The Download, Mar 29, 2017: Trump’s Climate Rollback, AI’s Promise and Pain, and Reversing Paralysis
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Trump Starts to Dismantle Obama’s Climate Rules
President Trump is rolling back America's climate change efforts. Having proposed huge budget cuts to U.S. climate initiatives, Trump’s new executive order directs federal agencies to rescind policies that are deemed to be a “burden” on energy production—the Clean Power Plan chief among them. Trump hopes the move will, among other things, reinvigorate the American coal industry, but he faces long legal battles and potentially limited success. Poised to take up America's leadership of international climate action is an unlikely successor: China.
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The Promise and Pain of Applied AI
Artificial intelligence is transforming many sectors—but turning it into commercial reality can still prove challenging. At MIT Technology Review’s EmTech Digital conference in San Francisco, Nvidia’s Kimberly Powell explained how deep learning systems look set to give medicine a shot in the arm, while IBM’s Dario Gil described how Watson is accelerating materials research. But, as our own Will Knight has described, turning those kinds of projects into real commercial entities is still proving tough—just look at driverless cars.
Reversing Paralysis in Humans
A paralyzed man can now move his arms again using a brain implant. When able-bodied people move, their brains generate commands in the form of electrical impulses that travel through the spinal cord to the limbs—but when a person is paralyzed, that’s impossible. Now, researchers have tapped the brain of William Kochevar, who’s paralyzed from the shoulders down, and used its signals to control the movement of his arm using electronics. Our own Emily Mullin spoke to Kochevar to find out how he feels now he can feed himself once more.
Ten Fascinating Things
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s suggestion that job loss due to automation is 50 years off is laughable. Now there’s hard data to prove it.
Congress has followed the Senate in voting to roll back Internet service provider privacy rules relating to user data. Here’s why the news isn't all bad.
This is a working menstrual cycle on a chip.
Toshiba’s nuclear energy business, Westinghouse, is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Here’s what it means for the industry.
Amazon’s latest retail experiment in Seattle is Fresh Pickup: order online, drive to the store, and have Amazon pop groceries into the trunk.
The likes of Apple and Google appeared to shrug off details of CIA hacking tools made public by WikiLeaks. But at Cisco, they caused a mad scramble.
Sorry, what did you just say? The New Yorker investigates how researchers are developing new ways to help people regain their hearing.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has signed the paperwork to trigger the UK’s exit from the EU. Here’s how Brexit is already changing the lives of scientists.
Computers have learned how to coöperate better than humans when playing collaborative games like Prisoner’s Dilemma.
As more emoji continue to appear, here’s a very sensible question: isn’t it time every phone had an emoji search function?
Quote of the Day
"People are always posting pictures of drinks on social media–what if you could upload the taste as well?"