Friday Futures: AI comprehension, space signals, urban farming

AI reading comprehesion
Image credit: Vasilyev Alexandr / Shutterstock.com

Welcome to Friday Futures, our weekly guide to the latest visions of  The Future from around the web. This week: AI beats humans at reading comprehension (sort of); the latest on weird signals from space; antibiotics out of dirt; water on Mars; fun with DNA; the future of urban farming; and hitting Mach 5.

AI outperforms humans on Stanford’s reading comprehension test …

Researchers from Microsoft, along with Chinese technology company Alibaba, have created deep learning algorithms able to outperform humans in one of the world’s most challenging reading comprehension tests. Raise the comprehension…

… But does it really comprehend language

MIT Technology Review’s The Download doesn’t think so. The results are not comprehension the way humans think of it – the AI doesn’t really understand what it reads. Sorry …

The latest theory on those weird signals from deep space

Over the past decade, we’ve found out a great deal about what fast radio bursts (FRBs) are — millisecond-long blips of intense radio emissions from deep space — but their origins remain a mystery. Astronomers believe they’ve found a clue.  Find out what we know…

Can we actually get to the water on Mars?

Locked away beneath the surface of Mars are vast quantities of water ice. But the ice content of the geology in between the ice and the surface – the first 20 meters or so – is largely uncharacterized. Until now!  Explore the challenges…

Here’s how to create antibiotics out of dirt

Sean Brady bends over and picks up a pinch of dusty soil. “Out of that bit of soil,” he says, “you can get enough to do DNA analysis.” Sift the detail…

A man who died in 1827 is recreated from DNA that isn’t his

Recreating a deceased person or animal’s DNA has required that DNA be extracted from the remains of the individual, but a new study has shown that may not be the only way. Read on…

And here’s why you should be careful with DNA testing

Four ancestry DNA tests yielded four very different answers for Gizmodo’s Kristen Brown – including some results that contradicted family history she felt confident was fact. What gives? For a start, there’s a  fundamental misunderstanding of what an ancestry DNA test even does. Read more…

The farm of the future may be in your town

New technologies are changing the equation, allowing people to grow food in places where it was previously difficult or impossible, and in quantities akin to traditional farms. Dig a little deeper…

Boeing thinks their new design will hit Mach 5

The goal now is to build a plane capable of reaching speeds above Mach 5 (6,171 kmh/3,835 mph), and Boeing thinks they may have the design that could do it. Get ready…

(Compiled by Alex Leslie; Edited by John C. Tanner)

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