Issue #368

This week - Amazon plans to the voices of the dead with Alexa; US first CRISPR therapy is nearly 100% effective 3 years on; 10 years of robotics at Amazon; and more!


Artificial Intelligence

Amazon’s Alexa could turn dead loved ones into digital assistant

Amazon plans to let people turn their dead loved ones’ voices into digital assistants, with the company promising the ability to “make the memories last”. The company is developing technology that will allow its Alexa digital assistant to mimic the voice of anyone it hears from less than a minute of provided audio.

Microsoft stops selling emotion-reading tech, limits face recognition

In response to lawmakers in the United States and Europe taking a closer look at AI, Microsoft decided to stop selling technology that guesses someone's emotion based on a facial image and would no longer provide unfettered access to facial recognition technology. Existing customers will have one year before losing access to these tools and then get approval to use them afterwards.

AI Shakespeare and AI Oscar Wilde Debate Machine Creativity at Oxford

As a part of the Oxford Union discussion about AI-generated content, researchers "brought back to life" as AI agents Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, Mrs Bennet from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Winston Churchill to contribute to the discussion. The AIs were trained to mimic these people based on their work.

DALL·E 2, Explained: The Promise and Limitations of a Revolutionary AI

This article does a good job explaining how DALL-E 2 - OpenAI's powerful text-to-image generator - works under the hood. It also discusses its limitations, like spelling issues or incoherence, and its social issues - from biases to generating explicit content to a potential for spreading disinformation.

Robotics

10 years of Amazon robotics: how robots help sort packages, move product, and improve safety

In this post, Amazon looks back at the last 10 years in robotics, starting with acquiring Kiva and building more and more robots to automate the daily work in Amazon's warehouses.

Breakthrough 3D Printing Technique Builds Robots in One Step

A team of engineers at UCLA has developed a new 3D printing technique and design strategy that enables robots to be built in one single step. The new technique involves a 3D printing process for engineered active materials with multiple functions, or ‘metamaterials.’ It enables the manufacturing of the entire mechanical and electronic systems required for operating a robot at once. After the ‘meta-bot’ has been 3D printed, it can carry out movement, propulsion, sensing, and decision-making.

Scientists unveil bionic robo-fish to remove microplastics from seas

Scientists have designed a tiny robot-fish that is programmed to remove microplastics from seas and oceans by swimming around and adsorbing them on its soft, flexible, self-healing body. The robo-fish is just 13mm long, and thanks to a light laser system in its tail, swims and flaps around at almost 30mm a second, similar to the speed at which plankton drift around in moving water.

Biotechnology

America’s first CRISPR trial is still nearly 100% effective 3 years on

The results from one of the longest-running human trials (which started in 2019) using CRISPR technology to treat a pair of rare genetic blood diseases have shown that out of 75 patients, 73 were essentially cured of their disease and don't require further therapy. The remaining two patients were almost cured.

New CRISPR-based map ties every human gene to its function

After years of work, scientists at MIT have completed the first comprehensive functional map of genes that are expressed in human cells. The data are available for other scientists to use. “It’s a big resource in the way the human genome is a big resource, in that you can go in and do discovery-based research,” says Jonathan Weissman, who was a part of the team behind the project.

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