ChatGPT’s origins, and making cement greener

We’ve reached peak ChatGPT. Released in December as a web app by the San Francisco–based firm OpenAI, the chatbot exploded into the mainstream almost overnight. 

According to some estimates, it is the fastest-growing internet service ever, reaching 100 million users just two months after launch. Through OpenAI’s $10 billion deal with Microsoft, the tech is now being built into Office software and the Bing search engine. Stung into action by its newly awakened onetime rival in the battle for search, Google is fast-tracking the rollout of its own chatbot, LaMDA. 

But OpenAI’s breakout hit did not come out of nowhere. The chatbot is the most polished iteration to date in a line of large language models going back years. This is how we got here. 

—Will Douglas Heaven

The climate solution beneath your feet

The technologies designed to fight climate change are increasingly wild these days.  Hydrogen-powered planes, underwater mining robots, and nuclear fusion reactors—each could play a role in cutting down on greenhouse-gas emissions. 

But there are also less glamorous pieces of solving climate change. Take building materials, for example—the world’s most used material, by mass, is cement, and it’s sort of a climate nightmare. The good news is a handful of companies are working hard to turn around cement’s climate impact. Read the full story.

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