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Bill Gates’ new climate plans, and an AI bug bounty

Casey’s story is from The Spark, MIT Technology Review’s new weekly climate newsletter. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Wednesday.

A bias bounty for AI will help to catch unfair algorithms faster

What’s happening: While AI systems are deployed all the time, it can take months or even years until it becomes clear whether, and how, they’re biased. Today, a group of AI and machine-learning experts are launching a new bias bounty competition, which they hope will speed up the process of uncovering embedded prejudices.

What’s up first? Taking inspiration from bug bounties in cybersecurity, the first bias bounty competition is going to focus on biased image detection. The winner will take home a $6,000 prize committed by Microsoft and startup Robust Intelligence, which has been hailed as a strong incentive for the machine learning community to winkle out bias. Read the full story.
—Melissa Heikkilä

Should we believe in—or even want—immortality?

Twenty years have passed since writer Jonathan Weiner first met Aubrey de Grey, the man with the Methuselah beard. Back then, Aubrey was already a True Believer in the quest for immortality. But he wasn’t famous, or notorious, yet; he wasn’t Aubrey!, as he would soon become to his fans in the anti-aging crowd. And he wasn’t yet a man in disgrace.

Weiner first met Aubrey in 2002, when Aubrey was still working as a computer programmer in the Department of Genetics at the University of Cambridge, in England. He quickly became a secular guru, a prophet of immortality—to the intense annoyance of most of the scientists in the aging field. But Aubrey’s eagerness to convince believers they could live for centuries, millennia, or even longer, if they were lucky, raises pertinent questions about what it is to want something we may not even believe in. Read the full story.

This piece is from our upcoming mortality-themed issue, available from October 26. If you want to read it when it comes out, you can subscribe to MIT Technology Review for as little as $80 a year.

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