Here's a weekly recap of what made news in the world of science and technology.
Millions of video game fans got a closer look at the next Grand Theft Auto (GTA) title, GTA VI, on 5 December as Rockstar Games released the game’s trailer, which promises a 2025 release and its first woman lead character. According to an AFP report, the trailer focused on a character named Lucia, freshly released from prison in a Florida-like setting—making her the first playable woman character in a franchise long criticised for its depiction of women, minorities and LGBTQ+ people. Rockstar Games said in a statement that the game is set in the state of Leonida, home to the neon-soaked streets of Vice City and beyond in the biggest, most immersive evolution of the Grand Theft Auto series yet. The video, released earlier than scheduled after a version was leaked online, got more than 60 million views on YouTube within 12 hours, the report said.
IBM and Facebook-owner Meta announced the launch of an AI Alliance on 5 December, in collaboration with over 50 other founding members and collaborators globally to support the open and responsible use of Artificial Intelligence (AI). These include the likes of Intel, CERN, Dell Technologies, Cornell University, Nasa, Oracle, and the Sony Group, among many other institutions and organisations. According to a statement from IBM, “The AI Alliance is focused on fostering an open community and enabling developers and researchers to accelerate responsible innovation in AI while ensuring scientific rigor, trust, safety, security, diversity and economic competitiveness.” An AFP report said the alliance sets up a clash with OpenAI and Google, who “defend a closed system for the large language models.”
Canada, US, and Kenya were among 63 countries to join a pledge to cut down cooling-related emissions at the ongoing COP28 Climate Summit in Dubai. A Reuters report said the Global Cooling Pledge marks the world’s first collective focus on climate-warming emissions from cooling, which includes refrigeration for food and medicine and air-conditioning. It commits countries to reduce by 2050 their cooling-related emissions by at least 68% compared to 2022 levels, along with a suite of other targets. These include establishing minimum energy performance standards by 2030, the Reuters report added. According to the Global Cooling Watch Report, released by the United Nations Environment Programme on 5 December, taking key measures to reduce the power consumption of cooling equipment would provide universal access to life-saving cooling, take the pressure off energy grids and save trillions of dollars by 2050.
Gaming streaming platform Twitch will shut down its business in Korea by February 2024 over high network costs. In a blog post on 5 December, Twitch CEO Dan Clancy said the cost to operate Twitch in Korea was “prohibitively expensive” and that while the company had spent significant effort working to reduce these costs to find a way for the Twitch business to remain in Korea, network fees in the country were still “10 times more expensive” than in most other countries. Clancy said the platform would work to help Twitch streamers in Korea move their communities to alternative livestreaming services in the country.
US space agency Nasa’s Psyche spacecraft, which will study a metal-rich asteroid in the years to come, achieved a significant operational milestone on 4 December. The spacecraft, which is already 26 million kilometres away from Earth, switched on its twin cameras earlier this week and retrieved the first images —a milestone called “first light.” According to Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the imager instrument, which consists of a pair of identical cameras, captured a total of 68 images, all within a star field in the constellation Pisces. Psyche was launched in October and is scheduled to arrive at its destination—the asteroid Psyche in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter—in 2029.
(With inputs from wires)