There has been a recent flood of news stories and commentary about rapid developments in artificial intelligence that enable you to create digital images, essays, and stories with just a few verbal prompts. What we’ve heard less about is how AI can be used to drive scientific discovery.
Earlier this week, the New York Times ran a compelling story (subscription may be required) about how scientists are using AI to generate new proteins that could help treat cancer and fight viruses like COVID and the flu. AI has the potential to be used in myriad other ways to tackle a wide range of social, environmental, and public health challenges. We’ll continue to highlight news about this topic throughout the year.
Thank you for reading! Now here’s our roundup of recent tech policy news and a podcast worth listening to.
This Week in Washington
- Bloomberg: The outage that affected the Federal Aviation Administration’s critical Notice to Air Missions System that resulted in thousands of delays and flight cancellations Wednesday morning was due to a corrupted computer file, according to people familiar with the preliminary findings in the ongoing investigation.
- Wall Street Journal: In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece, President Biden called on Democrats and Republicans in Congress to take bipartisan action to “hold Big Tech accountable.” The president called for strong federal privacy protections, reforms to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to make companies more responsible for content they host and algorithms they use, and action on anticompetitive conduct.
- WIRED: Animal testing has long been necessary for a drug to gain approval by the US Food and Drug Administration—but it may be on its way out. A new law seeks to replace some lab animal use with high-tech alternatives.
- Fierce Telecom: States have already submitted more than 300,000 location challenges since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) opened the door for them to request corrections to its new and improved broadband map. But as a deadline for availability challenges looms, some states said they’ve encountered issues with the submission process.
- The Hill: The U.S. needs to remain vigilant in efforts to protect against potential Russian cyberattacks as the war with Ukraine presses on, according to Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Director Jen Easterly.
- Washington Post: The Biden administration is nearing publication of a national cybersecurity blueprint that for the first time embraces a major role in regulation. The strategy, which is a sea change from past blueprints, will arrive in the aftermath of a series of major cyberattacks.
- Semafor: Microsoft has been in talks to invest $10 billion into the owner of ChatGPT, the wildly popular app that has thrilled casual users and artificial intelligence experts since its latest software was released last month, people familiar with the matter said.
- Axios: A major new federal lawsuit playing out this winter argues that social media platforms are “defective” products that can be held legally responsible for the harm they cause to younger users.
- Forbes: A new study shows immigrants produce a significant percentage of innovations in America and make U.S.-born individuals more inventive. The findings support other research that concludes the United States gains from more welcoming immigration policies.
- CyberScoop: Illicit cryptocurrency activity reached an all-time high of $20.1 billion in 2022, increasing from $18 billion the previous year in large part due to escalating U.S. sanctions targeting digital currencies, according to a report released Thursday by researchers at Chainalysis.
- Semafor: Brazilians and foreign observers are trying to sort out what role social media (specifically an app called Kwai) played in a riot on Sunday when supporters of former president Jair Bolsonaro stormed Congress, the Supreme Court, and the presidential palace in the capital Brasilia.
- Reuters: The United States, Mexico and Canada on Tuesday vowed to tighten economic ties, producing more goods regionally and boosting semiconductor output, even as integration is hampered by an ongoing dispute over Mexico’s nationalist energy policies.
- The Southwest Airlines Meltdown
Air travel was a mess over the holidays — in the last 10 days of December, 30,000 flights were canceled. While every airline was affected, one stood out: Southwest, which over the past few decades has transformed how Americans fly, melted down. In the last 10 days of the year, it canceled as many flights as it had done in the previous 10 months. So what went wrong? Guest: Niraj Chokshi, a business reporter for The New York Times.Background reading: Southwest’s crisis shows what can go wrong when a company relied on by millions of people moves too slowly to invest in unglamorous parts of its operation. The airline’s customers incurred thousands in expenses as they scrambled to get home. (The Southwest Airlines Meltdown – January 10, 2023)