Category: TECHNOLOGY REVIEW

How special relativity can help AI predict the future

Computers, however, find causal reasoning hard. Machine-learning models excel at spotting correlations but are hard pressed to explain why one event should follow another. That’s a problem, because without a sense of cause and effect, predictions can be wildly off. Why shouldn’t a football reverse in flight? 

This is a particular concern with AI-powered diagnosis. Diseases are often correlated with multiple symptoms. For example, people with type 2 diabetes are often overweight and have shortness of breath. But the shortness of breath is not caused by the diabetes, and treating a patient with insulin will not help with that symptom. 

The AI community is realizing how important causal reasoning could be for machine learning and are scrambling to find ways to bolt it on.

Researchers have tried various ways to help computers predict what might happen next. Existing approaches train a machine-learning model frame by frame to spot patterns in

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The internet of protest is being built on single-page websites

It helps that they are visually more layered and interesting than Google Docs. The strength of Google Docs lies in how simple they are to navigate (if you’ve ever used a word processor, you can manage a Google Doc). But Carrd offers the (restricted) creative potential of web page design. “Carrds are a whole lot easier for the creator—they’re a fairly clean, straightforward, nice-looking product that on any other format, like WordPress, would take a lot of effort,” says Gibson. 

That ease means that creators often have multiple Carrds under their belt, creating a sub-economy of design tips and art. Alex, an 18-year-old in western Australia, has made several Carrds and hosts a YouTube channel offering how-tos. “Almost anyone can set it up,” Alex says. “[I] make them for fun.”

Kel has created multiple Carrds too, starting with stan pages for K-pop and Animal Crossing. She’s helped her friends make

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IBM has built a new drug-making lab entirely in the cloud

The news: IBM has built a new chemistry lab called RoboRXN in the cloud. It combines AI models, a cloud computing platform, and robots to help scientists design and synthesize new molecules while working from home.

How it works: The online lab platform allows scientists to log on through a web browser. On a blank canvas, they draw the skeletal structure of the molecular compounds they want to make, and the platform uses machine learning to predict the ingredients required and the order in which they should be mixed. It then sends the instructions to a robot in a remote lab to execute. Once the experiment is done, the platform sends a report to the scientists with the results.

A screenshot of IBM's RoboRXN platform, which lets scientists draw the skeletal structure of the molecular compounds they want to make.
The online platform lets scientists draw the skeletal structure of the molecular compounds they want to make.

IBM RESEARCH

Why it matters: New drugs and materials traditionally require an average of

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How a $1 million plot to hack Tesla failed

Hacking isn’t all 1s and 0s—more often than you’d think, it’s about people. A Tesla employee was offered a $1 million bribe in early August to install ransomware on the car company’s networks in Nevada, a scheme that could have netted a cybercrime gang many more millions in extortion, according to a newly unsealed US Justice Department indictment (pdf).

Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov, a 27-year-old Russian, came to the United States in July and began sending WhatsApp messages to an employee of a US company he’d first met years earlier, US law enforcement says. The two met in person a few days later and Kriuchkov began to pitch a “special project,” first for a payment of $500,000 and then $1 million in cash or Bitcoin: either open a malicious email attachment or use an infected USB stick to infiltrate the company’s networks, according to the indictment. 

Tesla’s Nevada-based Gigafactory

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Memers are making deepfakes, and things are getting weird

The particular deepfake algorithm that people were using comes from a 2019 research paper presented at NeurIPS, the largest annual AI research conference. Unlike other, more complex algorithms, it allows a user to take any video of a person’s face and use it to animate a photo of someone else’s face with only a few lines of code.

Windheim found the open-source algorithm in a YouTube tutorial and ported it into a Google Colab notebook, a free service for running code in the cloud. After a few tries, aided by the skills she’d picked up in the occasional coding class in college, she got the script to spit out a deepfake video. She then synched the song to the video with Kapwing’s tools, creating a new version of the meme.

Since she posted her tutorial on Kapwing’s YouTube channel, a number of other YouTubers have also made tutorials using the

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Amid the covid-19 pandemic, shifting business priorities

As efforts to contain covid-19 crippled entire economies, put millions out of work, and forced office workers to clock in and out at home, every business—and every individual—has made changes. Some adjustments are or were short-term, such as commercial airlines offering cargo flights or even staid organizations permitting staff to work remotely. But it’s evident that deeper business transformations are underway. Organizations are reshuffling existing priorities and accelerating investments in technology to remain competitive while supporting the needs of their workforces.

To get insight into organizations’ plans and expectations, MIT Technology Review Insights surveyed 372 business leaders from its Global Panel executive group to learn about covid-19’s financial impact on organizations, its effect on their strategic decisions, and where management is investing company resources.

The financial impact is significant. Among respondents, 62% expect 2020 company revenue to decrease—a quarter of them by more than 25%. 

To survive, businesses must adapt,

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Elon Musk’s Neuralink is neuroscience theater

Rock-climb without fear. Play a symphony in your head. See radar with superhuman vision. Discover the nature of consciousness. Cure blindness, paralysis, deafness, and mental illness. Those are just a few of the applications that Elon Musk and employees at his four-year-old neuroscience company Neuralink believe electronic brain-computer interfaces will one day bring about.

None of these advances are close at hand, and some are unlikely to ever come about. But in a “product update” streamed over YouTube on Friday, Musk, also the founder of SpaceX and Tesla Motors, joined staffers wearing black masks to discuss the company’s work toward an affordable, reliable brain implant that Musk believes billions of consumers will clamor for in the future.

“In a lot of ways,” Musk said, “It’s kind of like a Fitbit in your skull, with tiny wires.”

Although the online event was described as a product demonstration, there is as yet

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Explainer: What do political databases know about you?

American citizens are inundated with political messages—on social networks, in their news feeds, through email, text messages, and phone calls. It’s not an accident that people get bombarded: political groups prefer a “multimodal” voter contact strategy, where they use many platforms and multiple attempts to persuade a citizen to engage with their cause or candidate. An ad is followed by an email, which is followed by a text message—all designed to reinforce the message.

These strategies are employed by political campaigns, political action committees, advocacy groups, and nonprofits alike. These different groups are subject to very different rules and regulations, but they all rely on capturing and devouring data about millions of people in America. 

Who is in these data sets?

Almost everyone. Most campaigns get their voter information from a handful of data vendors, either nonpartisan or partisan. These companies try to provide data on all US adults, regardless

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How to avoid the coming air conditioning crunch

As record-breaking heat waves baked Californians last month, the collective strain of millions of air conditioners forced the state’s grid operators to plunge hundreds of thousands of households into darkness.

The rolling blackouts offered just a small hint of what’s likely to come in California and far beyond. Growing populations, rising incomes, increasing urbanization, and climbing summer temperatures could triple the number of AC units installed worldwide by midcentury, pushing the total toward 6 billion, according to the International Energy Agency’s Future of Cooling report.

Indeed, air conditioning represents one of the most insidious challenges of climate change, and one of the most difficult technological problems to fix. The more the world warms, the more we’ll need cooling—not merely for comfort, but for health and survival in large parts of the world.

But air conditioners themselves produce enough heat to measurably boost urban temperatures, and they leak out highly potent

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