FoodThe Download

The Download: Adobe’s AI ambitions, and how work is changing

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.

How Adobe’s bet on non-exploitative AI is paying off

Since the beginning of the generative AI boom, there has been a fight over how large AI models are trained. In one camp sit tech companies such as OpenAI that claim it is “impossible” to train AI without copyrighted data. And in the other camp are artists who argue that AI companies have taken their intellectual property without consent or compensation.

Adobe is pretty unusual in siding with the latter group, with an approach that stands out as an example of how generative AI products can be built without scraping copyrighted data from the internet. It released its image-generating model Firefly, which is integrated into its popular photo editing tool Photoshop, one year ago.

In an exclusive interview with MIT Technology Review, Adobe’s AI leaders are adamant this is the only way forward. At stake is not just the livelihood of creators, they say, but our whole information ecosystem. Read the full story.

—Melissa Heikkilä

How AI is changing the way we work

AI is fundamentally transforming the nature of work for people and the organizations that employ them.

We’re holding a free LinkedIn Live session about how AI is changing the way we work at midday ET today, delving into everything from the economic impacts on employers to the new jobs being created—or lost. Register here to join the conversation—our editors and reporters are looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

Meet the MIT Technology Review AI team in London

The UK is home to AI powerhouse Google DeepMind, a slew of exciting AI startups, and some of the world’s best universities. It’s also where a sizable chunk of the MIT Technology Review team live, including our senior AI editor Will Douglas Heaven and senior AI reporter Melissa Heikkilä (and me!)

We’re gathering some of the brightest minds in AI in Europe for our flagship AI conference, EmTech Digital, in London on April 16 and 17. Our speakers include top figures from the likes of Meta, Google DeepMind, AI avatar company Synthesia, and NVIDIA. Read more about what you can expect in the latest edition of The Algorithm, our weekly AI newsletter, and register for the event itself here.

The must-reads

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

1 Florida has approved a law banning children under 14 from social media
It’s one of the most restrictive measures a US state has passed to date. (NYT $)
+ Social platforms will be required to delete existing accounts belonging to under-14s. (WP $)
+ Child online safety laws will actually hurt kids, critics say. (MIT Technology Review)

2 AI could make society much, much richer
Economists are excited by its potential, but not everyone agrees. (Vox)
+ ChatGPT is about to revolutionize the economy. We need to decide what that looks like. (MIT Technology Review) 

3 The US and UK have sanctioned Chinese state-sponsored hackers
A 14-year hacking campaign targeted critics, politicians and businesses. (WP $)
+ British politicians are being urged by spies to use disappearing messages. (FT $)

4 The US Supreme Court is set to hear its first post-Roe abortion case
It’s considering whether access to abortion pills should be restricted even further. (The Economist $)
+ The stakes for abortion rights couldn’t be higher. (Wired $)
+ The country’s anti-abortion movement is affecting access to IVF, too. (Vox)

5 X has lost a lawsuit against an anti-hate speech nonprofit
The US judge dismissed it as a ‘vapid’ attempt to punish the group. (The Guardian)

6 Things are looking up for FTX customers
It’s looking like they’ll get a lot more money back than originally thought. (FT $)

7 You can’t opt out of Google Search’s chatbot anymore
The company wants feedback, and it wants it now. (Ars Technica)
+ Why you shouldn’t trust AI search engines. (MIT Technology Review)

8 How drones are becoming a valuable tool for animal rights activists
Eyes in the skies can help them to uncover wrongdoing on a colossal scale. (The Guardian)
+ The robots are coming. And that’s a good thing. (MIT Technology Review)

9 Even spies need a good coworking space
Specialist offices designed for dealing with highly sensitive information are on the rise. (Bloomberg $)

10 Meta is hiring AI researchers without even interviewing them
Even Mark Zuckerberg is getting involved and messaging would-be candidates himself. (The Information $)

Quote of the day

“There are holes a mile deep in this guy’s resume, but he’s managed to figure out how to take his chess pieces and move them correctly.”

—A disgruntled startup founder takes aim at the hype surrounding OpenAI founder Sam Altman, Insider reports.

The big story

What happens when you donate your body to science

October 2022

Rebecca George doesn’t mind the vultures that complain from the trees that surround the Western Carolina University body farm. George studies human decomposition, and part of decomposing is becoming food. Scavengers are welcome.

George, a forensic anthropologist, places the body of a donor in the Forensic Osteology Research Station—known as the FOREST. This is Enclosure One, where donors decompose naturally above ground. Nearby is Enclosure Two, where researchers study bodies that have been buried in soil. She is the facility’s curator, and monitors the donors—sometimes for years—as they become nothing but bones.

In the US, about 20,000 people or their families donate their bodies to scientific research and education each year. Whatever the reason, the decision becomes a gift. Western Carolina’s FOREST is among the places where watchful caretakers know that the dead and the living are deeply connected, and the way you treat the first reflects how you treat the second. Read the full story.

—Abby Ohlheiser

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.)

+ If you fancy trying to spot the solar eclipse on 8 April, these cities are your best bet.
+ Huge relief in Scotland, after a stolen gorilla statue was recovered after a year on the loose.
+ Rollercoaster Tycoon is the game that shaped a generation.
+ Nothing but respect for Ilia Malinin, the American teenage figure skater who delivered a winning performance this weekend to the Succession theme tune.

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