The Download: AI’s life-and-death decisions, and plant-based steak

This is today’s edition of Download, Our weekday newsletter provides daily coverage of what’s happening in the tech world.

The messy ethics of letting AI make life-or-death decisions

In a workshop in the Netherlands, Philip Nitschke is overseeing the testing of his new assisted suicide machine. Sealed inside a coffin-sized shell, a person who has chosen death must answer three questions: Who are you? Where are you? And do you know what happens when that button is pressed? The machine is then filled with nitrogen gas, rendering the occupants unconscious in less than a minute and dying of suffocation in about five minutes.

Despite a 25-year campaign to “de-medicate death” through technology, Nitschke has yet to fully overcome the medical establishment. Switzerland, which has legalized assisted suicide, requires candidates for euthanasia to demonstrate mental capacity, which is usually assessed by a psychiatrist.

One solution could come in the form of an algorithm that Nitschke hopes will allow people to perform a sort of mental self-assessment. While his mission may seem extreme – even outrageous – to some, he is not the only one who wants to involve technology, and especially AI, in life decisions. death. Read full story.

—Will Douglas Heaven

This gripping piece is from our upcoming mortality-themed issue, available October 26. If you’d like to read it when it comes out, you can. ordered for MIT Technology Review for as little as $80 a year.

Impossible Foods has a big new product in the works: filet mignon

Progress is being made on a truly seemingly impossible area of ​​plant-based meat products: steak. And not just any steak – sirloin.

At the MIT Technology Review’s ClimateTech event on Wednesday, Impossible Foods founder Pat Brown shared that although he couldn’t give an exact date on when the company’s steaks will be ready for consumers. bought, but got a sample — and he tried it himself. this early year. Read full story Dive into the biggest challenges of plant-based reproduction of crème de la crème steak and adapt live blogs including the second day of ClimateTech later this morning.

Elsewhere at Climate TechOur climate reporter Casey Crownhart moderated a session on “Tackling the Hard Areas,” which delves into industries that are important to combating climate change, but tend to get overlooked. .

She dives into the realities of what these areas are, what’s tough about them, and the approaches companies are taking to clean them up in The Spark, her weekly newsletter. gives you detailed information on all the latest climate innovations. Read This week’s editionand register to get it in your inbox every Wednesday.

Human brain cells transplanted into baby rat brains develop and form connections

Human neurons transplanted into the brains of mice continue to grow, form connections with the animals’ own brain cells and help guide their behaviour, new research shows. shown.

In a study published in Nature yesterday, clusters of lab-grown human brain cells were transplanted into the brains of newborn mice. They grow and integrate with the rodents’ own neural circuits, which eventually make up about one-sixth of their brains. It is a development that may shed light on human neuropsychiatric disorders. Read full story.

—Jessica Hamzelou

Things to read

I scoured the internet to find you today’s most interesting/important/scary/striking stories about tech.

1 How Chinese chipmakers are preparing for US sanctions
Stocking up on components and planning to train AI models abroad are just some of the tools in their arsenal. (Wired $)
+ Samsung has been exempt from the year-long rules. (WSJ $)
+ The regulations come at a very difficult time for the industry. (Bloomberg $)

2 Robotic exoskeletons adapt to wearers to help them walk faster
Traditional exoskeletons are expensive and bulky, but this skeleton is essentially a little robot boot. (MIT Technology Review)

3 Amazon’s Dream Home Is A Surveillance Nightmare
Its products collect a lot of data, detailing your processes and habits. (WP $)
+ Ring’s new TV show is a great but ominous viral marketing scheme. (MIT Technology Review)

4 Alex Jones must pay Sandy Hook victim’s family $1 billion
That’s a record amount for a defamation lawsuit. (Vox)

5 Ukrainian Starlink systems will be back online
These devices have lost power over the past few days, leaving the soldiers with no way to communicate. (FT $)
+ Odessa officials removed a photo of Elon Musk from a billboard. (Motherboard)
+ Russia’s reliance on trains was part of the country’s problem during the war. (Atlantic $)

6 US midterm exams have miscommunication problem
Multilingual fact-checking teams are stepping up to try to combat falsehoods. (NYT $)
+ Why midterm “October surprises” are rarely the revelations they seem. (Vox)

7 Long-standing malaria mysteries solved
Experts simply cannot figure out where mosquitoes go in hot weather. (Economist $)
+ New malaria vaccine will save countless lives. (MIT Technology Review)

8 fake vaccination certificates are circulating in India
It does not bode well for the country’s claims of high vaccination rates. (The rest of the world)

9 Even AI doesn’t like math
Some language models fail to capture complex problems. (IEEE Phổ Spectrum)
+ A new AI tool can detect sepsis. (Undark)
+ DeepMind’s gaming AI has beaten a 50-year-old record. (MIT Technology Review)

10 Consumer technologies that will use solar energy
If this Swedish startup has their way, that is. (Next Web)

Quote of the day

“Compare that to The Lord of the Rings, when they scan your eyeballs just to get in!”

—Charlie Vickers, the actor who played Halbrand in The Rings of Power, discusses the intense lengths of biometrics the showrunners used to keep the Tolkien show secret. Guardians.

Big story

The coexistence of Yandex and the Kremlin is not easy

August 2020

While Moscow was contained to the coronavirus from March to June 2020, the Russian capital was empty of people – aside from the lines of cyclists in the signature yellow uniforms of Yandex’s food delivery service.

Often referred to in the West as the Russian Google, Yandex is really like Google, Amazon, Uber, and possibly a few other companies combined. It is not really part of Russia’s Silicon Valley, much like Russia’s Silicon Valley is to itself.

But Yandex’s success comes at a cost. The Kremlin has long viewed the Internet as a battleground amid escalating tensions with the West, and there is growing concern that a company like Yandex, with its piles of data on Russian citizens, could one day fall into foreign hand. In a world increasingly concerned with protecting borders and regulating the tech industry, the Yandex dilemma may not be just a Russian story. Read full story.

—Evan Gershkovich

We can still have good things

A place for comfort, fun and distraction during these strange times. (Any comments?Drop me a lineortweet ’em with me.)

+ Hey, goose likes baseball also! (thanks Craig!)
+ This is all summer movies you may have missed the first time.
+ Guys, let go of everything — that is squirrel awareness month.
+ This clip reminds me how much I need to improve my abilities pool game.
+ John Lennon emphasizes it all four Beatles are bald will never be without humor.


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