The Obtain: what’s demise, and jailbreaking generative AI


That is at this time’s version of The Obtain, our weekday publication that gives a every day dose of what’s occurring on the earth of expertise.

What’s demise?

Simply as delivery certificates observe the time we enter the world, demise certificates mark the second we exit it. This apply displays conventional notions about life and demise as binaries. We’re right here till, immediately, like a lightweight switched off, we’re gone. 

However whereas this concept of demise is pervasive, proof is constructing that it’s an outdated social assemble, probably not grounded in biology. Dying is in reality a course of—one with no clear level demarcating the edge throughout which somebody can’t come again.

Scientists and lots of docs have already embraced this extra nuanced understanding of demise. And as society catches up, the implications for the dwelling could possibly be profound. Learn the total story

—Rachel Nuwer

‘What’s demise?’ is a part of our mini-series The Largest Questions, which explores how expertise helps probe among the deepest, most mind-bending mysteries of our existence.

Learn extra: 

+ Why is the universe so advanced and delightful? For some motive the universe is filled with stars, galaxies, and life. However it didn’t should be this fashion. Learn the total story.

+ How did life start? AI helps chemists unpick the mysteries across the origins of life and detect indicators of it on different worlds. Learn the total story.

+ Are we alone within the universe? Scientists are coaching machine-learning fashions and designing devices to hunt for all times on different worlds. Learn the total story.

+ Is it attainable to essentially perceive another person’s thoughts? How we expect, really feel and expertise the world is a thriller to everybody however us. However expertise could also be beginning to assist us perceive the minds of others. Learn the total story.

Textual content-to-image AI fashions might be tricked into producing disturbing photographs

What’s occurred: Standard text-to-image AI fashions might be prompted to disregard their security filters and generate disturbing photographs. A bunch of researchers managed to get each Stability AI’s Secure Diffusion and OpenAI’s DALL-E 2’s text-to-image fashions to ignore their insurance policies and create photographs of bare folks, dismembered our bodies, and different violent and sexual eventualities. 

How they did it: This new jailbreaking methodology, known as “SneakyPrompt”, makes use of reinforcement studying to create written prompts that appear to be garbled nonsense to us however that AI fashions study to acknowledge as hidden requests for disturbing photographs. It primarily works by turning the best way text-to-image AI fashions perform in opposition to them.

Why it issues: The analysis highlights the vulnerability of current AI security filters and will function a wake-up name for the AI group to bolster safety measures throughout the board, specialists say. It additionally demonstrates how troublesome it’s to stop these fashions from producing such content material, because it’s included within the huge troves of knowledge they’ve been skilled on. Learn the total story.

—Rhiannon Williams

The ache is actual. The painkillers are digital actuality.

Loads of kids—and adults—hate needles. However digital actuality units like Smileyscope, a tool for youths that just lately acquired FDA clearance, might assist to make a distinction. It helps reduce the ache of a blood draw or IV insertion by sending the person on an underwater journey. Inside this watery deep-sea actuality, the swipe of an alcohol wipe turns into cool waves washing over the arm. The pinch of the needle turns into a mild fish nibble.  

However how Smileyscope works just isn’t totally clear. It’s extra advanced than simply distraction, and never all stimuli are equally efficient. However the promise of VR has led corporations to work on units to deal with a a lot more durable drawback: continual ache. Learn the total story.

—Cassandra Willyard

This story is from The Checkup, our weekly well being and biotech publication. Enroll to obtain it in your inbox each Thursday.

The must-reads

I’ve combed the web to seek out you at this time’s most enjoyable/vital/scary/fascinating tales about expertise.

1 Elon Musk endorsed an antisemitic publish on X 
Leaving its executives racing to suppress the injury. (NYT $)
+ IBM has pulled its adverts from X after they appeared subsequent to antisemitic posts. (WP $)
+ Musk’s feedback are resonating with the far-right, unsurprisingly. (Motherboard)

2 Osama bin Laden’s letter to America has exploded on social media
Movies of American customers endorsing components of the 9/11 manifesto have gone viral. (WP $)
+ TikTok says it’s aggressively working to take away the clips. (NYT $)
+ The Guardian newspaper has deleted its model of the letter from its website. (404 Media)

3 SpaceX has pushed again its large rocket launch
A part in want of changing has delayed the launch till Saturday. (Ars Technica)

4 The primary CRISPR drugs has been authorized within the UK
The remedy, known as Casgevy, edits the cells of individuals with sickle cell illness earlier than infusing them again in. (Wired $)
+ Remarkably, the remedy successfully cures the illness. (New Scientist $)+ Right here’s how CRISPR is altering lives. (MIT Expertise Assessment)

5 Knowledge dealer LexisNexis bought surveillance instruments to US border enforcement
Social media oversight, face recognition and geolocation information, amongst others. (The Intercept)

6 OpenAI has steamrollered the AI business
And startup founders are struggling to keep away from turning into roadkill. (Insider $)
+ Google has delayed releasing its OpenAI-challenging Gemini system. (The Info $)
+ Contained in the thoughts of OpenAI’s chief scientist. (MIT Expertise Assessment)

7 Local weather-proofing our houses is a nightmare
Excessive climate occasions are on the rise—and our houses are susceptible. (The Verge)
+ The hunt to construct wildfire-resistant houses. (MIT Expertise Assessment)

8 Vietnamese immigrants depend on YouTube for his or her information
Even when it’s not all the time clear if that information is from dependable sources. (The Markup)

9 Reddit is the most effective place for product opinions now
Faux opinions and Search engine marketing-bait lists aren’t useful. Sincere assessments from actual individuals are. (Vox)

10 Meet the inventor of the lickable TV 📺
Web-licks and chill? (The Guardian)

Quote of the day

“We fly, we break some issues, we study some issues, after which we return and fly once more.” 

—William Gerstenmaier, the vp of construct and flight reliability at SpaceX, explains the corporate’s method to inevitable rocket launch setbacks to Bloomberg.

The large story

Accountable AI has a burnout drawback

October 2022

Margaret Mitchell had been working at Google for 2 years earlier than she realized she wanted a break. Solely after she spoke with a therapist did she perceive the issue: she was burnt out.

Mitchell, who now works as chief ethics scientist on the AI startup Hugging Face, is much from alone in her expertise. Burnout is turning into more and more widespread in accountable AI groups.

All of the practitioners MIT Expertise Assessment interviewed spoke enthusiastically about their work: it’s fueled by ardour, a way of urgency, and the satisfaction of constructing options for actual issues. However that sense of mission might be overwhelming with out the suitable assist. Learn the total story.

—Melissa Heikkilä

We will nonetheless have good issues

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

+ The lovable story of how this couple met will heat your coronary heart. 🥰
+ Why Intercourse in house is a such a difficult enterprise.
+ Let it go—why Frozen’s legacy refuses to die.
+ Why not deal with your self to a White Toreador tequila cocktail this weekend?
+ Uncanny Valley make-up is the stuff of nightmares, fairly frankly.


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