The Obtain: Google’s new AI agent, and our tech pessimism bias

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

Google’s Astra is its first AI-for-everything agent

What’s occurring: Google is ready to launch a brand new system known as Astra later this 12 months. It guarantees that it will likely be probably the most highly effective, superior sort of AI assistant it’s ever launched. 

What’s an agent? The present era of AI assistants, reminiscent of ChatGPT, can retrieve data and provide solutions, however that’s about it. However this 12 months, Google is rebranding its assistants as extra superior “brokers,” which it says may present reasoning, planning, and reminiscence expertise and are in a position to take a number of steps to execute duties. 

The massive image: Tech corporations are in the midst of a fierce competitors over AI supremacy, and  AI brokers are the most recent effort from Large Tech corporations to point out they’re pushing the frontier of improvement. Learn the complete story.

—Melissa Heikkilä

Know-how might be altering us for the more serious—or so we at all times suppose

Can we use expertise, or does it use us? Do our devices enhance our lives or simply make us weak, lazy, and dumb? These are outdated questions—perhaps older than you suppose. You’re most likely accustomed to the way in which alarmed grown-ups by way of the many years have assailed the mind-rotting potential of serps, video video games, tv, and radio—however these are simply the current examples.

Right here at MIT Know-how Assessment, writers have grappled with the results, actual or imagined, of tech on the human thoughts for over a century. However whereas we’ve at all times greeted new applied sciences with a combination of fascination and worry, one thing attention-grabbing at all times occurs. We get used to it. Learn the complete story.

—Timothy Maher

MIT Know-how Assessment is celebrating our 125th anniversary with a web based collection that pulls classes for the longer term from our previous protection of expertise. Try this piece from the collection by David Rotman, our editor at giant, about how worry AI will take our jobs is nothing new.

Hong Kong is protected from China’s Nice Firewall—for now

Final week, the Hong Kong Courtroom of Attraction granted an injunction that allows the town authorities to go to Western platforms like YouTube and Spotify and demand they take away the protest anthem “Glory to Hong Kong,” as a result of the federal government claims it has been used for sedition.

Except for the miserable implications for pro-democracy actions’ decline in Hong Kong, this lawsuit has additionally been an attention-grabbing case examine of the native authorities’s difficult relationship with web management. Though it’s tightening its grip, it’s nonetheless cautious of imposing full-blown ‘Nice Firewall’ model censorship. Learn the complete story to seek out out why.

—Zeyi Yang

This story is from China Report, our weekly publication protecting tech and energy in China. Enroll to obtain it in your inbox each Tuesday.

The must-reads

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

1 Ilya Sutskever is leaving OpenAI  
The place its former chief scientist goes subsequent is anybody’s guess. (NYT $)
+ It’s extremely possible Sutskever’s new challenge can be focussed on AGI. (WP $)
+ Learn our interview with Sutskever from final October. (MIT Know-how Assessment)

2 The US AI roadmap is right here
Senators declare it’s the “broadest and deepest” piece of AI laws thus far. (WP $)
+ What’s subsequent for AI regulation in 2024? (MIT Know-how Assessment)

three An actual property mogul has made a bid to amass TikTok
Frank McCourt has thrown his hat into the ring to personal the corporate’s US enterprise. (WSJ $)
+ The miserable fact about TikTok’s impending ban. (MIT Know-how Assessment)

four Neuralink’s mind implant points are nothing new
Insiders declare that the agency has identified about issues with the implant’s wires for years. (Reuters)

5 Wannabe moms are discovering sperm donors on Fb 
The trade’s sky-high charges are driving ladies to the social community. (NY Magazine $)
+ I took a global journey with my frozen eggs to study concerning the fertility trade. (MIT Know-how Assessment)

6 We’re getting a greater concept of how lengthy you’ll be able to count on to drop some weight on Wegovy
However we nonetheless don’t know the way lengthy individuals must hold taking the drug to keep up it. (Ars Technica)
+ Weight-loss injections have taken over the web. However what does this imply for individuals IRL? (MIT Know-how Assessment)

7 What do DNA assessments for the lots actually obtain? 🧬
Most clients don’t really want to know in the event that they’re genetically predisposed to hate cilantro or not. (Bloomberg $)

eight How you can save rainforests from wildfires
Even lush inexperienced areas aren’t protected from flames. (Hakai Journal)
+ The hunt to construct wildfire-resistant houses. (MIT Know-how Assessment)

9 Memestocks are mounting a significant comeback
It’s like 2021 yet again. (Vox)

10 Mark Zuckerberg’s simply turned 40
It seems to be like his new rapper look is right here to remain. (Insider $)

Quote of the day

“His brilliance and imaginative and prescient are well-known; his heat and compassion are much less well-known however no much less necessary.”

—Sam Altman, OpenAI’s CEO, presents a measured response to the information that Ilya Sutskever is leaving the corporate in a publish on X.

The massive story

How you can measure all of the world’s contemporary water

December 2021

The Congo River is the world’s second-largest river system after the Amazon. Greater than 75 million individuals rely on it for meals and water, as do hundreds of species of vegetation and animals. The large tropical rainforest sprawled throughout its center helps regulate your entire Earth’s local weather system, however the quantity of water in it’s one thing of a thriller.

Scientists depend on monitoring stations to trace the river, however what was as soon as a community of some 400 stations has dwindled to simply 15. Measuring water is essential to serving to individuals put together for pure disasters and adapt to local weather change—so researchers are more and more filling information gaps utilizing data gathered from house. Learn the complete story.

—Maria Gallucci

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.)

+ The Cookie Monster had no proper to go this difficult!
+ It’s time to make product design nice once more. However how, precisely?
+ The universe is buzzing on a regular basis, however nobody actually is aware of why.
+ Who right here remembers the unique Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on NES?

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