The first results from the mission depict a complex Martian interior and geology, but raise new questions about the planet’s history

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An illustration of the Mars InSight rover perched on the surface for observations. Image: NASA/JPL-CALTECH

By Neel V. Patel

On the outside, Mars is a cold, barren hellscape. But beneath the surface, it is teeming with quakes and other geological activity.

That’s the story we’re learning from the first results from NASA’s InSight mission, published across several papers in Nature Geoscience (and one in Nature Communications). InSight is a lander that’s been perched on the surface of Mars since November 2018 at a location known as Elysium Planitia.

“We finally have established that Mars is a seismically active planet,” says Bruce Banerdt, the principal investigator for InSight. …

These canaries in the coal mines of AI would be signs that superintelligent robot overlords are approaching

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Image: MS Tech

By Oren Etzioni

Could we wake up one morning dumbstruck that a super-powerful AI has emerged, with disastrous consequences? Books like Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom and Life 3.0 by Max Tegmark, as well as more recent articles, argue that malevolent superintelligence is an existential risk for humanity.

But one can speculate endlessly. It’s better to ask a more concrete, empirical question: What would alert us that superintelligence is indeed around the corner?

We might call such harbingers canaries in the coal mines of AI. If an artificial-intelligence program develops a fundamental new capability, that’s the equivalent of a canary collapsing: an early warning of AI breakthroughs on the horizon. …

IBM thinks quantum supremacy is not the milestone we should care about.

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Image: Rigetti Computing/Justin Fantl

By Gideon Lichfield

Google’s most advanced computer isn’t at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, nor anywhere in the febrile sprawl of Silicon Valley. It’s a few hours’ drive south in Santa Barbara, in a flat, soulless office park inhabited mostly by technology firms you’ve never heard of.

An open-plan office holds several dozen desks. There’s an indoor bicycle rack and designated “surfboard parking,” with boards resting on brackets that jut out from the wall. …

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