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The Download: a new kind of IVF, and the AI consciousness debate

When Dina Radenkovic, CEO of Gameto, a startup engineering stem cells to craft a lightweight version of IVF, injected herself with a needle loaded with hormones last December, she wasn’t trying to get pregnant. Instead, she’d signed up for her own company’s study of how to “mature” human eggs in a lab dish instead of inside their bodies.

Gameto is among a group of startups trying to simplify the IVF process, as well as getting it to fit into women’s busy schedules more easily. But experts say its technology still has some way to go before it can be embraced more widely. Read the full story.

—Antonio Regalado

The great AI consciousness conundrum

AI consciousness isn’t just a devilishly tricky intellectual puzzle; it’s a morally weighty problem with potentially dire consequences that philosophers, cognitive scientists, and engineers alike are currently grappling with. 

Fail to identify a conscious AI, and you might unintentionally subjugate a being whose interests ought to matter. Mistake an unconscious AI for a conscious one, and you risk compromising human safety and happiness for the sake of an unthinking, unfeeling hunk of silicon and code.

Over the past few decades, a small research community has doggedly attacked the question of what consciousness is and how it works. The effort has yielded real progress. And now, with the rapid advance of AI technology, these insights could offer our only guide to the untested, morally fraught waters of artificial consciousness. Read the full story.

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