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A paralyzed man is challenging Neuralink’s monkey to a match of brain Pong

A man with a brain implant that allows him to control computers via mental signals says he is ready to challenge Elon Musk’s neuroscience company Neuralink in a head-to-head game of Pong—with a monkey. Neuralink is developing advanced wireless brain implants so humans can connect directly to computer networks. In April, researchers working with...

Language models like GPT-3 could herald a new type of search engine

In 1998 a couple of Stanford graduate students published a paper describing a new kind of search engine: “In this paper, we present Google, a prototype of a large-scale search engine which makes heavy use of the structure present in hypertext. Google is designed to crawl and index the Web efficiently and produce much more satisfying search results than...

Top researchers are calling for a real investigation into the origin of covid-19

A year ago, the idea that the covid-19 pandemic could have been caused by a laboratory accident was denounced as a conspiracy theory by the world’s leading journals, scientists, and news organizations. But the origin of the virus that has killed millions remains a mystery, and the chance that it came from a lab has become the theory that cannot...

We need to design distrust into AI systems to make them safer

Ayanna Howard has always sought to use robots and AI to help people. Over her nearly 30-year career, she has built countless robots: for exploring Mars, for cleaning hazardous waste, and for assisting children with special needs. In the process, she’s developed an impressive array of techniques in robotic manipulation, autonomous navigation, and computer...

The world had a chance to avoid the pandemic—but blew it, finds report

The covid-19 pandemic is a catastrophe that could have been averted, say a panel of 13 independent experts tasked with assessing the global response to the crisis.  Their report, released May 12 and commissioned by the WHO, lambasts global leaders who failed to heed repeated warnings, wasted time, hoarded information and desperately needed...

Five reasons why you don’t need to panic about coronavirus variants

On May 10, the World Health Organization added a new virus to its list of covid-19 variants of global concern. The variant, B.1.617, is being blamed for the runaway infections in India. It is the fourth addition to a list that also includes variants first identified in the UK, South Africa, and Brazil. “There is some available information to suggest...

Podcast: Can AI fix your credit?

Credit scores have been used for decades to assess consumer creditworthiness, but their scope is far greater now that they are powered by algorithms. Not only do they consider vastly more data, in both volume and type, but they increasingly affect whether you can buy a car, rent an apartment, or get a full-time job. In this second of a series on automation...

The woman who will decide which emoji we get to use

Emoji are now part of our language. If you’re like most people, you pepper your texts, Instagram posts, and TikTok videos with various little images to augment your words—maybe the syringe with a bit of blood dripping from it when you got your vaccination, the prayer (or high-fiving?) hands as a shortcut to “thank you,” a rosy-cheeked smiley face with...

Product design gets an AI makeover

Engineers are under unprecedented pressure to build products that are used by thousands, if not millions, of consumers every day. Just ask Bernd Zapf. Head of development, new business, and technologies at Heller Group, a machine tool manufacturer in Germany, Zapf says today’s organizations must increasingly “strike a balance between...

A nonprofit promised to preserve wildlife. Then it made millions claiming it could cut down trees

The Massachusetts Audubon Society has long managed its land in western Massachusetts as crucial wildlife habitat. Nature lovers flock to these forests to enjoy bird-watching and quiet hikes, with the occasional bobcat or moose sighting. But in 2015, the conservation nonprofit presented California’s top climate regulator with a startling scenario:...

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