for habitable conditions, not only on Europa but also on other mysterious Jovian moons.

Neither mission will beam back a definitive answer to the question of extraterrestrial life. “Unless we get really lucky, we’re not going to be able to tell if there is life there, but we can find out if all the conditions are right for life,” says planetary geologist Louise Prockter at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, a co-­investigator on the Clipper camera team.

“Essentially everywhere on Earth that there’s water, there’s life. Could there be life on Europa?”

Bob Pappalardo, planetary scientist, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

What these spacecraft will do is get us closer than ever before to answers, by identifying the telltale chemical, physical, and geological signatures of habitability—whether a place is a suitable environment for life to emerge and thrive.

The payoff for confirming these signs on Europa would be huge. Not because humans could settle on its surface—it’s far too harsh and rugged and cold and irradiated for our delicate bodies—but because it could justify future exploration to land there and look for alien life-forms. Finding something, anything, living on Europa would offer strong evidence for an alternate path through which life could emerge. It would mean that life on Earth is not exceptional. We’d know that we have neighbors close by—even if they’re microbial, which would be the most likely life-form—and that would make it very likely that we have neighbors elsewhere in the cosmos.

PIA25496 Full 1 scaled
Engineers and technicians install reaction wheels on Europa Clipper at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in CaliforniaNASA/JPL-CALTECH

“With the prospects of life—the prospects of vast oceans—within reach, you just have to go,” says Nicholas Makris, director of MIT’s Center for Ocean Engineering, who uses acoustics and other innovative methods to observe and explore big bodies of water. He once led a team of scientists who proposed a mission to land a spacecraft on Europa and use sound waves to explore what lies beneath the ice; he still hopes to see a lander go there one day. “You have

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By: Stephen Ornes
Title: The search for extraterrestrial life is targeting Jupiter’s icy moon Europa
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2024/02/19/1087988/nasa-europa-clipper-mission-jupiter-extraterrestrial-life/
Published Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2024 10:00:00 +0000

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The Download: missions to Jupiter’s moon Europa, and Uruguay’s screwworm gene drive

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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 search for extraterrestrial life is targeting Jupiter’s icy moon Europa

Europa, Jupiter’s fourth-largest moon, is nothing like ours. Its surface is a vast saltwater ocean, encased in a blanket of cracked ice, one that seems to occasionally break open and spew watery plumes into the moon’s thin atmosphere.

For these reasons, Europa captivates planetary scientists. All that water and energy—and hints of elements essential for building organic molecules —point to another extraordinary possibility. Jupiter’s big, bright moon could host life.

And they may eventually get some answers. Later this year, NASA plans to launch Europa Clipper, the largest-­ever craft designed to visit another planet. The $5 billion mission, scheduled to reach Jupiter in 2030, will spend four years analyzing this moon to determine whether it could support life. Read the full story.

—Stephen Ornes

This story is from the upcoming print issue of MIT Technology Review, dedicated to exploring hidden worlds. Buy a subscription to get your hands on a copy when it publishes on February 28th! Deals start at just $8 a month

Uruguay wants to use gene drives to eradicate devastating screwworms

The New World screwworm, a parasite common in parts of South America and the Caribbean, is a disaster for cattle. It burrows into their flesh, eventually killing them. In Uruguay alone, it costs farmers between $40 million and $154 million a year. However, work is underway to fight back.

A group of researchers in Montevideo Uruguay have used the gene-editing system CRISPR to develop what’s known as a gene drive: tweaks to the screwworms genes that, if they spread, will cause a population crash.

They are about to move into the next stage of caged trials in the lab, with a view to eventually using the genetic tool to decimate the screwworm fly population. Read the full story.

—Abdullahi Tsanni

The must-reads

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

1 The White House will spend $1.5 billion on a new chip factory
The money will go to semiconductor giant GlobalFoundries to produce advanced chips not currently made in the US. (WP $)
But work to expand US chip manufacturing keeps being plagued with problems. (NYT $)
Can the massive infusions of money rebuild the US’s industrial base? (MIT Technology Review)

2 Apple is facing its first EU fine
The EU says its music streaming services violate antitrust law. (FT $)

3 A judge ruled that Air Canada had to honor its chatbots’ discount error
This sets an important precedent as companies start to adopt AI tools. (WP $)
Judges, not politicians, are starting to dictate AI rules. (MIT Technology Review)
Should you trust an AI chatbot to plan a trip for you? (The Atlantic $)
It’s surprisingly tricky to work out when and how we’ll use generative AI. (FT $)

4 Is AI going to change how we define videos?
Systems like OpenAI’s Sora don’t make recordings. They render ideas. (New Yorker $)
Sora looks amazing—but the rest of us will have to wait to try it out. (MIT Technology Review)

5 Don’t blindly trust Google search results
AI-generated content, adverts, and ranking algorithms are really starting to spoil searches. (WSJ $)

6 The days of fast, free shipping may be coming to an end
Blame interest-rate hikes, and growing impatience from startup investors. (Insider $)

7 How New York’s legal weed revolution got derailed
The state’s plans ended up in an unholy mess. (New Yorker $)
The feud between a weed influencer and scientist over puking stoners. (MIT Technology Review)

8 A gun influencer’s conviction has done nothing to dent his popularity
In fact, YouTube is still running adverts on his channel. (NBC)
Hated that video? YouTube’s algorithm might push you another just like it. (MIT Technology Review)

9 Phone cases are getting jazzed up
🤳
They can do so much more than just protect your phone—for example, holding your lip balm. (Wired $)
Sharp-cornered smartphone cases are all the rage too. (WSJ $)

10 3D-printed chocolate sounds delicious
🍫
It’s something to do with the ridges and textures. (The Verge)

Quote of the day

“Everyone is looking around, talking about when layoffs are coming next, at what company.”

—A tech worker tells Insider that no job in the industry feels

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By: Charlotte Jee
Title: The Download: missions to Jupiter’s moon Europa, and Uruguay’s screwworm gene drive
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2024/02/19/1088699/jupiter-europa-uruguay-screwworm-gene-drive/
Published Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2024 13:10:00 +0000

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The Download: impressive new AI capabilities

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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.

OpenAI teases an amazing new generative video model called Sora

OpenAI has built a striking new generative video model called Sora that can take a short text description and turn it into a detailed, high-definition film clip up to a minute long. It’s seriously impressive-looking.

Based on four sample videos that OpenAI shared with MIT Technology Review, the firm has pushed the envelope of what’s possible with text-to-video generation (a hot new research direction that we flagged as a trend to watch in 2024).

It’s hard to know exactly how impressive a step this is until we get more information from OpenAI—and we may have a wait on our hands. The company has no plans to release it to the public currently, though it does hope to in future. For now, mindful of the potential for misuse, OpenAI will be doing extensive safety testing. Read the full story—and check out some of the videos!

—Will Douglas Heaven

Google’s new version of Gemini can handle far bigger amounts of data

The news: Google DeepMind has launched the next generation of its powerful artificial-intelligence model Gemini, which has an enhanced ability to work with large amounts of video, text, and images.

For example: In one demonstration video shown by Google, the model was fed the 402-page transcript of the Apollo moon landing mission. Then they showed Gemini a hand-drawn sketch of a boot, and asked it to identify the moment in the transcript that the drawing represents. The model was also able to identify moments of humor.

What it means: These sorts of AI capabilities are very impressive, Oren Etzioni, former technical director of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, told us. However, he did give one major caveat: “Never trust an AI demo.” Read the full story.

—James O’Donnell

How bacteria-fighting viruses could go mainstream

Lynn Cole had a blood infection she couldn’t shake. For years, she was in and out of the hospital. Each time antibiotics would force the infection to retreat. Each time it came roaring back.

In the summer of 2020, the bacteria flooding Cole’s bloodstream stopped responding to antibiotics. She was running out of time. Her doctors decided they had to try a different approach: phages, which are tiny viruses that infect and destroy bacteria.

The phages worked. Cole recovered with remarkable speed. But then the therapy failed. Cole’s case highlights the enormous promise of phage therapy, but it also shows just how much we have to learn. Read the full story.

—Cassandra Willyard

This story is from The Checkup, our weekly newsletter all about biotech and health. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Thursday.

The must-reads

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

1 The Senate could be about to pass some major tech regulation
If it passes, the Kids Online Safety Act will be the biggest piece of tech regulation in the US in decades. (WP $)
Why child safety bills are popping up all over the US. (MIT Technology Review)
New York City is suing TikTok and Instagram for ‘addicting’ kids. (NBC) 

2 A new era of deepfakes is colliding with pivotal elections 
And it’ll be very hard to figure out how big an impact AI-generated content has on results, even after the fact. (WSJ $)
A Chinese influence campaign is using AI-generated content to amplify division in the US. (NYT $)

3 TikTok has released an app for the Vision Pro
YouTube says it’s building an app for the headset too. (The Verge)

4 AI is nothing to fear for white collar workers
That’s because it’s not really a substitute for expertise—it’s a lever for its application.  (Noema)
People are worried that AI will take everyone’s jobs. We’ve been here before. (MIT Technology Review)
Here’s how AI is shaking up the way we work. (The Verge)

5 What it’s like to be a content moderator in Pakistan
Pretty soul-crushing—and with little hope of a promotion or transferable skills. (Rest of World)

6 Hardware still matters
In fact, in the AI era, it’s about as important as it’s ever been. (FT $)

7 Discredited health claims are getting a second airing on TikTok
It’s giving new life to lectures by a woman permanently banned from providing health services in Australia. (Vox)

8 Electric vehicles aren’t great at handling extreme heat
But they could get better, thanks to new materials. (Scientific American $)
Tesla’s stainless steel Cybertrucks are already rusting. (Futurism)

9 Meat-injected rice, anyone? 
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By: Charlotte Jee
Title: The Download: impressive new AI capabilities
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2024/02/16/1088579/download-impressive-new-ai-capabilities/
Published Date: Fri, 16 Feb 2024 13:01:00 +0000

Did you miss our previous article…
https://mansbrand.com/uruguay-wants-to-use-gene-drives-to-eradicate-devastating-screwworms/

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