The Download: dual-driving AI, and Russia’s Telegram propaganda

The Download: dual-driving AI, and Russia’s Telegram propaganda thumbnail
The news: Wayve is a driverless car startup based in London. It has created a machine-learning model which can drive a passenger car as well as a delivery van. This is the first time that an AI driver can drive multiple vehicles.

Why it matters: Although robotaxis have been successful on a few streets in San Francisco and Phoenix, their success has been limited. Wayve is part a new generation that has abandoned traditional robotics thinking. Driverless cars rely on highly detailed 3D maps and modules to plan and sense. These startups rely solely on AI to drive their vehicles.

What’s next? This advance suggests that Wayve could scale up faster than its leading competitors by using a deep-learning model to drive autonomous vehicles. Read the complete story .

–Will Douglas Heaven

Russia’s battle to convince people to join its war is being waged on Telegram

Putin’s propaganda: When Vladimir Putin declared the partial call-up of military reservists on September 21, in a desperate effort to try to turn his long and brutal war in Ukraine in Russia’s favor, he kicked off another, parallel battle: one to convince the Russian people of the merits and risks of conscription. This battle is being fought over the encrypted messaging service Telegram.

Opposing forces: Following the announcement, pro-Kremlin Telegram channels began to line up dutifully behind Putin’s plans, eager to promote the idea that the war he is waging is just and winnable. However, it is not clear if this propaganda is working. Despite all the government’s efforts to control the narrative, there is a vibrant opposition working on the same platform to undermine it and offer support to those who want to avoid the draft. Read full story .

–Chris Stokel-Walker

NASA’s DART mission is on track to crash into an asteroid today

NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test spacecraft, or DART, is on course to collide with the asteroid Dimorphos at 7. 14pm ET today. Although Dimorphos isn’t about to collide, DART is designed to show the ability to deflect an asteroidal like it, should it ever be discovered.

Read about the DART Mission ,, and how the crash will play out .

The must-reads

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

1 The US says Russia will face catastrophe if it uses nuclear weapons
It’s hard to know whether Putin’s threat is a bluff–or deadly serious. (The Guardian)
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky thinks it is very real. (CNBC)
What is the risk of a nuclear accident in Ukraine? (MIT Technology Review)

2 YouTube wants to lure creators away from TikTok with cash
But it won’t say how much. (MIT Technology Review)

3 Germany’s zero-tolerance for hate speech is a double-edged sword
While the threat of fines disincentivizes some perpetrators, activists worry that too many people are being targeted. (NYT $)
Misinformation is already shaping US voters’ decisions ahead of November’s midterms. (NYT $)

4 Why even the largest companies are vulnerable to hacking
A zero-trust approach is helpful, but will only take you so far. (WSJ $)
Hackers can disrupt image-recognition systems using radio waves. (New Scientist $)
Microsoft is optimistic that AI can root out bad actors. (Bloomberg $)
The hacking industry faces the end of an era. (MIT Technology Review)

5 NASA’s Artemis moon mission has been delayed again
Due to tropical storm Ian. (BBC)
Saudi Arabia wants to send its first female astronaut into space. (Insider $)

6 Fighting climate change extends beyond kicking corporations
A more nuanced approach could be required to speed up the transition to cleaner energy. (The Atlantic $)
Global wildfires mean that snow is melting quicker than usual. (Slate $)
Disaster insurance is increasingly tricky to navigate. (Knowable Magazine)
Carbon removal hype is becoming a dangerous distraction. (MIT Technology Review)

7 Crypto’s fired workers don’t know what to do next
But plenty of them haven’t let their experiences put them off the sector. (The Information $)
Interpol has issued a red notice for Terraform Labs’ co-founder Do Kwon. (Bloomberg $)

8 The Danish city that banned Google
The tech giant’s handling of children’s data wasn’t properly assessed. (Wired $)
Google says it’s unwilling to pitch it to fund network costs in Europe. (Reuters)

9 Why neuroscience is making a comeback
Some experts are convinced that making neurology and psychiatry departments work closer together is long overdue. (Economist $)

10 How plant-based meat fell out of fashion
Evangelists are convinced the nascent industry is merely experiencing teething problems. (The Guardian)
Your first lab-grown burger is coming soon–and it’ll be “blended”. (MIT Technology Review)

Quote of the day

“There’s definitely the boys’ club that still exists.”

–Taryn Langer, founder of public relations firm Moxie Communications Group, tells the New York Times about her frustrations at the sexist state of the tech industry.

The big story

The quest to discover if brain mutations affect mental well-being

August 2021

Scientists have struggled in their search for specific genes behind most brain disorders, including autism and Alzheimer’s disease. The vast majority of brain disorders are not associated with a specific gene, unlike other problems in the body.

But a University of California, San Diego study published in 2001 suggested a different path. What if there wasn’t one faulty gene, or even a group of genes that causes cognitive problems? It could be genetic differences between cells.

Although it seemed unlikely, more researchers are beginning to consider the possibility. Scientists already knew that the 85 billion to 100 billion neurons in your brain work to some extent in concert–but what they want to know is whether there is a risk when some of those cells might be singing a different genetic tune. Read the full story.

–Roxanne Khamsi

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