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Facebook’s new polyglot AI can translate between 100 languages

The news: Facebook is open-sourcing a new AI language model called M2M-100 that can translate between any pair among 100 languages. Of the 4,450 possible language combinations, it translates 1,100 of them directly. This is in contrast to previous multilingual models, which heavily rely on English as an intermediate. A Chinese to French translation, for example, typically passes from Chinese to...


FRIDAY 16. OCTOBER 2020


Twitter’s ban almost doubled attention for Biden misinformation

The news: When Twitter banned, and then unbanned, links to a questionably sourced New York Post article about Joe Biden’s son Hunter, its stated intention was to prevent people from spreading harmful false material as America heads into the final stretch of the election campaign. But thanks to the cycle of misinformation—and claims from conservatives that social-media platforms are...

AI that scans a construction site can spot when things are falling behind

Construction sites are vast jigsaws of people and parts that must be pieced together just so at just the right times. As projects get larger, mistakes and delays get more expensive. The consultancy Mckinsey estimates that on-site mismanagement costs the construction industry $1.6 trillion a year. But typically you might only have five managers overseeing construction of a building with 1,500...

A radical new technique lets AI learn with practically no data

Machine learning typically requires tons of examples. To get an AI model to recognize a horse, you need to show it thousands of images of horses. This is what makes the technology computationally expensive—and very different from human learning. A child often needs to see just a few examples of an object, or even only one, before being able to recognize it for life. In fact, children...

Facebook and Twitter’s no-win situation over Biden

After months of experts expecting another hack-and-leak operation in the lead up to Election Day, a strange story appeared in the New York Post on Wednesday morning. It claimed to maybe contain emails belonging to Joe Biden’s son Hunter, that could possibly indicate that Hunter introduced his father, then Vice President, to a Ukrainian energy executive.  Despite a headline claiming it...

Congress was warned over QAnon. Hours later, Trump boosted it.

The news: In a 90-minute virtual US Congressional hearing hosted by the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday, representatives took stock of the state of misinformation in America and sought advice from some of the leading experts in the field. What they heard were urgent, alarming warnings about the state of truth, political fragmentation and spread of conspiracy theories, specifically...


THURSDAY 15. OCTOBER 2020


How officials are protecting the election from ransomware hackers

Hackers played a significant role in the 2016 election, when the Russian government hacked into the Democratic campaign and ran an information operation that dominated national headlines. American law enforcement, intelligence services, and even Republican lawmakers have concluded, repeatedly, that Moscow sought to interfere with the election in favor of Donald Trump.Meanwhile, in the last four...

How to pitch and write an opinion piece for MIT Technology Review

MIT Technology Review is about the biggest discoveries and ideas in emerging technology. We’re keen to hear from people with interesting, provocative, and well-argued opinions on technology and where it’s taking us. In most cases, opinion pieces should be tied either to a recent news event (and by “recent” we usually mean “in the past day or two”) or to a topic that’s generally...

A spacecraft en route to Mercury just caught this fresh new look at Venus

BepiColombo, a Mercury-bound mission jointly run by the European Space Agency and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), is snapping up a wealth of new images and collecting some new data that may tease out new clues about the Venusian atmosphere—and whether it could be home to extraterrestrial life. What happened: On Thursday morning, as part of a long journey to Mercury, BepiColombo...

Artificial general intelligence: Are we close, and does it even make sense to try?

The idea of artificial general intelligence as we know it today starts with a dot-com blowout on Broadway.  Twenty years ago—before Shane Legg clicked with neuroscience postgrad Demis Hassabis over a shared fascination with intelligence; before the pair hooked up with Hassabis’s childhood friend Mustafa Suleyman, a progressive activist, to spin that fascination into a…


WEDNESDAY 14. OCTOBER 2020


AI Reads Human Emotions. Should it?

AI can read your emotional response to advertising and your facial expressions in a job interview. But if it can already do all this, what happens next? In part two of a series on emotion AI, Jennifer Strong and the team at MIT Technology Review explore the implications of how it’s used and where it’s heading in the future. We meet: Shruti Sharma, VSCO Gabi Zijderveld,...

A NASA spacecraft is about to scoop up some asteroid rubble

Since December 2018, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has been orbiting the asteroid Bennu and trying to find out more about its chemistry and geology. And for good reason: “Bennu is a time capsule,” says Thomas Zurbuchen, the head of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “It has been out there for 4.5 billion years, and carries the history of that environment with it.”  If we study...

Room-temperature superconductivity has been achieved for the first time

Room-temperature superconductors—materials that conduct electricity with zero resistance without needing special cooling—are the sort of technological miracle that would upend daily life. They could revolutionize the electric grid and enable levitating trains, among many other potential applications. But until now, superconductors have had to be cooled to extremely low temperatures, which has...

Capitalism is in crisis. To save it, we need to rethink economic growth.

Even before the covid-19 pandemic and the resulting collapse of much the world’s economy, a crisis in capitalism was plainly evident. Unfettered free markets had pushed inequality of income and wealth to extremely high levels in the United States. Slow productivity growth in many rich countries had stunted financial opportunities for a generation. Businesses, if no longer quite oblivious to...

Governments are using the pandemic as an excuse to restrict internet freedom

The news: Global internet freedom has declined for the 10th year in a row as governments use the coronavirus pandemic as cover to restrict people’s rights, according to a report by think tank Freedom House. Its researchers assessed 65 countries, accounting for 87% of internet users worldwide. The report covers the period from June 2019 to May 2020, but some key changes took place when the...


TUESDAY 13. OCTOBER 2020


Our midcentury climate goals require radical change today

Climate scientists have found that any scenario that prevents the planet from shooting past 1.5 ˚C of warming requires effectively eliminating greenhouse-gas emissions by around midcentury. But can that still be done after decades of delayed action on climate change? In its annual report released on Tuesday, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has taken a detailed look at what it may take...

Why the “homework gap” is key to America’s digital divide

When the pandemic hit, parents scrambled to get enough devices to get their kids for online schooling. But even when they did, not everything went smoothly. Getting multiple people online for hours at a time in a home was one big obstacle; making sure entire communities were able to sign on was another. Jessica Rosenworcel, the senior Democrat on the Federal Communications Commission, wasn’t...

A man caught coronavirus twice—and it was worse the second time

The news: A man in the US caught covid-19 for a second time in the space of just two months, according to a study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases. That makes him the fifth person to have officially caught the coronavirus twice, after cases recorded in Hong Kong, Belgium, Ecuador, and the Netherlands (and there will certainly be more cases we don’t know about). However, what’s...


MONDAY 12. OCTOBER 2020


“It’s been really, really bad”: How Latinx voters are being targeted by disinformation

Rolando Chang Barrero lives in Palm Beach County, Florida in what he calls a bi-partisan Hispanic neighborhood. He’s an artist and gallery owner who is well-known in his community, and also the President of the county’s Democratic Hispanic Caucus. But this election, he says, neighbors of all political persuasions have been coming to him for fact checks about the upcoming vote. “They will...


SUNDAY 11. OCTOBER 2020


Election result delays mean “the system is working” says cybersecurity chief

With an unprecedented number of Americans voting by mail this year, it may take longer than normal for results to come in this Election Day—including even unofficial results. Yet President Donald Trump’s disinformation campaign about election security continues to falsely suggest that any “delay” would be the result of fraud. But government officials charged with protecting the election...