The Obtain: authoritarian tech, and tower-building drones

That is right this moment’s version of The Obtain, our weekday e-newsletter that gives a each day dose of what’s occurring on the planet of expertise.

The world is transferring nearer to a brand new chilly warfare fought with authoritarian tech

Regardless of President Biden’s assurances at Wednesday’s United Nations assembly that the US just isn’t searching for a brand new chilly warfare, one is brewing between the world’s autocracies and democracies—and expertise is fueling it.

Late final week, Iran, Turkey, Myanmar, and a handful of different nations took steps towards changing into full members of the Shanghai Cooperation Group (SCO), an financial and political alliance led by the authoritarian regimes of China and Russia.

Nearly all of SCO member nations, in addition to different authoritarian states, are following China’s lead and are trending towards extra digital rights abuses by rising the mass digital surveillance of residents, censorship, and controls on particular person expression.

And whereas democracies additionally use huge quantities of surveillance expertise, it’s the tech commerce relationships between authoritarian nations that’s enabling the rise of digitally enabled social management. Learn the total story.

—Tate Ryan-Mosley

Watch this staff of drones 3D-print a tower

The information: A mini-swarm’s price of drones have been educated to work collectively to 3D-print some easy towers. Impressed by the best way bees or wasps assemble massive nests, the method has a number of drones work collectively to construct from a single blueprint, with one basically checking the others’ work because it goes. 

The way it works: One drone deposits a layer of constructing materials, and the opposite verifies the accuracy of every little thing printed up to now. The drones are totally autonomous whereas flying, however they’re monitored by a human who can step in if issues go awry.

Why it issues: Sooner or later, the tactic may assist with difficult initiatives corresponding to post-disaster development and even repairs on buildings which might be too excessive to entry safely, the staff behind it hopes—and will assemble buildings within the Arctic and even on Mars. Learn the total story.

—Tammy Xu

Podcast: Actual-time farming

Within the newest episode of our podcast, In Machines We Belief, we make a journey to a Californian winery to study how the way it’s deploying sensors and different types of AI. Take heed to it on Apple Podcasts, or wherever else you normally hear.

The must-reads

I’ve combed the web to search out you right this moment’s most enjoyable/necessary/scary/fascinating tales about expertise.

1 ISIS execution footage is powering AI text-to-image fashions
Non-consensual specific pictures of celebrities have additionally been present in common fashions’  datasets. (Motherboard)
+ Dall-E 2 can now generate pictures of human faces. (The Guardian)
+ Open supply AI software Secure Diffusion creates extra risque artwork than different fashions. (Wired $)
+ The darkish secret behind these cute AI-generated animal pictures. (MIT Know-how Assessment)

2 Sufferers immersed in VR throughout surgical procedure may have much less anesthetic
Which may assist to shorten hospital stays and swerve surgical problems. (MIT Know-how Assessment)
+ VR is pretty much as good as psychedelics at serving to individuals attain transcendence. (MIT Know-how Assessment)

 three Predators are focusing on youngsters on Twitch with startling ease
Its moderation instruments are failing to guard younger customers from abusers. (Bloomberg $)
+ The platform is slashing the proportion of income it offers to its greatest streamers. (NYT $)

four Making a battery-powered aircraft is actually arduous
However that’s not stopping corporations from making an attempt to beat the numerous hurdles. (WP $) 
+ Air taxi agency Kittyhawk has introduced that it’s closing down. (WSJ $) 
+ That is what’s conserving electrical planes from taking off. (MIT Know-how Assessment)

5 The hidden risks of machine translation 
When innocent phrases are mistranslated into one other language, the outcomes may be lethal. (Slate $)

6 We’d like new painkillers 💊
We’re overly reliant on harmful opioids. However discovering new medicine which might be equally efficient is an extended course of. (Economist $)

7 South Korea doesn’t wish to miss out on the US EV increase
Carmakers outdoors the US are excluded from the nation’s tax credit break. (Remainder of World)
+ China is contemplating authorized motion over the “discriminatory” legislation. (Bloomberg $)
+ EV tax credit may stall out on lack of US battery provide. (MIT Know-how Assessment)

eight How tech may help save whales from deadly ship encounters
Knowledge streams and microphones monitor the animals. (NYT $)

9 Neptune has by no means appeared higher
The James Webb Area Telescope has taken a brilliant clear image of the planet. (The Atlantic $)
+ NASA has refueled its Artemis 1 rocket forward of its subsequent launch. (The Verge)
+ SpaceX’s Starship rocket may take off in October, apparently. (CNET)

10 Cats and canines might not must eat a lot meat 🐈‍⬛🐕
Proof is mounting that pets can thrive on plant-based diets, however vets aren’t so positive. (New Scientist $)

Quote of the day

“Begin considering along with your sci-fi hat on.”

—Peter Singer, co-manager of futurist agency Helpful Fiction, which has suggested the US Air Drive and navy contractors, explains to Vox why the warfare in Ukraine has ushered in a brand new period of technological warfare.

The large story

Zimbabwe’s local weather migration is an indication of what’s to return

December 2021

Julius Mutero has spent his total grownup life farming a three-hectare plot in Mabiya, jap Zimbabwe, however has harvested just about nothing up to now six years. He’s simply one of many 86 million individuals in sub-Saharan Africa who the World Financial institution estimates will migrate domestically by 2050 due to local weather change—the biggest quantity predicted in any of six main areas the group studied.

In Zimbabwe, farmers who’ve tried to remain put and adapt by harvesting rainwater or altering what they develop have discovered their efforts woefully insufficient within the face of recent climate extremes. Droughts have already compelled tens of hundreds from the nation’s lowlands to the Japanese Highlands. However their determined strikes are creating new competitors for water within the area, and tensions might quickly boil over. Learn the total story.

—Andrew Mambondiyani

We will nonetheless have good issues

A spot for consolation, enjoyable and distraction in these bizarre instances. (Bought any concepts? Drop me a line or tweet ’em at me.)

+ Phew, this goldfish doesn’t understand how fortunate it’s!
+ This video of a trombone online game parping out Beethoven is likely one of the funniest issues I’ve seen in a very long time (thanks Robbie!)
+ The WikiReader is a outstanding and much-loved little gadget that lets you entry Wikipedia with out the web.
+ How Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse breathed new life into blockbuster animations.
+ Bicycles: buddy or foe?

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