The Obtain: tracing a mysterious covid pressure, and combating dengue with drones

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

How scientists traced a mysterious covid case again to 6 bathrooms

This week I’ve a thriller for you. It’s the story of how a staff of researchers traced a covid variant in Wisconsin from a wastewater plant to 6 bathrooms at a single firm. Nevertheless it’s additionally a narrative about privateness issues that come up while you use sewers to trace uncommon viruses again to their supply.

That virus seemingly got here from a single worker who occurred to be shedding an infinite amount of a really bizarre variant. The researchers would desperately like to search out that individual.

However what if that individual doesn’t need to be discovered? And is there an moral obligation to attempt to study what we will in order that we will attempt to assist people who find themselves harboring these viruses? Learn the total story.

—Cassandra Willyard

This story first appeared in The Checkup, MIT Expertise Evaluation’s weekly biotech e-newsletter. Join to obtain it in your inbox each Thursday.

This startup needs to battle rising international dengue outbreaks with drones

The world is grappling with dengue epidemics, with 100 to 400 million instances worldwide yearly, an eightfold improve since 20 years in the past, in keeping with the World Well being Group.

A startup in São Paulo, Brazil, one of many nations being hit the toughest by dengue outbreaks, has a attainable answer: drones that launch sterile male mosquitoes. 

Scientists have beforehand launched sterile mosquitoes in a bid to chop the variety of bugs being born—and in the end the variety of instances of mosquito-borne illnesses. Nevertheless, they confronted the hurdle of moving into the nooks and crannies of the neighborhoods the place stagnant water typically collects, and mosquitoes lay their eggs. Drones might assist them overcome it. Learn the total story.

—Jill Langlois

The must-reads

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

1 The US is suing Apple
Regulators have accused it of abusing its iPhone dominance. (FT $)
+ They’ve been trying into the corporate’s antitrust document since at the very least 2019. (The Guardian)
+ The tech big is having a tough 2024 up to now. (NYT $)
+ The lawsuit might pressure Apple to cooperate higher with different smartphone makers. (Vox)

2 The United Nations promise to advertise protected, reliable AI
However who enforces that, and the way, stays to be seen. (WP $)
+ The AI Act is completed. Right here’s what is going to (and received’t) change. (MIT Expertise Evaluation)

three What it’s wish to obtain a brain-computer implant
Jeffrey Keefer, who has Parkinson’s, agreed to having the gadget quickly utilized to the floor of his mind. (WSJ $)
+ Former Neuralink employees suppose the agency is taking pointless dangers. (Vox)
+ The way it feels to have a life-changing mind implant eliminated. (MIT Expertise Evaluation)

four Tragic information tales drove readers to donate 1000’s of {dollars}
The one drawback is, the victims didn’t exist. (NBC Information)
+ Surveillance firm Flock Security claims to have solved 10% of reported US crime. Did it actually? (404 Media)

5 We’re nonetheless ready for AI we’re keen to pay for
We take pleasure in mucking round with generative AI—however we don’t need to fork out to make use of it. (Bloomberg $)

6 A British-Italian firm claims to have found a greater option to mine bitcoin
However crypto consultants odor a rat. (FT $)
+ Ethereum moved to proof of stake. Why can’t Bitcoin? (MIT Expertise Evaluation)

7 Manufacturers depending on TikTok are getting anxious
There isn’t actually one other app or platform that might generate the identical type of gross sales. (NYT $)
+ US lawmakers are being focused by indignant TikTok devotees. (WP $)
+ Nvidia is promoting its personal model of the viral Stanley cup. (Insider $)

eight Care robots haven’t lived as much as their hype
In some instances, they will hinder as an alternative of assist. (The Atlantic $)
+ Inside Japan’s lengthy experiment in automating elder care. (MIT Expertise Evaluation)

9 Theories of actuality are critically complicated
However a few of them are way more consequential than others. (New Scientist $)
+ What’s demise? (MIT Expertise Evaluation)

10 How Pixar’s software program modified film making perpetually
Beginning with the stone chilly basic Toy Story. (IEEE Spectrum)

Quote of the day

“Purchase your mother an iPhone.”

—Apple CEO Tim Cook dinner’s response to a buyer complaining they had been unable to ship their mom sure movies as a result of she used an Android smartphone, the Verge stories.

The large story

How AI helps historians higher perceive our previous

April 2023

Historians have began utilizing machine studying to look at historic paperwork, together with astronomical tables like these produced in Venice and different early trendy cities.

Proponents declare that the appliance of contemporary pc science to the previous helps draw connections throughout a broader swath of the historic document than would in any other case be attainable, correcting distortions that come from analyzing historical past one doc at a time.

Nevertheless it introduces distortions of its personal, together with the chance that machine studying will slip bias or outright falsifications into the historic document. Learn the total story.

—Moira Donovan

We will 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 way in which sea sponges pump water is admittedly fairly wonderful.
+ Over in Australia, they’re (nearly) mistaking new bug species for chicken poo.
+ I by no means thought I’d be transfixed by a mattress making competitors, however right here we’re.
+ Meet the folks devoted to watching movies at double-speed.

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