This Week’s Awesome Tech Stories From Around the Web (Through May 18)


It’s Time to Believe the AI Hype
Steven Levy | Wired
“There’s universal agreement in the tech world that AI is the biggest thing since the internet, and maybe bigger. …Skeptics might try to claim that this is an industry-wide delusion, fueled by the prospect of massive profits. But the demos aren’t lying. We will eventually become acclimated to the AI marvels unveiled this week. The smartphone once seemed exotic; now it’s an appendage no less critical to our daily life than an arm or a leg. At a certain point AI’s feats, too, may not seem magical any more.”

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How to Put a Datacenter in a Shoebox
Anna Herr and Quentin Herr | IEEE Spectrum
“At Imec, we have spent the past two years developing superconducting processing units that can be manufactured using standard CMOS tools. A processor based on this work would be one hundred times as energy efficient as the most efficient chips today, and it would lead to a computer that fits a data-center’s worth of computing resources into a system the size of a shoebox.”


IndieBio’s SF Incubator Lineup Is Making Some Wild Biotech Promises
Devin Coldewey | TechCrunch
“We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims that could pay off in a big way. Biotech has been creeping out in recent years to touch adjacent industries, as companies find how much they rely on outdated processes or even organisms to get things done. So it may not surprise you that there’s a microbiome company in the latest batch—but you might be surprised when you hear it’s the microbiome of copper ore.”


It’s the End of Google Search as We Know It
Lauren Goode | Wired
“It’s as though Google took the index cards for the screenplay it’s been writing for the past 25 years and tossed them into the air to see where the cards might fall. Also: The screenplay was written by AI. These changes to Google Search have been long in the making. Last year the company carved out a section of its Search Labs, which lets users try experimental new features, for something called Search Generative Experience. The big question since has been whether, or when, those features would become a permanent part of Google Search. The answer is, well, now.”


Waymo Says Its Robotaxis Are Now Making 50,000 Paid Trips Every Week
Mariella Moon | Engadget
“If you’ve been seeing more Waymo robotaxis recently in Phoenix, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, that’s because more and more people are hailing one for a ride. The Alphabet-owned company has announced on Twitter/X that it’s now serving more than 50,000 paid trips every week across three cities. Waymo One operates 24/7 in parts of those cities. If the company is getting 50,000 rides a week, that means it receives an average of 300 bookings every hour or five bookings every minute.”


Technology Is Probably Changing Us for the Worse—or So We Always Think
Timothy Maher | MIT Technology Review
“We’ve always greeted new technologies with a mixture of fascination and fear,  says Margaret O’Mara, a historian at the University of Washington who focuses on the intersection of technology and American politics. ‘People think: “Wow, this is going to change everything affirmatively, positively,”‘ she says. ‘And at the same time: ‘It’s scary—this is going to corrupt us or change us in some negative way.”‘ And then something interesting happens: ‘We get used to it,’ she says. ‘The novelty wears off and the new thing becomes a habit.'”


This Is the Next Smartphone Evolution
Matteo Wong | The Atlantic
“Earlier [this week], OpenAI announced its newest product: GPT-4o, a faster, cheaper, more powerful version of its most advanced large language model, and one that the company has deliberately positioned as the next step in ‘natural human-computer interaction.’ …Watching the presentation, I felt that I was witnessing the murder of Siri, along with that entire generation of smartphone voice assistants, at the hands of a company most people had not heard of just two years ago.”


In the Race for Space Metals, Companies Hope to Cash In
Sarah Scoles | Undark
“Previous companies have rocketed toward similar goals before but went bust about a half decade ago. In the years since that first cohort left the stage, though, ‘the field has exploded in interest,’ said Angel Abbud-Madrid, director of the Center for Space Resources at the Colorado School of Mines. …The economic picture has improved with the cost of rocket launches decreasing, as has the regulatory environment, with countries creating laws specifically allowing space mining. But only time will tell if this decade’s prospectors will cash in where others have drilled into the red or be buried by their business plans.”


What I Got Wrong in a Decade of Predicting the Future of Tech
Christopher Mims | The Wall Street Journal
“Anniversaries are typically a time for people to get misty-eyed and recount their successes. But after almost 500 articles in The Wall Street Journal, one thing I’ve learned from covering the tech industry is that failures are far more instructive. Especially when they’re the kind of errors made by many people. Here’s what I’ve learned from a decade of embarrassing myself in public—and having the privilege of getting an earful about it from readers.”


Lab-Grown Meat Is on Shelves Now. But There’s a Catch
Matt Reynolds | Wired
“Now cultivated meat is available in one store in Singapore. There is a catch, however: The chicken on sale at Huber’s Butchery contains just 3 percent animal cells. The rest will be made of plant protein—the same kind of ingredients you’d find in plant-based meats that are already on supermarket shelves worldwide. This might feel like a bit of a bait and switch. Didn’t cultivated meat firms promise us real chicken? And now we’re getting plant-based products with a sprinkling of animal cells? That criticism wouldn’t be entirely fair, though.”

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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