This Week’s Awesome Tech Stories From Around the Web (Through January 20)


Mark Zuckerberg’s New Goal Is Creating Artificial General Intelligence
Alex Heath | The Verge
“Fueling the generative AI craze is a belief that the tech industry is on a path to achieving superhuman, god-like intelligence. OpenAI’s stated mission is to create this artificial general intelligence, or AGI. Demis Hassabis, the leader of Google’s AI efforts, has the same goal. Now, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg is entering the race.”


Why Everyone’s Excited About Household Robots Again
Melissa Heikkiläarchive page | MIT Technology Review
“Robotics is at an inflection point, says Chelsea Finn, an assistant professor at Stanford University, who was an advisor for the [Mobile ALOHA] project. In the past, researchers have been constrained by the amount of data they can train robots on. Now there is a lot more data available, and work like Mobile ALOHA shows that with neural networks and more data, robots can learn complex tasks fairly quickly and easily, she says.”


Global Emissions Could Peak Sooner Than You Think
Hannah Ritchie | Wired
“Every November, the Global Carbon Project publishes the year’s global CO2 emissions. It’s never good news. At a time when the world needs to be reducing emissions, the numbers continue to climb. However, while emissions have been moving in the wrong direction, many of the underpinning economic forces that drive them have been going the right way. This could well be the year when these various forces push hard enough to finally tip the balance.”


Meet ReTro, the First Cloned Rhesus Monkey to Reach Adulthood
Miryam Naddaf | Nature Magazine
“For the first time, a cloned rhesus monkey (Macaca mulatta) has lived into adulthood—surviving for more than two years so far. The feat, described [this week] in Nature Communications, marks the first successful cloning of the species. It was achieved using a slightly different approach from the conventional technique that was used to clone Dolly the sheep and other mammals, including long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis), the first primates to be cloned.”


I Literally Spoke With Nvidia’s AI-Powered Video Game NPCs
Sean Hollister | The Verge
“What if you could just… speak…to video game characters? Ask your own questions, with your own voice, instead of picking from preset phrases? Last May, Nvidia and its partner Convai showed off a fairly unconvincing canned demo of such a system—but this January, I got to try a fully interactive version for myself at CES 2024. I walked away convinced we’ll inevitably see something like this in future games.”


What Does Ukraine’s Million-Drone Army Mean for the Future of War?
David Hambling | New Scientist
“Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky has promised that in 2024 the country’s military will have a million drones. His nation already deploys hundreds of thousands of small drones, but this is a major change—a transition to a military with more drones than soldiers. What does that mean for the future of war?”


Japan Reaches the Moon, but the Fate of Its Precision Lander Is Uncertain
Jonathan O’Callaghan | Scientific American
“…JAXA officials revealed that although SLIM is in contact with mission controllers and accurately responding to commands, the lander’s solar panels are not generating power, and much of the gathered data onboard the spacecraft have yet to be returned to Earth. The mission is consequently operating on batteries, which have the capacity to power its operations for several hours. After SLIM drains its batteries, its operations will cease—but the spacecraft may reawaken if its solar power supply can be restored.”


NASA Unveils X-59 Plane to Test Supersonic Flight Over US Cities
Matthew Sparkes | New Scientist
“‘Concorde’s sound would have been like thunder right overhead or a balloon popping right next to you, whereas our sound will be more of a thump or a rumble, more consistent with distant thunder or your neighbor’s car door down the street being closed,’ says Bahm. ‘We think that it’ll more blend into the background of everyday life than the Concorde did.'”


NASA’s Robotic, Self-Assembling Structures Could Be the Next Phase of Space Construction
Devin Coldewey | TechCrunch
“Bad news if you want to move to the moon or Mars: housing is a little hard to come by. Fortunately, NASA (as always) is thinking ahead, and has just shown off a self-assembling robotic structure that might just be a crucial part of moving off-planet. …The basic idea of the self-building structure is in a clever synergy between the building material—cuboctahedral frames they call voxels—and the two types of robots that assemble them.”

Image Credit: ZENG YILI / Unsplash

Singularity Hub Staff
Singularity Hub Staff
Singularity Hub chronicles technological progress by highlighting the breakthroughs and issues shaping the future as well as supporting a global community of smart, passionate, action-oriented people who want to change the world.
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