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NASA’s Perseverance rover has produced pure oxygen on Mars

NASA’s Perseverance rover has successfully generated breathable oxygen on Mars. The demonstration, carried out by the rover’s MOXIE instrument on April 20, could lay the groundwork for helping future astronauts establish a sustainable colony on the planet. What’s MOXIE and how does it work: Short for Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment, it’s a gold, toaster-sized...

The US has pledged to halve its carbon emissions by 2030

The news: The US will pledge at a summit of 40 global leaders today to halve its carbon emissions from 2005 levels by 2030. This far exceeds an Obama-era pledge in 2014 to get emissions 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025. The hope is that the commitment will help encourage India, China, and other major emitters to sign up to similar targets before the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference,...


WEDNESDAY 21. APRIL 2021


This spit test promises to tell couples their risk of passing on common diseases

A new startup called Orchid is offering the chance for couples planning a pregnancy to learn their odds of passing on risks for common conditions like Alzheimer’s, heart disease, type 1 and 2 diabetes, schizophrenia, and certain cancers to their future child. Existing pre-conception tests, which are widely available, can tell parents whether their children could have certain inherited...

This has just become a big week for AI regulation

It’s a bumper week for government pushback on the misuse of artificial intelligence.  Today the EU released its long-awaited set of AI regulations, an early draft of which leaked last week. The regulations are wide ranging, with restrictions on mass surveillance and the use of AI to manipulate people. But a statement of intent from the US Federal Trade Commission, outlined in a short blog...

How a tiny media company is helping people get vaccinated

More than 132 million people in the US have received at least one dose of a covid-19 vaccine, and as of this week, all Americans over 16 are eligible. But while the US has vaccinated more people than any other country in the world, vulnerable people are still falling through the cracks. Those most affected include people who don’t speak English, people who aren’t internet-savvy, and shift...


MONDAY 19. APRIL 2021


NASA has just flown a helicopter on Mars for the first time

The news: NASA has flown an aircraft on another planet for the first time. On Monday, April 19, Ingenuity, a 1.8-kilogram drone helicopter, took off from the surface of Mars, flew up about three meters, then swiveled and hovered for 40 seconds. The historic moment was livestreamed on YouTube, and Ingenuity captured the photo above with one of its two cameras. “We can now say that human beings...


FRIDAY 16. APRIL 2021


NASA has selected SpaceX’s Starship as the lander to take astronauts to the moon

Later this decade, NASA astronauts are expected to touch down on the lunar surface for the first time in decades. When they do, according to an announcement made by the agency, they’ll be riding inside SpaceX’s Starship vehicle. NASA’s award of a $2.9 billion contract to build Starship, first reported by the Washington Post on April 16 and later confirmed by NASA, is a huge achievement...


THURSDAY 15. APRIL 2021


The $1 billion Russian cyber company that the US says hacks for Moscow

The hackers at Positive Technologies are undeniably good at what they do. The Russian cybersecurity firm regularly publishes highly-regarded research, looks at cutting edge computer security flaws, and has spotted vulnerabilities in networking equipment, telephone signals, and electric car technology.  But American intelligence agencies have concluded that this $1 billion company—which...

Building a high-performance data and AI organization

CxOs and boards recognize that their organization’s ability to generate actionable insights from data, often in real-time, is of the highest strategic importance. If there were any doubts on this score, consumers’ accelerated flight to digital in this past crisis year have dispelled them. To help them become data driven, companies are deploying increasingly advanced cloud-based technologies,...

Why is it so hard to review the Johnson & Johnson vaccine? Data.

The future of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson covid vaccine remains in limbo after an advisory panel recommended taking a deeper look into reports of rare—and sometimes fatal—side effects. The US Centers for Disease Control and the Federal Drug Administration advised suspension of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Tuesday, after reports that six people who had received a dose...


WEDNESDAY 14. APRIL 2021


Podcast: What’s AI doing in your wallet?

Our entire financial system is built on trust. We can exchange otherwise worthless paper bills for fresh groceries, or swipe a piece of plastic for new clothes. But this trust—typically in a central-government-backed bank—is changing. As our financial lives are rapidly digitized, the resulting data turns into fodder for AI. Companies like Apple, Facebook, and…

The new lawsuit that shows facial recognition is officially a civil rights issue

On January 9, 2020, Detroit police drove to the suburb of Farmington Hill and arrested Robert Williams in his driveway while his wife and young daughters looked on. Williams, a Black man, was accused of stealing watches from a luxury store. He was held overnight in jail. During questioning, an officer showed Williams a picture of a suspect. His response, he told MIT Technology Review last year,...