This Week’s Awesome Tech Stories From Around the Web (Through September 10)

This Jellyfish Can Live Forever. Its Genes May Tell Us How.
Veronique Greenwood | The New York Times
“When their bodies are damaged, the mature adults, known as medusas, can turn back the clock and transform back into their youthful selves. …While a predator or an injury can kill T. dohrnii, old age does not. They are, effectively, immortal. Now, in a paper published Monday in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists have taken a detailed look at the jellyfish’s genome, searching for the genes that control this remarkable process.”

Crypto’s Core Values Are Running Headfirst Into Reality
Will Gottsegen | The Atlantic
The cat’s out of the bag on crypto regulations, forcing some companies to choose between their principles and their profits. …For all the talk of crypto as a slick new alternative to a corrupt and outmoded banking system, companies have now found themselves backed into a corner: Either they can comply with regulations that could essentially defang the promise of the technology, or they can stay the course, at great cost to their bottom lines.

Scientists Have Made a Human Microbiome From Scratch
Carl Zimmer | The New York Times
“When the researchers gave the concoction to mice that did not have a microbiome of their own, the bacterial strains established themselves and remained stable—even when the scientists introduced other microbes. The new synthetic microbiome can even withstand aggressive pathogens and cause mice to develop a healthy immune system, as a full microbiome does.”

Limitations of Deepmind’s Alphafold Detailed in MIT Study
Katyanna Quach | The Register
“Essentially, the AI software is useful in one step of the [drug discovery] process—structure prediction—but can’t help in other stages, such as modeling how drugs and proteins would physically interact. ‘Breakthroughs such as AlphaFold are expanding the possibilities for in silico (computer simulation) drug discovery efforts, but these developments need to be coupled with additional advances in other aspects of modeling that are part of drug discovery efforts,’ James Collins, lead author of the study published in Molecular Systems Biology and a bioengineering professor at MIT, said in a statement.”

Uber Eats to Use Autonomous Electric Vehicles for Deliveries
Meara Isenberg | CNET
Uber is teaming up with Nuro to use the latter company’s autonomous, electric vehicles for food deliveries in a multiyear partnership, the companies announced Thursday. Deliveries begin this fall in Mountain View, California, and Houston, Texas, and the plan is for the service to expand to the greater Bay Area, according to a release. Nuro’s autonomous delivery vehicles are built specifically to carry food and other goods, the release says. They don’t contain drivers or passengers, and they run on public roads.”

This Follicle-Hacking Drug Could One Day Treat Baldness
Simar Bajaj | Wired
“With its roughly half a million hair follicles, you can think of your scalp as a gigafactory of 3D printers. According to Plikus, nearly all these follicles need to be constantly ‘printing’ in order to create a full mop of hair. But in common baldness, these printers start shutting down, leading to hair thinning (if roughly 50 percent have switched off) and balding (when more than 70 percent are off). By activating stem cells present in people’s scalps, [the protein] SCUBE3 hacks hair follicles to restart the production line and promote rapid growth.”

Black Hole’s Ring of Light Could Encrypt Its Inner Secrets
Thomas Lewton | Quanta
“These findings imply to [Harvard’s Andrew] Strominger that the photon ring, rather than the event horizon, is a ‘natural candidate’ for part of the holographic plate of a spinning black hole. If so, there may be a new way to picture what happens to information about objects that fall into black holes—a long-standing mystery known as the black hole information paradox.”

United Airlines Invests $15 Million in Electric Aviation Startup, Orders 200 Air Taxis
Andrew J. Hawkins | The Verge
“This is the second major investment from United in the nascent world of electric air mobility after investing an undisclosed amount of money in Archer last year. These companies propose to develop small, electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft that can fly from rooftop to rooftop in a dense city as a taxi service. But so far, none have received clearance from federal aviation regulators to fly passengers.”


The EU’s AI Act Could Have a Chilling Effect on Open Source Efforts, Experts Warn
Kyle Wiggers | TechCrunch
i‘This could further concentrate power over the future of AI in large technology companies and prevent research that is critical to the public’s understanding of AI,’ Alex Engler, the analyst at Brookings who published the piece, wrote. ‘In the end, the [EU’s] attempt to regulate open-source could create a convoluted set of requirements that endangers open-source AI contributors, likely without improving use of general-purpose AI.’i

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