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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 big new idea for making self-driving cars that can go anywhere

Four years ago, Alex Kendall sat in a car on a small road in the British countryside and took his hands off the wheel. The car, equipped with a few cheap cameras and a massive neural network, veered towards the verge. When it did, Kendall grabbed the wheel for a few seconds to correct it. The car veered again; Kendall corrected it. It took less than 20 minutes for the car to learn to stay on the road by itself, he says.

This was the first time that reinforcement learning—an AI technique that trains a neural network to perform a task via trial and error—had been used to teach a car to drive from scratch on a real road. It was a small step in a new direction—one that a new generation of startups believe just might be the breakthrough that makes driverless cars an everyday reality.

Branding themselves AV2.0, these startups are betting that smarter, cheaper tech will let them overtake current market leaders. Indeed, Kendall’s firm Wayve says it wants to be the first company to deploy driverless cars in 100 different cities. 

But is this yet more hype from an industry that’s been drinking its own Kool-Aid for years? Read the full story.

—Will Douglas Heaven

Watch a robotic shoulder practice twisting and stretching human cells

A robotic shoulder that stretches, presses, and twists lab-grown human tendon tissue could pave the way for more successful tissue grafts.

Though the field of tissue engineering is still mostly experimental, skin cells, cartilage, and even a windpipe grown from samples of human cells have been implanted in patients. But growing usable human tendon cells—which need to stretch and twist—has proved trickier.

Over the past two decades, scientists have encouraged engineered tendon cells and tissue to grow and mature by repeatedly stretching them in one direction. However, this approach has so far failed to produce fully functional tissue grafts that could be used in human bodies.

Humanoid robots could be used to make engineered tendon tissue that is more like the real thing. Read the full story—and watch the robot in action.

—Rhiannon Williams

The must-reads

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

1 New privacy-focused apps are ill-equipped to cope with moderation demands
It makes maintaining the balance between privacy and policing more complicated. (WP $)
How to have honest conversations with children about the Texas shooting. (The Atlantic $)

2 Big Tech’s lobbying efforts are paying off
Democrats are wary of backing antitrust legislation for fear of losing their slim majority. (Politico)
Industry lobbyists have successfully weakened privacy regulation efforts, too. (The Markup)
What does breaking up Big Tech really mean? (MIT Technology Review)

3 The comforting sensation of touch is tough to replicate
But scientists are trying their best with sensors and prostheses. (National Geographic $) 
Inventing soft things to solve hard problems. (MIT Technology Review)

4 Our obsession with restoring nature is unhelpful

Living ecosystems are not meant to be static environments, so why do we treat them like they are? (New Statesman $)
“A Trillion Trees” is a great idea—that could become a dangerous climate distraction. (MIT Technology Review)

5 A Japanese toy company owns a stake in 4Chan
And sexualized anime figures could explain why. (Wired $)
The malicious rumor a trans person was responsible for the Texas shooting started on 4Chan. (Rolling Stone)

6 Students are afraid of being accused of cheating by an algorithm 
Schools are placing too much trust in systems which can make flawed judgments. (NYT $)

7 How birth control could change in a post-Roe world
Including “night before” pills and sperm-prohibiting gels. (Neo.Life)
Data harvesting is likely to worsen if abortion is banned. (FT $)
Activists are helping Texans get access to abortion pills online. (MIT Technology Review)

8 Africa’s market traders are thriving thanks to supply chain startups
Enabling them to order products in bulk without having to travel. (FT $)
Major blockchain projects are flooding into the continent, too. (Quartz)

9 ​​How to keep up with the news without getting overwhelmed
Turning off notifications is a good place to start. (WP $)

10 An AI has painted a disturbing portrait of the Queen
And critics are less than impressed with the result. (The Guardian)
The dark secret behind those cute AI-generated animal images. (MIT Technology

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By: Rhiannon Williams
Title: The Download: Driverless cars’ AI plan, and stretching cells with a robotic shoulder
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2022/05/27/1052833/download-driverless-cars-ai-stretching-cells-tendon-robotic-shoulder/
Published Date: Fri, 27 May 2022 12:27:04 +0000

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LATAM crypto exchange Bitso and FMF launch NFT of Mexico’s National Team jerseys

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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.

bitsonftjeysey
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

Jersey NFTs

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.

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By: CryptoNinjas.net
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

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Long-running crypto exchange EXMO unveils “lively” rebrand amidst growth

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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.

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By: CryptoNinjas.net
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

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Stitching together the grid will save lives as extreme weather worsens

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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.

Map USA grid
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.
legend

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

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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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