The world will need dozens of breakthrough climate technologies in the next decade

Such “advance market commitments” have enabled cutting-edge technologies to swiftly reach commercial markets in other fields, from vaccine development to commercial spaceflight. The same approach could shrink the timeline to scaling up emerging clean technologies and driving down their cost premiums over more carbon-intensive technologies. On top of swelling demand for clean technologies, investments in […]

Computers will be transformed by alternative materials and approaches—maybe sooner than you think

Optical computing, an early approach that was later abandoned in favor of binary electronic circuitry, is also moving forward. I am fascinated by the possibility of building computers that use light as the “working fluid,” passing photons around much the way our present chips do electrons.  This is already happening: silicon photonic chips are providing […]

Rewriting what we thought was possible in biotech

It’s been exciting to see technology that rewrites and improves what we thought was an established health concept—how to evaluate the need for knee surgery, for instance. With the help of technology, we can focus resources on areas of human health that are complex and chronically understudied, or we can move on from simply naming […]

AI’s progress isn’t the same as creating human intelligence in machines

But GPT-3 suffers from several problems that researchers are working to address. It’s often inconsistent—you can get contradictory answers to the same question. Second, GPT-3 is prone to “hallucinations”: when asked who the president of the United States was in 1492, it will happily conjure up an answer. Third, GPT-3 is an expensive model to […]

Materials with nanoscale components will change what’s possible

Thanks to this built-in responsiveness, future materials could be made with some decision-making capabilities and adaptability. Intelligent materials may be able to automatically release precise amounts of medication, heal themselves when damaged, or perform logical operations when exposed to light. In fact, some architected materials have already incorporated new kinds of logic gates that respond […]

A pro-China online influence campaign is targeting the rare-earths industry

China has come to dominate the market in recent years, and by 2017 the country produced over 80% of the world’s supply. Beijing achieved this by pouring resources into the study and mining of rare-earth elements for decades, building up six big state-owned firms and relaxing environmental regulations to enable low-cost and high-pollution methods. The […]

The Download: Big Tech’s post-Roe silence, and the US EV charging landscape

In the days after the US Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to abortion, tech companies rushed to show their support for employees living in states where the procedure is now outlawed. Meta promised to pay expenses for staffers who need to travel out of their home state for an abortion. Alphabet, Google’s parent company, […]

How green steel made with electricity could clean up a dirty industry

Industrial steelmaking spits out about two tons of carbon dioxide emissions for every ton of steel produced—adding up to nearly 10% of such emissions worldwide. The global steel market is expected to grow about 30% by 2050, the date by which some of the largest steelmakers have pledged to reach net-zero emissions. Unless major changes […]

The U.S. only has 60,000 charging stations for EVs. Here’s where they all are.

The infrastructure bill that passed in November 2021 earmarked $7.5 billion for President Biden’s goal of having 500,000 chargers (individual plugs, not stations) around the nation. In the best case, Michalek envisions a public-private collaboration to build a robust national charging network. The Biden administration has pledged to install plugs throughout rural areas, while companies […]

Big Tech remains silent on questions about data privacy in a post-Roe world

Google says in its terms of service that the company reserves the right to remove any content that violates the law or could harm other users, third parties, or Google itself. Those terms of service cover a wide range of products, including email, stored media, travel itineraries on Google Maps, and Google documents.  This policy […]