Vacation planning with AI, and smaller models

Plus: how the war in Ukraine is shifting

This is today’s edition of The Download, our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s going on in the world of technology.

How to use AI to plan your next vacation

Planning a vacation should, in theory, be fun. But it can also be time-consuming and stressful, particularly if you don’t know where to begin.

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Luckily tech companies have been competing to create tools that can help you with everything from creating itineraries to booking flights to brushing up on your language skills. While AI agents that can manage the entire process of planning and booking your vacation for you are still some way off, the current generation of AI tools are still pretty handy. 

Here’s how they can help to make your time away that little bit easier—leaving you with more time to enjoy yourself. Read the full story.

—Rhiannon Williams

The must-reads

I’ve combed the internet to find you today’s most fun/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.

1 AI models are getting smaller and smaller
Giant models are being overlooked in favor of faster, less powerful software. (WSJ $)
+ These words are a dead giveaway that text is LLM-generated. (Wired $)

2 Scrappy weapons startups are changing the face of war in Ukraine
They’re leaving the more established players in the dust. (FT $)
+ Inside the messy ethics of making war with machines. (MIT Technology Review)

3 How to scam a scammer
AI bots are the first line of defense against crooks on the phone. (The Guardian)
+ Crypto hacking thefts are on the rise. (Reuters)
+ Watch out for card skimmers, too. (Insider $)

4 Saudi Arabia is using esports to launder its reputation
It’s been accused of attempting to sportswash its human rights record. (CNN)

5 Here’s what would happen if Russia detonated a nuclear bomb in space
It would cause indiscriminate damage all over the world. (WP $)
+ How to fight a war in space (and get away with it) (MIT Technology Review)

6 Ferrari is working on its first fully electric vehicle
Though other luxury automakers have struggled to make the switch. (NYT $)
+ Why the world’s biggest EV maker is getting into shipping. (MIT Technology Review)

7 How an Australian couple persuaded regulators to greenlight MDMA therapy
Despite lacking a medical or scientific background. (Bloomberg $)
+ A person may have died after eating microdosing candies. (Ars Technica)
+ US FDA advisors just said no to the use of MDMA as a therapy. (MIT Technology Review)

8 Google’s repairs policy is busted
Good luck trying to get that Pixelbook Go working again. (Wired $)

9 This pill can help to treat alcoholism
But doctors appear reluctant to prescribe it. (Slate $)

10 Silicon Valley’s great and the good are getting ready to mingle
AI and Donald Trump are top of the agenda at this year’s Sun Valley gathering. (The Information $)

Quote of the day

“You can’t ring your bell. You can’t shout at it. All you can do is quickly get out of the way.”

—Reed Martin, a cyclist in San Francisco, explains the eerie sensation of sharing roads with driverless cars to the Washington Post

The big story

ChatGPT is about to revolutionize the economy. We need to decide what that looks like.

March 2023

There’s a gold rush underway to make money from generative AI models like ChatGPT. You can practically hear the shrieks from corner offices around the world: “What is our ChatGPT play? How do we make money off this?”

But while companies and executives want to cash in, the likely impact of generative AI on workers and the economy on the whole is far less obvious.

Will ChatGPT make the already troubling income and wealth inequality in the US and many other countries even worse, or could it in fact provide a much-needed boost to productivity? Read the full story.

—David Rotman

We can still have nice things

A place for comfort, fun and distraction to brighten up your day. (Got any ideas? Drop me a line or tweet ’em at me.)

+ The most exciting thing about the return of the Olympics is the return of the rave horse.
+ Mmm, s’mores.
+ This disco ball painting is utterly mesmerizing. 🪩
+ Charisma: not something we all have, but something we all want.

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