The Obtain: The Merge arrives, and China’s AI picture censorship

That is immediately’s version of The Obtain, our weekday e-newsletter that gives a every day dose of what’s happening on the planet of expertise.

The Merge is right here: Ethereum has switched to proof of stake

What’s occurred: “The Merge”, a significant improve to the Ethereum cryptocurrency platform, was lastly accomplished early this morning after a six-year buildup. Ethereum now makes use of proof of stake, a option to approve new transactions that guarantees to chop the blockchain’s vitality necessities by 99.9% and usher in a brand new period for the second-largest cryptocurrency. 

Why it issues: It could be laborious to overstate how a lot business pleasure there was round this shift. Many hope it may each rehabilitate the fame of crypto for skeptics and enhance the effectivity of Ethereum’s huge ecosystem of companies and builders, slicing charges and serving to it to scale.

What’s subsequent?: We gained’t know straight away whether or not the Merge lives as much as its transformative promise. Energy dynamics are nonetheless a priority, and a few of the scaling efficiencies that supporters are most enthusiastic about could not arrive till effectively into 2023. However there’s no doubting the truth that certainly one of crypto’s greatest gamers investing in a much less harmful, extra environment friendly ecosystem is, in itself, an enormous achievement. Learn the total story.

—Rebecca Ackermann

Learn extra:

  • Why Ethereum is switching to proof of stake and the way it will work. The transfer has been a few years within the making, however doesn’t come with out dangers. Learn the total story.
  • Ethereum thinks it may change the world. It’s working out of time to show it. The blockchain system has daunting technical issues to repair. However first, its disciples want to determine tips on how to govern themselves. Learn the total story.
  • Ethereum’s basis is pumping $30 million into “transformative” upgrades. The long-promised overhaul that may unlock what creator Vitalik Buterin calls the “world pc” wants a money infusion. Learn the total story
  • It’s okay to decide out of the crypto revolution. The business is investing closely in getting extra folks to purchase in. That doesn’t imply you must. Learn the total story.

There’s no Tiananmen Sq. within the new Chinese language image-making AI

With ERNIE-ViLG, a brand new AI developed by the Chinese language tech firm Baidu, you possibly can generate photos that seize the cultural specificity of China.

However there are various issues—like Tiananmen Sq., the nation’s second-largest metropolis sq. and a symbolic political heart—that the AI refuses to point out you. 

It’s not uncommon for related AIs to restrict customers from producing sure varieties of content material. Open AI’s DALL-E 2 prohibits sexual content material, faces of public figures, or medical remedy photos. However the case of ERNIE-ViLG underlines the query of the place precisely the road between moderation and political censorship lies. Learn the total story.

—Zeyi Yang

Learn extra:

  • The darkish secret behind these cute AI-generated animal photos. Google Mind revealed its personal image-making AI, known as Imagen, earlier this 12 months. However don’t anticipate to see something that isn’t healthful. Learn the total story.
  • This avocado armchair could possibly be the way forward for AI. Final 12 months, OpenAI prolonged GPT-Three with two new fashions that mix NLP with picture recognition to provide its AI a greater understanding of on a regular basis ideas. Learn the total story.

The must-reads

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

1 Social media’s greatest corporations appeared earlier than the US Senate
Previous and current Meta, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube workers answered questions on social media’s impression on homeland safety. (TechCrunch)
+ Retaining person consideration is their algorithms’ main objective. (Protocol)
+ TikTok’s consultant prevented committing to slicing off China’s entry to US knowledge. (Bloomberg $)

2 China needs to cut back its reliance on Western tech
Investing closely in native companies is only one a part of its multi-year plan. (FT $)
+ Cybercriminals are more and more considering Chinese language residents’ private knowledge. (Bloomberg $)
+ The FBI accused him of spying for China. It ruined his life. (MIT Expertise Overview)

Three California is suing Amazon
Accusing it of triggering value rises throughout the state. (WSJ $)
+ The 2-year combat to cease Amazon from promoting face recognition to the police. (MIT Expertise Overview)

four Russia is waging a surveillance warfare by itself residents 
Its authorities are more and more concentrating on strange folks, not identified dissidents or journalists. (Slate $)
+ Russian troops are nonetheless fleeing northern Ukraine. (The Guardian) 

5 Dozens of AIs debated 100 years of local weather negotiations in seconds
They’re evaluating which insurance policies are probably to be well-received globally. (New Scientist $)
+ Patagonia’s proprietor has given the corporate away to combat local weather change. (The Guardian) 

6 Iranian hackers hijacked their victims’ printers to ship ransom notes
The three males have been accused of concentrating on folks within the US, UK and Iran. (Motherboard)

7 DARPA’s tiny airplane might spy from nearly wherever
The unmanned automobile might additionally carry small bombs. (WP $)
+ The Taliban have crashed a helicopter left behind by the US navy. (Motherboard)

eight Listening to stars helps astronomers to evaluate what’s inside them
The spooky-sounding acoustic waves transmit loads of knowledge. (Economist $)
+ The James Webb House Telescope has noticed new child stars. (House)
+ The following House Pressure chief thinks the US wants a satellite tv for pc constellation to fight China.  (Nikkei Asia)

9 We’ll by no means be capable to flip and switch like a cat
However the most effective divers and gymnasts are the closest we will get. (The Atlantic $)
+ The very best robotic jumpers are impressed by nature. (Quanta)

10 This robotic is having fun
Even when it’s not terribly convincing. (The Guardian)

Quote of the day

“Tesla has but to supply something even remotely approaching a completely self-driving automotive.”

—Briggs Matsko, a Tesla proprietor, explains his rationale for suing the corporate over the “misleading” method it marketed its driver-assistance methods, in response to Reuters.

The massive story

The Soviets turned the Volga River right into a machine. Then the machine broke.

December 2021

About 2,300 miles lengthy, the Volga—generally known as “Mom Volga”—is the longest river in Europe and the most important by water stream. The historical past of the Massive Volga undertaking is, in a way, the historical past of Soviet industrialization. It’s also a historical past of rivalry with the US, which for many years raced the Soviets to construct larger, extra spectacular dams.

However the undertaking tried to do an excessive amount of. The river has develop into polluted, silted up, and overwhelmed by invasive species. Water flows at a tenth of the pace it did earlier than the dams had been constructed, and widespread poisonous algal blooms are actually widespread. 

And now that the Volga basin has been recognized as one of many areas most prone to local weather change-induced drought, it’s not an exaggeration to say that Russia’s mom river is damaged. Learn the total story.

—Olga Dobrovidova

We will nonetheless have good issues

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

+ Wait, they’re rebooting The Crow?!
+ Are you able to embrace chaos cooking? Me neither.
+ Sure, you possibly can pull off a leather-based jacket. Right here’s how.
+ These small cities in Italy are extremely lovely, and ideal trip inspiration.
+ Aww, Brendan Fraser is capturing the hearts of the web.

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