Skip to Content
The Download

The Download: chatting with the politician behind the AI Act, and how to watch the eclipse

Plus: Big Tech is cutting corners when it comes to training its AI models

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.

A conversation with Dragoș Tudorache, the politician behind the AI Act

Dragoș Tudorache is one of the most important players in European AI policy. He is one of the two lead negotiators of the AI Act in the European Parliament—the first sweeping AI law of its kind in the world, which will enter into force this year.

Shepherding the Act into its final form has been a wild ride, with intense negotiations, the rise of ChatGPT, lobbying from tech companies, and a flip-flopping by some of Europe’s largest economies. But now, as it’s passed into law, Tudorache’s job on it is done and dusted, and he has no regrets. 

Melissa Heikkilä, our senior AI reporter, sat down with Tudorache at an AI conference just outside Brussels to hear more about why he believes the landmark law will change the AI sector for the better. Check out the rest of their conversation.

Dragoș Tudorache will be speaking at Emtech Digital London on April 16-17. It’s the first time our flagship AI conference has come to the UK. It’s not too late to get in-person and digital tickets—and Download readers are entitled to an exclusive discount. We’d love to see you there!

This story appears in The Algorithm, our weekly AI newsletter. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Monday.

To read more about why the AI Act is such a game changer, take a look at:

+Five things you need to know about the AI Act—and what comes next.

+ Here’s what the Act is likely to change, and, crucially, what it won’t. Read the full story.

How to safely watch and photograph the total solar eclipse

If you’re living in the United States, Mexico, or Canada, there’s a good chance you’ll get to witness the total solar eclipse taking place today, when the moon will pass directly between Earth and the sun.

Wherever you are, here’s everything you need to know about safely watching—and photographing—the natural phenomenon. Read the full story.

—Rhiannon Williams

+ Did you know that MIT Technology Review was documenting eclipses as far back as 125 years ago? And, while much has changed in science and society since 1900, the thrill of a total solar eclipse has not. Read the full story from the archive.

The must-reads

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

1 Big Tech is cutting corners to gobble up new AI training data
Negotiating licenses with copyrighted data holders takes too long, so tech giants are taking matters into their own hands. (NYT $)
+ Meanwhile, the same giants are richer than ever before. (WSJ $)
+ We could run out of data to train AI language programs. (MIT Technology Review)

2 US lawmakers want to give consumers power over their personal data
If passed, the proposed law would overhaul how internet companies collect user data. (WP $)
+ It would also create a national registry of data brokers. (Wired $)

3 AI accessibility tools are making the internet worse for blind users
The unreliable aids are causing more harm than good. (FT $)

4 Today’s total eclipse is a major test for the US power grid 
Operators hope to learn lessons they can apply to unforecasted solar blackouts. (Vox)
+ Good luck getting an Airbnb booking in the path of totality. (Economist $)
+ Spare a thought for us in the UK: our next total eclipse isn’t until 2090. (New Scientist $)

5 Neuralink appears to care more about investors than helping disabled people
And society isn’t sure how it feels about the devices. (The Atlantic $)
+ Elon Musk wants more bandwidth between people and machines. Do we need it? (MIT Technology Review)

6 Google wants to kill cold calls
A new button could allow users to automatically look up unknown numbers. (The Verge)

7 NASA finally knows what knocked is Voyager 1 spacecraft offline
After five long months of it transmitting nonsensical rubbish. (Ars Technica)

8 Uber’s e-bike fleet just keeps growing
Where its rivals have faltered, Lime continues to prosper. (Bloomberg $)
+ Why New York City is testing battery swapping for e-bikes. (MIT Technology Review)

9 Spotify is generating playlists using AI prompts
The AI Playlist feature draws from LLMs and its understanding of your own musical tastes. (TechCrunch)
+ A Disney director tried—and failed—to use an AI Hans Zimmer to create a soundtrack. (MIT Technology Review)

10 We’re probably not going to find aliens by analyzing planetary gasses
Unfortunately, it’s one of the only techniques at our disposal. (Wired $)

Quote of the day

"I won't dance. Promise."

—German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announces the launch of his TikTok account as Europe’s politicians attempt to engage younger audiences, Reuters reports.

The big story

Are we alone in the universe?

November 2023

The quest to determine if anyone or anything is out there has gained greater scientific footing over the past 50 years. Back then, astronomers had yet to spot a single planet outside our solar system. Now we know the galaxy is teeming with a diversity of worlds.

We’re now getting closer than ever before to learning how common living worlds like ours actually are. New tools, including artificial intelligence, could help scientists look past their preconceived notions of what constitutes life. Read the full story.

—Adam Mann

We can still have nice things

A place for comfort, fun and distraction to brighten up your day. (Got any ideas? Drop me a line or tweet 'em at me.)

+ Mount Etna is blowing perfect smoke rings into the sky. 🌋
+ Mmm, delicious space!
+ Every week should start with a frog in a hat.
+ Bonnie Tyler is gearing up for another busy day: every time there’s an eclipse, her phone blows up.

Deep Dive

The Download

The Download: Apple’s AI plans, and a carbon storage boom

Plus: Elon Musk has withdrawn his lawsuit against OpenAI

The Download: more energy-efficient AI, and the problem with QWERTY keyboards

Plus: an FDA panel has voted against approving MDMA as a treatment for PTSD

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.