This Week’s Awesome Tech Stories From Around the Web (Through January 13)

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OpenAI’s New App Store Could Turn ChatGPT Into an Everything App
Lauren Goode | Wired
“OpenAI calls these apps GPTs. By some measures they are already popular: OpenAI claims that more than 3 million users have created custom versions of ChatGPT since it became possible in November. They are likely to multiply even faster now that pretty much anyone can create and publish a GPT on the web, after verifying their profile by making their name visible or linking it to a legitimate website.”

US SEC Approves Bitcoin ETFs in Watershed for Crypto Market
Hannah Lang and Suzanne McGee | Reuters
“A decade in the making, the ETFs are a game-changer for bitcoin, offering investors exposure to the world’s largest cryptocurrency without directly holding it. They provide a major boost for a crypto industry beset by scandals. The Securities and Exchange Commission said it approved 11 applications, including from BlackRock, Ark Investments/21Shares, Fidelity, Invesco and VanEck, despite warnings from some officials and investor advocates that the products carried risks.”

Quantum Computing Startup Says It Will Beat IBM to Error Correction
John Timmer | Ars Technica
“It’s probably a measure of quantum computing’s progress that, while this road map seems optimistic and aggressive, it doesn’t seem completely ludicrous. A few years ago, logical qubits were a theoretical construct; their basics have now been demonstrated. Two companies already have hardware with over 1,000 qubits. Quera might face challenges—many companies in this space have found that their tech has failed to scale as expected. But the field as a whole appears to be moving steadily toward making logical qubits a reality.”

Toyota’s Robots Are Learning to Do Housework—By Copying Humans
Will Knight | Wired
“Having robots learn to do things for themselves has proven challenging because of the complexity and variability of the physical world and human environments, and the difficulty of obtaining enough training data to teach them to cope with all eventualities. There are signs that this could be changing. The dramatic improvements we’ve seen in AI chatbots over the past year or so have prompted many roboticists to wonder if similar leaps might be attainable in their own field. The algorithms that have given us impressive chatbots and image generators are also already helping robots learn more efficiently.”

The Hubless Electric Motorcycle With Sci-Fi Style and a Great Name
Tim Stevens | The Verge
“‘We came to a conclusion that we would need to move the motor outside of the main chassis, out of the body of the motorcycle,’ [Verge Motorcycles CTO Marko Lehtimäki] said. So they decided to try something different by putting the motor inside the rear wheel. In-wheel electric motors are not exactly rare. In fact, they’re common in the e-bike scene, found on options like the VanMoof S4 or the Bird Bike. The TS Ultra’s motor, though, is something different. It’s a hubless ring design, which means you can put your hand right through the center of the wheel.”

This ‘Self-Eating’ Rocket Consumes Its Own Body for Fuel
Passant Rabie | Gizmodo
“The engine uses high-density polyethylene plastic tubing as fuel, which burns with the main propellants: liquid propane and gaseous oxygen. As the rocket launches to orbit, it burns the plastic tubing, which is fed into the engine’s combustion chamber, until it is no more. Since it requires less propellant packed from Earth, the rocket has more room to carry payloads to space compared to other vehicles of similar mass.”

The Flaw That Could Ruin Generative AI
Alex Reisner | The Atlantic
“Earlier this week, the Telegraph reported a curious admission from OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT. In a filing submitted to the UK Parliament, the company said that ‘leading AI models’ could not exist without unfettered access to copyrighted books and articles, confirming that the generative-AI industry, worth tens of billions of dollars, depends on creative work owned by other people.”

China’s Solar Dominance Faces New Rival: An Ultrathin Film
George Nishiyama | The Wall Street Journal
“China’s near-monopoly on the solar-energy market has prompted the US and allies to step up the search for workarounds. Engineers believe they have found one in a type of solar cell that looks and feels like camera film. …Invented by Japanese scientist Tsutomu Miyasaka, the cells use minerals forming a crystal structure called perovskite, which can be used in a device to turn the sun’s rays into electricity.”

Get Ready for the Great AI Disappointment
Daron Acemoglu | Wired
“In the decades to come, 2023 may be remembered as the year of generative AI hype, where ChatGPT became arguably the fastest-spreading new technology in human history and expectations of AI-powered riches became commonplace. The year 2024 will be the time for recalibrating expectations. Of course, generative AI is an impressive technology, and it provides tremendous opportunities for improving productivity in a number of tasks. But because the hype has gone so far ahead of reality, the setbacks of the technology in 2024 will be more memorable.”

Image Credit: Luke Jones / Unsplash 

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