Issue #394

This week - OpenAI's new AI generates 3d objects; artists protest against AI artwork; the human cost of neurotech failure; the CRISPR baby scientist is back; and more!


More Than A Human

The human cost of neurotechnology failure

Since 2013, Markus Möllmann-Bohle has an implant in his head preventing him from having painful headaches. But in 2019, the company that made and supported the implant went bankrupt and left Markus and other patients to figure out what to do next. This article not only shares Markus' story but also asks what happens when an implant becomes obsolete or a company that makes it disappears, and what can be done to minimalise the impact of such events on patients.

Artificial Intelligence

OpenAI releases Point-E, an AI that generates 3D models

OpenAI open sourced Point-E - an AI that generates 3D models from a text prompt. The models are generated as a point cloud as they are easier to synthesize from a computational standpoint.

Artists stage mass protest against AI-generated artwork on ArtStation

Members of the online community ArtStation staged a protest against AI-generated artwork on the website. As one of the protester wrote, "I love playing with MJ as much as anyone else, but putting something that was generated using a prompt alongside artwork that took hundreds of hours and years of experience to make is beyond disrespectful".

Peter Norvig reviews AlphaCode

Peter Norvig, an influential and well-respected computer scientist, took some of the programs generated by DeepMind's AlphaCode and Google's Minerva, and reviewed them. An interesting and in-depth review from a master programmer.

Becoming a chatbot: my life as a real estate AI’s human backup

Chatbots are becoming more and more capable but every now and then they stumble and a human needs to step in. Laura Preston was one of those humans and in this article, she shares her experiences of being "a person pretending to be a computer pretending to be a person".

Robotics

Alphabet’s Intrinsic Acquires Majority of Open Robotics

Open Robotics, which is the organization that includes the nonprofit Open Source Robotics Foundation (OSRF) as well as the for-profit Open Source Robotics Corporation (OSRC), announced that OSRC has been acquired by Intrinsic, a standalone company within Alphabet that’s developing software to make industrial robots intuitive and accessible. The deal does not mean that ROS and Gazebo are now owned by Google. These projects will stay with an independent Open Source Robotics Foundation.

▶️ 10 Crazy Rejected BattleBots Designs (18:39)

Not every robot is accepted to take part in BattleBots. Here are 10 of such robots that for one or other reason did not make the cut.

Waymo’s driverless robotaxis are now doing airport trips in Phoenix

Waymo, Alphabet's self-driving car company, announced that customers flying in and out of Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport will now be able to hail one of the company’s “rider only” vehicles.

Zipline is now the national drone service provider for Rwanda

Zipline got its start six years ago using its autonomous electric drones to deliver blood in Rwanda. Now, the logistics and drone delivery startup is expanding its Rwandan government partnership with a lofty aim: complete nearly 2 million instant deliveries and fly more than 200 million autonomous kilometers in the country by 2029.

A Drone Flew a Human Lung Across Toronto for Emergency Transplant

Canadian researchers published a paper describing a trial drone flight delivering a lung between two hospitals. The drone succesfuly flew 2km between Toronto Western Hospital and Toronto General Hospital, proving the concept is viable and useful. “Even for short trips between nearby hospitals, drones offer a reliable transportation method that overcomes typical city congestion,” the authors wrote. “Thus, it is likely that all donor organs will be delivered by drone in the future, irrespective of distance from the transplant hospital.”

Biotechnology

The CRISPR Baby Scientist Is Back. Here’s What He’s Doing Next

In 2018, He Jiankui shocked the world by creating first genetically modified babies. In 2019, he was sentenced to three years in prison for illegal medical practices. Now, He announced his next steps which involved creating a new, independent lab in Beijing to pursue gene therapy as well as gene editing. In an email interview with WIRED, He said he wants to help families with rare diseases but plans to treat people who already have these disorders, not prevent them by making heritable changes to embryos as he did with the Crispr babies.

Gene-edited hens may end cull of billions of chicks

Israeli researchers say they have developed gene-edited hens that lay eggs from which only female chicks hatch. The breakthrough could prevent the slaughter of billions of male chickens each year, which are culled because they don't lay eggs. The scientists have gene edited DNA into the hens that can stop the development of any male embryos in eggs that they lay. The DNA is activated when the eggs are exposed to blue light for several hours. Female chick embryos are unaffected by the blue light and develop normally. The chicks have no additional genetic material inside them nor do the eggs they lay.

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