This Week’s Awesome Tech Stories From Around the Web (Through March 11)

This Week’s Awesome Tech Stories From Around the Web (Through March 11)

D-ID’s New Web App Gives OpenAI’s ChatGPT a Face and Voice
Aisha Malik TechCrunch
“When you open the web app on a desktop or mobile device, you’ll be greeted by an avatar named ‘Alice.’ You can then choose to type a question or click the microphone icon to speak your query out loud. D-ID says that Alice can answer almost anything. You can ask Alice to simulate a job interview or even host your family’s trivia night. …Within a few weeks, the web app will let users build a character, such as Dumbledore from Harry Potter, and talk to them.”

Two Oddball Ideas for a Megaqubit Quantum Computer
Samuel K. Moore | IEEE Spectrum
“Experts say that quantum computers may need at least a million qubits kept at almost absolute zero to do anything computationally significant. But connecting them all via coaxial cable to control and read the electronics, which operate at room temperature, would be impossible. Computing giants such as IBM, Google, and Intel hope to solve that problem with cryogenic silicon chips that can operate near qubit itself. But researchers have recently put forward some more exotic solutions that could speed things up.

Room-Temperature Superconductor Discovery Meets With Resistance
Charlie Wood and Zack Savitsky | Quanta
“The results, published [this week] in Nature, appears to show that a conventional conductor—a solid composed of hydrogen, nitrogen and the rare-earth metal lutetium—is turned into a flawless material capable of conducting electricity with perfect efficiency. While the announcement was greeted with enthusiasm by some scientists, others were more cautious, pointing to the research team’s controversial history of alleged research inaccuracies.

Sam Altman Invests $180 Million in a Company Trying to Delay Death
Antonio Regalado | MIT Technology Review
[Altman] he said he emptied his bank account to fund two very different but equally ambitious goals: unlimited energy and an extended lifespan. One of those bets was on fusion power startup Helion Energy, where he poured more than $375 million, he told CNBC in 2021. Another was Retro, where Altman cut checks worth $180 million in the same year. ‘It’s a lot. I basically just took all my liquid assets and put them into these two companies,’ Altman said.

Meta’s Powerful Meta Language Model Leaks Online—What Happens Now?
James Vincent | The Verge
“Meta has not released LLaMA as a public chatbot (although the Facebook owner is building those as well) but as an open-source package that anyone in the AI ​​community can request access to. …However, just a week after Meta began making requests to access LLaMA, the model was leaked online. On March 3rd, a downloadable torrent of the system was posted on 4chan and has since spread across various AI communities, sparking debate about the proper way to share cutting-edge research on era of rapid technological change.

Forget the Designer Baby. Here’s How CRISPR Is Really Changing Life
Antonio Regalado | MIT Technology Review
“…there are now more than 50 experimental studies underway using gene editing in human volunteers to treat everything from cancer to HIV and blood disorders, according to the tally shared in the MIT Technology Review by David Liu, a specialist in gene editing at Harvard University. Most of these studies—about 40 of them—involved CRISPR, the most versatile of gene editing methods, developed just 10 years ago.”

Could the Next Blockbuster Drug Be Lab-Rat Free?
Emily Anthes | The New York Times
“…momentum is building for non-animal techniques, which could help speed drug development, improve patient outcomes and reduce the burdens that laboratory animals carry, experts say. ‘Animals are just a surrogate for predicting what will happen to a person,’ said Nicole Kleinstreuer, director of the National Toxicology Program Interagency Center for the Evaluation of Alternative Toxicological Methods. ‘If we can get to a place where we have a fully human-relevant model,’ he added, ‘then we don’t need the black box of animals.’i

This Geothermal Startup has shown that its wells can be used like a giant underground battery
James Temple | MIT Technology Review
“Results from preliminary experiments…suggest that Fervo can create flexible geothermal power plants, capable of scaling power output up or down as needed. Possibly more importantly, the system can store energy for hours or even days and restore it at similar intervals, effectively acting as a giant, long-lasting battery. That means the plants can shut down production when solar and wind farms are booming, and provide a bountiful stream of clean electricity when those sources flag.”


Deepfakes Detection Remains One Step—For Now
Matthew Hutson | IEEE Spectrum
“…as computer scientists develop better methods for algorithmically generating video, audio, images, and text—often for more constructive uses such as enabling artists to express their visions —they also develop counter-algorithms to detect such synthetic content. Recent research shows progress in making detection more robust, sometimes by looking beyond the subtle signatures of specific generation tools and instead using underlying physical and biological signals that are difficult for AI to mimic.”

GPT-4 May Be A Blooming, Pointless Mess
Jacob Stern | The Atlantic
Will the infinite ‘scaling’ of our current language models really lead to true machine intelligence? ...the scaling debate is representative of the broader AI discourse. It felt like the vocal extremes drowned out the crowd. Either ChatGPT will completely reinvent our world or it’s a glorified toaster. Boosters crave their 100-proof hype, detractors respond with leaden pessimism, and the rest of us sit quietly somewhere in the middle, trying to make sense of this strange new world.

Photo Credit: Laura Skinner / Unsplash