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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 James Webb Space Telescope just delivered some incredible new images of the universe

NASA has released the second set of images taken by the James Webb Space Telescope, revealing galaxies, planets, and stars in unprecedented detail.

The new pictures include an incredible study of the atmosphere of a gas giant planet 1,000 light-years from Earth, called WASP-96 b, a dying star throwing off its outer layers, and an exquisite view of Stephan’s Quintet, a group of five galaxies about 300 million light-years from Earth. Take a look at them here.

—Jonathan O’Callaghan

AI’s progress isn’t the same as creating human intelligence in machines

The term “artificial intelligence” really has two meanings. AI refers both to the fundamental scientific quest to build human intelligence into computers and to the work of modeling massive quantities of data. These two endeavors are very different, both in their ambitions and in the amount of progress they have made in recent years.

The bulk of the rapid progress today is in data-centric AI, and we’ve got an impressive line-up of people making inroads in the field in this year’s MIT Technology Review 35 Innovators Under 35. Read more about their work and what’s needed to help them to succeed in this essay by Oren Etzioni, CEO of the Allen Institute for AI.

This essay is part of MIT Technology Review’s 2022 Innovators Under 35 package recognizing the most promising young people working in technology today. See the full list here

The must-reads

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

1 Twitter is suing Elon Musk
The company said it “bent over backwards” to give him the data he asked for. (WSJ $)
It also claims a lot of the data he asked for is essentially useless, anyway. (NY Mag)
+ The case will be heard in Delaware, where many corporate rulings are thrashed out. (NYT $)
A fond look back at some of Twitter’s wildest moments. (The Guardian)
+ Twitter “relished” being Donald Trump’s favorite platform, a former employee told the Jan 6 committee. (WP $)

2 The internet is failing visually impaired users
Tweaks to web pages designed to help often end up hindering instead. (NYT $)

3 Sri Lanka has warned citizens not to use crypto amid its political chaos
Bad news for Sri Lankans who invested in crypto after their local currency tanked. (TechCrunch)
Crypto companies are leaning toward litigation. (Protocol)
Actor Seth Green reportedly lost valuable NFTs as part of a multi-million dollar scam. (Motherboard)
Snap is experimenting with adding NFTs to its platform. (FT $)

4 Conscious experience is still one of AI’s biggest obstacles
Mainly because some experts argue it’s unique to humans. (CNET)
What an octopus’s mind can teach us about AI’s ultimate mystery. (MIT Technology Review) 

5 How Trump’s tweets have come back to bite him
His message encouraging followers to join his protest has been presented as key evidence to the January 6 committee. (The Atlantic $)
Trump’s aides repeatedly told him he was wrong, but he carried on anyway. (Wired $)
The 76-year old is still the front-runner for the 2024 Republican nomination. (New Yorker $)

6 China’s recruiters are livestreaming vacancies to desperate jobseekers
Millions are tuning in in the hopes of securing a new job. (SCMP)
China wants to control how its famous livestreamers act, speak, and even dress. (MIT Technology Review)

7 India’s rural workers are being punished by a glitchy government app 
It often doesn’t work in poorly-connected areas and often crashes. (Rest of World)
The villagers fighting to survive India’s deadly heatwaves. (MIT Technology Review)

8 Sensor-equipped sea turtles make useful cyclone trackers
And provide valuable insight into the ocean’s changing structure, too. (Hakai Magazine)

9 An unmanned aircraft has spent 26 days airborne
The Airbus craft has broken its own record in the process. (BBC)

10 In praise of 80s video game compilations 
They don’t make ‘em like they used to. (The Guardian)

Quote of the day

“When Satoshi Nakamoto created Bitcoin, I think that he was divinely inspired, that a benevolent God of some sort either sent him or sent him the idea.”

—Henry Romp, founder of the online Church of Bitcoin community, explains his unwavering faith in both the cryptocurrency and God to Slate.

The big story

Predictive policing algorithms are racist. They need to be dismantled.

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July 2020

Inequality and the misuses of police power

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By: Rhiannon Williams
Title: The Download: more amazing space images, and Twitter is suing Elon Musk
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Published Date: Wed, 13 Jul 2022 12:01:38 +0000

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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

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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Title: LATAM crypto exchange Bitso and FMF launch NFT of Mexico’s National Team jerseys
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Published Date: Fri, 29 Jul 2022 15:19:02 +0000

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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.

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



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.

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
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Published Date: Thu, 28 Jul 2022 08:00:00 +0000

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