This Week’s Awesome Tech Stories From Around the Web (Through May 14)

tech stories spinning blue blur

COMPUTING

IBM’s Target: a 4,000-Qubit Processor by 2025
Edd Gent | IEEE Spectrum
“The first iteration of [IBM’s 2020] road map topped out with the [1,121-qubit] Condor processor that is scheduled for release in 2023, but now the company has revealed plans for a 1,386-qubit processor, called Flamingo, to appear in 2024 and for a 4,158-qubit device called Kookaburra to make its debut in 2025.”

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

DeepMind’s New AI Can Perform Over 600 tasks, From Playing Games to Controlling Robots
Kyle Wiggers | TechCrunch
“Gato is what DeepMind describes as a ‘general-purpose’ system, a system that can be taught to perform many different types of tasks. Researchers at DeepMind trained Gato to complete 604, to be exact, including captioning images, engaging in dialogue, stacking blocks with a real robot arm and playing Atari games.”

NANOTECHNOLOGY

These Nanobots Can Swim Around a Wound and Kill Bacteria
Max G. Levy | Wired
“The team loaded silica nanobots with experimental antibiotics—including one derived from wasp venom—to treat infected wounds on mice. The nanobots, which were dropped onto one end of an infected wound, traveled through the skin to treat the entire area—the first report of nanobots killing bacteria in animals.”

AUGMENTED REALITY

Google Says Its New Image Search Features Are Like ‘Ctrl+F for the World Around You’
Emma Roth | The Verge
“When explaining the feature, Raghavan used the example of trying to find a nut-free chocolate bar in a supermarket. You’ll be able to scan an entire shelf of chocolate bars and then see overlays that provide ‘helpful insights,’ like reviews about each object. We think Raghavan’s description of the feature sums this up quite nicely: ‘This is like having a supercharged Ctrl+F for the world around you.’i

FACIAL RECOGNITION

Clearview AI Settles Suit and Agrees to Limit Sales of Facial Recognition Database
Ryan Mac and Kashmir Hill | The New York Times
“Under the settlement, which was filed with an Illinois state court, Clearview will not sell its database of what it said were more than 20 billion facial photos to most private individuals and businesses in the country. But the company can largely still sell that database to federal and state agencies.”

VIRTUAL REALITY

ESPN+ Debuts ‘McEnroe vs. McEnroe’ the First-Ever Tennis Match Between a Real Person and Their Virtual Avatar
Lauren Forristal | TechCrunch
“In the match, the real McEnroe will face off against his ultimate opponent—his younger self. …The team at Unit 9 spent a day with John in order to bring the vision to life via full-body scanning, motion capture, and Unreal Engine MetaHuman technology (a cloud-based app that creates photorealistic digital humans). The avatar game system will be projected on a hologram particle screen and will be a simulation of gameplay with a system of ball launchers and ball return robots.”

BLOCKCHAIN

Paradise at the Crypto Arcade: Inside the Web3 Revolution
Gilad Edelman | Wired
“…to a core of true believers, Web3 stands apart from the garish excesses and brazen misbehavior of the flashing-neon crypto casino. If cryptocurrency was originally about decentralizing money, Web3 is about decentralizing…everything. Its mission is almost achingly idealistic: to free humanity not only from Big Tech domination but also from exploitative capitalism itself—and to do it purely through code.”

COMPUTING

The Man Who Controls Computers With His Mind
Ferris Jabr | New York Times Magazine
“16 years ago, Dennis DeGray was paralyzed in an accident. Now, implants in his brain allow him some semblance of control. …Only a few dozen people on the planet have had neural interfaces embedded in their cortical tissue as part of long-term clinical research. DeGray is now one of the most experienced and dedicated among them. Since that initial trial, he has spent more than 1,800 hours spanning nearly 400 training sessions controlling various forms of technology with his mind.”

SPACE

How Starlink Scrambled to Keep Ukraine Online
Tom Simonite | Wired
“The speedy, widespread rollout of Starlink in Ukraine has also been an unplanned experiment in the potential geopolitical power of next-gen satellite internet services. If SpaceX or similar providers are willing, high-speed internet from the sky could be a powerful way to provide connectivity to people or populations suffering the privations of war or authoritarian government.”

SCIENCE

Black Hole Image Reveals the Beast Inside the Milky Way’s Heart
Jonathan O’Callaghan | Quanta
“The image immediately reveals new information about the Milky Way’s monster. ‘The major things we found out about Sag A* were: Is the black hole spinning? Yes, it is,” said Sara Issaoun, an astrophysicist and member of the EHT team. ‘And what is the orientation of the black hole with respect to us? Now we are fairly confident it is pointed more or less face on to us,’ with the poles pointing up and down, as though we were viewing it from a spot high above its equator.”

The first image of Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy. Image Credit: EHT Collaboration

FUTURE

AI’s Threats to Jobs and Human Happiness Are Real
Eliza Strickland | IEEE Spectrum
“But short-term job chaos will give way to long-term prosperity, says AI expert Kai-Fu Lee. …IEEE Spectrum spoke to Lee about [his book AI 2041: Ten Visions for Our Future], focusing on the last few chapters that take on the big issues of job displacement, the need for new economic models, and the search for meaning and happiness in an age of abundance. Lee argues that technologists need to give serious thought to such societal impacts, instead of thinking only about the technology.”

ETHICS

San Francisco Police Are Using Driverless Cars as Mobile Surveillance Cameras
Aaron Gordon | Motherboard
“While the companies themselves, such as Alphabet’s Waymo and General Motors’ Cruise, tout the potential transportation benefits their services may one day offer, they don’t publicize another use case, one that is far less hypothetical: Mobile surveillance cameras for police departments. … ‘Autonomous vehicles are recording their surroundings continuously and have the potential to help with investigative leads,’ says a San Francisco Police department training document obtained by Motherboard via a public records request. ‘Investigations has already done this several times.’i

Image Credit: Tom Caillarec / Unsplash