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Tackling long-haul diseases

MIT immunoengineer Michal “Mikki” Tal remembers the exact moment she had an insight that would change the trajectory of her research, getting her hooked on studying a long-neglected disease that leaves millions of Americans suffering without treatment.  It was 2017, and she was a Stanford postdoc exploring connections between her immune regulation research and immuno-oncology,…

The Download: Alabama’s embryo ruling impact, and remote learning for pre-schoolers

This is today’s edition of The Download, our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s going on in the world of technology. The weird way Alabama’s embryo ruling takes on artificial wombs A ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court last week that frozen embryos count as children is sending “shock waves” through the fertility industry…

The weird way Alabama’s embryo ruling takes on artificial wombs

This article first appeared in The Checkup, MIT Technology Review’s weekly biotech newsletter. To receive it in your inbox every Thursday, and read articles like this first, sign up here. A ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court last week that frozen embryos stored in labs count as children is sending “shock waves” through the fertility industry and stoking fears that in vitro fertilization...

Yes, remote learning can work for preschoolers

The other day some preschoolers were pretending to be one of their favorite Sesame Street characters, a baby goat named Ma’zooza who likes round things. They played with tomatoes—counting up to five, hiding one, and putting it back.  A totally ordinary moment exploring shapes, numbers, and imagination. Except this version of Sesame Street—called Ahlan Simsim…


THURSDAY 22. FEBRUARY 2024


Ready, set, grow: These are the biotech plants you can buy now

This spring I am looking forward to growing some biotech in my backyard for the first time. It’s possible because of startups that have started selling genetically engineered plants directly to consumers, including a bright-purple tomato and a petunia that glows in the dark. This week, for $73, I ordered both by pressing a few buttons online. Biotech seeds have been a huge business for a...

Watch this robot as it learns to stitch up wounds

An AI-trained surgical robot that can make a few stitches on its own is a small step toward systems that can aid surgeons with such repetitive tasks. A video taken by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, shows the two-armed robot completing six stitches in a row on a simple wound in imitation skin, passing the needle through the tissue and from one robotic arm to the other...


WEDNESDAY 21. FEBRUARY 2024


Data at the center of business

With more than 5,000 branches across 48 states and 80 million customers, each with its own unique requirements to satisfy its customers’ financial needs, a clear data strategy is key for JPMorgan Chase. According to Mark Birkhead, firm-wide chief data officer at JPMorgan Chase, data analytics is the oxygen that breathes life into the firm…


TUESDAY 20. FEBRUARY 2024


Transforming document understanding and insights with generative AI

At some point over the last two decades, productivity applications enabled humans (and machines!) to create information at the speed of digital—faster than any person could possibly consume or understand it. Modern inboxes and document folders are filled with information: digital haystacks with needles of insight that too often remain undiscovered. Generative AI is an incredibly exciting...

I went for a walk with Gary Marcus, AI’s loudest critic

Gary Marcus meets me outside the post office of Vancouver’s Granville Island wearing neon-coral sneakers and a blue Arcteryx jacket. I’m in town for a family thing, and Marcus has lived in the city since 2018 after 20 years in New York City. “I just find it to be paradise,” he tells me, as I join him on his daily walk around Granville Island and nearby Kitsilano beach. We’ve agreed to...


MONDAY 19. FEBRUARY 2024


The Download: missions to Jupiter’s moon Europa, and Uruguay’s screwworm gene drive

This is today’s edition of The Download, our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s going on in the world of technology. The search for extraterrestrial life is targeting Jupiter’s icy moon Europa Europa, Jupiter’s fourth-largest moon, is nothing like ours. Its surface is a vast saltwater ocean, encased in a blanket of cracked ice,…

The search for extraterrestrial life is targeting Jupiter’s icy moon Europa

We’ve known of Europa’s existence for more than four centuries, but for most of that time, Jupiter’s fourth-largest moon was just a pinprick of light in our telescopes—a bright and curious companion to the solar system’s resident giant. Over the last few decades, however, as astronomers have scrutinized it through telescopes and six spacecraft have…


FRIDAY 16. FEBRUARY 2024


Roundtables: Building a Cleaner Future: Better Batteries and Their Materials

Recorded on February 15, 2024 Building a Cleaner Future: Better Batteries and Their Materials Speakers: Casey Crownhart, Climate reporter, David Rotman, Editor at large, James Temple, Sr Editor of Climate & Energy Electric vehicles are taking to the roads like never before, and a grid with a growing share of renewables like wind and solar means grid storage is becoming ever...

Uruguay wants to use gene drives to eradicate devastating screwworms

On a warm, sunny day in Montevideo, Uruguay, the air is smogless and crisp. Inside a highly secured facility at the National Institute of Agricultural Research (INIA) are a sophisticated gene gun, giant microscopes, and tens of thousands of gene-edited flies, their bright blue wings fluttering against the walls of their small, white, netted cages. These flies—shown to me on video by an INIA...

How bacteria-fighting viruses could go mainstream

This article first appeared in The Checkup, MIT Technology Review’s weekly biotech newsletter. To receive it in your inbox every Thursday, and read articles like this first, sign up here. Lynn Cole had a blood infection she couldn’t shake. For years, she was in and out of the hospital. Each time antibiotics would force the infection to retreat. Each time it came roaring back. In...


THURSDAY 15. FEBRUARY 2024


OpenAI teases an amazing new generative video model called Sora

OpenAI has built a striking new generative video model called Sora that can take a short text description and turn it into a detailed, high-definition film clip up to a minute long. Based on four sample videos that OpenAI shared with MIT Technology Review ahead of today’s announcement, the San Francisco-based firm has pushed the envelope of what’s possible with text-to-video generation (a...

Google’s new version of Gemini can handle far bigger amounts of data

Google DeepMind today launched the next generation of its powerful artificial intelligence model Gemini, which has an enhanced ability to work with large amounts of video, text, and images. It’s an advancement from the three versions of Gemini 1.0 that Google announced back in December, ranging in size and complexity from Nano to Pro to Ultra. (It rolled out Gemini 1.0 Pro and 1.0 Ultra...

Responsible technology use in the AI age

The sudden appearance of application-ready generative AI tools over the last year has confronted us with challenging social and ethical questions. Visions of how this technology could deeply alter the ways we work, learn, and live have also accelerated conversations—and breathless media headlines—about how and whether these technologies can be responsibly used. Responsible technology...

Three things to love about batteries

This article is from The Spark, MIT Technology Review’s weekly climate newsletter. To receive it in your inbox every Wednesday, sign up here. I wouldn’t exactly say I have favorites when it comes to climate technologies. Anything that could help us get closer to tackling climate change is worth writing about, both to share the…


WEDNESDAY 14. FEBRUARY 2024


A new satellite will use Google’s AI to map methane leaks from space

A methane-measuring satellite will launch in March that aims to use Google’s AI to quantify, map, and reduce leaks. The mission is part of a collaboration with the nonprofit Environmental Defense Fund, and the result, they say, will be the most detailed portrait yet of methane emissions. It should help to identify the worst spots, and who is responsible. With methane responsible for roughly a...

How sulfur could be a surprise ingredient in cheaper, better batteries

The key to building less-expensive batteries that could extend the range of EVs might lie in a cheap, abundant material: sulfur. Addressing climate change is going to require a whole lot of batteries, both to drive an increasingly electric fleet of vehicles and to store renewable power on the grid. Today, lithium-ion batteries are the dominant choice for both industries. But as the need for...

How the internet pushed China’s New Year red packet tradition to the extreme

This story first appeared in China Report, MIT Technology Review’s newsletter about technology in China. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Tuesday. If you ask any child in China what’s the most exciting thing about welcoming another year, they are likely to answer: the red packets. It’s a festive tradition: During the holidays, people give out red envelopes full of cold hard...


TUESDAY 13. FEBRUARY 2024


The Download: learning from environmental DNA, and why we should welcome watermarks

This is today’s edition of The Download, our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s going on in the world of technology. How environmental DNA is giving scientists a new way to understand our world Environmental DNA is a relatively inexpensive, widespread, potentially automated way to observe the diversity and distribution of life.  Unlike...

Why Big Tech’s watermarking plans are some welcome good news

This story originally appeared in The Algorithm, our weekly newsletter on AI. To get stories like this in your inbox first, sign up here. This week I am happy to bring you some encouraging news from the world of AI. Following the depressing Taylor Swift deepfake porn scandal and the proliferation of political deepfakes, such as AI-generated robocalls of President Biden asking voters to stay...


MONDAY 12. FEBRUARY 2024


This chart shows why heat pumps are still hot in the US

Heat pumps are still a hot technology, though sales in the US, one of the world’s largest markets, fell in 2023. Even with the drop, the appliances beat out gas furnaces for the second year in a row and saw their overall market share increase compared to furnaces, sales of which also fell last year. Heat pumps heat and cool spaces using electricity, and they could be a major tool in the...


FRIDAY 9. FEBRUARY 2024


Why engineers are working to build better pulse oximeters

This article first appeared in The Checkup, MIT Technology Review’s weekly biotech newsletter. To receive it in your inbox every Thursday, and read articles like this first, sign up here. Visit any health-care facility, and one of the first things they’ll do is clip a pulse oximeter to your finger. These devices, which track heart rate and blood oxygen, offer vital information about a...