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The Download, Mar 28, 2017: AI Speed Boost, Musk’s Mind Meld, and Cellular Computers

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Three Things You Need to Know Today

A Speedy Way for Robots to Teach Themselves
Machine learning could get far faster. The hottest way to have robots teach themselves right now is called reinforcement learning, and it allowed DeepMind to topple the complex game of Go last year. But at MIT Technology Review’s EmTech Digital conference in San Francisco, Ilya Sutskever, from nonprofit machine learning research institute OpenAI, described a new approach that could save an awful lot of time. Our own Tom Simonite explains how OpenAI's so-called evolution strategies can help software learn some activities in minutes, rather than hours.

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The Anti-Aging Pill We’ve All Been Waiting For?
A drug derived from Easter Island bacteria extends the life of animals—and humans could be next. Two years ago, Novartis carried out tests to see if a drug could turn back the clock on the immune system of elderly people. Then, just last week, a Boston venture capital company said that it was licensing drugs from the pharmaceutical firm with plans to test them against age-related disease. Our own Antonio Regalado investigates whether a pill to make you younger is on the cards.

Elon Musk’s Plan to Help Humans Remain Relevant
As robots learn faster than ever, humans will need new ways to keep up. At least that’s what Elon Musk thinks: as Vanity Fair reminded us yesterday, he has deep concerns about what could happen when we summon the AI demon. In fact, the great man reckons, perhaps the only way for humans to avoid engineering their own obsolescence is to find a way to meld mind with machine. Right on cue, the Wall Street Journal reports (paywall) that Musk's hotly anticipated neural lace—a piece of hardware to provide a link between brain and computer—is finally taking shape at a new company called Neuralink.

Ten Fascinating Things

Lior Ron, co-founder of the driverless truck company Otto, says that autonomous big rigs will be a normal sight on roads within the next 10 years.

Today, Donald Trump is expected to issue a wide-ranging rollback of Obama’s climate commitments—but the President may yet struggle to achieve all his goals.

A new IVF technique appears to rejuvenate women's ovaries to allow menopausal females to get pregnant using their own eggs.

It still looks like a building site, but one day it could help provide limitless clean energy. The New York Times checks in on troubled nuclear fusion project ITER.

Why fake news may be too big a problem for even Facebook and Google to solve.

Researchers have hacked human cells and reprogrammed their DNA to turn them into simple computers that can obey 109 different sets of logical instructions.

A new analysis suggests that heatwaves, droughts, and floods around the world have been enabled by human impact on wind patterns known as planetary waves.

How material scientists and engineers are toiling to build you a better contact lens.

Amazon is now setting its sights on the Middle East: it's just acquired the Amazon of Dubai,, for $650 million.

Do people seem to be taking increasing delight in publicly correcting you on social media? Welcome to the rising trend of getting owned.

Quote of the Day

"There is no such thing as a perfect weapon, and weapons designed to be non-lethal can end up having lethal effects or infringe on people’s rights to speak out and assemble."

— Rohini Haar, from the organization Physicians for Human Rights, explains why building a gun that doesn't kill is harder than you might think.

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DeepMind’s cofounder: Generative AI is just a phase. What’s next is interactive AI.

“This is a profound moment in the history of technology,” says Mustafa Suleyman.

What to know about this autumn’s covid vaccines

New variants will pose a challenge, but early signs suggest the shots will still boost antibody responses.

Human-plus-AI solutions mitigate security threats

With the right human oversight, emerging technologies like artificial intelligence can help keep business and customer data secure

Next slide, please: A brief history of the corporate presentation

From million-dollar slide shows to Steve Jobs’s introduction of the iPhone, a bit of show business never hurt plain old business.

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