This week’s awesome tech stories from around the web (through August 6)

NEUROSCIENCE

The era of brain-computer interfaces is on the horizon
Grace Brown | The cable
“The real novelty of Synchron’s device,” he says, “is that surgeons don’t have to cut open your brain, making it far less invasive and therefore less risky for patients. The device, called a Stentrode, has a mesh-like design and is about the length of an AAA battery. …Most neurosurgeons are already up to speed on the basic approach required to insert it, which reduces a high-risk operation to a procedure that can send the patient home the same day.’And that is the great innovation, says Kording.

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

Meta puts its latest AI Chatbot online for the public to talk to
James Vincent | The Verge
“The real prize is building a system that can have a conversation as free-flowing and natural as a human’s, and Meta says the only way to achieve this is to let robots have free-flowing and natural conversations. “This lack of tolerance for bots saying useless things, broadly speaking, is unfortunate,” says Williamson. “And what we’re trying to do is release this very responsibly and push the research forward.”I

BIOTECH

This startup wants to copy you into an embryo for organ harvesting
Antonio Regalado | MIT Technology Review
“The company, Renewal Bio, is pursuing recent advances in stem cell technology and artificial wombs demonstrated by Jacob Hanna, a biologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot. Earlier this week, Hanna showed that starting with mouse stem cells, his lab could form highly realistic-looking mouse embryos and keep them growing in a mechanical womb for days until they developed beating hearts, flowing blood and cranial folds.”

COMPUTING

Supposedly quantum-safe encryption cracked by Basic-Ass PC
Lucas Ropek | Gizmodo
“It turns out that breaking an encryption algorithm designed to withstand the most powerful cyberattacks imaginable may not be as tough as we’d been led to believe. In a paper published over the weekend, researchers demonstrated that a PC with a single-core processor (weaker than a decent laptop) could break a ‘post-quantum’ algorithm that had been a contender to be the gold standard for encryption in just one hour.”

AUTOMATION

Automated techniques can make developing AI easier
Tammy Xu | MIT Technology Review
“The idea is to get to a point where people can pick a question they want to ask, point an autoML tool at it and receive the result they’re looking for. That vision is the ‘holy grail of computer science,'” says Lars Kotthoff, a conference organizer and assistant professor in computer science at the University of Wyoming. “You specify the problem, and the computer figures out how to solve it—and that’s all you do. But first, researchers need to figure out how to make these techniques more time- and energy-efficient.”

ROBOTICS

Amazon announces deal to buy Roomba Maker for $1.7 billion
Ron Amadeo | Ars Technica
“The pending acquisition would be Amazon’s fourth largest ever, following the purchase of grocery chain Whole Foods in 2017 ($13.7 billion), movie studio MGM in 2021 ($8.45 billion), and medical supplier One Medical last month ($3.9 billion dollars). iRobot is the world’s leading consumer robotics company. The company mostly makes Roomba vacuums and robo-mops, and it’s also trying to get a robo-mower product off the ground.”

FUTURE

Graphene is a Nobel Prize-winning “wonder material”. Graphyne can replace it
Editorial | Big Think
“Graphene is a ‘wonder material’ made entirely of carbon atoms that has enormous potential in the semiconductor industry. A related molecule, called graphyne, may be even better. Graphyne is difficult to produce, however. Now chemists have found a way to make it in bulk.” Research can now begin.”

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

‘An Engine for the Imagination’: The Rise of AI Image Generators
James Vincent | The Verge
AI generated works of art are quietly beginning to reshape culture. Over the past few years, the ability of machine learning systems to generate images from text messages has increased dramatically in quality, accuracy and expressiveness. Now these tools are moving out of research labs and into the hands of everyday users, where they are creating new visual languages ​​and – most likely – new kinds of problems.”

THE FUTURE OF FOOD

Plant-based burgers don’t dent people’s beef addiction
Matt Reynolds | The cable
“The dizzying turnaround in the hype cycle has people wondering: Is the plant-based meat revolution already running out of steam? …Determining whether plant-based meat is replacing beef is not something you can tell from stock prices or total retail sales. Instead, we have to rely on data from surveys and analyzes of shopping baskets in supermarkets. The evidence we have suggests that the big shift is not happening (yet).”

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

AI is not sentient. Why do people say it is?
Cade Metz | New York Times
“It is true that as these researchers continue, Desdemona-like moments when this technology appears to show signs of true intelligence, consciousness, or sentience are becoming increasingly common. It is not true that in labs all over Silicon Valley, engineers have been building robots who can express emotion and conversation and jam on lead vocals like a human. Technology can’t do that. But it has the power to mislead people.”

Image credit: Fidel Fernando / Unsplash

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