This Week’s Awesome Tech Stories From Around the Web (Through September 30)


A Silicon Valley Supergroup Is Coming Together to Create an AI Device
Tripp Mickle and Cade Metz | The New York Times
“[Sam Altman and Jony Ive] and their companies are teaming up to develop a device that would succeed the smartphone and deliver the benefits of AI in a new form factor, unconstrained by the rectangular screen that has been the dominant computing tool of the past decade, according to two people familiar with the discussions.”


Mark Zuckerberg Just Previewed Meta’s New VR Avatars—and They Don’t Suck
Tom Carter | Business Insider
In a ‘Metaverse interview’ on the Lex Fridman podcast, Zuckerberg showed off Meta’s new Codec virtual reality avatars that use scanning technology to build 3D models of the user’s face. And unlike the company’s original Metaverse avatars, which were mocked for being legless, dead-eyed, and deeply disconcerting, these projections are extremely realistic.”


The New ChatGPT Can ‘See’ and ‘Talk.’ Here’s What It’s Like.
Kevin Roose | The New York Times
“Having an AI speak to you in a humanlike voice is a more intimate experience than reading its responses on a screen. And after a few hours of talking with ChatGPT this way, I felt a new warmth creeping into our conversations. Without being tethered to a text interface, I felt less pressure to come up with the perfect prompt. We chatted more casually, and I revealed more about my life.”


What If the Robots Were Very Nice While They Took Over the World?
Virginia Heffernan | Wired
“First it was chess and Go. Now AI can beat us at Diplomacy, the most human of board games. The way it wins offers hope that maybe AI will be a delight. …Bots like Cicero are going to understand our wants and needs and align with our distinctive worldviews. We will form buddy-movie partnerships that will let us drink from their massive processing power with a spoonful of sugary natural language. And if forced at the end of the road to decide whether to lose to obnoxious humans or gracious bots, we won’t give it a thought.”


Exoskeleton Suit Boosts Your Legs to Help You Run Faster
Carissa Wong | New Scientist
Researchers have previously developed exoskeleton devices that help people to walk or jog more efficiently. Now, Giuk Lee at Chung-Ang University in Seoul, South Korea, and his colleagues have created an ‘exosuit’ that enables people to sprint faster. …To test its performance, the team asked nine non-elite runners to sprint 200 metres, twice while wearing the exosuit and twice without it. The researchers found that the participants ran 0.97 seconds faster, on average, when wearing the suit.”


The Air Force’s Big New Electric Taxi Flies at 200 MPH
Rob Verger | Popular Science
“Joby has been testing and developing electric aircraft for years; it flew a ‘subscale demonstrator,’ or small version of the plane, back in 2015. The full-sized aircraft that Joby has delivered to the Air Force is the first production prototype to come off the company’s line in Marina, California, in June. ‘It’s massive’ as a moment, JoeBen Bevirt, the company’s CEO, tells PopSci. ‘This is like a dream come true.’i


FedEx’s New Robot Loads Delivery Trucks Like It’s Playing 3D Tetris
Will Knight | Wired
“Better algorithms, new approaches to using machine learning for robots, and improved hardware and sensors have all started to open more commercial applications for advanced robots. ‘In the last year or two, people have taken advances in AI and machine learning and said ‘we can make a real business case here, whether it’s lowering costs or improving efficiency or whatever,’ says Matthew Johnson-Roberson, director of the robotics institute at Carnegie Mellon University.”


So Much for ‘Learn to Code’
Kelli María Korducki | The Atlantic
“In the age of AI, computer science is no longer the safe major. …The potential decline of ‘learn to code’ doesn’t mean that the technologists are doomed to become the authors of their own obsolescence, nor that the English majors were right all along (I wish). Rather, the turmoil presented by AI could signal that exactly what students decide to major in is less important than an ability to think conceptually about the various problems that technology could help us solve.”


Hollywood Writers Reached an AI Deal That Will Rewrite History
Will Bedingfield | Wired
In short, the contract stipulates that AI can’t be used to write or rewrite any scripts or treatments, ensures that studios will disclose if any material given to writers is AI-generated, and protects writers from having their scripts used to train AI without their say-so. …At a time when people in many professions fear that generative AI is coming for their jobs, the WGA’s new contract has the potential to be precedent-setting, not just in Hollywood, where the actors’ strike continues, but in industries across the US and the world.”

Image Credit: Maxime Lebrun / Unsplash

* This article was originally published at Singularity Hub

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