This Week’s Fascinating Tech Stories (Through September 2)

In this post:

  • AI drone beats humans in racing, marking a significant achievement in physical sports.
  • Google AI enables conversational commands for robotic dogs, showcasing advanced obedience.
  • Lab-made neurons show promise in treating Parkinson’s, highlighting potential in biotech.

A groundbreaking achievement was announced by researchers from the University of Zürich and Intel. They introduced “Swift,” an autonomous drone system that managed to outperform human champions in first-person view (FPV) drone racing. While AI has demonstrated superiority in games, this marks the first instance of AI beating human pilots in a physical sport.

Google’s AI innovation teaches robotic dogs to follow conversational instructions. Named SayTap, the AI model can process vague and unstructured hints, enabling it to perform actions such as jumping up and down when prompted for a picnic. The AI-driven robo-dog’s level of obedience showcases impressive capabilities, making it a notable advancement in robotics.

Lab-Made neurons show promise in Parkinson’s disease treatment

A biotech company’s study indicates potential success in using lab-created neurons to treat Parkinson’s disease. Embryonic-stem-cell technology was employed, resulting in implants of lab-made neurons placed into the brains of individuals with Parkinson’s. Initial findings show improved symptoms for some participants, demonstrating the potential of stem-cell medicine in addressing neurological disorders.

Self-driving cars show promise in safety over human drivers

An analysis of crash reports from Waymo and Cruise raises the question of whether self-driving cars are safer than human drivers. While conclusive evidence requires extensive testing, signs of better-than-human performance are emerging. Waymo’s data, for instance, indicates a strong case for self-driving cars being safer, marking an important milestone in transportation technology.

AI’s attempt at Ivy League-level essays

AI-generated essays were tested for Ivy League applications. While AI chatbots struggled with long-form essays, their performance on shorter essay questions raised curiosity. These tools provide insights into the evolving capabilities of AI in language generation and its potential impact on the admissions process.

Reality check for AI startups amidst Buzz

Artificial intelligence startups that rode the generative AI buzz are facing challenges. Layoffs and reduced user interest have led some companies to navigate uncertain waters. While established tech giants like Microsoft and Google dominate the AI landscape, startups are working to find their niche and deliver sustainable value.

Quantum computer captures chemical reaction in slow-Mo

Using a trapped-ion quantum computer, scientists slowed down a chemical reaction by an astounding 100 billion times, allowing meaningful observations. This groundbreaking achievement sheds light on chemical dynamics that occur within femtoseconds in nature. Quantum computing’s potential to unravel intricate molecular processes is proving to be a game-changer.

OpenAI’s ambitious quest to solve AI alignment problem

OpenAI has embarked on a research program known as “superalignment” to solve the AI alignment problem. This initiative involves dedicating a significant portion of computing power to tackle the challenges of aligning AI systems with human values. By building an aligned AI research tool, OpenAI aims to address ethical concerns in AI development.

Solar-powered hybrid truck offers mileage from sunlight

A plug-in hybrid truck with solar panels on its trailer offers thousands of free miles through solar energy. Equipped with tandem solar cells, the truck generates an estimated 8,000 kWh annually in Sweden’s climate. This innovation highlights the potential for solar energy to enhance transportation sustainability.

Reflections on the changing landscape of Google

The era of “peak Google” is undergoing transformation, marked by shifts in technology and culture. Google’s impact over the last 25 years is profound, shaping internet usage and society itself. The evolution of Google’s influence signals a changing landscape in the tech industry.

Study suggests ancient human population was near extinction

Research reveals that an ancestral human species faced near-extinction around 800,000 years ago. A significant population bottleneck threatened the lineage’s survival, highlighting the vulnerability of early human populations. The study sheds light on our evolutionary history and the challenges our ancestors faced.

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