Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Experimental Embryos and the American Monkeypox Emergency

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In a search for new forms of long-term medicine, a biotech company based in Israel says it plans to create embryo-stage versions of humans to harvest tissues for use in transplant treatments.

The company, Renewal Bio, is committed to recent advances in stem cell technology and artificial wombs, demonstrated by Jacob Hanna, a biologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot. Earlier this week, Hanna showed that his lab, starting with mouse stem cells, could mold very realistic-looking mouse embryos and grow them in a mechanical uterus for several days until they developed beating hearts, flowing blood and cranial folds.

It is the first time such an advanced embryo has been simulated without sperm, eggs or even a uterus. Now Hanna has his sights set on extending the technology to humans – he is already experimenting with human cells and eventually hopes to produce artificial models of human embryos. “We see the embryo as the best 3D bioprinter,” he says. Read the full story.

—Antonio Regalado

Automated techniques could make it easier to develop AI

Machine learning researchers have to make many decisions when designing new models, which means that complex models are ultimately designed by human intuition rather than systematically. A growing field called automated machine learning or autoML aims to eliminate that guesswork, allowing algorithms to take over decision making, which could both simplify the process and make machine learning more accessible.

Big Tech beware. Companies like Amazon and Google already offer low-code machine learning tools that take advantage of autoML techniques, and computer scientists are excited about the idea that they can easily specify a problem before the computer is given the task of figuring it out. But researchers still have a lot of work to do before autoML can be deployed on a larger scale. Read the full story.

Tammy Xu

The must reads

I’ve scoured the internet to find today’s funniest/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.

1 The US has declared monkey pox a public health emergency
It has surpassed 7,100 cases, more than any other country. (WSJ $)
+ Many gay men have not been able to get vaccinated. (Vox)
+ Some people are at risk of contracting both monkey pox and covid. (The Atlantic Ocean $)
+ There is still no evidence to suggest that monkeypox has become more virulent. (Slate)
+ Everything you need to know about the monkeypox vaccines. (MIT Technology Review)

2 Alex Jones Must Pay $4 Million To The Parents Of A Sandy Hook Victim
The conspiracy theorist finally faces ramifications for calling the massacre a hoax. (BBC)
+ The jury could also choose to award further damages. (Buzzfeed news)

3 Elon Musk has accused Twitter of fraud
He also claims that he was “fooled” into signing the purchase agreement. (Bloomberg $)
+ A tool used to rate Twitter bots reportedly marked Musk’s own account as one. (FT $)
+ Twitter’s lawyers are not holding back. (The edge)
Meanwhile, Musk predicts the US will endure a “mild recession” for 18 months. (Insider)

4 The cost of living crisis in the UK has sparked a wave of scams
That feels very cruel, but unfortunately inevitable. (FT $)

5 Your Brain Seems To Unlock New Realities When You Die
The new dimensions of reality experienced by some dying people are not the same as hallucinating. (Neo.Life)

6 We Buy Less Video Games Than We Used To
With less disposable income, shoppers are cutting back on non-essentials. (WP $)

7 The animals we know least about are most at risk of extinction
Many are believed to have died out before we could discover them. (Motherboard)
+ Machine learning can help identify the species most at risk. (The edge)
+ Understanding how species mate is crucial to ensure their future safety. (Known magazine)

8 The Internet Is Obsessed With Tracking Celebrity Flights
Aviation enthusiasts reveal the data the rich and famous prefer to keep secret. (the guard)

9 Hollywood is getting better at portraying young, online lives
Being extremely online is no longer the preserve of the loner. (The Atlantic Ocean $)
+ How the next generation is reshaping political discourse. (MIT Technology Review)

10 TikTok can’t get enough of young farmers
Their rural life touches a sensitive chord. (FT $)
+ Elsewhere on TikTok, users pay money to wake people up. (wired $)

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