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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.

Why the UN climate talks are a moment of reckoning for oil and gas companies

The United Arab Emirates is one of the world’s largest oil producers. It’s also the site of this year’s UN COP28 climate summit, which kicks off later this week in Dubai.

It’s a controversial host, but the truth is that there’s massive potential for oil and gas companies to help address climate change, both by cleaning up their operations and by investing their considerable wealth and expertise into new technologies.

The problem is that these companies also have a vested interest in preserving the status quo. If they want to be part of a net-zero future, something will need to change—and soon. Read the full story.

—Casey Crownhart

How reproductive technology can reverse population decline

Birth rates have been plummeting in wealthy countries, well below the “replacement” rate. Even in China, a dramatic downturn in the number of babies has officials scrambling, as its population growth turns negative.

So, what’s behind the baby bust and can new reproductive technology reverse the trend? MIT Technology Review is hosting a subscriber-only Roundtables discussion on how innovations from the lab could affect the future of families at 11am ET this morning, featuring Antonio Regalado, our biotechnology editor, and entrepreneur Martín Varsavsky, founder of fertility clinic Prelude Fertility. Don’t miss out—make sure you register now.

The must-reads

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

1 Instagram recommends sexual content to adults that follow kids

Test accounts were served risqué posts and disturbing videos. (WSJ $)
Meta was aware it had millions of underage users, a complaint alleges. (NYT $)

2  The first transatlantic flight powered by alternative fuels has taken off
Waste fats and corn leftovers are fueling the flight between London and New York. (BBC)
Here are the key phrases you need to know to understand climate change. (Vox)
Everything you need to know about the wild world of alternative jet fuels. (MIT Technology Review)

3 The United Arab Emirates planned to strike oil deals during COP28 
Which doesn’t seem terribly climate-friendly. (BBC)
AUAE AI firm is believed to have covertly worked with Chinese companies. (NYT $)
China’s own carbon emissions are on course to peak soon. (Economist $)

4 Starlink can only operate in Gaza with Israel’s approval
That’s according to Elon Musk, who is visiting Israel currently. (FT $) 

5 Foxconn is struggling to build iPhones in India
So the manufacturer started shipping over skilled workers from China. (Rest of World)

6 The world’s banana supply is in serious trouble
🍌
A deadly fungus is sweeping through crops—and there’s no known cure. (Bloomberg $)

7 Digital car keys don’t always work the way they’re supposed to
Which is a major problem if you can’t guarantee your vehicle is secure. (The Verge)

8 It’s not just you—dating is tough
But these tips can help to make it a less harrowing experience. (WP $)
Here’s how the net’s newest matchmakers help you find love. (MIT Technology Review)

9 Big dogs don’t live that long
🐶
But biotech company Loyal is hoping to change that with an experimental drug. (Wired $)
These scientists are working to extend the life span of pet dogs—and their owners. (MIT Technology Review)

10 The quiet bliss of living in an internet-free home
And how you can achieve it, too. (The Atlantic $)
How to log off. (MIT Technology Review)

Quote of the day

“He ignored me royally, which is his privilege. And he lost almost all the money that he had invested.”

—Christine Lagarde, president of the European Central Bank, explains to students in Frankfurt how one of her sons lost his money on crypto, despite her repeated warnings, Reuters reports.

The big story

Are you ready to be a techno-optimist again?

February 2021

Back in 2001, MIT Technology Review picked 10 emerging areas of innovation that we promised would “change the world.” It was a time of peak techno-optimism.

We eschewed

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By: Rhiannon Williams
Title: The Download: COP28 controversy and the future of families
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2023/11/28/1083923/the-download-cop28-controversy-and-the-future-of-families/
Published Date: Tue, 28 Nov 2023 13:10:00 +0000

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The search for extraterrestrial life is targeting Jupiter’s icy moon Europa

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We’ve known of Europa’s existence for more than four centuries, but for most of that time, Jupiter’s fourth-largest moon was just a pinprick of light in our telescopes—a bright and curious companion to the solar system’s resident giant. Over the last few decades, however, as astronomers have scrutinized it through telescopes and six spacecraft have flown nearby, a new picture has come into focus. Europa is nothing like our moon. 

Observations suggest that its heart is a ball of metal and rock, surrounded by a vast saltwater ocean that contains more than twice as much water as is found on Earth. That massive sea is encased in a smooth but fractured blanket of cracked ice, one that seems to occasionally break open and spew watery plumes into the moon’s thin atmosphere.

For these reasons, Europa has captivated planetary scientists interested in the geophysics of alien worlds. All that water and energy—and hints of elements essential for building organic molecules —point to another extraordinary possibility. In the depths of its ocean, or perhaps crowded in subsurface lakes or below icy surface vents, Jupiter’s big, bright moon could host life.

“We think there’s an ocean there, everywhere,” says Bob Pappalardo, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “Essentially everywhere on Earth that there’s water, there’s life. Could there be life on Europa?”

Pappalardo has been at the forefront of efforts to send a craft to Europa for more than two decades. Now his hope is finally coming to fruition: later this year, NASA plans to launch Europa Clipper, the largest-­ever craft designed to visit another planet. The $5 billion mission, scheduled to reach Jupiter in 2030, will spend four years analyzing this moon to determine whether it could support life. It will be joined after two years by the European Space Agency’s Juice, which launched last year and is similarly designed to look for habitable conditions, not only on Europa but also on other mysterious Jovian moons.

Neither mission will beam back a definitive answer to the question of extraterrestrial life. “Unless we get really lucky, we’re not going to be able to tell if there is life there, but we can find out if all the conditions are right for life,” says planetary geologist Louise Prockter at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, a co-­investigator on the Clipper camera team.

“Essentially everywhere on Earth that there’s water, there’s life. Could there be life on Europa?”

Bob Pappalardo, planetary scientist, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

What these spacecraft will do is get us closer than ever before to answers, by identifying the telltale chemical, physical, and geological signatures of habitability—whether a place is a suitable environment for life to emerge and thrive.

The payoff for confirming these signs on Europa would be huge. Not because humans could settle on its surface—it’s far too harsh and rugged and cold and irradiated for our delicate bodies—but because it could justify future exploration to land there and look for alien life-forms. Finding something, anything, living on Europa would offer strong evidence for an alternate path through which life could emerge. It would mean that life on Earth is not exceptional. We’d know that we have neighbors close by—even if they’re microbial, which would be the most likely life-form—and that would make it very likely that we have neighbors elsewhere in the cosmos.

PIA25496 Full 1 scaled
Engineers and technicians install reaction wheels on Europa Clipper at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in CaliforniaNASA/JPL-CALTECH

“With the prospects of life—the prospects of vast oceans—within reach, you just have to go,” says Nicholas Makris, director of MIT’s Center for Ocean Engineering, who uses acoustics and other innovative methods to observe and explore big bodies of water. He once led a team of scientists who proposed a mission to land a spacecraft on Europa and use sound waves to explore what lies beneath the ice; he still hopes to see a lander go there one day. “You have

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By: Stephen Ornes
Title: The search for extraterrestrial life is targeting Jupiter’s icy moon Europa
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2024/02/19/1087988/nasa-europa-clipper-mission-jupiter-extraterrestrial-life/
Published Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2024 10:00:00 +0000

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The Download: missions to Jupiter’s moon Europa, and Uruguay’s screwworm gene drive

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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.

The search for extraterrestrial life is targeting Jupiter’s icy moon Europa

Europa, Jupiter’s fourth-largest moon, is nothing like ours. Its surface is a vast saltwater ocean, encased in a blanket of cracked ice, one that seems to occasionally break open and spew watery plumes into the moon’s thin atmosphere.

For these reasons, Europa captivates planetary scientists. All that water and energy—and hints of elements essential for building organic molecules —point to another extraordinary possibility. Jupiter’s big, bright moon could host life.

And they may eventually get some answers. Later this year, NASA plans to launch Europa Clipper, the largest-­ever craft designed to visit another planet. The $5 billion mission, scheduled to reach Jupiter in 2030, will spend four years analyzing this moon to determine whether it could support life. Read the full story.

—Stephen Ornes

This story is from the upcoming print issue of MIT Technology Review, dedicated to exploring hidden worlds. Buy a subscription to get your hands on a copy when it publishes on February 28th! Deals start at just $8 a month

Uruguay wants to use gene drives to eradicate devastating screwworms

The New World screwworm, a parasite common in parts of South America and the Caribbean, is a disaster for cattle. It burrows into their flesh, eventually killing them. In Uruguay alone, it costs farmers between $40 million and $154 million a year. However, work is underway to fight back.

A group of researchers in Montevideo Uruguay have used the gene-editing system CRISPR to develop what’s known as a gene drive: tweaks to the screwworms genes that, if they spread, will cause a population crash.

They are about to move into the next stage of caged trials in the lab, with a view to eventually using the genetic tool to decimate the screwworm fly population. Read the full story.

—Abdullahi Tsanni

The must-reads

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

1 The White House will spend $1.5 billion on a new chip factory
The money will go to semiconductor giant GlobalFoundries to produce advanced chips not currently made in the US. (WP $)
But work to expand US chip manufacturing keeps being plagued with problems. (NYT $)
Can the massive infusions of money rebuild the US’s industrial base? (MIT Technology Review)

2 Apple is facing its first EU fine
The EU says its music streaming services violate antitrust law. (FT $)

3 A judge ruled that Air Canada had to honor its chatbots’ discount error
This sets an important precedent as companies start to adopt AI tools. (WP $)
Judges, not politicians, are starting to dictate AI rules. (MIT Technology Review)
Should you trust an AI chatbot to plan a trip for you? (The Atlantic $)
It’s surprisingly tricky to work out when and how we’ll use generative AI. (FT $)

4 Is AI going to change how we define videos?
Systems like OpenAI’s Sora don’t make recordings. They render ideas. (New Yorker $)
Sora looks amazing—but the rest of us will have to wait to try it out. (MIT Technology Review)

5 Don’t blindly trust Google search results
AI-generated content, adverts, and ranking algorithms are really starting to spoil searches. (WSJ $)

6 The days of fast, free shipping may be coming to an end
Blame interest-rate hikes, and growing impatience from startup investors. (Insider $)

7 How New York’s legal weed revolution got derailed
The state’s plans ended up in an unholy mess. (New Yorker $)
The feud between a weed influencer and scientist over puking stoners. (MIT Technology Review)

8 A gun influencer’s conviction has done nothing to dent his popularity
In fact, YouTube is still running adverts on his channel. (NBC)
Hated that video? YouTube’s algorithm might push you another just like it. (MIT Technology Review)

9 Phone cases are getting jazzed up
🤳
They can do so much more than just protect your phone—for example, holding your lip balm. (Wired $)
Sharp-cornered smartphone cases are all the rage too. (WSJ $)

10 3D-printed chocolate sounds delicious
🍫
It’s something to do with the ridges and textures. (The Verge)

Quote of the day

“Everyone is looking around, talking about when layoffs are coming next, at what company.”

—A tech worker tells Insider that no job in the industry feels

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By: Charlotte Jee
Title: The Download: missions to Jupiter’s moon Europa, and Uruguay’s screwworm gene drive
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2024/02/19/1088699/jupiter-europa-uruguay-screwworm-gene-drive/
Published Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2024 13:10:00 +0000

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The Download: impressive new AI capabilities

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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.

OpenAI teases an amazing new generative video model called Sora

OpenAI has built a striking new generative video model called Sora that can take a short text description and turn it into a detailed, high-definition film clip up to a minute long. It’s seriously impressive-looking.

Based on four sample videos that OpenAI shared with MIT Technology Review, the firm has pushed the envelope of what’s possible with text-to-video generation (a hot new research direction that we flagged as a trend to watch in 2024).

It’s hard to know exactly how impressive a step this is until we get more information from OpenAI—and we may have a wait on our hands. The company has no plans to release it to the public currently, though it does hope to in future. For now, mindful of the potential for misuse, OpenAI will be doing extensive safety testing. Read the full story—and check out some of the videos!

—Will Douglas Heaven

Google’s new version of Gemini can handle far bigger amounts of data

The news: Google DeepMind has launched the next generation of its powerful artificial-intelligence model Gemini, which has an enhanced ability to work with large amounts of video, text, and images.

For example: In one demonstration video shown by Google, the model was fed the 402-page transcript of the Apollo moon landing mission. Then they showed Gemini a hand-drawn sketch of a boot, and asked it to identify the moment in the transcript that the drawing represents. The model was also able to identify moments of humor.

What it means: These sorts of AI capabilities are very impressive, Oren Etzioni, former technical director of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, told us. However, he did give one major caveat: “Never trust an AI demo.” Read the full story.

—James O’Donnell

How bacteria-fighting viruses could go mainstream

Lynn Cole had a blood infection she couldn’t shake. For years, she was in and out of the hospital. Each time antibiotics would force the infection to retreat. Each time it came roaring back.

In the summer of 2020, the bacteria flooding Cole’s bloodstream stopped responding to antibiotics. She was running out of time. Her doctors decided they had to try a different approach: phages, which are tiny viruses that infect and destroy bacteria.

The phages worked. Cole recovered with remarkable speed. But then the therapy failed. Cole’s case highlights the enormous promise of phage therapy, but it also shows just how much we have to learn. Read the full story.

—Cassandra Willyard

This story is from The Checkup, our weekly newsletter all about biotech and health. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Thursday.

The must-reads

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

1 The Senate could be about to pass some major tech regulation
If it passes, the Kids Online Safety Act will be the biggest piece of tech regulation in the US in decades. (WP $)
Why child safety bills are popping up all over the US. (MIT Technology Review)
New York City is suing TikTok and Instagram for ‘addicting’ kids. (NBC) 

2 A new era of deepfakes is colliding with pivotal elections 
And it’ll be very hard to figure out how big an impact AI-generated content has on results, even after the fact. (WSJ $)
A Chinese influence campaign is using AI-generated content to amplify division in the US. (NYT $)

3 TikTok has released an app for the Vision Pro
YouTube says it’s building an app for the headset too. (The Verge)

4 AI is nothing to fear for white collar workers
That’s because it’s not really a substitute for expertise—it’s a lever for its application.  (Noema)
People are worried that AI will take everyone’s jobs. We’ve been here before. (MIT Technology Review)
Here’s how AI is shaking up the way we work. (The Verge)

5 What it’s like to be a content moderator in Pakistan
Pretty soul-crushing—and with little hope of a promotion or transferable skills. (Rest of World)

6 Hardware still matters
In fact, in the AI era, it’s about as important as it’s ever been. (FT $)

7 Discredited health claims are getting a second airing on TikTok
It’s giving new life to lectures by a woman permanently banned from providing health services in Australia. (Vox)

8 Electric vehicles aren’t great at handling extreme heat
But they could get better, thanks to new materials. (Scientific American $)
Tesla’s stainless steel Cybertrucks are already rusting. (Futurism)

9 Meat-injected rice, anyone? 
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By: Charlotte Jee
Title: The Download: impressive new AI capabilities
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2024/02/16/1088579/download-impressive-new-ai-capabilities/
Published Date: Fri, 16 Feb 2024 13:01:00 +0000

Did you miss our previous article…
https://mansbrand.com/uruguay-wants-to-use-gene-drives-to-eradicate-devastating-screwworms/

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