Issue #389

This week - new robots from Amazon; inside longevity conference for mega-rich; new chips for AI; lab-grown meat gets FDA approval; and more!


More Than A Human

Inside the billion-dollar meeting for the mega-rich who want to live forever

Longevity Investors Conference was a two-day conference held in a posh ski-resort town in the Swiss Alps where ultra-wealthy investors spoke only about extending the human lifespan and how to live healthier for longer. Jessica Hamzelou from MIT Technology Review was there and shares what the conference looked like from the inside.

Artificial Intelligence

New Records for the Biggest and Smallest AI Computers

MLCommons released a new set of machine learning benchmarks last week. The benchmarks test the capabilities of training servers and supercomputers on various ML tasks. The set includes the new chips from Intel and Nvidia, and, for the first time, includes tiny devices for edge AI computing in their own separate category.

We’re getting a better idea of AI’s true carbon footprint

State-of-the-art AI models need a lot of energy to be trained and run. Calculating how big a carbon footprint AI generates is not easy but Hugging Face says they have a new, better way to calculate that more precisely. When they took their large language model (LLM) BLOOM and run the calculations, they came up with 25 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions during the training. That number doubles if you take into account the hardware production process. And it gets worse for other LLMs, like GPT-3.

New Chip Expands the Possibilities for AI

The need for more powerful and efficient AI is not only pushing software forward. New hardware is also needed. One example of innovation in AI hardware is NeuRRAM. It is a new chip that uses a new type of memory called resistive RAM (RRAM). That makes it to be more analog than digital and allows the chip to hold large AI models in small space while maintaining the same performance as digital chips for a fraction of the energy consumed.

Robotics

Israel deploys remote-controlled robotic guns in West Bank

Israel has deployed robotic weapons that can fire tear gas, stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets in the West Bank. There are no soldiers next to the machines. Instead, the weapons are operated by remote control and augmented with AI systems for target tracking. Israel says the technology saves lives—both Israeli and Palestinian. Others see a step towards a dystopian future with automated lethal weapons.

Amazon previews its new delivery drone, the MK30

Amazon does not give up on drone delivery and unveiled MK30 - their newest iteration of a delivery drone. The drone, scheduled to debut in 2024, is both smaller and lighter than the earlier version and able to withstand harsher temperatures and a broader range of weather conditions. Amazon also claims the drone is safer thanks to new safety systems designed to avoid a wide range of different obstacles, like trees, people, pets and other drones.

Amazon debuts Sparrow, a new bin-picking robot arm

Amazon also presented a new robot for their warehouses. Named Sparrow, the new arm is a more sophisticated take on the company’s existing robotic arms, adding the ability to pick and place specific objects in bins. The arm’s computer vision and AI are capable of identifying and moving “millions” of items, according to the company.

Biotechnology

A Lab-Grown Meat Startup Gets the FDA’s Stamp of Approval

Cultivated meat has been greenlit in the United States for the first time. The decision by the Food and Drug Administration means that a company called Upside Foods will soon be able to sell chicken made from real animal cells grown in bioreactors instead of requiring the slaughter of live animals.

▶️ A Virus-Resistant Organism - and What It Could Mean for the Future (11:07)

Jason W. Chin and his team asked if bacteria really need those redundant pieces of DNA that code the same amino acids. Turns out that no, it does not need them to work properly. The result was a bacteria that can't be targeted by viruses. The team hopes this method can be applied to crops, making them virus-resistant, and to create clean factories of the future based on bacteria.

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