The Download: the human toll of ethical AI, and lab-grown meat

The Download: the human toll of ethical AI, and lab-grown meat thumbnail

Margaret Mitchell worked at Google for two years before realizing she needed a break. After speaking with a therapist, she realized the problem: she was burned out. Because of stress, she ended up taking medical leave.

Mitchell is not the only one who has experienced this. She is now an AI researcher and chief ethical scientist at Hugging Face. Responsive-AI teams are experiencing more burnout. They may not receive the same support as colleagues who specialize on content moderation, but the work can be equally draining.

All the practitioners MIT Technology Review interviewed spoke enthusiastically of their work: It is driven by passion, a feeling of urgency, and the satisfaction in solving real problems. Without the right support, that sense of mission can become overwhelming. Read the complete story .

–Melissa Heikkila

Will lab-grown meat make it to our plates?

Would you eat lab-grown beef? Plenty of companies have set out to generate meat products from muscle and fat cells cultured in vats–around 80 at the last count. It is a huge promise: it could reduce intensive animal farming, which can often be cruel and inhumane, as well as minimize the negative effects of animal agriculture on the environment.

But it is still a question of whether these companies can keep their word. Even if these companies can bring a low-cost cultured-meat product on the market, would anyone ever eat it? Read full story .

–Jessica Hamzelou

This story is from The Checkup, Jessica’s new weekly newsletter covering the ins and outs of the biotech and health sectors. Sign up and you will receive it every Thursday in your inbox.

The must-reads

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

1 Elon Musk has bought Twitter
What happens next is anyone’s guess. (FT $)
Musk wasted no time: a number of executives are set to leave. (NYT $)
His first instinct was to reassure advertisers. (Variety $)
The European Union has reminded Musk to play by its rules. (Bloomberg $)
Here’s how to delete your Twitter account. (WP $)

2 Everyone is ill right now
Flu and other bugs are back with a vengeance now we’re mixing again. (Vox)
If you’re one of the lucky ones, here’s how to stay healthy. (The Atlantic $)

3 Ethereum is hard to beat
The botched launch of a challenger blockchain demonstrates why. (Wired $)
The Merge has birthed a new class of blockchain participants. (Bloomberg $)
Why Ethereum’s switch to proof of stake matters. (MIT Technology Review)

4 Big Tech is feeling vulnerable
Their quarterly earnings are down, and executives are nervous. (WP $)
Even the largest companies are no longer immune to the economic downturn. (NYT $)

5 How the detention of a Huawei executive worsened US-China relations
The prisoner exchange also implicated Canada. (WSJ $)
Further curbs on exports to China could be on their way. (WP $)

6 The future of online speech could depend on this European law
And force them to overhaul their moderation systems in the process. (Slate $)

7 Hydroelectricity has an image problem
It’s efficient and green, so why do so few countries want to invest in it? (IEEE Spectrum)
World leaders are set to assemble next week for COP27. (Economist $)
Droughts are cutting into California’s hydropower. (MIT Technology Review)

8 Here’s what a future beyond animal testing could look like
A proposed US bill could push us towards computer-based testing instead. (Neo.Life)

9 Here’s how Iranian authorities are controlling protestors’ phones
The SIAM system breaks encryption and slows connections. (The Intercept)

10 Anime and manga fans are rising up against DALL-E
Illustrators aren’t thrilled about text-to-image models, either. (Rest of World)
It’s getting harder to differentiate between AI art and real photographs. (FT $)
This artist is dominating AI-generated art. He’s not happy about this. (MIT Technology Review)

Quote of the day

“The metaverse is ‘living inside of a computer.’ The last thing I want to do when I get home from work during a long day is live inside of a computer.”

–Evan Spiegel, who founded Snapchat, has zero time for the metaverse, reports Bloomberg.

The big story

Aging clocks aim to predict how long you’ll live

April 2022

Age is much more than the number of birthdays you’ve clocked. How our organs deal with everyday life’s stresses and strains can be affected by diet, sleep, and stress. These factors can make you age faster than others born on the same date. Your biological age, or the number of years that you have lived, could be very different from your chronological age.

Your biological age will likely reflect your physical health and your mortality better than your chronological age. It’s not as easy as it sounds. Scientists have spent the past decade developing tools called “aging clocks” that measure markers in your body to determine your biological age.

The idea behind aging clocks, is that they will essentially tell you how your organs are doing and how many years you have left. However, accuracy of the aging clocks that have been developed over the past decade is variable. Researchers are still trying to answer a crucial question: What does it really mean to be biologically young. Read the full story.

–Jessica Hamzelou

We can still have nice things

A place for comfort, fun and distraction in these weird times. Have any other ideas? Drop me a line or tweet ’em at me. )

Brandi Carlile belting out A Case of You is just amazing. Wow!
Are you in touch with your shadow self?
Sorry wedding planners–donut walls are canceled.
There’s a lot going on in the new Final Fantasy XVI trailer.
Just assume everything’s cake from now on, okay?

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