This Week’s Awesome Tech Stories From Around the Web (Through March 2)


Google DeepMind’s New Generative Model Makes Super Mario-Like Games From Scratch
Will Douglas Heaven | MIT Technology Review
“OpenAI’s recent reveal of its stunning generative model Sora pushed the envelope of what’s possible with text-to-video. Now Google DeepMind brings us text-to-video games. The new model, called Genie, can take a short description, a hand-drawn sketch, or a photo and turn it into a playable video game in the style of classic 2D platformers like Super Mario Bros.”


Figure Rides the Humanoid Robot Hype Wave to $2.6B Valuation
Brian Heater | TechCrunch
“[On Thursday] Figure confirmed long-standing rumors that it’s been raising more money than God. The Bay Area-based robotics firm announced a $675 million Series B round that values the startup at $2.6 billion post-money. The lineup of investors is equally impressive. It includes Microsoft, OpenAI Startup Fund, Nvidia, Amazon Industrial Innovation Fund, Jeff Bezos (through Bezos Expeditions), Parkway Venture Capital, Intel Capital, Align Ventures and ARK Invest. It’s a mind-boggling sum of money for what remains a still-young startup, with an 80-person headcount. That last bit will almost certainly change with this round.”


How First Contact With Whale Civilization Could Unfold
Ross Andersen | The Atlantic
“One night last winter, over drinks in downtown Los Angeles, the biologist David Gruber told me that human beings might someday talk to sperm whales. …Gruber said that they hope to record billions of the animals’ clicking sounds with floating hydrophones, and then to decipher the sounds’ meaning using neural networks. I was immediately intrigued. For years, I had been toiling away on a book about the search for cosmic civilizations with whom we might communicate. This one was right here on Earth.”


RIP Apple Car. This Is Why It Died
Aarian Marshall | Wired
“After a decade of rumors, secretive developments, executive entrances and exits, and pivots, Apple reportedly told employees yesterday that its car project, internally called ‘Project Titan,’ is no more. …’Prototypes are easy, volume production is hard, positive cash flow is excruciating,’ Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted a few years back. It’s a lesson that would-be car companies—as well as Tesla—seem to learn again and again. Even after a decade of work, Apple never quite got to the first step.”


Apple Revolutionized the Auto Industry Without Selling a Single Car
Matteo Wong | The Atlantic
“Apple is so big, and its devices so pervasive, that it didn’t need to sell a single vehicle in order to transform the automobile industry—not through batteries and engines, but through software. The ability to link your smartphone to your car’s touch screen, which Apple pioneered 10 years ago, is now standard. Virtually every leading car company has taken an Apple-inspired approach to technology, to such a degree that ‘smartphone on wheels’ has become an industry cliché. The Apple Car already exists, and you’ve almost certainly ridden in one.”


Bitcoin Surges Toward All-Time High as Everyone Forgets What Happened Last Time
Matt Novak | Gizmodo
“Bitcoin’s price surged past $63,000 and then receded just a bit under on Wednesday, reaching a level the crypto coin hasn’t seen since November 2021. While it still has a little way to climb to reach an all-time high of $68,000, that level feels comfortably within reach. And if you’re feeling uneasy about the rally, given what happened two years ago, you’re not alone.”


High-Speed Humanoid Feels Like a Step Change in Robotics
Loz Blain | New Atlas
“You’ve seen a ton of videos of humanoid robots—but this one feels different. It’s Sanctuary’s Phoenix bot, with ‘the world’s best robot hands,’ working totally autonomously at near-human speeds—much faster than Tesla’s or Figure’s robots.


The Mindblowing Experience of a Chatbot That Answers Instantly
Steven Levy | Wired
“Groq makes chips optimized to speed up the large language models that have captured our imaginations and stoked our fears in the past year. …The experience of using a chatbot that doesn’t need even a few seconds to generate a response is shocking. I typed in a straightforward request, as you do with LLMs these days: Write a musical about AI and dentistry. I had hardly stopped typing before my screen was filled with a detailed blueprint for the two-act Mysteries of the Mouth.”


Here Come the AI Worms
Matt Burgess | Wired
“In a demonstration of the risks of connected, autonomous AI ecosystems, a group of researchers have created one of what they claim are the first generative AI worms—which can spread from one system to another, potentially stealing data or deploying malware in the process. ‘It basically means that now you have the ability to conduct or to perform a new kind of cyberattack that hasn’t been seen before,’ says Ben Nassi, a Cornell Tech researcher behind the research.”

Image Credit: Diego PH / Unsplash

* This article was originally published at Singularity Hub

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