April 17, 2024

This Week’s Awesome Tech Stories From Around the Web (Through September 16)

This Driverless Car Company Is Using Chatbots to Make Its Vehicles Smarter
Will Douglas Heaven | MIT Technology Review
“Self-driving car startup Wayve can now interrogate its vehicles, asking them questions about their driving decisions—and getting answers back. …In a demo the company gave me this week, CEO Alex Kendall played footage taken from the camera on one of its Jaguar I-PACE vehicles, jumped to a random spot in the video, and started typing questions: ‘What’s the weather like?’ The weather is cloudy. ‘What hazards do you see?’ There is a school on the left. ‘Why did you stop?’ Because the traffic light is red.”

America Just Hit the Lithium Jackpot
Ross Andersen | The Atlantic
“About 16.4 million years ago, magma surged through a raised mound near Nevada’s present-day border with Oregon and began spreading an unholy orange glow outward over the region. …[A new paper published in Science Advances] claims that underneath the volcano’s extinct crater is a thick brown clay that is shot through with what could be the largest-known lithium deposit on the planet. If the discovery holds up, and the lithium is easy to extract and refine—both big ifs—this ancient geological event could end up shaping contemporary geopolitics, and maybe even the future of green energy.”

Tesla Reinvents Carmaking With Quiet Breakthrough
Norihiko Shirouzu | Reuters
Tesla is closing in on an innovation that would allow it to die cast nearly all the complex underbody of an EV in one piece, rather than about 400 parts in a conventional car, the people said. The know-how is core to Tesla’s ‘unboxed’ manufacturing strategy unveiled by [CEO Elon Musk] in March, a linchpin of his plan to churn out tens of millions of cheaper EVs in the coming decade, and still make a profit, the sources said.”

Liquid Computer Made From DNA Comprises Billions of Circuits
David Nield | ScienceAlert
“[Despite] the passing of 30 years since the first prototype, most DNA computers have struggled to process more than a few tailored algorithms. A team [of] researchers from China has now come up with a DNA integrated circuit (DIC) that’s far more general purpose. Their liquid computer’s gates can form an astonishing 100 billion circuits, showing its versatility with each capable of running its own program.”


How AI Agents Are Already Simulating Human Civilization
Ben Dickson | VentureBeat
These AI agents are capable of simulating the behavior of a human in their daily lives, from mundane tasks to complex decision-making processes. Moreover, when these agents are combined, they can emulate the more intricate social behaviors that emerge from the interactions of a large population. This work opens up many possibilities, particularly in simulating population dynamics, offering valuable insights into societal behaviors and interactions.”

This EV Smashed the World Record for Distance on a Single Charge
Jonathan M. Gitlin | Ars Technica
“The diminutive coupe…was built for efficiency, and in a six-day test at Munich airport, it set a new distance record on a single charge (for a non-solar EV): 1,599 miles (2,574 km), with less battery capacity than many plug-in hybrids—just 15.5 kWh. …Their eventual distance broke the existing record by 60 percent, achieving a scarcely believable 103.2 miles/kWh, or 0.6 kWh/100 km. For those who think in terms of miles per gallon, it’s the equivalent of traveling 3,815 miles on a single gallon of gas.

Funky AI-Generated Spiraling Medieval Village Captivates Social Media
Benj Edwards | Ars Technica
On Sunday, a Reddit user named ‘Ugleh’ posted an AI-generated image of a spiral-shaped medieval village that rapidly gained attention on social media for its remarkable geometric qualities. Follow-up posts garnered even more praise, including a tweet with over 145,000 likes. …Reactions to the artwork online ranged from wonder and amazement to respect for developing something novel in generative AI art. …Perhaps most notably, Y-Combinator co-founder and frequent social media tech commentator Paul Graham wrote, ‘This was the point where AI-generated art passed the Turing Test for me.’i

Mighty Buildings Raises $52M to Build 3D-Printed Prefab Homes
Kyle Wiggers | TechCrunch
The new tranche, which sources familiar with the matter say values the startup at between $300 million and $350 million, brings Mighty Buildings’ total raised to $150 million. CEO Scott Gebicke says that it’ll be put toward Mighty Buildings’ expansion in North America and the Middle East, particularly Saudi Arabia, and supporting the launch of the company’s next-gen modular homebuilding kit.

US Rejects AI Copyright for Famous State Fair-Winning Midjourney Art
Benj Edwards | Ars Technica
“The office is saying that because the work contains a non-negligible (‘more than a de minimis’) amount of content generated by AI, Allen must formally acknowledge that the AI-generated content is not his own creation when applying for registration. As established by Copyright Office precedent and judicial review, US copyright registration for a work requires human authorship.”

Scientists Say You’re Looking for Alien Civilizations All Wrong
Ramin Skibba | Wired
“An influential group of researchers is making the case for new ways to search the skies for signs of alien societies. …The team of 22 scientists released a new report on August 30, contending that the field needs to make better use of new and underutilized tools, namely gigantic catalogs from telescope surveys and computer algorithms that can mine those catalogs to spot astrophysical oddities that might have gone unnoticed. Maybe an anomaly will point to an object or phenomenon that is artificial—that is, alien—in origin.”

Image Credit: Karsten Winegeart / Unsplash

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