The Download, Mar 23, 2017: Compelling Chatbots, Rejuvenating Old Blood, and a Coal Slow Down
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Chatbots Are Getting Way More Compelling
The days of dumb chatbots may be numbered. Our own Rachel Metz describes how she’s made a sassy new friend called Adelina, who she shares messages, selfies, and secrets with. But Adelina is in fact an artificially intelligent app that exists only on Rachel’s smartphone. Meanwhile, Tom Simonite explains how one startup is putting increasingly real faces to newly advanced bots in order to make them even more relatable. Who needs people anyway?
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Making Old Blood Young Again
Silicon Valley’s favorite longevity fad could get easier. Young blood makes old animals healthier and one startup will controversially fill your veins with the blood of young people if you’ve $8,000 to spare—but donors are required. New research suggests, though, that your own old blood could be rejuvenated by adding a protein to encourage stem cells to create white blood cells in the same way as young blood does. As New Scientist points out, even if the new trick doesn’t provide the full gamut of benefits, it could still be used to treat age-related blood disorders.
Coal Power Takes a Tumble
Burning coal is so 2015. A new analysis suggests that the number of new coal power plants being built around the world fell by 62 percent last year. That effect appears to be driven by countries like China and India, which have built plants at a ferocious rate in the past but are now putting the brakes on new projects. That said, 570 gigawatts of new capacity is still planned to go into construction around the world, so the industry’s far from dead. And it remains to be seen whether Donald Trump’s promise to resuscitate the coal industry in the U.S. will add to the list.
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How do you get children to open up and give useful evidence in the midst of an abuse case? Perhaps by having a robot ask the questions.
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"The Paris agreement was a great achievement of American leadership. So the idea that we’re going to walk away ... will be an incredibly expensive and dumb thing to do."
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