The Download

What's up in emerging technology

Today Chinese science is more prolific than ever.

China Publishes More Scientific Articles Than the U.S.

A new analysis of global science and engineering competence shows that the United States is struggling to fight off an increasingly competitive China.

The numbers: According to the National Science Foundation, China published over 426,000 research papers… Read more

Source: Image credit:
  • Huawei

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Industrial plants are vulnerable to attack.

A New Breed of Cyberattack Uses Remote-Control Malware to Sabotage Industrial Safety Systems

New details about a worrying industrial-plant hack show that cyberattacks on infrastructure are becoming a greater threat than ever.

Backstory: Last month, security researchers explained that new malware called Triton had been used to shut down operations… Read more

Source: Image credit:
  • Chutter Snap | Unsplash

Editor's Pick

Slack Hopes Its AI Will Keep You from Hating Slack

If you work at one of the 50,000 companies that pay to use Slack for workplace collaboration, you probably spend hours on it, swapping information, bantering, and sharing files with your colleagues. It’s a casual, flexible way to interact—you tap out...

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Yesterday X-ray of an upper arm

AI Is Continuing Its Assault on Radiologists

A new model can detect abnormalities in x-rays better than radiologists—in some parts of the body, anyway.

The results: Stanford researchers trained a convolutional neural network on a data set of 40,895 images from 14,982 studies. The paper documents… Read more

Image credit:
  • Harlie Raethel | Unsplash
Photo of a delivery man carrying package

Dueling AIs Dream Up New Online Shopping Patterns for Amazon

Using five million real online purchases, researchers trained an AI that can create fake e-commerce orders.

How it works: A generative adversarial network (GAN) consists of two dueling neural networks that create realistic synthetic media, likethese… Read more

Image credit:
  • Maarten van den Heuvel | Unsplash
January 17, 2018

New “Rotational” 3-D Printing Gives Objects Impressive Strength

Harvard researchers have demonstrated a new technique they call “rotational 3-D printing” that provides precision control over the materials it prints.

Learning from nature: Natural products like bone and wood have complex microstructures that give them… Read more

Source: Image credit:
  • Lewis Lab/Harvard SEAS
Light is all around us.

Artificial Lighting Is Hurting Ecosystems, and Tech Tweaks Can Fix It

We’re starting to understand the true effects of light pollution on the natural world—and as we do, we’ll be able to tune lights to counter the effects.

Blinded by the light: The world is incredibly illuminated. More than 10 percent of Earth’s land can… Read more

Source: Image credit:
  • Ashim D’Silva | Unsplash

Editor's Pick

And the Award for Most Nauseating Self-Driving Car Goes to …

In many ways this year’s CES looked a lot more like an autonomous-car show than a consumer electronics show.

There were announcements aplenty from the likes of Ford, Baidu, Toyota, and others about self-driving vehicles, upcoming driving tests, and new...

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January 17, 2018 This truck is not autonomous.

At the Detroit Auto Show, the Autonomous Car Dream Is Still a Way Off

Last week’s CES technology show sold a vision of driverless cars—but this week’s motor show appears to disagree.

Robotic bluster: The Verge argues that autonomous-car hype at CES was a ploy to win some much-needed public approval. As the tech blog points… Read more

Source: Image credit:
  • North American International Auto Show
Bitcoin is falling.

Cryptocurrencies Plummeted Amid Talk of Clampdowns—But We Don’t Really Know Why

Bitcoin and other competing digital currencies have been suffering downturns, though you shouldn’t believe anyone who tries to tell you exactly why this is happening.

The numbers: At the time of writing, Bitcoin’s price was down more than 20 percent… Read more