The Obtain: disputes over inexperienced mining, and what’s subsequent for robotaxis

That is right now’s version of The Obtain, our weekday publication that gives a each day dose of what’s occurring on this planet of expertise.

This city’s mining battle reveals the contentious path to a cleaner future

In June final 12 months, Talon, an exploratory mining firm, submitted a proposal to Minnesota state regulators to start digging up as a lot as 725,000 metric tons of uncooked ore per 12 months, primarily to unlock the wealthy and profitable reserves of high-grade nickel within the bedrock.

Talon is striving to distance itself from the mining business’s soiled previous, portraying its plan as a clear, pleasant mannequin of contemporary mineral extraction. It proclaims the positioning will assist to energy a greener future for the US by producing the nickel wanted to fabricate batteries for electrical vehicles and vehicles, however with low emissions and lightweight environmental impacts.

However as the corporate has rapidly found, a variety of locals aren’t looking forward to main mining operations close to their cities. Learn the total story.

—James Temple

What’s subsequent for robotaxis in 2024

In 2023, it nearly felt as if the promise of robotaxis was quickly to be fulfilled. Hailing a robotaxi had briefly change into the brand new fashionable factor to do in San Francisco. 

Nonetheless, that dream crashed and burned in October, when a deadly accident in downtown San Francisco involving a car belonging to Cruise, one of many main US robotaxi firms, solid an extended shadow over the expertise’s future. 

Regardless of that, different robotaxi firms the world over are nonetheless forging forward. Zeyi Yang, our China reporter, talked to consultants about the right way to perceive the challenges dealing with the robotaxi business. Right here’s how they anticipate it to alter in 2024.

Why does AI being good at math matter?

Final week the AI world was buzzing over a brand new paper in Nature from Google DeepMind, wherein the lab managed to create an AI system that may clear up advanced geometry issues.

That is the second time in latest months that the AI world obtained all enthusiastic about math. The rumor mill went into overdrive final November, when there have been stories that the boardroom drama at OpenAI, which noticed CEO Sam Altman briefly ousted, was attributable to a brand new highly effective AI breakthrough. It was reported that the AI system in query was known as Q* and will clear up advanced math calculations. 

You don’t have to be actually into math to see why that is doubtlessly very thrilling. Math is basically, actually exhausting for AI fashions. Complicated math requires refined reasoning abilities, and lots of AI researchers consider that the power to crack it might herald extra highly effective and clever programs. Learn the total story.

This story is from The Algorithm, our weekly publication maintaining you updated on all the most important AI developments. Enroll to obtain it in your inbox each Monday.

Vote for the 11th breakthrough expertise of 2024

All through January, we’ve been showcasing the 10 breakthrough applied sciences poised to have an actual affect on the world—masking all the pieces from Twitter killers to weight-loss medicine. However now we want your assist to assist choose a bonus 11th expertise. 

Try the shortlist (and the remainder of the record) and vote in our ballot to substantiate your selection—we’ll be unveiling the winner in April.

The must-reads

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

1 Pretend Joe Biden robocalls urged New Hampshire residents to not vote
The incident is being handled as an try at voter suppression. (NBC Information)
+ The Trump marketing campaign has denied any involvement. (NY Magazine $)
+ It could possibly be the beginning of a brand new wave of political deepfakes forward of the US election. (NYT $)
+ Six ways in which AI might change politics. (MIT Know-how Evaluate)

2 Google is popping its again on formidable moonshots 
The tasks are wildly costly, and don’t have a tendency to provide viable companies. (Bloomberg $)

three The world’s first malaria vaccine program for youngsters has begun

However consultants fear what number of kids in high-risk areas will really obtain it. (Wired $)
+ The brand new malaria vaccine may not be excellent, however it’ll save numerous lives. (MIT Know-how Evaluate)

four A person claims Macy’s facial recognition led to him being assaulted in jail
The expertise’s accuracy has been questioned in a number of lawsuits. (WP $)
+ Police are utilizing the expertise to attempt to crack chilly circumstances. (Wired $)
+ The motion to restrict face recognition tech may lastly get a win. (MIT Know-how Evaluate)

5 It’s fairly unlikely a printer cartridge might comprise a pc virus
However HP’s CEO is satisfied it’s an actual and current hazard. (Ars Technica)

6 We’re studying extra about China’s shadowy spy company
Its public profile is rising because it steps up its efforts to warn the general public concerning the risks of international espionage. (FT $)

7 TikTok’s sickness influencers are sick and drained
Whereas documenting their situations will help with medical payments, it’s exhausting. (Vox)
+ Dementia content material will get billions of views on TikTok. Whose story does it inform? (MIT Know-how Evaluate)

eight The primary chickpeas have been grown in moon mud 
It’s the kind of improvement that might make long-term lunar stays extra possible. (New Scientist $)
+ What’s subsequent for the moon. (MIT Know-how Evaluate)

9 Gummy nutritional vitamins not often ship on their guarantees
Their less-tasty counterparts are decrease in sugar, and ship their advantages extra reliably. (The Atlantic $)

10 Rats love taking selfies 🐀
Or might it simply be the sugar reward they obtained for snapping the shutter? (NYT $)

Quote of the day

“Some members of Congress desire to opine about aliens to the press reasonably than get an evidence-based briefing on the matter.” 

—Sean Kirkpatrick, the previous head of the Pentagon’s division devoted to investigating extraterrestrials, explains his choice to step down from the group, Motherboard stories.

The massive story

How a tiny Pacific Island turned the worldwide capital of cybercrime

November 2023

Tokelau, a string of three remoted atolls strung out throughout the Pacific, is so distant that it was the final place on Earth to be related to the phone—solely in 1997. Simply three years later, the islands obtained a fax with an unlikely enterprise proposal that will change all the pieces.

It was from an early web entrepreneur from Amsterdam, named Joost Zuurbier. He needed to handle Tokelau’s country-code top-level area, or ccTLD—the brief string of characters that’s tacked onto the tip of a URL—in trade for cash.

Within the succeeding years, tiny Tokelau turned an unlikely web large—however not in the way in which it might have hoped. Till not too long ago, its .tk area had extra customers than another nation’s: a staggering 25 million—however the overwhelming majority had been spammers, phishers, and cybercriminals.

Now the territory is desperately making an attempt to scrub up .tk. Its worldwide standing, and even its sovereignty, might rely on it. Learn the total story.

—Jacob Judah

We will nonetheless have good issues

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

+ In the event you catch a glimpse of bigfoot when you’re out and about, I’m afraid to say it might simply be a black bear.
+ Novak Djokovic has a particular relationship with a tree in Melbourne, as you do. 🌳
+ Voldemort’s chortle throughout totally different languages is very lol-worthy.
+ In the event you didn’t get fed up of creating sourdough in lockdown, right here’s a refresher on the right way to get began.
+ These Japanese websites are merely breathtaking.

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