DeepMind’s AI shortcomings, and China’s social media translation problem

Earlier this month, DeepMind introduced a new “generalist” AI model called Cat. The model can play the Atari video game, subtitle images, chat and stack blocks with a real robot arm, announced Alpha’s proprietary AI lab. However, Gato can do hundreds of different tasks.

But while Gato is undeniably fascinating, during the week since its release some researchers have let themselves get a little carried away.

One of DeepMind’s leading researchers and co-author of the document Cat, Nando de Freitas, could not contain his excitement. “The game is over!” he tweeted, suggesting that there is now a clear path from Cat to artificial general intelligence, or “AGI,” a vague concept of AI on a human or superhuman level. How to build AGI, he said, is mostly a matter of scale: making models like Gato bigger and better.

Not surprisingly, de Freitas’ announcement sparked breathless press coverage that Deepmind is “on the brink” of human-level artificial intelligence. This is not the first time the hype has surpassed reality. Other exciting new AI models, such as the OpenAI GPT-3 text generator and the DALL-E image generator, have generated similar big claims.

For many in the field, this feverish discourse overshadows other important areas of research in AI. Read the whole story.

—Melissa Heikkilä

Mandatory readings

I combed the internet to find the funniest / most important / scary and fascinating stories about technology.

1 Volunteers are translating Chinese social media posts into English
Although publications have surpassed China’s Internet censorship regime, Beijing is unhappy. (The Atlantic $)
+ WeChat wants people to use their video platform. They did so because of the digital protests. (TR)

2 The Ukrainian business community is resuming business as usual
Many workers are juggling their daily chores with war effort volunteering outside of work hours. (WP $)
+ Russian-speaking chiefs of staff living in the United States are severing ties with pro-war workers. (NOW $)
+ YouTube has removed more than 9,000 war-linked channels. (The Guardian)

3 The Buffalo shootout highlighted the failures of the technology counterterrorism agreement
Critics say the platforms have not done enough to address the root causes of extremism. (WSJ $)
+ America has experienced more than 3,500 mass shootings since Sandy Hook. (WP $)

4 Crypto seems to have a privileged trading problem
Like the banking system that his supporters are up against. (WSJ $)
+ Christine Lagarde believes that cryptography is worthless. (Bloomberg $)
+ Crypto is weathering a strong storm. Some still endure the beloved life. (TR)
+ The crypto industry has lost about $ 1.5 trillion since November. (The Atlantic $)
+ Stablecoin Tether has paid $ 10 billion in withdrawals since the crash began. (The Guardian)

5 The nuclear fusion industry is in crisis
It is not yet operational, but fuel supplies are already running low. (cable $)
+ A hole in the ground could be the future of fusion energy. (TR)
+ The U.S. Midwest could face a power outage this summer. (motherboard)

6 Big Tech is not worried about the economic downturn
Even if it drops part of its market valuation along the way. (NYT $)
+ But lawmakers are determined to control them with antitrust law. (Recode)
+ Its carbon emissions are also getting out of control. (New Yorker $)

7 The U.S. military wants to build a flying ship
The Liberty Lifer X aircraft would be independent of aerodromes and fixed ports. (IEEE spectrum)

8 We need to change the way we recycle plastic
The good news is that technology to revise it exists, you just have to perfect it. (cable $)
+ A French company is using enzymes to recycle one of the most common disposable plastics. (TR)

9 Why you should treat the use of the phone as a wine drink
Achieve this delicate balance to prevent the positive from becoming negative. (The Guardian $)

10 In the Healthy World of Knitting Online 🧶
The creations of his favorite weavers have won a cult following. (Entry)
+ How the ban on pro-Trump patterns triggered the world of online weaving. (TR)

Appointment of the day

“I like the instant gratification of improving the Internet.”

—Jason Moore, who is credited with creating more than 50,000 pages of Wikipedia, explains to CNN his motivations for taking on unpaid work.

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