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 China’s biggest online influencers fell from their thrones
No one had foreseen just how fast three of China’s most powerful influencers would fall. On June 3, Austin Li, a 30-year-old live-streamer with over 60 million followers, abruptly cut off a live stream after a tank-shaped ice cream dessert appeared on the screen. While he later posted that it was due to “technical difficulties,” most people understand it as having triggered government censors, who interpreted it as a reference to the Tiananmen Square massacre.
Li isn’t known to have been arrested, and his account remains active, but he hasn’t streamed or posted on social media since. Fans suspect he may not be allowed to stream again.
Live-streaming e-commerce in China is a massive industry worth over $180 billion. Influencers like Li have risen to rival the popularity of A-list celebrities, and have been known to facilitate billions of dollars worth of online purchases in one night.
But in Li’s and at least two other cases, these online empires were toppled overnight in what appears to be a government crackdown extending back to late 2021—suggesting a reckoning is well underway. Read the full story.
I’ve combed the internet to find you today’s most fun/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.
1 We’re still being kept in the dark about the origins of covid
We need more data from China, a new WHO report says. (NYT $)
It also wants to investigate the theory it was leaked from a lab further. (WP $)
Meet the scientist at the center of the lab leak controversy. (MIT Technology Review)
2 Quantum computers could create an entirely new forms of matter
The likes of which have never been seen before in nature. (New Scientist $)
Data is at risk of being broken by computers that don’t even exist yet. (Spectrum IEEE)
The US is already concerned about the threat they pose to encryption. (MIT Technology Review)
3 How eBay sellers are evading its ban on assault weapons
Some listings are blatant about what they’re selling, while others are more subtle. (LA Times)
While you’re theoretically not allowed to sell guns on Facebook, you have to break that rule 10 times for it to be enforced. (WP $)
4 Is community governance the answer to social media’s problems?
Relying on the cooperation of strangers is risky, but so is allowing one man unfettered power over a platform. (The Atlantic $)
Eight legal complaints were filed against Facebook this week. (Protocol)
Big Tech spent $36 million on adverts opposing a US antitrust bill. (WSJ $)
5 NASA is joining to hunt for UFOs
It wants to collect data on phenomena we don’t understand. (WP $)
Astronomers are rethinking how the planets came to be. (Quanta)
A key substance for life has been found in asteroid samples. (CNET)
Japan’s space agency is experimenting with a four-legged lunar robot. (CNN)
6 East Asians’ eyesight is getting worse
More sunlight exposure might help future generations, though. (Economist $)
7 Stimulating your muscles with electricity is the hottest new fitness trend
But there’s no evidence it’s more effective than good old fashioned exercise. (Neo.Life)
8 Silicone breast implants are still making women sick
Despite their issues being known for decades. (Slate)
9 The internet was supposed to make life easier
Now we’re reliant on middlemen our grandparents never needed. (The Atlantic $)
10 The moral implications of whether animals dream
And why we may, one day, know what they’re dreaming about. (Motherboard)
Quote of the day
“It’s all come back to bite us.”
—Tran Tuan, a GrabCar ride-hailing driver in Ho Chi Minh City, is frustrated by the company’s decision to raise its prices amid a spike in fuel prices, after years of rapid growth, he tells Rest of World.
The big story
AI will tell you how beautiful you are
Qoves started as a studio that would airbrush images for modeling agencies. Now it is a “facial aesthetics consultancy” that promises answers to the age-old question of what makes a face attractive. Its most compelling feature is the “facial assessment tool”: an AI-driven system that promises to tell you how beautiful you are—or aren’t—spitting out numerical values akin to credit ratings.
If that prospect isn’t concerning enough, most of these algorithms are littered with inaccuracies, ageism, and racism—and the proprietary nature of many of them
By: Rhiannon Williams
Title: The Download: China’s influencer crackdown, and covid’s origins
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2022/06/10/1053000/download-china-influencer-crackdown-austin-li-covid-origins/
Published Date: Fri, 10 Jun 2022 12:00:00 +0000
Did you miss our previous article…
LATAM crypto exchange Bitso and FMF launch NFT of Mexico’s National Team jerseys
Bitso, a leading cryptocurrency platform operating in Latin America, and the Mexican Football Federation (FMF), today announced the joint launch of the first collectible NFT of the Mexico National Team’s jerseys that was acquired in cryptocurrencies.
This morning through their social media platforms, the FMF and Bitso announced the opportunity to acquire the new official National Team fan jerseys ahead of the team’s participation in the 2022 World Cup. In just 20 minutes, the entire collection sold out.
The NFTs of the jerseys have an exclusive design for the metaverse – each is unique on the blockchain and can be resold by its owner in subsequent transactions.
The collection consisted of 100 official physical jerseys, each with a corresponding NFT version of the jersey that fans’ avatars can wear within the Decentraland metaverse. Each physical and NFT jersey set sold for the equivalent of $1,800 MXN in ethers.
“Our mission is to make cryptocurrency useful in the everyday life of Mexicans; we are committed to spreading the technology through innovative opportunities that help people throughout the country familiarize themselves with this new world. We are very excited to offer the incredible, historic opportunity for the fans of our National Team so that through their Bitso account, they can wear the colors of the National Team on and ‘off’ the field in the metaverse.”
– Bárbara González Briseño, General Director of Bitso México
Created by Bitso, the virtual jersey sports the official colors of Mexico and the new National Team shield, characteristics that will make it stand out when users wear it in the virtual world of Decentraland.
The post LATAM crypto exchange Bitso and FMF launch NFT of Mexico’s National Team jerseys appeared first on CryptoNinjas.
Title: LATAM crypto exchange Bitso and FMF launch NFT of Mexico’s National Team jerseys
Sourced From: www.cryptoninjas.net/2022/07/29/latam-crypto-exchange-bitso-and-fmf-launch-nft-of-mexicos-national-team-jerseys/
Published Date: Fri, 29 Jul 2022 15:19:02 +0000
Did you miss our previous article…
Long-running crypto exchange EXMO unveils “lively” rebrand amidst growth
EXMO, a crypto exchange platform operating since 2014, announced this week a rebranded visual identity with includes a new logo, brand colors, and design features. This new branding comes as EXMO continues to grow its crypto platform while also seeking to expand its presence in other jurisdictions.
Some new developments underway at EXMO:
Soon, users will be able to earn passive income from EXMO’s new staking platform.Plans to launch an EXMO crypto debit card.Expansion of its services in international markets with the opening of offices in Poland and Lithuania.
EXMO’s new logo
The rationale for the re-brand:
“At EXMO, we have a vision of a world where crypto is in every wallet. Hassle-free. We want to achieve this by making crypto as simple and accessible to everyone as possible. And we know that you already appreciate EXMO for offering user-friendly services and helpful support. Also for the opportunity to trade anywhere and anytime, closing deals in just a few taps. Such important changes required a rethinking of our corporate style, which has long needed a massive upgrade. So today we are introducing a new brand identity for EXMO with a completely new visual concept. We are launching a new logo, brand colors, and design elements. Our key design principles are simplicity, boldness, and a pinch of fun. But most importantly, we have changed our logo. Simple and easily recognizable, it represents the humanity of our brand. The logo stands out due to the wavy letter ‘m’ which symbolizes exchange rate charts and also resembles a spring that will launch you into the crypto world.”
– The EXMO Team regarding the re-branding
The post Long-running crypto exchange EXMO unveils “lively” rebrand amidst growth appeared first on CryptoNinjas.
Title: Long-running crypto exchange EXMO unveils “lively” rebrand amidst growth
Sourced From: www.cryptoninjas.net/2022/07/26/long-running-crypto-exchange-exmo-unveils-lively-rebrand-amidst-growth/
Published Date: Tue, 26 Jul 2022 08:10:38 +0000
Did you miss our previous article…
Stitching together the grid will save lives as extreme weather worsens
The blistering heat waves that set temperature records across much of the US in recent days have strained electricity systems, threatening to knock out power in vulnerable regions of the country.
The electricity has largely stayed online so far this summer, but there have been scattered problems and close calls already.
Heavy use of energy-sucking air-conditioners is the biggest problem. But intense heat can also reduce the output of power plants, blow transformers, and force power lines to sag. Severe droughts across large parts of the country have also significantly reduced the availability of hydroelectric power, according to the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC).
It’s unlikely to get better soon. A number of grid operators may struggle to meet peak summer demand, creating the risk of rolling blackouts, the NERC report notes.
The nation’s isolated and antiquated grids are in desperate need of upgrades to keep the lights, heat, and air-conditioning on in the midst of extreme weather events that climate change is making more common, severe, and dangerous. One clear way to ease many of these issues is to more tightly integrate the country’s regional grids, stitching them together with more long-range transmission lines.
If electricity generated in one area can be more easily shared across much wider regions, power can simply flow to where it’s needed at those moments when customers crank up air-conditioners en masse, or when power plants or fuel supply lines fail amid soaring temperatures, wildfires, hurricanes, or other events, says Liza Reed, a research manager focused on transmission at the Niskanen Center, a Washington, DC, think tank.
The problem is it’s proved difficult to build more long-range transmission and grid interconnections for a variety of reasons, including the permitting challenges of erecting wires through private and public lands across cities, counties, and states and the reluctance of local authorities to forfeit control or submit to greater federal oversight.
The case of Texas
The unreliability of the US grid is not a new problem. Severe heat and winter storms have repeatedly exposed the frailty of electricity systems in recent years, leaving thousands to millions of people without power as temperatures spiked or plunged.
One of the fundamental challenges is that the grids today are highly fragmented. There are three main electricity networks within the US: the Eastern Grid, the Western Grid, and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). But there are numerous regional transmission organizations within those first two systems, including the California Independent System Operator, Southwest Power Pool, PJM Interconnection, New York ISO, and more.
These grids form a complex web of networks operating under different regulators, rules and market structures, and often with limited connections between them.
A variety of regional transmission organizations oversee different parts of the nation’s aging and fragmented grids, which operate under different rules and with often limited connections between them.
ERCOT is especially isolated, in part because of the desire among local politicians, citizens, and power companies to avoid added competition, the hassle of following other states’ rules, and oversight from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). But the state offers a case study in why that can be a serious problem amid increasingly harsh climate conditions, Reed says.
The Texas grid operator pleaded with customers several times earlier this month to cut electricity use as blistering summer temperatures created demand surges that threatened to outstrip supply and require rolling blackouts. Low wind conditions, cloud cover, and outages at fossil-fuel power plants added to the strains.
Shutting off the electricity needed to run air-conditioning in triple-digit temperatures
By: James Temple
Title: Stitching together the grid will save lives as extreme weather worsens
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2022/07/28/1056483/stitching-together-the-grid-will-save-lives-as-extreme-weather-worsens/
Published Date: Thu, 28 Jul 2022 08:00:00 +0000
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