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A bot that watched 70,000 hours of Minecraft could unlock AI’s next big thing

OpenAI has built the best Minecraft-playing bot yet by making it watch 70,000 hours of video of people playing the popular computer game. It showcases a powerful new technique that could be used to train machines to carry out a wide range of tasks by binging on sites like YouTube, a vast and untapped source of training data. The Minecraft AI learned to perform complicated sequences of keyboard...

We can now use cells from dead people to create new life. But who gets to decide?

This article is from The Checkup, MIT Technology Review’s weekly biotech newsletter. To receive it in your inbox every Thursday, sign up here. Peter Zhu was just 19 years old when he died following a skiing accident in West Point, New York. His donor card made clear he had wanted to donate his organs. But his parents wanted to collect his sperm, too. His parents told a court that they...


THURSDAY 24. NOVEMBER 2022


We could run out of data to train AI language programs 

Large language models are one of the hottest areas of AI research right now, with companies racing to release programs like GPT-3 that can write impressively coherent articles and even computer code. But there’s a problem looming on the horizon, according to a team of AI forecasters: we might run out of data to train them on. Language models are trained using texts from sources like...


WEDNESDAY 23. NOVEMBER 2022


Meta’s game-playing AI can make and break alliances like a human

Meta has created an AI that can beat humans at an online version of Diplomacy, a popular strategy game in which seven players compete for control of Europe by moving pieces around on a map. Unlike other board games that AI has mastered, such as chess and Go, Diplomacy requires players to talk to each other—forming alliances, negotiating tactics—and spot when others are bluffing.  The...

The Chinese government’s problematic quest to judge online comments

China Report is MIT Technology Review’s newsletter about technology developments in China. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Tuesday. This morning, I published an explainer on China’s social credit system. The government released a draft law on November 14 that will eventually serve as the top-level guidance on how the country builds the system. …


TUESDAY 22. NOVEMBER 2022


Trust large language models at your own peril

This story originally appeared in The Algorithm, our weekly newsletter on AI. To get stories like this in your inbox first, sign up here. When Meta launched Galactica, an open-source large language model designed to help scientists, the company—reeling from criticism of its expensive metaverse investments and its recent massive layoffs—was hoping for a big PR win. Instead, all it got was...


MONDAY 21. NOVEMBER 2022


Watch this robot dog scramble over tricky terrain just by using its camera

When Ananye Agarwal took his dog out for a walk up and down the steps in the local park near Carnegie Mellon University, other dogs stopped in their tracks.  That’s because Agarwal’s dog was a robot—and a special one at that. Unlike other robots, which tend to rely heavily on an internal map to get around, his robot uses a built-in camera. Agarwal, a PhD student at Carnegie Mellon, is...

The Download: resurrecting mammoths, and the climate bill’s big flaw

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 much would you pay to see a woolly mammoth? Sara Ord has one of the most futuristic job titles around—director of species restoration at Colossal Biosciences, the world’s first “de-extinction” company. Her…

The US climate bill has made emission reductions dependent on economic success

In August, President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) into law, the largest US climate bill in more than a decade. The legislation puts the country back on track to meet its commitments under the 2015 Paris Agreement. Beyond enacting specific measures to reduce US carbon emissions by more than 40 percent by 2030, the IRA also fundamentally reframes how the government...

How much would you pay to see a woolly mammoth?

Sara Ord spent her week talking to scientists about skin cells from a mouse-size marsupial called the dunnart. The cells were sent to the “de-extinction” company where she works, Colossal Biosciences, from collaborators in Australia. Ord’s job is to lead a team that’s figuring out how to use gene editing to gradually change the DNA of those cells so that it begins to resemble that of a...


FRIDAY 18. NOVEMBER 2022


The Download: Twitter may only last weeks, and Meta’s unforced AI error

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. Former Twitter employees fear the platform might only last weeks Recently-departed Twitter staff have told MIT Technology Review they worry that the platform has weeks to live based on current staffing levels, mass…

Why Meta’s latest large language model survived only three days online

On November 15 Meta unveiled a new large language model called Galactica, designed to assist scientists. But instead of landing with the big bang Meta hoped for, Galactica has died with a whimper after three days of intense criticism. Yesterday the company took down the public demo that it had encouraged everyone to try out. Meta’s misstep—and its hubris—show once again that Big Tech has...

I found out my biological age—and was annoyed by the result

This article is from The Checkup, MIT Technology Review’s weekly biotech newsletter. To receive it in your inbox every Thursday, sign up here. You’re only as old as you feel, so they say. Now biological clocks attempt to put a number on it.  These tools analyze proteins in your blood, chemical markers on your DNA, or even the makeup of your gut bacteria to essentially predict...

Former Twitter employees fear the platform might only last weeks

Recently departed Twitter staff have told MIT Technology Review they worry that the platform has weeks to live judging from current staffing levels, mass resignations overnight, and the morale of those few who remain.  With some within Twitter estimating that 75% of those remaining plan to quit after Elon Musk sent an email informing them that they “will need to be extremely hardcore” and...


THURSDAY 17. NOVEMBER 2022


Super-hot salt could be coming to a battery near you

There’s a lot going on in the climate world. Election workers are still counting and recounting votes in the US to determine control of Congress, and at the UN climate conference, delegates are heads-down in negotiations, battling over climate targets and finance agreements.  We’re still waiting for more information about what these critical moments will mean for the future of climate...


WEDNESDAY 16. NOVEMBER 2022