This Week’s Awesome Tech Stories From Around the Web (Through November 18)


Google DeepMind’s AI Pop Star Clone Will Freak You Out
Angela Watercutter | Wired
Two new tools using DeepMind’s music generation algorithm Lyria let anyone make YouTube shorts using the AI-generated vocals of Demi Lovato, T-Pain, Troye Sivan and others. …All anyone has to do is type in a topic and pick an artist off a carousel, and the tool writes the lyrics, produces the backing track, and sings the song in the style of the musician selected. It’s wild.”


The First CRISPR Medicine Just Got Approved
Emily Mullin | Wired
“The first medical treatment that uses CRISPR gene editing was authorized Thursday by the United Kingdom. The one-time therapy, which will be sold under the brand name Casgevy, is for patients with sickle cell disease and a related blood disorder called beta thalassemia, both of which are inherited. The UK approval marks a historic moment for CRISPR, the molecular equivalent of scissors that won its inventors a Nobel Prize in 2020.”


Google DeepMind Wants to Define What Counts as Artificial General Intelligence
Will Douglas Heaven | MIT Technology Review
AGI, or artificial general intelligence, is one of the hottest topics in tech today. It’s also one of the most controversial. A big part of the problem is that few people agree on what the term even means. Now a team of Google DeepMind researchers has put out a paper that cuts through the cross talk with not just one new definition for AGI but a whole taxonomy of them.”


Why Tech Giants Are Hedging Their Bets on OpenAI
Michelle Cheng | Quartz
“Microsoft owns a 49% stake in OpenAI, having invested billions of dollars in the maker of ChatGPT. But the tech titan is also an investor in Inflection AI, which has a chatbot called Pi and is seen as a rival to OpenAI. …Last week, Reuters reported that Google plans to invest hundreds of millions in Character.AI, which builds personalized bots. In late October, Google said it had agreed to sink up to $2 billion into Anthropic, a key rival to OpenAI. What’s happening here?”


Start-Ups With Laser Beams: The Companies Trying to Ignite Fusion Energy
Kenneth Chang | The New York Times
“Take a smidgen of hydrogen, then blast it with lasers to set off a small thermonuclear explosion. Do it right, and maybe you can solve the world’s energy needs. A small group of start-ups has embarked on this quest, pursuing their own variations on this theme—different lasers, different techniques to set off the fusion reactions, different elements to fuse together. ‘There has been rapid growth,’ said Andrew Holland, chief executive of the Fusion Industry Association, a trade group lobbying for policies to speed the development of fusion.”


Young Children Trounce Large Language Models in a Simple Problem-Solving Task
Ross Pomeroy | Big Think
“Despite their genuine potential to change how society works and functions, large language models get trounced by young children in basic problem-solving tasks testing their ability to innovate, according to new research. The study reveals a key weakness of large language models: They do not innovate. If large language models can someday become innovation engines, their programmers should try to emulate how children learn, the authors contend.”


Sphere and Loathing in Las Vegas
Charlie Warzel | The Atlantic
“I wanted to be cynical about the Sphere and all it represents—our phones as appendages, screens as a mediated form of experiencing the world. There’s plenty to dislike about the thing—the impersonal flashiness of it all, its $30 tequila sodas, the likely staggering electricity bills. But it is also my solemn duty to report to you that the Sphere slaps, much in the same way that, say, the Super Bowl slaps. It’s gaudy, overly commercialized, and cool as hell: a brand-new, non-pharmaceutical sensory experience.”


Meta Brings Us a Step Closer to AI-Generated Movies
Kyle Wiggers | TechCruch
“Like ‘Avengers’ director Joe Russo, I’m becoming increasingly convinced that fully AI-generated movies and TV shows will be possible within our lifetimes. …Now, video generation tech isn’t new. Meta’s experimented with it before, as has Google. …But Emu Video’s 512×512, 16-frames-per-second clips are easily among the best I’ve seen in terms of their fidelity—to the point where my untrained eye has a tough time distinguishing them from the real thing.”


Joby, Volocopter Fly Electric Air Taxis Over New York City
Aria Alamalhodaei | TechCrunch
“Joby Aviation and Volocopter gave the public a vivid glimpse of what the future of aviation might look like [last] weekend, with both companies performing brief demonstration flights of their electric aircraft in New York City. The demonstration flights were conducted during a press conference on Sunday, during which New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced that the city would electrify two of the three heliports located in Manhattan—Downtown Manhattan Heliport and East 34th Street.”


Google’s ChatGPT Competitor Will Have to Wait
Maxwell Zeff | Gizmodo
“Google is having a hard time catching up with OpenAI. Google’s competitor to ChatGPT will not be ready until early 2024, after previously telling some cloud customers it would get to use Gemini AI in November of this year, sources told The Information Thursday. …Google’s Gemini was reportedly set to debut in 2023 with image and voice recognition capabilities. The chatbot would have been competitive with OpenAI’s GPT-4, and Anthropic’s Claude 2.”

Image Credit: Brian McGowanUnsplash

* This article was originally published at Singularity Hub

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