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The Download: a giant DeepMind breakthrough, and fixing the US grid



This is as we speak’s version of The Download, our weekday publication that gives a every day dose of what’s occurring on this planet of expertise.

DeepMind has predicted the construction of just about each protein identified to science

The information: DeepMind says its AlphaFold software has efficiently predicted the construction of practically all proteins identified to science. From as we speak, it’s providing its database of over 200 million proteins to anybody at no cost. It’s a large enhance to the present database of 1 million proteins it launched final yr, and consists of buildings for crops, micro organism, animals, and lots of different organisms.

Why it issues: The expanded database opens up large alternatives for AlphaFold to have affect on vital points reminiscent of sustainability, gas, meals insecurity, and uncared for illnesses, in line with Demis Hassabis, DeepMind’s founder and CEO. Scientists might use the findings to higher perceive illnesses, and to hurry innovation in drug discovery and biology, he added. Read the full story.

—Melissa Heikkilä

AI for protein folding represents such a serious advance that it was chosen as considered one of MIT Technology Review’s 10 Breakthrough Technologies this yr. Read our story explaining why it’s so exciting, and our profile of DeepMind’s founder Demis Hassabis, the place he explains why this can be the corporate’s most vital and long-lasting contribution to science.

Stitching collectively the grid will save lives as excessive climate worsens

The blistering warmth waves that set temperature information throughout a lot of the US in latest days have strained electrical energy programs, threatening to knock out energy in susceptible areas of the nation. While the electrical energy has largely stayed on-line to this point this summer season, heavy use of energy-sucking air-conditioners and the extraordinary warmth has contributed to scattered issues and shut calls.

It’s unlikely to get higher quickly. Quite a few grid operators might wrestle to satisfy peak summer season demand, creating the chance of rolling blackouts, a brand new report from the North American Electric Reliability Corporation has discovered. The nation’s remoted and antiquated grids are in determined want of upgrades.

One resolution could be to extra tightly combine the nation’s regional grids, stitching them along with extra long-range transmission traces, permitting energy to circulation between areas to the place it’s wanted extra urgently. However, that’s a mission that’s fraught with challenges. Read the full story.

—James Temple

The must-reads

I’ve combed the web to seek out you as we speak’s most enjoyable/vital/scary/fascinating tales about expertise.

1 Meta’s income dropped for the primary time
The cracks in Mark Zuckerberg’s pivot to the metaverse are starting to indicate. (NYT $)
+ More individuals are logging into Facebook every day, although. (WP $)
+ Zuck says Meta is in ‘very deep, philosophical competitors’ with Apple. (The Verge)
+ Discord is a pure dwelling for customers disillusioned by Instagram. (WSJ $)
+ Ex-Facebook and Bumble staff have constructed their very own ‘much less poisonous’ social community. (Protocol)

2 Senators have superior little one on-line security laws 
But others argue that such safeguards ought to apply to customers of all ages. (WP $)
+ Three wannabe senators have deep hyperlinks to the tech corporations they’re railing towards. (NYT $)

3 A Greek politician was focused by Israeli spyware and adware
He’s filed a lawsuit to pressure Greek authorities to analyze who was behind the tried hack. (NYT $)
+ Carine Kanimba claimed the Rwandan authorities used Pegasus spyware and adware to spy on her household. (Motherboard)
+ The hacking trade faces the tip of an period. (MIT Technology Review)

4 Bitcoin costs are rising once more
After the Federal Reserve raised rates of interest. (CNBC)

5 Take a journey throughout the universe
This superb information walks you thru every part from exoplanets to supermassive black holes. (New Scientist $)
+ Will the universe’s enlargement imply planets now not orbit stars? (MIT Technology Review)

7 Your fashionable automobile is leaking your information
While lots of it’s anonymized, the chance of privateness breaches is actual. (The Markup)

8 Top-quality TVs lay naked unhealthy CGI 
Showing up all its poorly-rendered flaws. (Vulture $)

9 Is DALL-E’s artwork stolen?
While customers can commercialize their AI creations, the mannequin is skilled on others’ work. (Engadget)
+ Lawyers might select to signify AIs in future courtroom battles. (Slate)
+ OpenAI is able to promote DALL-E to its first million clients. (MIT Technology Review)

10 What outdated canines can train us about our personal brains
Just don’t attempt to train them new tips. (Knowable Magazine)

Quote of the day

“This isn’t the Instagram that we used to have.”

—Tatiana Bruening, the creator of a viral submit urging Instagram to cease attempting to be TikTok, laments the platform’s determination to chase a Gen Z viewers, she tells the Wall Street Journal.

The massive story

She risked every part to reveal Facebook. Now she’s telling her story.

July 2021

When Sophie Zhang went public with explosive revelations detailing the political manipulation she’d uncovered throughout her time as a knowledge scientist at Facebook, she equipped concrete proof to assist what critics had lengthy been saying on the surface: that Facebook makes election interference straightforward, and that except such exercise hurts the corporate’s enterprise pursuits, it may possibly’t be bothered to repair the issue.

By talking out and eschewing anonymity, Zhang risked authorized motion from the corporate, hurt to her future profession prospects, and maybe even reprisals from the politicians she uncovered within the course of. Her story reveals that it’s actually pure luck that we now know a lot about how Facebook permits election interference globally, and to regulators world wide contemplating methods to rein within the firm, this ought to be a wake-up name. Read the full story.

—Karen Hao

We can nonetheless have good issues

A spot for consolation, enjoyable and distraction in these bizarre instances. (Got any concepts? Drop me a line or tweet ’em at me.)



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