Skip to Content
The Download

The Download: Google’s Gemini is here, and Sundar Pichai talks AI

Plus: Brussels is making progress regulating AI

This is today's edition of The Download, our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what's going on in the world of technology.

Google DeepMind’s new Gemini model looks amazing—but could signal peak AI hype

Hype about Gemini, Google DeepMind’s long-rumored response to OpenAI’s GPT-4, has been building for months. Now, the company has finally revealed what it has been working on in secret all this time. Was the hype justified? Yes—and no.

Gemini is Google’s biggest AI launch yet—its push to take on competitors OpenAI and Microsoft in the race for AI supremacy. There is no doubt that the model is pitched as best-in-class across a wide range of capabilities—an “everything machine.”

But while it’s a big step for Google, but not necessarily a giant leap for the field as a whole. Judging from its demos, it does many things very well—but few things that we haven’t seen before. Read the full story.

—Melissa Heikkiläa & Will Douglas Heaven

Google CEO Sundar Pichai on Gemini and the coming age of AI

This last year has largely been defined by the AI releases from one company: OpenAI. The rollout of DALL-E and GPT-3.5 last year, followed by GPT-4 this year, dominated the sector and kicked off an arms race between startups and tech giants alike

Now, with the release of Gemini, Google has thrown its hat into the ring. The new AI model reflects years of efforts from inside Google, overseen and driven by its CEO, Sundar Pichai.

Our editor-in-chief Mat Honan sat down with Pichai at Google’s offices in Mountain View, California, on the eve of Gemini’s launch to discuss what it will mean for the company, its products, AI, and society writ large. Read the full interview.

How carbon removal technology is like a time machine

By burning fossil fuels, we’ve released greenhouse gases by the gigaton. There’s a lot we can (and need to) do to slow and eventually stop these planet-warming emissions. But carbon removal technology has a different promise: turning the clock back.

Well, sort of. Carbon removal can’t literally take us back in time. But this time-machine analogy for thinking about carbon removal—specifically when it comes to the scale that will be needed to make a significant dent in our emissions—is a favorite of climate scientist David Ho.

Casey Crownhart, our climate reporter, has taken a look at what it might take for carbon removal to take us back far enough in time to reverse our mistakes—well, the emissions-related ones, anyway. Read the full story.

This story is from The Spark, our weekly climate and energy newsletter. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Wednesday.

The must-reads

I’ve combed the internet to find you today’s most fun/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.

1 The EU is racing to regulate AI 
Meanwhile, it seems like the US Congress is forging a very different regulatory path. (WP $)
+ EU lawmakers are believed to have made a provisional deal. (Reuters)
+ AI advances far more rapidly than policy. (NYT $)

2 Celebrities have been tricked into recording Russian propaganda
Trolls paid famous faces to record supportive clips for ‘Vladimir’ over the Cameo app. (WSJ $)
+ The clips rapidly spread across Russian networks and news organizations. (NYT $)

3 Startups are imploding all over the place
Once-promising multi-million dollar ventures are failing—and it’s only getting worse. (NYT $)

4 This man blew the whistle on Amazon’s abuse of teenager labor
But four years on, nothing has changed. (FT $)

5 A load of EVs are due to lose their tax credits
Cars with battery materials sourced from China will lose out on the $7,500 credit. (The Verge)
+ Ford doesn’t think its Mustang electric cars will qualify. (Reuters)+ EV tax credits could stall out on lack of US battery supply. (MIT Technology Review)

6 Building a gaming empire is seriously hard work
Just ask the TV streaming giants who are trying, and failing. (The Information $)

7 Forget microplastics—it’s time to worry about nanoplastics
Because they’re even smaller, they’re potentially even worse for our health. (Motherboard)
+ Microplastics are everywhere. What does that mean for our immune systems? (MIT Technology Review)

8 It’s time to revive the humble dry stone wall
Concrete isn’t great for the environment. Can stone walls take over? (The Atlantic $)
+ Inside a high-tech cement laboratory. (MIT Technology Review)

9 An AI drive-thru needed humans to handle 70% of its orders
It raises questions over how capable AI really is at these kinds of tasks. (Bloomberg $)
+ Even McDonald’s wants a slice of the generative AI pie. (The Verge)

10 Space telescopes are getting even bigger 
Move over JWST—the Extremely Large Telescope is here. (Economist $)

Quote of the day

“Even if Musk were Jesus Christ, people would still want alternatives.”

—Adam Gilmour, CEO of Australian startup Gilmour Space Technologies, explains to Bloomberg why satellite companies should have the option to choose between a number of providers, not just Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

The big story

Broadband funding for Native communities could finally connect some of America’s most isolated places

September 2022

Rural and Native communities in the US have long had lower rates of cellular and broadband connectivity than urban areas, where four out of every five Americans live. Outside the cities and suburbs, which occupy barely 3% of US land, reliable internet service can still be hard to come by.

The covid-19 pandemic underscored the problem as Native communities locked down and moved school and other essential daily activities online. But it also kicked off an unprecedented surge of relief funding to solve it. Read the full story.

—Robert Chaney

We can still have nice things

A place for comfort, fun and distraction in these weird times. (Got any ideas? Drop me a line or tweet 'em at me.)

+ This is cool: a map of the UK listing some of its most iconic filming locations.
+ Enjoy this beautiful shot of a tiny turtle.
+ We salute you Dale Irby—the gym teacher who wore the same outfit on Picture Day for 40 years.
+ I’ve got nothing but respect for whoever thought Mildred Quimby was a good name for a Cabbage Patch Doll.
+ Why not have some fun generating your own acid bassline?

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.