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The Obtain: fast DNA evaluation for disasters, and supercharged AI assistants


That is right now’s version of The Obtain, our weekday publication that gives a every day dose of what’s happening on this planet of know-how.

This grim however revolutionary DNA know-how is altering how we reply to mass disasters

Final August, a wildfire tore by way of the Hawaiian island of Maui. The listing of lacking residents climbed into the lots of, as pals and households desperately searched for his or her lacking family members. However whereas some have been rewarded with tearful reunions, others weren’t so fortunate.
Over the previous a number of years, as fires and different climate-change-fueled disasters have grow to be extra frequent and extra cataclysmic, the best way their aftermath is processed and their victims recognized has been reworked.

The grim work following a catastrophe stays—surveying rubble and ash, distinguishing a bit of plastic from a tiny fragment of bone—however touchdown a optimistic identification can now take only a fraction of the time it as soon as did, which can in flip carry households some semblance of peace swifter than ever earlier than. Learn the total story.

—Erika Hayasaki

OpenAI and Google are launching supercharged AI assistants. Right here’s how one can attempt them out.

This week, Google and OpenAI each introduced they’ve constructed supercharged AI assistants: instruments that may converse with you in actual time and get well if you interrupt them, analyze your environment through stay video, and translate conversations on the fly. 

Quickly you’ll have the ability to probe for your self to gauge whether or not you’ll flip to those instruments in your every day routine as a lot as their makers hope, or whether or not they’re extra like a sci-fi occasion trick that ultimately loses its attraction. Right here’s what you need to learn about the right way to entry these new instruments, what you may use them for, and the way a lot it’ll price

—James O’Donnell

Final summer time was the most well liked in 2,000 years. Right here’s how we all know.

The summer time of 2023 within the Northern Hemisphere was the most well liked in over 2,000 years, in response to a brand new examine launched this week.

There weren’t precisely thermometers round within the 12 months 1, so scientists must get inventive in the case of evaluating our local weather right now with that of centuries, and even millennia, in the past. 

Casey Crownhart, our local weather reporter, has dug into how they figured it out. Learn the total story.

This story is from The Spark, our weekly local weather and vitality publication. Join to obtain it in your inbox each Wednesday.

A wave of retractions is shaking physics

Latest extremely publicized scandals have gotten the physics neighborhood nervous about its status—and its future. Over the past 5 years, a number of claims of main breakthroughs in quantum computing and superconducting analysis, revealed in prestigious journals, have disintegrated as different researchers discovered they may not reproduce the blockbuster outcomes. 

Final week, round 50 physicists, scientific journal editors, and emissaries from the Nationwide Science Basis gathered on the College of Pittsburgh to debate the easiest way ahead. Learn the total story to be taught extra about what they mentioned.

—Sophia Chen

The must-reads

I’ve combed the web to search out you right now’s most enjoyable/vital/scary/fascinating tales about know-how.

1 Google has buried search outcomes beneath new AI options  
Need to entry hyperlinks? Good luck discovering them! (404 Media)
+ Sadly, it’s an indication of what’s to return. (Wired $)
+ Do you belief Google to do the Googling for you? (The Atlantic $)
+ Why you shouldn’t belief AI search engines like google. (MIT Know-how Assessment)

2 Cruise has settled with the pedestrian injured by one in every of its vehicles
It’s awarded her between $8 million and $12 million. (WP $)
+ The corporate is slowly resuming its take a look at drives in Arizona. (Bloomberg $)
+ What’s subsequent for robotaxis in 2024. (MIT Know-how Assessment)

3 Microsoft is asking AI workers in China to think about relocating
Tensions between the international locations are rising, and Microsoft worries its employees might find yourself caught within the cross-fire. (WSJ $)
+ They’ve been given the choice to relocate to the US, Eire, or different places. (Reuters)
+ Three takeaways in regards to the state of Chinese language tech within the US. (MIT Know-how Assessment)

4 Automotive rental agency Hertz is offloading its Tesla fleet
However individuals who snapped up the discount vehicles are already working into issues. (NY Magazine $)

5 We’re edging nearer in direction of a quantum web
However first we have to invent a wholly new gadget. (New Scientist $)
+ What’s subsequent for quantum computing. (MIT Know-how Assessment)

6 Making laptop chips has by no means been extra vital
And international locations and companies are vying to be high canine. (Bloomberg $)
+ What’s subsequent in chips. (MIT Know-how Assessment)

7 Your smartphone lasts loads longer than it used to
Preserving them in good working order nonetheless takes a bit work, although. (NYT $)

8 Psychedelics might assist reduce power ache
If you may get maintain of them. (Vox)
+ VR is nearly as good as psychedelics at serving to folks attain transcendence. (MIT Know-how Assessment)

9 Scientists are plotting the right way to shield the Earth from harmful asteroids ☄
Smashing them into tiny items is definitely one resolution. (Undark Journal)
+ Earth might be protected from a killer asteroid for 1,000 years. (MIT Know-how Assessment)

10 Elon Musk nonetheless desires to combat Mark Zuckerberg 
The grudge match of the century remains to be rumbling on. (Insider $)

Quote of the day

“This street map results in a lifeless finish.” 

—Evan Greer, director of advocacy group Combat for the Future, is way from impressed with US Senators’ ‘street map’ for brand new AI laws, they inform the Washington Put up.

The massive story

The 2-year combat to cease Amazon from promoting face recognition to the police 

June 2020

In the summertime of 2018, practically 70 civil rights and analysis organizations wrote a letter to Jeff Bezos demanding that Amazon cease offering Rekognition, its face recognition know-how, to governments. 

Regardless of the mounting stress, Amazon continued pushing Rekognition as a instrument for monitoring “folks of curiosity”. However two years later, the corporate shocked civil rights activists and researchers when it introduced that it will place a one-year moratorium on police use of the software program. Learn the total story.

—Karen Hao

We will nonetheless have good issues

A spot for consolation, enjoyable and distraction to brighten up your day. (Bought any concepts? Drop me a line or tweet ’em at me.)

+ This old skool basketball animation is past cool. 🏀
+ Your seek for the right summer time learn is over: all of these sound improbable.
+ Analyzing the coloration concept in Disney’s Aladdin? Why not!
+ By no means purchase a nasty cantaloupe once more with these important ideas.



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