The Download: Three Parent Baby Problems and Solar Balloon Test

The Download: Three Parent Baby Problems and Solar Balloon Test

The Download: Three Parent Baby Problems and Solar Balloon Test

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


Three-parent baby technique could create babies at risk for serious illness

When the first baby born using a controversial procedure that meant he had three genetic parents was born in 2016, it made headlines. The little boy inherited most of his DNA from his mother and father, but he also had a tiny amount from a third person.

The idea was to prevent the baby from inheriting a fatal disease. His mother carried the genes for a disease in her mitochondria. Swapping them with genes from a donor — a genetic third parent — could prevent the baby from developing it. The strategy seemed to work.

But this may not always succeed. MIT Technology Review can reveal two cases in which babies conceived with the procedure showed what scientists call “reversion.” In both cases, the proportion of mitochondrial genes from the child’s mother increased over time, from less than 1% in both embryos to around 50% in one baby and 72% in another.

Fortunately, both babies were born to parents without genes for mitochondrial disease. But the scientists behind this work believe that around one in five babies born using the three-parent technique could eventually inherit high levels of mitochondrial genes from their mother.

For babies born to people with disease-causing mutations, it could spell disaster, leaving them with a devastating and life-threatening illness. Read the full story.

—Jessica Hamzelou

Researchers launched a solar geoengineering test flight in the UK last year

Last September, British researchers launched a high-altitude weather balloon that released a few hundred grams of sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere, a potential scientific first in the field of solar geoengineering, the MIT Technology Review can reveal. .

In theory, spraying sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere could mimic a cooling effect that occurs following major volcanic eruptions, reflecting more sunlight back into space in an effort to mitigate global warming. This is highly controversial given concerns about potential unintended consequences, among other issues.

But the British effort was not an experiment in geoengineering. Rather, the stated goal was to evaluate a low-cost, controllable, and recoverable balloon system. And some fear the effort went ahead without broader public disclosures and engagement in advance. Read the full story.

—James Temple

2023’s 11th Breakthrough Technology Takes Flight

It’s official – after more than a month of open voting, hydrogen aircraft are the readers’ choice for the 11th item on our 2023 list of game-changing technologies!

There also happens to be some exciting hydrogen plane news this week. Startup Universal Hydrogen is planning a test flight today. If all goes according to plan, it will be the largest aircraft powered by hydrogen fuel cells to ever fly.

But even if the test flight is successful, there’s still a long way to go before cargo or passengers board a hydrogen plane. Read the full story.

—Casey Crownhart

Casey’s story is from The Spark, his weekly climate change and energy newsletter. Register to receive it in your mailbox every Wednesday.

Vote for our awesome magazine covers

MIT Technology Review has been nominated for Readers’ Choice Awards in the American Society of Magazine Editors’ Best Cover Contest! Just love your favorite cover of the Town planning issue, Money question, and Gender on Twitter to make your vote count (or even vote for all three!) You have until March 31st.

The unavoidable

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

1 OpenAI wants to make AI smarter than humans
However, rushing to build such models does not really give ethicists confidence. (voice)
+ AI-powered search is getting really messy. (Slate $)
+ Chatbots are not human, and we would do well to remember that. (NY Mag$)
+ OpenAI could use a little less hype, according to executive Mira Murati. (Fast Company $)
+ How to responsibly create, publish and share generative AI. (MIT Technology Review)

2 The hunt for greener graphite is on
It’s essential for electric vehicle batteries, and supplies are running out. (Economist $)
+ A village in India has been caught in the crosshairs of a lithium mining boom. (Wired $)

3 Twitter is pushed to the breaking point
It operates with a skeletal staff, and problems and breakdowns keep occurring. (WSJ$)
+ It suffered a major breakdown just yesterday. (BBC)
+ Twitter is becoming a seriously boring place. (FT$)
+ What happened to Elon Musk’s plan to make it an “all-purpose app”? (Ars Technica)
+ Here’s how a Twitter engineer says it’s going to break. (MIT Technology Review)

4 NASA’s SpaceX crew is en route to the ISS
They should spend an entire year in orbit. (CBS News)

5 Psychedelics Are Being Tested As A Treatment For Anorexia
Scientists are cautiously interested in how the break from reality might benefit patients. (FT$)
+ The UK has opened its first psychedelic therapy clinic. (Vice)
+ Psychedelics are having a moment and women might be the ones to take advantage of it. (MIT Technology Review)

6 TikTok’s screen time limit for teens is easily bypassed
But the company insists it is still a meaningful intervention. (NPR)

7 Turkey shut down its most popular social platform
Residents had used Ekşi Sözlük to organize relief efforts following earthquakes. (The Guardian)

8 How greenwashing finally went out of style
Financial regulation is going to make it much harder to get away with it. (Atlantic $)

9 What AI Art Can Teach Us About Real Art
There are no memories or lived experience behind the AI ​​images, to begin with. (New Yorkers $)
+ This artist dominates AI-generated art. And he’s not happy about it. (MIT Technology Review)

10 How the Xerox Alto Changed the World 💻
The 50-year-old computer paved the way for modern laptops. (IEEE Spectrum)

quote of the day

“If you enjoyed your ride, don’t forget to give us five stars.”

—A SpaceX mission control manager jokes with the crew aboard the Falcon 9 rocket en route to the International Space Station, Reuters reports.

The big story

We have a better idea of ​​the true carbon footprint of AI

November 2022

Large language models have a dirty secret: they require large amounts of energy to train and function. But the true scale of the carbon footprint of these models remains a bit of a mystery. But artificial intelligence startup Hugging Face thinks it has found a new, more accurate way to calculate it.

The startup’s work could be a step towards more realistic data from tech companies on the carbon footprint of their AI product – and comes at a time when experts are calling on the industry to better assess the environmental impact of AI. AI. Read the full story.

—Melissa Heikkila

We can still have beautiful things

A place of comfort, pleasure and distraction in these strange times. (You have any ideas ? Write to me Or tweet them to me.)

+ Tidycore is a TikTok trend that feels rewarding, if exhausting.
+ Giant armadillos are really cute and seriously endangered.
+ It’s so heartwarming: Baklava makers in Turkey have resumed operations after the devastating earthquake.
+ I love these recipes for entertaining: Make mine a Horseradish Bloody Mary Vodka.
+ The internet has a lot of thoughts on the recently announced Lord of the Rings movies.


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