This Week’s Awesome Tech Stories From Around the Web (Through December 17)

Generative AI is changing everything. But what is left when the hype is gone?
Heaven by Will Douglas | MIT Technology Review
“The exciting truth is that we don’t really know. While the creative industries, from entertainment media to fashion, architecture, marketing and more, will feel the impact first, this technology will give everyone creative superpowers. In the longer term, it could be used to generate designs for just about anything, from new types of drugs to clothing and buildings. The generative revolution has begun.

New ‘cellular glue’ concept could heal wounds and regenerate nerves
Monisha Ravisetti CNET
“Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco announced a fascinating innovation on Monday. They call it ‘cellular glue’ and say it could one day open the doors to massive medical achievements, like building organs in a transplant lab and rebuilding nerves that have been damaged beyond the scope of standard surgical repair.”

Viral AI Avatar App Lensa Stripped Me Without My Consent
Melissa Heikkila | MIT Technology Review
“Lensa generates its avatars using Stable Diffusion, an open source AI model that generates images based on text prompts. Stable Diffusion is built using LAION-5B, a massive open source dataset that has been compiled by pulling images from the internet. And because the internet is replete with images of naked or barely clad women, and images that reflect sexist and racist stereotypes, the data set is also skewed towards these types of images.”

Scientists may have found the first aquatic worlds
John Timmer | Ars Technica
“…continued observation has produced data indicating that the planets are much less dense than we originally thought. And the only realistic way to get the kind of densities they now seem to have is for a substantial amount of their volume to be occupied by water or a similar fluid. We have bodies like this in our Solar System, especially the moon Europa, which has a rocky core surrounded by a watery layer covered by ice. But these new planets are much closer to their host star, meaning their surfaces are likely a blurry boundary between a vast ocean and a steamy atmosphere.”

Technology is finally good enough for an airship renaissance
Michael Koziol | IEEE spectrum
“At Moffett Field in Mountain View, California, Lighter Than Air (LTA) Research is launching a new approach to a technology that saw its rise and fall a century ago: aircraft. Although blimps have long been superseded by aircraft, LTA, which was founded in 2015 by CEO Alan Weston, believes that through a combination of new materials, better construction techniques and technological advances, blimps are poised to will undoubtedly recapture the skies. —but find a new niche.”

Fusion Power’s Real Breakthrough Is Still Decades Away
Gregory Barber | cabling
“Today, the NIF researchers said they got as much energy as their laser fired into the experiment, a massive and long-awaited achievement. But the problem is that the energy in those lasers represents a small fraction of the total power involved in turning on the lasers. By that measure, NIF is taking in far less than it’s putting in. “That kind of breakeven is way, way, way, way ahead,” says Cappelli. ‘That’s decades down the road. Maybe even half a century later.Yo

AI-generated fake faces have become a hallmark of online influence operations
Shannon Bond | npr
“Facebook parent company Meta says more than two-thirds of the influencer operations it found and removed this year used computer-generated profile pictures. As the artificial intelligence behind these fakes becomes more widely available and better at creating realistic faces, bad actors are adapting them for their attempts to manipulate social media.”

What does it mean to align AI with human values?
melanie mitchell | how many
“Humans are prone to giving machines ambiguous or wrong instructions, and we want them to do what we mean, not necessarily what we say. …To solve this problem, [AI researchers] I think we need to find ways to align AI systems with human preferences, goals, and values. …But without a better understanding of what intelligence is and how separable it is from other aspects of our lives, we can’t even define the problem, let alone find a solution. Correctly defining and solving the alignment problem will not be easy; It will require us to develop a broad and scientifically based theory of intelligence.”

Image credit: clark van der beken / Unsplash

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