This Week’s Awesome Tech Stories From Around the Web (Through March 9)


These Companies Have a Plan to Kill Apps
Julian Chokkattu | Wired
“Everyone wants to kill the app. There’s a wave of companies building so-called app-less phones and gadgets, leveraging artificial intelligence advancements to create smarter virtual assistants that can handle all kinds of tasks through one portal, bypassing the need for specific apps for a particular function. We might be witnessing the early stages of the first major smartphone evolution since the introduction of the iPhone—or an AI-hype-fueled gimmick.”


Anthropic Sets a New Gold Standard: Your Move, OpenAI
Maxwell Zeff | Gizmodo
“Claude 3 most notably outperforms ChatGPT and Gemini in coding, one of AI’s most popular early use cases. Claude Opus scores an 85% success rate in zero-shot coding, compared to GPT-4’s 67% and Gemini’s 74%. Claude also outperforms the competition when it comes to reasoning, math problem-solving, and basic knowledge (MMLU). However, [Claude] Sonnet and [Claude] Haiku, which are cheaper and faster, are competitive with OpenAI and Google’s most advanced models as well.”


Why Most AI Benchmarks Tell Us So Little
Kyle Wiggers | TechCrunch
“On Tuesday, startup Anthropic released a family of generative AI models that it claims achieve best-in-class performance. …But what metrics are they talking about? When a vendor says a model achieves state-of-the-art performance or quality, what’s that mean, exactly? Perhaps more to the point: Will a model that technically ‘performs’ better than some other model actually feel improved in a tangible way? On that last question, not likely.”


AI Prompt Engineering Is Dead
Dina Genkina | IEEE Spectrum
“‘Every business is trying to use it for virtually every use case that they can imagine,’ [Austin] Henley says. To do so, they’ve enlisted the help of prompt engineers professionally. However, new research suggests that prompt engineering is best done by the model itself, and not by a human engineer. This has cast doubt on prompt engineering’s future—and increased suspicions that a fair portion of prompt-engineering jobs may be a passing fad, at least as the field is currently imagined.”


D-Wave Says Its Quantum Computers Can Solve Otherwise Impossible Tasks
Matthew Sparkes | New Scientist
“Quantum computing firm D-Wave says its machines are the first to achieve ‘computational supremacy’ by solving a practically useful problem that would otherwise take millions of years on an ordinary supercomputer. …However, outside observers are more cautious.”


California Gives Waymo the Green Light to Expand Robotaxi Operations
Wes Davis | The Verge
“Waymo is now allowed to operate its self-driving robotaxis on highways in parts of Los Angeles and in the Bay Area following a California regulator’s approval of its expansion plans on Friday. This means the company’s cars will now be allowed to drive at up to 65mph on local roads and highways in approved areas.”


Voyager 1, First Craft in Interstellar Space, May Have Gone Dark
Orlando Mayorquin | The New York Times
“Voyager 1 discovered active volcanoes, moons and planetary rings, proving along the way that Earth and all of humanity could be squished into a single pixel in a photograph, a ‘pale blue dot,’ as the astronomer Carl Sagan called it. It stretched a four-year mission into the present day, embarking on the deepest journey ever into space. Now, it may have bid its final farewell to that faraway dot.”


Pulling Gold Out of E-Waste Suddenly Becomes Super-Profitable
Paul McClure | New Atlas
“A new method for recovering high-purity gold from discarded electronics is paying back $50 for every dollar spent, according to researchers—who found the key gold-filtering substance in cheesemaking, of all places. …’The fact I love the most is that we’re using a food industry byproduct to obtain gold from electronic waste,’ said Raffaele Mezzenga, the study’s corresponding author. ‘You can’t get more sustainable than that!'”


5 Years After San Francisco Banned Face Recognition, Voters Ask for More Surveillance
Lauren Goode and Tom Simonite | Wired
“San Francisco made history in 2019 when its Board of Supervisors voted to ban city agencies including the police department from using face recognition. About two dozen other US cities have since followed suit. But on Tuesday, San Francisco voters appeared to turn against the idea of restricting police technology, backing a ballot proposition that will make it easier for city police to deploy drones and other surveillance tools.”


Researchers Tested Leading AI Models for Copyright Infringement Using Popular Books, and GPT-4 Performed Worst
Hayden Field | CNBC
“The four models it tested were OpenAI’s GPT-4, Anthropic’s Claude 2, Meta’s Llama 2 and Mistral AI’s Mixtral. ‘We pretty much found copyrighted content across the board, across all models that we evaluated, whether it’s open source or closed source,’ Rebecca Qian, Patronus AI’s cofounder and CTO, who previously worked on responsible AI research at Meta, told CNBC in an interview.”


SpaceX Just Showed Us What Every Day Could Be Like in Spaceflight
Stephen Clark | Ars Technica
“Between Sunday night and Monday night, SpaceX teams in Texas, Florida, and California supervised three Falcon 9 rocket launches and completed a full dress rehearsal ahead of the next flight of the company’s giant Starship launch vehicle. This was a remarkable sequence of events, even for SpaceX, which has launched a mission at an average rate of once every three days since the start of the year. We’ve reported on this before, but it’s worth reinforcing that no launch provider, commercial or government, has ever operated at this cadence.”


AI Losing Its Grip on Fast Food Drive-Thru Lanes
Angela L. Pagán | The Takeout
“Presto’s technology does use AI voice recognition to take down orders in the drive-thru lane, but a significant portion of the process still requires an actual employee’s involvement as well. The bot takes down the order from the customer, but it is still the responsibility of the employees to input the order and ensure its accuracy. The voice assistant technology has gone through multiple iterations, but even its most advanced version is still only completing 30% of orders without the help of a human being.”

Image Credit: Pawel Czerwinski / 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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