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

That is as we speak’s version of The Obtain, our weekday e-newsletter that gives a every day dose of what’s occurring 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 record of lacking residents climbed into the a whole bunch, as buddies 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 change into 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 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 convey 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 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 get better while you interrupt them, analyze your environment by way of stay 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 occasion trick that ultimately loses its appeal. Right here’s what it’s best to find out about the best way 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 popular in 2,000 years. Right here’s how we all know.

The summer season of 2023 within the Northern Hemisphere was the most popular in over 2,000 years, in accordance with a brand new examine launched this week.

There weren’t precisely thermometers round within the yr 1, so scientists should get inventive in relation 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 total story.

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

A wave of retractions is shaking physics

Current extremely publicized scandals have gotten the physics group nervous about its fame—and its future. During the last 5 years, a number of claims of main breakthroughs in quantum computing and superconducting analysis, printed 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 one of the best ways ahead. Learn the total story to be taught extra about what they mentioned.

—Sophia Chen

The must-reads

I’ve combed the web to seek out you as we speak’s most enjoyable/essential/scary/fascinating tales about know-how.

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 and yahoo. (MIT Know-how Assessment)

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

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

four Automobile rental agency Hertz is offloading its Tesla fleet
However individuals who snapped up the cut price vehicles are already operating into issues. (NY Magazine $)

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

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

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

eight Psychedelics might assist reduce continual ache
If you will 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 best way to defend the Earth from harmful asteroids ☄
Smashing them into tiny items is definitely one answer. (Undark Journal)
+ Earth might be secure from a killer asteroid for 1,000 years. (MIT Know-how Assessment)

10 Elon Musk nonetheless needs to struggle Mark Zuckerberg 
The grudge match of the century continues to be rumbling on. (Insider $)

Quote of the day

“This street map results in a lifeless finish.” 

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

The massive story

The 2-year struggle 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 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 total story.

—Karen Hao

We are able to nonetheless have good issues

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

+ This old fashioned basketball animation is past cool. 🏀
+ Your seek for the proper summer season learn is over: all of those sound incredible.
+ Analyzing the colour principle in Disney’s Aladdin? Why not!
+ By no means purchase a nasty cantaloupe once more with these important ideas.

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