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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 US military wants to understand the most important software on Earth

It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that the whole world is built on top of the Linux kernel—although most people have never heard of it.

It is one of the very first programs that load when most computers power up. It enables the hardware running the machine to interact with the software, governs its use of resources, and acts as the foundation of the operating system.

It is the core building block of nearly all cloud computing, virtually every supercomputer, the entire internet of things, billions of smartphones, and more.

But the kernel is also open source, meaning anyone can write, read, and use its code. And that’s got cybersecurity experts inside the US military seriously worried. Its open-source nature means the Linux kernel—along with a host of other pieces of critical open-source software—is exposed to hostile manipulation in ways that we still barely understand. Read the full story.

—Patrick Howell O’Neill

Heat is bad for plant health. Here’s how gene editing could help.

The news: Some of the world’s most productive agricultural regions have already broken temperature records this year, with potentially worrying implications for food supplies. Even a slight rise in temperatures can cause crops to become more vulnerable to pests. To combat this, researchers have identified a single gene that seems to be the temperature-sensitive culprit and found a way to repair the plants’ immune system at higher temperatures.

How they did it: For many plants, an important immune pathway involves salicylic acid. The chemical has antibacterial properties, and it also acts as a signal to get other immune pathways going. However, this pathway essentially shuts down in unusually hot conditions. Researchers were able to tweak the plants’ genome so they produced more salicylic acid, thus boosting the plants’ protection against pests and diseases.

What it means: While the experiment was conducted on an Arabidopsis plant, many others, including wheat, corn, and potatoes, share the same kind of salicylic acid pathway, making it possible the work could have an impact far beyond the lab. Read the full story.

—Casey Crownhart

The must-reads

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

1 Russian propaganda is flourishing on social media again
Months into the war, Ukraine says Big Tech has lost interest in removing it. (WP $)
Russia’s bombing campaigns have tipped into terrorism. (The Atlantic $)
A US defense firm has supplied Ukraine with kamikaze drones. (FT $)
The war in Ukraine could threaten regulating killer robots. (New Scientist $)
A Chinese housewife fooled Wikipedia into thinking she was a Russian expert. (Motherboard)

2 Uber is being sued by 550 women over sexual assault claims 
The US-based women say they were raped and sexually assaulted by drivers, according to the harrowing filing. (BBC)

3 Post-Roe, we’re more surveilled than ever
It’s becoming increasingly difficult to avoid leaving a digital paper trail. (NYT $)
Big Tech is still silent on questions about data privacy in a post-Roe US. (MIT Technology Review)

4 These new encryption algorithms are quantum-proof
Researchers are confident they’re able to resist quantum computing’s attempts to crack them. (Economist $)
What is post-quantum cryptography? (MIT Technology Review)
Numbers with negative square values are integral to quantum theory. (Aeon)

5 Don’t bother trying to make sense of Elon Musk v Twitter
The madness is only set to intensify by the time they make it to court. (The Atlantic $)
Everyone involved emerges looking like a loser. (Insider)

6 How one of crypto’s biggest lenders collapsed
Celsius has now filed for bankruptcy, leaving its customers out of pocket. (FT $)
The UK has approved suing someone over blockchain. (Bloomberg $)

7 Turkey says it’s discovered a rich mine of rare earth elements
But experts aren’t convinced. (Wired $)
Mining minerals for rechargeable batteries still makes us feel guilty. (The Atlantic $)

8 Prime membership turned Amazon into the internet’s jack of all trades
And allowed it to weaponize convenience along the way. (New Statesman $)

9 Spam calls are driving us to distraction
Some frustrated victims have taken to emailing the FCC for answers. (Motherboard)
The people using humor to troll their spam texts. (MIT Technology Review)

10 Bad taste is the new good taste
The early noughties internet aesthetic is reassuringly gaudy. (Vox)

Quote of the day

“I feel like clickbait.”

—Maree, a woman from Melbourne, describes her discomfort at being filmed without her consent in a viral ‘random

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By: Rhiannon Williams
Title: The Download: open source insecurity, and gene editing plants
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2022/07/14/1055900/download-open-source-insecurity-linux-military-gene-editing-plants-crispr/
Published Date: Thu, 14 Jul 2022 12:00:18 +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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