This Week’s Awesome Tech Stories From Around the Web (Through February 3)


I Tested a Next-Gen AI Assistant. It Will Blow You Away
Will Knight | Wired
“When the fruits of the recent generative AI boom get properly integrated into…legacy assistant bots [like Siri and Alexa], they will surely get much more interesting. ‘A year from now, I would expect the experience of using a computer to look very different,’ says Shah, who says he built vimGPT in only a few days. ‘Most apps will require less clicking and more chatting, with agents becoming an integral part of browsing the web.'”


CRISPR Gene Therapy Seems to Cure Dangerous Inflammatory Condition
Clare Wilson | New Scientist
“Ten people who had the one-off gene treatment that is given directly into the body saw their number of ‘swelling attacks’ fall by 95 percent in the first six months as the therapy took effect. Since then, all but one have had no further episodes for at least a further year, while one person who had the lowest dose of the treatment had one mild attack. ‘This is potentially a cure,’ says Padmalal Gurugama at Cambridge University Hospitals in the UK, who worked on the new approach.”


Apple Vision Pro Review: Magic, Until It’s Not
Nilay Patel | The Verge
“The Vision Pro is an astounding product. It’s the sort of first-generation device only Apple can really make, from the incredible display and passthrough engineering, to the use of the whole ecosystem to make it so seamlessly useful, to even getting everyone to pretty much ignore the whole external battery situation. …But the shocking thing is that Apple may have inadvertently revealed that some of these core ideas are actually dead ends—that they can’t ever be executed well enough to become mainstream.”


Allen Institute for AI Releases ‘Truly Open Source’  LLM to Drive ‘Critical Shift’ in AI Development
Sharon Goldman | VentureBeat
“While other models have included the model code and model weights, OLMo also provides the training code, training data and associated toolkits, as well as evaluation toolkits. In addition, OLMo was released under an open source initiative (OSI) approved license, with AI2 saying that ‘all code, weights, and intermediate checkpoints are released under the Apache 2.0 License.’ The news comes at a moment when open source/open science AI, which has been playing catch-up to closed, proprietary LLMs like OpenAI’s GPT-4 and Anthropic’s Claude, is making significant headway.”


This Robot Can Tidy a Room Without Any Help
Rhiannon Williams | MIT Technology Review
“While robots may easily complete tasks like [picking up and moving things] in a laboratory, getting them to work in an unfamiliar environment where there’s little data available is a real challenge. Now, a new system called OK-Robot could train robots to pick up and move objects in settings they haven’t encountered before. It’s an approach that might be able to plug the gap between rapidly improving AI models and actual robot capabilities, as it doesn’t require any additional costly, complex training.”


People Are Worried That AI Will Take Everyone’s Jobs. We’ve Been Here Before.
David Rotman | MIT Technology Review
“[Karl T. Compton’s 1938] essay concisely framed the debate over jobs and technical progress in a way that remains relevant, especially given today’s fears over the impact of artificial intelligence. …While today’s technologies certainly look very different from those of the 1930s, Compton’s article is a worthwhile reminder that worries over the future of jobs are not new and are best addressed by applying an understanding of economics, rather than conjuring up genies and monsters.”


Experimental Drug Cuts Off Pain at the Source, Company Says
Gina Kolata | The New York Times
“Vertex Pharmaceuticals of Boston announced [this week] that it had developed an experimental drug that relieves moderate to severe pain, blocking pain signals before they can get to the brain. It works only on peripheral nerves—those outside the brain and the spinal cord—making it unlike opioids. Vertex says its new drug is expected to avoid opioids’ potential to lead to addiction.”


Starlab—With Half the Volume of the ISS—Will Fit Inside Starship’s Payload Bay
Eric Berger | Ars Technica
“‘We looked at multiple launches to get Starlab into orbit, and eventually gravitated toward single launch options,’ [Voyager Space CTO Marshall Smith] said. ‘It saves a lot of the cost of development. It saves a lot of the cost of integration. We can get it all built and checked out on the ground, and tested and launch it with payloads and other systems. One of the many lessons we learned from the International Space Station is that building and integrating in space is very expensive.’ With a single launch on a Starship, the Starlab module should be ready for human habitation almost immediately, Smith said.”


9 Retrofuturistic Predictions That Came True
Maxwell Zeff | Gizmodo
“Commentators and reporters annually try to predict where technology will go, but many fail to get it right year after year. Who gets it right? More often than not, the world resembles the pop culture of the past’s vision for the future. Looking to retrofuturism, an old version of the future, can often predict where our advanced society will go.”


Can This AI-Powered Search Engine Replace Google? It Has for Me.
Kevin Roose | The New York Times
“Intrigued by the hype, I recently spent several weeks using Perplexity as my default search engine on both desktop and mobile. …Hundreds of searches later, I can report that even though Perplexity isn’t perfect, it’s very good. And while I’m not ready to break up with Google entirely, I’m now more convinced that AI-powered search engines like Perplexity could loosen Google’s grip on the search market, or at least force it to play catch-up.”

Image Credit: Dulcey Lima / 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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