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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 engineers are working to build better pulse oximeters

Visit any health-care facility, and one of the first things they’ll do is clip a pulse oximeter to your finger. These devices, which track heart rate and blood oxygen, offer vital information about a person’s health.

But they’re also flawed. For people with dark skin, pulse oximeters can overestimate just how much oxygen their blood is carrying. That means that a person with dangerously low oxygen levels might seem, according to the pulse oximeter, fine.

The US Food and Drug Administration is still trying to figure out what to do about this problem. Last week, an FDA advisory committee met to mull over better ways to evaluate the performance of these devices in people with a variety of skin tones. But engineers have been thinking about this problem too. Cassandra Willyard has dug into why they are biased and what technological fixes might be possible. Take a look at what she found out.

This story is from The Checkup, our weekly biotech and health newsletter. 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 OpenAI is planning to turn the chip industry on its head
By sinking trillions of dollars into an ambitious new project. (WSJ $)
AMD also has plans to break Nvidia’s chip chokehold. (Economist $)
OpenAI’s COO is molding the startup into a commercial powerhouse. (Bloomberg $)
The company has hurtled past the $2 billion revenue mark. (FT $)
Why China is betting big on chiplets. (MIT Technology Review)

2 US regulators have outlawed AI-generated robocalls
In a bid to get ahead of audio deepfakes disrupting the Presidential election. (AP News)
That doesn’t mean the calls won’t keep coming, though. (TechCrunch)
Iranian hackers infiltrated UAE streaming services with a deepfake newsreader. (The Guardian)

3 Electric vehicles are getting smaller
America can’t get enough of big cars. Can it fall in love with slimmed-down ones? (IEEE Spectrum)
Why getting more EVs on the road is all about charging. (MIT Technology Review)

4 How AI is changing the way we code
There’s no indication humans will be edged out anytime soon. (Wired $)
How AI assistants are already changing the way code gets made. (MIT Technology Review)

5 Crypto is pivoting to loyalty schemes
Good luck trying to work out what the rewards are. (Bloomberg $)
How did a crypto book crack the NYT best seller list? (Motherboard)

6 Yandex, Russia’s answer to Google, has a new owner
Following 18 months of tense negotiations against the backdrop of war. (Reuters)
The uneasy coexistence of Yandex and the Kremlin. (MIT Technology Review)

7 Here’s what Elon Musk’s Neuralink is up against
The brain-computer interface device field is surprisingly crowded. (Insider $)
Elon Musk wants more bandwidth between people and machines. Do we need it? (MIT Technology Review)

8 Why the way we argue online is so conspiratorial
Nothing happens in isolation—everything gets slotted into a wider, overarching narrative. (The Atlantic $)

9 TikTok’s search suggestions are riling creators
The recommendations range from the provocative to the downright professionally damaging. (WP $)

10 This couple fell in love thanks to an AI lip-dubbing app
Why use Google Translate when you can shoot a video of yourself speaking perfect Spanish? (NYT $)

Quote of the day

“Is it still uncanny and creepy? Yeah, but I don’t look like Stalin anymore.”

—YouTuber Quinn Nelson reflects on the improvements Apple has made to its ghostly Vision Pro customizable avatars, Insider reports.

The big story

El Paso was “drought-proof.” Climate change is pushing its limits.

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December 2021

El Paso has long been a model for water conservation. It’s done all the right things—it’s launched programs to persuade residents to use less water and deployed technological systems, including desalination and wastewater recycling, to add to its water resources. A former president of the water utility once famously declared El Paso “drought-proof.”

Now, though, even El Paso’s careful plans are being challenged by intense droughts. As the pressure ratchets up, El Paso, and places like it, force us to ask just how far adaptation can go. Read the full story.

—Casey Crownhart

We can still have nice things

A place

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By: Rhiannon Williams
Title: The Download: how to improve pulse oximeters, and OpenAI’s chip plans
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2024/02/09/1087962/the-download-how-to-improve-pulse-oximeters-and-openais-chip-plans/
Published Date: Fri, 09 Feb 2024 13:10:00 +0000

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The Download: Big Tech’s climate claims, and reducing your music streaming carbon footprint

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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.

Google, Amazon and the problem with Big Tech’s climate claims

Last week, Amazon trumpeted that it had purchased enough clean electricity to cover the energy demands of all its global operations, seven years ahead of its sustainability target.

That news closely followed Google’s acknowledgment that the soaring energy demands of its AI operations helped ratchet up its corporate emissions by 13% last year—and that it had backed away from claims that it was already carbon neutral.

If you were to take the announcements at face value, you’d be forgiven for believing that Google is stumbling while Amazon is speeding ahead in the race to clean up climate pollution.

But while both companies are coming up short in their own ways, Google’s approach to driving down greenhouse-gas emissions is now arguably more defensible. To learn why, read our story.

—James Temple

This piece is part of MIT Technology Review Explains, our series untangling the complex, messy world of technology to help you understand what’s coming next. You can read more from the series here

Five ways to make music streaming better for the climate

As K-pop sweeps the world and accumulates a massive, devout fan base, these fans have been turning their power into action. Zeyi Yang, our China reporter, recently published a story about Kpop4planet, a group of activists who are using K-pop’s influence to hold large corporations accountable for their carbon footprints.

During his reporting, he talked to several experts about how to correctly understand the climate impact of music streaming, and one thing became clear: It all comes down to how we stream—the content, the device, the length, etc. Read on for their tips to help any music streaming user leave a smaller carbon footprint.

This story is from China Report, our weekly newsletter examining the relationship between tech and power in the country. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Tuesday.

The must-reads

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

1 Donald Trump’s allies are already working on a sweeping AI order 
Which many AI investors in Silicon Valley would favor over President Biden’s approach. (WP $)
Elon Musk is among the first big names in tech to pledge support for Trump. (WSJ $)
Trump’s former FDA commissioner wants to peer inside AI’s black boxes. (Politico)

2 TikTok’s attempt to swerve the EU’s Digital Markets Act has been dismissed
The EU’s General Court ruled TikTok was powerful enough to have to comply. (Bloomberg $)
It’s good news for European antitrust regulators. (Reuters)
Here’s what you need to know about the Digital Markets Act. (MIT Technology Review)

3 Bitcoin miners are signing deals with AI firms
Putting all those vast data centers to good use. (FT $)
How Bitcoin mining devastated this New York town. (MIT Technology Review)

4 Amazon’s Prime Day sale causes a spike in injuries among warehouse workers
A new report accuses the company of prioritizing speed over safety. (WSJ $)
Not everything that looks like a deal is, in fact, a deal. (The Atlantic $)

5 We’re learning more about how deadly pancreatic cancer spreads
The disease shuts down molecules in key genes. (The Guardian)
An AI-based risk prediction system could help catch pancreatic cancer cases earlier. (MIT Technology Review)’

6 The Milky Way is full of free-floating planets
These scientists are on a mission to track these rogue worlds down. (IEEE Spectrum)

7 Beware the rise of fake AI-powered therapists
It’s just one example among a rising wave of AI scams. (Vice)
Five ways criminals are using AI. (MIT Technology Review)

8 Black women are listing their race as white on dating apps
And report receiving higher-quality matches as a result. (NY Mag $)

9 The JWST just celebrated its second year in space
And the photographs it captures are still awe-inspiring. (The Atlantic $)

10 Lab-grown meat for pets has been green-lit in the UK
🐈‍⬛

🐕
For the discerning pet palate. (Wired $)
Here’s what a lab-grown burger tastes like. (MIT Technology Review)

Quote of the day

“This country is on fire, Mr. Altman.”

—Jennifer Loving, who runs a nonprofit that administers basic-income pilot programs in Silicon Valley, tells OpenAI CEO Sam Altman it’s time to act on all the research

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By: Rhiannon Williams
Title: The Download: Big Tech’s climate claims, and reducing your music streaming carbon footprint
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2024/07/17/1095061/the-download-big-techs-climate-claims-and-reducing-your-music-streaming-carbon-footprint/
Published Date: Wed, 17 Jul 2024 12:10:00 +0000

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Music streaming can be a drag on the environment. These K-pop fans want to clean it up.

On Valentine’s Day 2023, five K-pop fans came to a bustling street in the center of Seoul, one of them in a bee costume. Then they started dancing to “Candy” by the boy band NCT Dream and unfurled a banner with a message for Korea’s largest domestic music streaming platform: “Melon, let’s use 100% renewable energy and happily be together with Kpop for the next 100 years.”

KPOP4PLANET

A few weeks later, Melon, which has over 4 million active users in Korea, promised to do just that—pledging to adopt 100% renewable energy for its data centers by 2030.

It was the culmination of a campaign organized by Kpop4planet, a small group of volunteers that is achieving surprising success in mobilizing K-pop fans to act against the energy-intensive practices of the music industry. In recent years it has led a series of actions for climate causes, secured pledges to reduce the carbon footprint of music streaming, and pressured international brands to turn their supply chains away from fossil fuels.

K-pop fans have for years been known for their incredible organizing power. As their numbers have grown around the world, they have become influential political forces, shaping elections and advocating for social change. It was these actions that inspired two young fans, Dayeon Lee from South Korea and Nurul Sarifah from Indonesia, to found Kpop4planet in 2021. Particularly concerned about environmental issues, they began to think about how some aspects of K-pop culture can exacerbate environmental degradation. For example, excessive music streaming can generate carbon emissions at every step, from the data centers that process requests to the devices that play the music. 

“I [initially] thought the physical-album-waste issue was much more important,” says Lee, who is a 21-year-old university undergraduate, currently living in Japan. “But I was really surprised when I did some background research … [and] realized that the streaming issue is much more serious because it is a long-term issue.”

While producing and selling physical recordings does, of course, have a carbon footprint, most of the environmental issues end after the initial purchase. That’s not the case with digital distribution. Streaming an album more than 27 times, according to 2019 research at Keele University in the UK, will likely end up using more energy than it takes to produce a CD. This kind of listening happens frequently in K-pop culture, which often encourages fans to host “streaming parties” where they play the same song on repeat.

Buoyed by the success of its streaming campaign, Kpop4planet has recently targeted companies outside the music industry that have benefited from working with K-pop idols; it’s asked them to make similar pledges on renewable energy or other climate goals in order to secure continuous support from the fans. The group has put pressure on Tokopedia, Indonesia’s largest e-commerce company, to set up a decarbonization plan. And it’s gone after Hyundai—which uses the K-pop band BTS as brand ambassadors—over a business deal to source aluminum from a company relying on a new coal power plant. This led to another big victory: In March 2024, Hyundai agreed to seek alternative suppliers for its aluminum.

These wins may be surprising for a group with just 10 full-time members. Hyundai and Melon did not immediately respond to requests for comment, so it’s hard to know exactly why they changed course. But for her part, Lee believes the group’s success comes from how it is able to represent the genuine feelings of a massive fan base and draw companies’ attention to those demands. In total, Kpop4planet’s online petitions have collected signatures from nearly 60,000 fans in 223 countries. And the group doesn’t stop until it gets what it wants.

“We have to be the messenger between corporations and K-pop fans,” Lee says. “We also want to expand our campaigns to more global corporations, because we believe that K-pop fans have enough power and influence to make our society more sustainable.”

The carbon footprint of “streaming parties”

Even as streaming has become the dominant way to listen to music, its energy consumption—in faraway data centers or via invisible telecommunication transmissions—remains hard for the end user to recognize.

“I think streaming is especially nefarious because those negative impacts are happening so far away and in such an invisible way,” says Joe Steinhardt, an assistant professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia who studies the music industry and is the author of the book Why to Resist Streaming Music & How. He calls streaming music “a disposable listen” because of the way an app keeps pulling data from the cloud and not storing it locally.

Still, it’s hard to draw a definitive conclusion on whether streaming damages the environment more than buying physical copies; its actual carbon

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By: Zeyi Yang
Title: Music streaming can be a drag on the environment. These K-pop fans want to clean it up.
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2024/07/16/1094982/music-streaming-climate-kpop-fan/
Published Date: Tue, 16 Jul 2024 09:00:00 +0000

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The Download: K-pop stans’ climate plans, and what AI isn’t

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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.

Music streaming can be a drag on the environment. These K-pop fans want to clean it up.

K-pop fans have for years been known for their incredible organizing power. As their numbers have grown around the world, they have become influential political forces, shaping elections and advocating for social change.

It was these actions that inspired Kpop4planet. It’s a small group of volunteers that is achieving surprising success in mobilizing K-pop fans to act against the energy-intensive practices of the music streaming industry.

And, buoyed by its success, Kpop4planet has started targeting companies outside the music industry; it’s asked them to make similar pledges on renewable energy or other climate goals. Read the full story.

—Zeyi Yang

A short history of AI, and what it is (and isn’t)

It’s the simplest questions that are often the hardest to answer. That applies to AI, too. Even though it’s sold as a solution to the world’s problems, nobody seems to know what it really is.

For months, my colleague Will Douglas Heaven has been on a quest to go deeper to understand why everybody seems to disagree on exactly what AI is, and why you’re right to care about it.

He’s been talking to some of the top thinkers in the field, asking them, simply: What is AI? The end result is a great piece that looks at the past and present of AI to see where it is going next. Read the full story.

—Melissa Heikkilä

This story is from The Algorithm, our weekly AI newsletter. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Monday.

The must-reads

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

1 Silicon Valley is backing Donald Trump to become US President
Major VCs and tech leaders are lining up to pledge their financial support. (FT $)
JD Vance, Trump’s VP candidate, used to be a VC himself. (TechCrunch)
Wealthy far right activists are preparing for Trump to win. (New Yorker $)
The FBI has gained access to the phone of the suspected Trump shooter. (404 Media)

2 This site sells selfie ID verification photos and videos
Allowing customers to sign up for accounts using other people’s likenesses. (404 Media)

3 Bird flu cases could be undetected among US dairy workers
Health officials are struggling to keep track of who has been exposed. (New Scientist $)
What’s next for bird flu vaccines. (MIT Technology Review)

4 Scientists have discovered a cave on the moon
It could serve as a base for astronauts to shelter from radiation. (BBC)
It could be part of a hidden network of lunar caves. (New Scientist $)

5 China’s state support for AI is a double-edged sword
Its robust regulatory regime forces startups to jump through hoops. (WSJ $)
Critics aren’t happy about the EU’s new rules for AI. (FT $)
Why the Chinese government is sparing AI from harsh regulations—for now. (MIT Technology Review)

6 Google tried to ruin a pact between EU cloud firms and Microsoft
It offered the firms a $512 million package to uphold a complaint against Microsoft—but failed in its endeavor. (Bloomberg $)

7 Cloaking healthy cells could protect them from intensive cancer treatments
Drugs and therapies usually target all cells indiscriminately. (Ars Technica)
Cancer vaccines are having a renaissance. (MIT Technology Review)

8 Artists in Latin America can’t opt out of Meta’s AI training project
The company failed to notify users in the region about its plans. (Rest of World)
Here’s how to opt out of Meta’s AI training if you’re in the US, UK, or Europe. (MIT Technology Review)

9 How to safeguard yourself against online conspiracy theories
It can be easy to share misinformation in the heat of the moment. (WP $)

10 Poker is essentially a math game
🃏
Which explains why computers are getting so good at it. (Vox)
Facebook’s poker-playing AI could wreck the online poker industry—so it’s not being released. (MIT Technology Review)

Quote of the day

“I have questions. My biggest one: why??”

—Hebba Youssef, chief people officer at Workweek, reacts to HR company Lattice’s new tool designed to help organizations make employee records for AI bots, the Verge reports.

The big story

This scientist is trying to create an accessible, unhackable voting machine

Read More

————

By: Rhiannon Williams
Title: The Download: K-pop stans’ climate plans, and what AI isn’t
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2024/07/16/1095006/the-download-k-pop-stans-climate-plans-and-what-ai-isnt/
Published Date: Tue, 16 Jul 2024 12:10:00 +0000

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