Issue #381

This week - how to hack GPT-3; the evolution of BattleBots; controversial embryo tests; mRNA vaccines monopolies and more!


More Than A Human

The controversial embryo tests that promise a better baby

Some companies offer tests that rank embryos based on their risk of developing complex diseases such as schizophrenia or heart disease. Nature explores how accurate and ethical these controversial tests are.

Scientists Have Long Dreamed of a Memory Prosthesis. The First Human Trials Look Promising

Is it possible to artificially boost the brain’s ability to retain memories? It looks like so. Research provided some of the first evidence that a “memory prosthetic” is possible in humans. Researchers implanted a series of electrodes implanted inside the hippocampus to stimulate it. The experiment showed improvements in memory performance by roughly 15% but there is still a long road ahead until this technology becomes widely available.

Artificial Intelligence

OpenAI - Introducing Whisper

OpenAI released its speech recognition system named Whisper. The company claims Whisper can deal with accents, background noise and technical language. It can also transcribe into multiple languages and translate from those languages into English. Whisper's code is open source and available on GitHub "to serve as a foundation for building useful applications and for further research on robust speech processing".

DeepMind’s new chatbot uses Google searches plus humans to give better answers

DeepMind unveiled Sparrow - a chatbot powered by DeepMind’s large language model Chinchilla. The bo searches the internet to answer questions and is partially trained by humans to ensure the answers are correct and not harmful.

Prompt injection attacks against GPT-3

Security engineers and hackers have a new toy to play with - GPT-3. In this post, Simon Willison shows how to use injection attacks to mess with chatbots using GPT-3 and explains the basic principle of how these attacks work.

Robotics

Watch this team of drones 3D print a tower

A mini-swarm’s worth of drones have been trained to work together to 3D-print some simple towers. One day, the method could help with challenging projects such as post-disaster construction, repairs on buildings that are too high to access safely or even building structures on other planets, the team behind it hopes.

Faster, Meaner, Deadlier: The Evolution of “BattleBots”

BattleBots and combat robots have made a lot of progress since the show started 22 years ago. IEEE Spectrum sat with Greg Munson, cofounder of the tournament, to talk about how the technology changed over the years and how it impacted the robots and the tournament.

Why Household Robots Like Rosie From the ‘Jetsons’ Are Still Out of Reach

We have seen numerous household robots in science fiction. Yet despite the advancements in robotics, they are still far away. In this post, a robotics researcher explains why it is hard to build robots that can cook or clean our homes and why the future might be full of small purpose-built robots rather than a single general-purpose household robot.

Biotechnology

Monopolies Are Getting in the Way of mRNA Vaccines

mRNA vaccines played a huge role in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. They can be made faster, more easily and by more manufacturers than traditional vaccines. But access to them is controlled by a handful of companies. To have mRNA vaccines unleash their full potential, the monopoly on them must be relaxed, argues this article.

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