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The Download: talking driverless cars, and updated covid vaccines

The news: Self-driving car startup Wayve can now interrogate its vehicles, asking them questions about their driving decisions—and getting answers back thanks to a chatbot.

How it works: The idea is to use the same tech behind ChatGPT to help train driverless cars. The company combined its existing self-driving software with a large language model, creating a hybrid model that syncs up video data and driving data with natural-language descriptions that capture what the car sees and what it does.

Why it matters: Wayve is treating the news as a breakthrough in AI safety. By quizzing its self-driving software every step of the way, Wayve hopes to understand exactly why and how its cars make certain decisions—and to uncover mistakes more quickly. Read the full story.

—Will Douglas Heaven

Who benefits most from the new covid vaccines?

Covid case numbers are rising across the United States. So the news that updated covid vaccines are finally available comes as a relief to many. These shots, which target an omicron variant known as XBB, hit some pharmacies earlier this week, with more on the way.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that everyone six months or older get the new vaccine. The announcement has once again sparked a debate about who should get vaccinated, and who will benefit most from the new formulation. 

While experts agree that older adults, people who are immunocompromised, and those with multiple underlying conditions will benefit the most from a booster, they’re less certain about other groups. Read the full story.

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