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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.

Sony’s racing AI destroyed its human competitors by being nice (and fast)

“Wait, what? How?” Emily Jones wasn’t used to being left behind. A top sim-racing driver with multiple wins to her name, Jones jerked the steering wheel in the esports rig, eyes fixed on the screen in front of her: “I’m pushing way too hard to keep up— How does it do that?” Her staccato commentary intercut with squealing tires, Jones flung her virtual car around the virtual track at 120 miles per hour—then 140, 150—chasing the fastest Gran Turismo driver in the world.

Built by Sony AI, a research lab launched by the company in 2020, Gran Turismo Sophy is a computer program trained to control racing cars inside the world of Gran Turismo, a video game known for its super-realistic simulations of real vehicles and tracks. In a series of events held behind closed doors last year, Sony put its program up against the best humans on the professional sim-racing circuit. 

What they discovered during those racetrack battles—and the ones that followed—could help shape the future of machines that work alongside humans, or join us on the roads. Read the full story. 

—Will Douglas Heaven

We’re rewriting what we thought was possible in biotech

The tech in biotech is nailing it. Machine learning and artificial intelligence can now figure out who has a condition (perhaps better than your doctor can), establish a medical checklist to diagnose you, and help target likely treatments. AI models can help design drugs or find a new purpose for existing ones. 

However, challenges remain. Models trailed by our historic data pick up our flaws and biases. People across the world are working on addressing these in order to help biotech to fulfill its promise, including some of those listed in the biotech section of MIT Technology Review’s 35 Innovators under 35 this year. Check them out.

The must-reads

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

1 Heat records were shattered across Europe yesterday
And they’re likely to be broken again today. (WP $)
British homes are particularly ill-equipped for heat, with air conditioning in less than 5% of them. (NYT $)
This summer is just a preview of what’s to come. (NBC)

2 New covid vaccines will be ready this fall. Will anyone take them? 
The stakes just do not feel as high as they did in December 2020. (The Atlantic $)
Even though cases are rising rapidly again. (NYT $)
The virus is evolving at a pace that’s very hard for vaccines to match. (Wired $)
We need treatments for mild covid, too. (Nature)

3 Amazon is suing more than 10,000 Facebook admins over fake reviews
This problem has plagued the company since forever. Clearly someone senior has had enough. (TechCrunch)

4 There’s a growing underground marketplace for abortion pills 

It’s unregulated, possibly illegal, and the only choice left for people in parts of the US. (Wired $)
 Where to get abortion pills and how to use them. (MIT Technology Review)

5 Microloans are pushing young people in China into debt
Small online lenders have made it incredibly easy to borrow money—too easy. (South China Morning Post)
 Almost half a trillion dollars has been wiped from the valuations of fintech companies. (FT $)
The ‘buy now, pay later’ industry is going through a reckoning in the US. (Axios)

6 People are hacking gas pumps 
⛽
It’s not a new problem, but it’s become far more prevalent since gas got so expensive. (NBC)

7 Instagram is terrible now
Out with the friends and photo-sharing, in with the algorithmically promoted videos and ads. (WP $)

8 The ultimate DIY project? Building your own coffin 
⚰
Sounds like a major undertaking to me. (WSJ $)

9 A futuristic implant could radically improve people’s hearing 
By zapping their cochlear nerve with beams of light. (IEEE Spectrum)
Hearing aids that read your brain will know who you want to hear. (MIT Technology Review)

10 This app lets your followers (anonymously) tell you what they really think of you
Uhh, no thanks! (NYT $)

Quote of the day

“Users may be surprised to learn that, in a bankruptcy scenario, the crypto and funds held in their accounts may not be considered their own property.”

—Daniel Saval, a lawyer with Kobre & Kim, tells CNBC that people

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By: Charlotte Jee
Title: The Download: how a racing AI won, and taking on biotech’s big challenges
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2022/07/19/1056194/the-download-how-a-racing-ai-won-and-taking-on-biotechs-big-challenges/
Published Date: Tue, 19 Jul 2022 11:26:31 +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

Did you miss our previous article…
https://www.mansbrand.com/the-download-a-breakthrough-climate-bill-and-twitters-terrible-trends/

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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

Did you miss our previous article…
https://www.mansbrand.com/stitching-together-the-grid-will-save-lives-as-extreme-weather-worsens/

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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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