Tech

The Download: generative AI, and psychedelic hype


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

Innovative AI is changing everything. But what remains when the hype is gone?

It’s clear that OpenAI is up to something. In late 2021, a small group of researchers is testing a new version of OpenAI’s text-to-image model, DALL-E, an AI that converts short written descriptions into pictures: perhaps a fox painted by Van Gogh, or a corgi made of pizza. Now they just need to figure out what to do with it.

No one could have predicted how big of a buzz this product would be. The rapid release of other generic models has inspired hundreds of newspaper headlines and magazine covers, filled social media with memes, and sent the advertising machine to speed. —and provoked a backlash from the creators.

The fun fact is that we don’t really know what will happen next. While the creative industries will feel the impact first, this technology will bring creative superpowers to everyone. In the long run, it can be used to create designs for almost anything. The problem is, these models still don’t know what they’re doing. Read full story.

—Will Douglas Heaven

This story is part of our upcoming series of 10 Disruptive Technologies of 2023. Downloading readers will be the first to see the full list in January.

+ Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, told Will Douglas Heaven, our AI senior editor, what he learned from DALL-E 2 and what this model means for society. . Read full story.

Coming soon: A new report from MIT Technology Review on how industrial engineering and design firms are using generalized AI. Register to be notified when it’s out.

Artists can now opt out of the next version of Stable Diffuse

What happened: Artists can now opt out of the next version of one of the world’s most popular text-to-image AI generators, Stable Diffusion, the company behind it has announced. Creators can search a website called HaveIBeenTrained for their works in the dataset used for Stable Diffuse training and select the works they want to exclude from the training data.

Why is it important: The decision comes amid a heated public debate between artists and tech companies about how to train AI models to convert text into images. The couple of artists who created the website hope that the opt-out service will temporarily make up for the lack of legislation governing the field. Read full story.

—Melissa Heikkila

Mind-altering substances are being hyped as miracle drugs

In the last five or so years, not a week has gone by without a study, commentary, or press release about the potential benefits of hallucinogens. An increasing number of scholars, therapists, and companies are interested in the potential of hallucinogens such as psilocybin and LSD to treat mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, and use disorder stimulant use, to name a few.

The reputation of psychedelics has been on a roller coaster ride for over 70 years. They have gone from creating excitement, to sowing fear and mistrust, to a recent renaissance. But despite the current excitement, the fact is that we don’t yet have evidence that psychedelics will actually change healthcare, leading to concerns that psychedelic research is “stuck in a bubble.” hype”. Read full story.

—Jessica Hamzelou

Jessica’s story is from The Checkup, her weekly biotech newsletter. Register to get it in your inbox every Thursday.

Must read

I’ve scoured the Internet to find you today’s most interesting/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.

1 Twitter is suspending journalists’ accounts
The common thread is that they all reported on Elon Musk’s decision to suspend his private jet tracking account. (Guard)
+ The account of rival platform Mastodon has also been suspended. (TechCrunch)
+ So much for Musk’s commitment to free speech. (Vox)
+ Musk said he would never ban the @elonjet account as recently as last month. (motherboard)
+ It’s still easy to track the jet’s location because the data is public. (Insiders $)

2 A sneaky attempt to bury wood to remove carbon just raised millions
If the test is successful, it could be a relatively simple and easy way to reduce greenhouse gases. (Technology Review MIT)

3 Bitcoin enthusiasts are buzzing about the demise of FTX
Although bitcoin itself has been hit hard. (slate $)
+ NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal has denied any involvement with FTX. (Insiders $)

4 Bioplastics are still plastic
Switching to plastics made from plant-derived carbon could allow the industry to green the process. (Wired $)

5 Streaming is no longer fun
There’s not a lot of money strewn around and Netflix and its associates don’t want to take the same risks they used to. (precipice)
+ Now mass attraction programs are de rigueur. (Insiders $)

6 Changes in a child’s microbiome can cause fear
It can affect how they experience anxiety and depression in later life. (Neo.Life)

7 How Online Shopping Trick You
Its focus is on pressuring shoppers to make quick decisions. (Vox)
+ Ads for ads are the newest thing on TikTok. (FT $)
+ TV advertising is also becoming more diverse. (Atlantic $)

8 Gen Z is returning to the dark ages of technology
They are reshaping what it is to be a Luddite in the digital age. (NYT $)

9 TikTok wants to restore the bad reputation of pigeons
But catching wild birds in the street is still a bad idea. (Atlantic $)
+ How to make friends with a crow | (Technology Review MIT)

10 Strength training in old age pays off
It’s never too late to start—and it can help maintain independence for longer. (Knowledge Magazine)

Quote of the day

“Looks like he’s just trying to scare me and it won’t work.”

—Jack Sweeney, a college student who tracks Elon Musk’s private jet on Twitter using publicly available data, says Insiders why he refuses to be swayed by Musk’s announcement that he is suing Sweeney.

big story

How to mend your broken pandemic brain

July 2021

Americans are slowly coming out of the pandemic, but when they re-emerge, there is still a lot of hurt to deal with. It’s not just our families, our communities and our jobs that have changed; Our brains have also changed. We are not like the people we used to be.

During the winter of 2020, more than 40% of Americans reported symptoms of anxiety or depression, more than double the rate from the previous year. While this declines next summer, as vaccination rates rise and covid cases fall, many Americans are still struggling with their mental health. Now the question is, can our brains change back? And how can we help them do that? Read full story.

—Dana Smith

We can still have good things

A place for comfort, fun and entertainment in these strange times. (Any ideas?Drop me a lineortweet them with me.)

+ Here’s how to avoid being subdued hanger.
+ If adrenaline-stimulating footage is your thing, GoPro Hero will be right on your street.
+ One no-bake raspberry cheesecake sounds like minimal fuss, maximum enjoyment.
+ These fairy house looks really inviting.
+ We finally solved the mystery of why prehistoric pattern was carved into the desert of the Middle East.

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