This Week’s Awesome Tech Stories From Around the Web (Through March 4)

Microsoft Unveils AI Model That Understands Image Content, Solves Visual Puzzles
Benj Edwards | Ars Technica
“On Monday, researchers from Microsoft introduced Kosmos-1, a multimodal model that can reportedly analyze images for content, solve visual puzzles, perform visual text recognition, pass visual IQ tests, and understand natural language instructions. The researchers believe multimodal AI—which integrates different modes of input such as text, audio, images, and video—is a key step to building artificial general intelligence (AGI) that can perform general tasks at the level of a human.”

Figure Promises First General-Purpose Humanoid Robot
Evan Ackerman | IEEE Spectrum
“Over the past year, the company has hired more than 40 engineers from institutions that include IHMC, Boston Dynamics, Tesla, Waymo, and Google X, most of whom have significant prior experience with humanoid robots or other autonomous systems. ‘It’s our view that this is the best humanoid robotics team out there,’ Adcock tells IEEE Spectrum.”

Ethereum Moved to Proof of Stake. Why Can’t Bitcoin?
Amy Castor | MIT Technology Review
“A single Bitcoin transaction uses the same amount of energy as a single US household does over the course of nearly a month. But does it have to be that way? The Bitcoin community has historically been fiercely resistant to change, but pressure from regulators and environmentalists fed up with Bitcoin’s massive carbon footprint may force them to rethink that stance.”

The Inside Story of How ChatGPT Was Built From the People Who Made It
Will Douglas Heaven | MIT Technology Review
“When OpenAI launched ChatGPT, with zero fanfare, in late November 2022, the San Francisco–based artificial-intelligence company had few expectations. Certainly, nobody inside OpenAI was prepared for a viral mega-hit. The firm has been scrambling to catch up—and capitalize on its success—ever since. …To get the inside story behind the chatbot—how it was made, how OpenAI has been updating it since release, and how its makers feel about its success—I talked to four people who helped build what has become one of the most popular internet apps ever.”

Face Recognition Software Led to His Arrest. It Was Dead Wrong
Khari Johnson | Wired
“The Alonzo Sawyer case adds to just a handful of known instances of innocent people getting arrested following investigations that involved face recognition misidentification—all have been Black men. Three cases came to light in 2019 and 2020 and another last month in which Georgia resident Randal Reid was released from jail after a judge recalled an arrest warrant linking him to thefts of designer purses in Louisiana.”


As AI Booms, Lawmakers Struggle to Understand the Technology
Cecilia Kang and  | The New York Times
“The problem is that most lawmakers do not even know what AI is, said Representative Jay Obernolte, a California Republican and the only member of Congress with a master’s degree in artificial intelligence. ‘Before regulation, there needs to be agreement on what the dangers are, and that requires a deep understanding of what AI is,’ he said. ‘You’d be surprised how much time I spend explaining to my colleagues that the chief dangers of AI will not come from evil robots with red lasers coming out of their eyes.’i

Key Steps in Evolution on Earth Tell Us How Likely Intelligent Life Is Anywhere Else
Adam Frank | Big Think
“There are trillions of planets where life could form. But what are the odds that intelligence could evolve on any of them? The Hard Steps Model identifies the unlikely accidents that led to intelligent life on Earth. It allows for the possibility of mathematically modeling the possibility of life emerging elsewhere. The model makes it seem like intelligence in the cosmos will be really, really rare.”

Stability AI, Hugging Face and Canva Back New AI Research Nonprofit
Kyle Wiggers | TechCrunch
“Developing cutting-edge AI systems like ChatGPT requires massive technical resources, in part because they’re costly to develop and run. While several open source efforts have attempted to reverse-engineer proprietary, closed source systems created by commercial labs such as Alphabet’s DeepMind and OpenAI, they’ve often run into roadblocks—mainly due to a lack of capital and domain expertise. Hoping to avoid this fate, one community research group, EleutherAI, is forming a nonprofit foundation.”

Image Credit: Fernand De Canne / Unsplash

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