The Download: rapid DNA analysis for disasters, and supercharged AI assistants

That is as we speak’s version of The Download, our weekday e-newsletter that gives a every day dose of what’s occurring on the earth of expertise.

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

Final August, a wildfire tore by means of the Hawaiian island of Maui. The record of lacking residents climbed into the lots of, as associates and households desperately searched for his or her lacking family members. However whereas some had 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 widespread and extra cataclysmic, the best way their aftermath is processed and their victims recognized has been remodeled.

The grim work following a catastrophe stays—surveying rubble and ash, distinguishing a chunk 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 complete story.

—Erika Hayasaki

OpenAI and Google are launching supercharged AI assistants. Right here’s how one can strive 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 recuperate while you interrupt them, analyze your environment through dwell video, and translate conversations on the fly.

Quickly you’ll be capable 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 get together trick that finally loses its allure. Right here’s what you must find out about methods to entry these new instruments, what you may use them for, and the way a lot it would value.

—James O’Donnell

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

The summer season 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 yr 1, so scientists need to get artistic with regards to evaluating our local weather as we speak 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 complete story.

This story is from The Spark, our weekly local weather and power e-newsletter. Sign up to obtain it in your inbox each Wednesday.

A wave of retractions is shaking physics

Latest extremely publicized scandals have gotten the physics group frightened about its fame—and its future. During the last 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 might 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 complete story to be taught extra about what they mentioned.

—Sophia Chen

The must-reads

I’ve combed the web to search out you as we speak’s most enjoyable/essential/scary/fascinating tales about expertise.

1 Google has buried search outcomes below new AI options  
Wish 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 Expertise Evaluate)

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 check drives in Arizona. (Bloomberg $)
+ What’s subsequent for robotaxis in 2024. (MIT Expertise Evaluate)

3 Microsoft is asking AI workers in China to think about relocating
Tensions between the international locations are rising, and Microsoft worries its staff may 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 concerning the state of Chinese language tech within the US. (MIT Expertise Evaluate)

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

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

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

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

8 Psychedelics may assist reduce persistent ache
If you will get maintain of them. (Vox)
+ VR is pretty much as good as psychedelics at serving to folks attain transcendence. (MIT Expertise Evaluate)

9 Scientists are plotting methods to defend the Earth from harmful asteroids ☄
Smashing them into tiny items is definitely one resolution. (Undark Magazine)
+ Earth might be protected from a killer asteroid for 1,000 years. (MIT Expertise Evaluate)

10 Elon Musk nonetheless needs to battle 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 Struggle for the Future, is way from impressed with US Senators’ ‘street map’ for brand spanking new AI laws, they inform the Washington Post.

The large story

The 2-year battle 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 expertise, to governments.

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

—Karen Hao

We are able to nonetheless have good issues

A spot for consolation, enjoyable and distraction to brighten up your day. (Acquired 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 season learn is over: all of these sound incredible.
+ Analyzing the color theory in Disney’s Aladdin? Why not!
+ By no means purchase a nasty cantaloupe once more with these essential tips.

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