This Week’s Awesome Tech Stories From Around the Web (Through March 16)

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ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

Cognition Emerges From Stealth to Launch AI Software Engineer Devin
Shubham Sharma | VentureBeat
“The human user simply types a natural language prompt into Devin’s chatbot style interface, and the AI software engineer takes it from there, developing a detailed, step-by-step plan to tackle the problem. It then begins the project using its developer tools, just like how a human would use them, writing its own code, fixing issues, testing and reporting on its progress in real-time, allowing the user to keep an eye on everything as it works.”

Covariant Announces a Universal AI Platform for Robots
Evan Ackerman | IEEE Spectrum
“[On Monday, Covariant announced] RFM-1, which the company describes as a robotics foundation model that gives robots the ‘human-like ability to reason.’ That’s from the press release, and while I wouldn’t necessarily read too much into ‘human-like’ or ‘reason,’ what Covariant has going on here is pretty cool. …’Our existing system is already good enough to do very fast, very variable pick and place,’ says Covariant co-founder Pieter Abbeel. ‘But we’re now taking it quite a bit further. Any task, any embodiment—that’s the long-term vision. Robotics foundation models powering billions of robots across the world.’”

Cerebras Unveils Its Next Waferscale AI Chip
Samuel K. Moore | IEEE Spectrum
“Cerebras says its next generation of waferscale AI chips can do double the performance of the previous generation while consuming the same amount of power. The Wafer Scale Engine 3 (WSE-3) contains 4 trillion transistors, a more than 50 percent increase over the previous generation thanks to the use of newer chipmaking technology. The company says it will use the WSE-3 in a new generation of AI computers, which are now being installed in a datacenter in Dallas to form a supercomputer capable of 8 exaflops (8 billion billion floating point operations per second).”

SpaceX Celebrates Major Progress on the Third Flight of Starship
Stephen Clarke | Ars Technica
“SpaceX’s new-generation Starship rocket, the most powerful and largest launcher ever built, flew halfway around the world following liftoff from South Texas on Thursday, accomplishing a key demonstration of its ability to carry heavyweight payloads into low-Earth orbit. The successful launch builds on two Starship test flights last year that achieved some, but not all, of their objectives and appears to put the privately funded rocket program on course to begin launching satellites, allowing SpaceX to ramp up the already-blistering pace of Starlink deployments.”

This Self-Driving Startup Is Using Generative AI to Predict Traffic
James O’Donnell | MIT Technology Review
“The new system, called Copilot4D, was trained on troves of data from lidar sensors, which use light to sense how far away objects are. If you prompt the model with a situation, like a driver recklessly merging onto a highway at high speed, it predicts how the surrounding vehicles will move, then generates a lidar representation of 5 to 10 seconds into the future (showing a pileup, perhaps).”

Electric Cars Are Still Not Good Enough
Andrew Moseman | The Atlantic
“The next phase, when electric cars leap from early adoption to mass adoption, depends on the people [David] Rapson calls ‘the pragmatists’: Americans who will buy whichever car they deem best and who are waiting for their worries about price, range, and charging to be allayed before they go electric. The current slate of EVs isn’t winning them over.”

Mining Helium-3 on the Moon Has Been Talked About Forever—Now a Company Will Try
Eric Berger | Ars Technica
“Two of Blue Origin’s earliest employees, former President Rob Meyerson and Chief Architect Gary Lai, have started a company that seeks to extract helium-3 from the lunar surface, return it to Earth, and sell it for applications here. …The present lunar rush is rather like a California gold rush without the gold. By harvesting helium-3, which is rare and limited in supply on Earth, Interlune could help change that calculus by deriving value from resources on the moon. But many questions about the approach remain.”

What Happens When ChatGPT Tries to Solve 50,000 Trolley Problems?
Fintan Burke | Ars Technica
“Autonomous driving startups are now experimenting with AI chatbot assistants, including one self-driving system that will use one to explain its driving decisions. Beyond announcing red lights and turn signals, the large language models (LLMs) powering these chatbots may ultimately need to make moral decisions, like prioritizing passengers’ or pedestrian’s safety. But is the tech ready? Kazuhiro Takemoto, a researcher at the Kyushu Institute of Technology in Japan, wanted to check if chatbots could make the same moral decisions when driving as humans.”

States Are Lining Up to Outlaw Lab-Grown Meat
Matt Reynolds | Wired
“As well as the Florida bill, there is also proposed legislation to ban cultivated meat in Alabama, Arizona, Kentucky, and Tennessee. If all of those bills pass—an admittedly unlikely prospect—then some 46 million Americans will be cut off from accessing a form of meat that many hope will be significantly kinder to the planet and animals.”

Physicists Finally Find a Problem Only Quantum Computers Can Do
Lakshmi Chandrasekaran | Quanta
“Quantum computers are poised to become computational superpowers, but researchers have long sought a viable problem that confers a quantum advantage—something only a quantum computer can solve. Only then, they argue, will the technology finally be seen as essential. They’ve been looking for decades. …Now, a team of physicists including [John] Preskill may have found the best candidate yet for quantum advantage.”

Image Credit: SpaceX

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