San Francisco News

AI is an existential threat – just not the way you think

Nir Eisikovits, UMass Boston The rise of ChatGPT and similar artificial intelligence systems has been accompanied by a sharp increase in anxiety about AI. For the past few months, executives and AI safety researchers have been offering predictions, dubbed “P(doom),” about the probability that AI will bring about a large-scale catastrophe. Worries peaked in May 2023 when the nonprofit research and advocacy organization Center for AI Safety released a one-sentence statement: “Mitigating the risk of extinction from A.I. should be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks, such as pandemics and nuclear war.” The statement was signed by many key

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Researchers can learn a lot with your genetic information, even when you skip survey questions – yesterday’s mode of informed consent doesn’t quite fit today’s biobank studies

Robbee Wedow, Purdue University Imagine you agreed to be part of a new and exciting long-term research study to better understand human health and behavior. For the past few years, you’ve been visiting a collection site where you fill out some questionnaires about your health and daily activities. Research assistants take your height, weight and some other physical characteristics about you. Because you agreed to contribute your genetic data to the study, you also provided a saliva sample during your first visit. Later, you see a news article reporting that researchers analyzing data from the study you’re participating in have

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The digital future may rely on ultrafast optical electronics and computers

Mohammed Hassan, University of Arizona If you’ve ever wished you had a faster phone, computer or internet connection, you’ve encountered the personal experience of hitting a limit of technology. But there might be help on the way. Over the past several decades, scientists and engineers like me have worked to develop faster transistors, the electronic components underlying modern electronic and digital communications technologies. These efforts have been based on a category of materials called semiconductors that have special electrical properties. Silicon is perhaps the best known example of this type of material. But about a decade ago, scientific efforts hit

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Titan submersible disaster underscores dangers of deep-sea exploration – an engineer explains why most ocean science is conducted with crewless submarines

Nina Mahmoudian, Purdue University Rescuers spotted debris from the tourist submarine Titan on the ocean floor near the wreck of the Titanic on June 22, 2023, indicating that the vessel suffered a catastrophic failure and the five people aboard were killed. Bringing people to the bottom of the deep ocean is inherently dangerous. At the same time, climate change means collecting data from the world’s oceans is more vital than ever. Purdue University mechanical engineer Nina Mahmoudian explains how researchers reduce the risks and costs associated with deep-sea exploration: Send down subs, but keep people on the surface. Why is

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