The Download: gaming climate change, and Boeing’s space mission leaks

The Download: gaming climate change, and Boeing’s space mission leaks

Plus: how an AI-generated news service gained millions of followers

This is today’s edition of The Download, our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s going on in the world of technology.

This classic game is taking on climate change

—Casey Crownhart

There are two things I love to do at social gatherings: play board games and talk about climate change. Don’t I sound like someone you should invite to your next dinner party?

Given my two great loves, I was delighted to learn about a board game called Catan: New Energies, coming out this summer. It’s a new edition of the classic game Catan which has players building power plants, fueled by either fossil fuels or renewables.

So how does an energy-focused edition of Catan stack up against the board game competition? And what does it say about how we view climate technology? Read the full story.

This story is from The Spark, our weekly climate and energy newsletter. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Wednesday.

The must-reads

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

1 Boeing’s first crewed space mission has three helium leaks
But the spacecraft is stable enough to continue on its mission. (CNN)
+ Delays have added $1.4 billion in costs to the program. (WP $)
+ But its success demonstrates NASA has an alternative to SpaceX. (The Atlantic $)

2 How an AI-generated news outlet gained millions of readers
The now-defunct BNN Breaking looked like a standard news service. But its articles bore all the hallmarks of AI. (NYT $)
+ These six questions will dictate the future of generative AI. (MIT Technology Review)

3 Crypto miners are renting out their data centers to AI clients
AI needs chips and power, and miners are happy to oblige—for a price. (Bloomberg $)
+ Bitcoin mining was booming in Kazakhstan. Then it was gone. (MIT Technology Review)

4 The age of the AI PC is coming
Chipmakers are likening its arrival to the advent of Wi-Fi. (FT $)
+ Nvidia was the unofficial star of this week’s Computex conference. (Bloomberg $)
+ Elon Musk has admitted diverting Nvidia chips destined for Tesla to X. (WSJ $)

5 The majority of life on Earth is dormant
And a common protein might explain why. (Quanta Magazine)

6 Tsunamis are a looming danger in Alaska
Cliffs collapsing into the country’s fjords pose a major threat to nearby boats. (Hakai Magazine)

7 Filipino Catholics are building churches in Roblox
It’s a safe online space for younger users to explore their faith. (Rest of World)
+ Or if you fancy trying to earn a buck, Ikea will pay you to work in Roblox. (Wired $)

8 Palmer Luckey’s latest project is a handheld games console
From virtual reality, to lethal drones, to a gaming device. (Fast Company $)
+ Luckey’s admitted the venture doesn’t make much business sense. (The Verge)

9 Feeling stuck? AI can help you ask your future self for advice
You’re under no obligation to follow its suggestions, though. (The Guardian)

10 The doge meme is a relic of a bygone internet
The death of its star, Kobosu, is a reminder of how much has changed. (New Yorker $)
+ How to fix the internet. (MIT Technology Review)

Quote of the day

“We are seeing the werewolves beginning to circle.”

—Whistleblower Edward Snowden is concerned that government and corporate control will curtail the potential of the artificial intelligence boom, Bloomberg reports.

The big story

My new Turing test would see if AI can make $1 million

July 2023

—Mustafa Suleyman is the co-founder and CEO of Inflection AI and a venture partner at Greylock, a venture capital firm. Before that, he co-founded DeepMind, one of the world’s leading artificial intelligence companies.

AI systems are increasingly everywhere and are becoming more powerful almost by the day. But how can we know if a machine is truly “intelligent”? For decades this has been defined by the Turing test, which argues that an AI that’s able to replicate language convincingly enough to trick a human into thinking it was also human should be considered intelligent.

But there’s now a problem: the Turing test has almost been passed—it arguably already has been. The latest generation of large language models are on the cusp of acing it.

We need something better. I propose the Modern Turing Test. It would give AIs a simple instruction:  “Go make $1 million on a retail web platform in a few months with just a $100,000 investment.” Read the full story.

We can still have nice things

A place for comfort, fun and distraction to brighten up your day. (Got any ideas? Drop me a line or tweet ’em at me.)

+ Sauron is alive in Argentina! According to these old-school Lord of the Rings badges, at least.
+ A celebration of the women of shoegaze.
+ If you’ve ever wondered how they used to shoot cinematic battle scenes before the advent of CGI, wonder no more.
+ Congratulations to Max the cat, a much-loved member of Vermont State University, and honorary doctor of ‘litter-ature’ (thanks Paul!)

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