Issue #325

This week - what is going on with Aubrey de Grey; a critique of Tesla Bot; behind the scenes at Boston Dynamics; 3d-bioprinted Wagyu beef; what happened to IBM Watson; and more!


Aubrey De grey

About two weeks ago, Celine Halioua and Laura Deming shared stories of their encounters with Aubrey de Grey and the sexual harassment they experienced while working at SENS Research Foundation.

In response to those stories, SENS published a statement on August 11th saying that as soon as it learned about the allegations in late June, the foundation launched an investigation lead by an independent investigator and put de Grey on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

De Grey published shortly after a statement where he addressed the accusations and denied them.

On August 22nd, SENS Research Foundation Board of Directors published a statement saying de Grey was "indirectly attempting to apply pressure on one of the investigation’s participants" and " this reason, regrettably and with heavy hearts, the Board of Directors unanimously decided to separate from Dr. de Grey, effective immediately".

De Grey posted his response to the statement on Facebook which you can find here. De Grey explains how the situation looked like from his side and that he is, as he writes, "in a perfectly fine position to start a new foundation right now, hiring my loyal staff and proceeding as if nothing had happened, but that that is not my plan. I plan to get the truth known, my foundation back, and the bad actors excised from our community".

The investigation is still ongoing and as soon as its results are known to the public, I'll share them with you.

Artificial Intelligence

What Ever Happened to IBM’s Watson?

Remember Watson - IBM's ambitious AI that aimed to revolutionise every industry? It conquered Jeopardy! and according to IBM's marketing, it was on a path to conquer health care, finance, law and academia. But none of this happened. Google, Amazon and Microsoft emerged as leaders in the AI world. Now, after the reality hit IBM, the company is building a more realistic business plan for Watson which, according to The New York Times article, may finally become a solid business for the company.

Synopsys CEO: AI-designed chips will generate 1,000X performance in 10 years

Synopsys CEO Aart de Geus said at this year's Hot Chip conference that started using AI to design customer chips last year, with considerable improvements over human-designed chip architects. With the assistance of AI tools, chip designers can create more efficient chips and, de Geus promises, deliver 1000x performance improvements in the next decade.

Microsoft AI Open-Source The Code For It’s Focal Transformer

Microsoft open-sourced Focal Transformer - it's state-of-the-art image recognition AI. The code is available on GitHub and the accompanying research paper can be found on arXiv.

AI Will Impact Computer-Based Jobs First—and Hard

Over the past years, reports were raising concerns about job losses caused by AI and automation. The silver lining of those reports was that if your job was one of "computer-based non-routine cognitive jobs: Public relations, finance, programming, creative (writers, authors, musicians…), and many others", you were safe. However, with the creation of tools like GPT-3, OpenAI Codex and similar AIs, these jobs suddenly are not that safe, as this article argues.

Robotics

Elon Musk Has No Idea What He’s Doing With Tesla Bot

Evan Ackerman from IEEE Spectrum takes on Elon Musk's presentation about Tesla Bot and point by point gives arguments that building a humanoid robot from scratch and have it done in a year, as Musk promises, is a hard task. A task that took companies like Boston Dynamics or Agility Robotics years or even decades, and they aren't there yet, writes Ackerman.

► Inside the lab: How does Atlas work? (5:49)

Here is a short look behind the scenes at Boston Dynamics where the team behind Atlas shares how they work with Atlas and what challenges they face every day to make those amazing videos of Atlas completing a parkour course.

Waymo - Welcoming our first riders in San Francisco

Waymo - Alphabet's self-driving car division - is opening Waymo One Trusted Tester program in San Francisco. The company is repeating what it did in Phoenix - first launch a research-focused program (which took about three years in Phoenix) and then open a fully autonomous ride-hailing service to the public.

Alphabet’s drone delivery service Wing hits 100,000 deliveries milestone

Alphabet's drone delivery service Wing announced it successfully delivered 100,000 packages, half of which were in Australia.

Rent-a-robot: Silicon Valley’s new answer to the labor shortage in smaller U.S. factories

Better technology and the need to pay higher wages to humans have produced a surge in sales of robots to big companies all across America. But few of these automatons are making it into smaller factories, which are wary of big upfront costs and lacking robot engineering talent. So venture capitalists are backing a new financial model: lease robots, install and maintain them, charge factories by the hour or month, cut the risk and initial costs.

Biotechnology

Raising the steaks: First 3D-bioprinted structured Wagyu beef-like meat unveiled

Scientists from Osaka University used stem cells isolated from Wagyu cows to 3D-print a meat alternative containing muscle, fat, and blood vessels arranged to closely resemble conventional steaks.

DNA: The Ultimate Data-Storage Solution

Here is yet another article hinting at the huge potential of storing data in DNA. This one describes a piece of software called Adaptive DNA Storage Codex (ADS Codex) that translates data from binary form to four-letter DNA code.

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