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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.

These simple changes can make AI research much more energy efficient

What’s the news?: Deep learning is behind machine learning’s most high-profile successes. But this incredible performance comes at a cost: training deep-learning models requires huge amounts of energy. Now, new research shows how scientists who use cloud platforms to train algorithms can dramatically reduce the energy they use, and therefore the emissions they create.

How can they do it?: Simple changes to cloud settings are the key. Researchers created a tool that measures the electricity usage of any machine-learning program that runs on Azure, Microsoft’s cloud service, during every phase of their project. They estimated emissions based on the zip codes of servers running 11 machine-learning models, finding that they can be significantly reduced if researchers adjusted settings to use servers in specific geographic locations and at certain times of day.

The bigger picture: Getting people to opt in to adjust their own settings is an uphill battle. Only 13% of Azure users running machine-learning programs have looked at the energy measurement tool since it debuted in October, so the next step will be convincing the rest of them. Read the full story.

—Tammy Xu

The world will need dozens of breakthrough climate technologies in the next decade

We’re living in a pivotal decade. By 2030, global emissions must fall by half, mostly through massive deployment of existing technologies like wind turbines, solar panels, and electric vehicles. But emerging climate technologies must come to market during this decade too, even if they don’t make much of a dent in emissions right away.

Those on this year’s list of MIT Technology Review Innovators under 35 list are seizing the chance to decarbonize the economy and to make the clean energy transition affordable. Read more about their work and what’s needed to help them to succeed in this essay by Varun Sivaram, the senior director for clean energy and innovation for US special presidential envoy for climate John Kerry.

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 The leaked data of a billion Chinese people was online for over a year
It was sitting unnoticed in an unsecured database before a hacker offered to sell it. (CNN)

2 The Large Hadron Collider helped scientists find three new particles
The combinations have never been seen before. (Motherboard)
Don’t fall for these misconceptions about the Hadron Collider’s abilities. (Big Think)

3 How Wall Street emerged unscathed from the crypto massacre
It turns out that regulation is pretty handy after all. (NYT $)
And it’s coming for crypto, too. (Wired $)
The crypto crash could be a setback for web3. (FT $)
Venture capitalists burnt by the past decade of crazy growth are cautious. (Motherboard)
Black investors are suffering the most. (FT $)
It’s okay to opt out of the crypto revolution. (MIT Technology Review)

4 Europe has green-lit Big Tech regulation
However, it will take a while until new laws come into force. (Axios)
The UK’s Online Safety Bill has been tweaked to prioritize child abuse material detection. (The Guardian) 
The Supreme Court’s EPA ruling last week doesn’t bode well for regulation in the US. (Protocol)

5 Microsoft is still using emotion-detecting AI 
For an app for people with vision loss—despite widespread skepticism about the technology’s accuracy. (Protocol)
Emotion AI researchers say overblown claims give their work a bad name. (MIT Technology Review)

6 How tech is saving Sri Lanka’s beleaguered tourism industry
Including virtual leopard safaris. (Rest of World)

7 Humans aren’t supposed to hibernate
But a handful of cases suggest entering a torpor-like state may be possible. (CNET)

8 Everything’s a vibe these days
Which suggests it could be time for a vibe shift—away from vibes themselves. (The Atlantic $)

9 Sports in space is coming

No gravity? No problem. (WSJ $)
Can constant acceleration be used to produce artificial gravity in space? (MIT Technology Review)

10 The existential sadness of robots
Maybe it’s time to stop projecting our own emotions onto them. (The Guardian)
How we feel about robots that feel. (MIT Technology Review)
That said, they make pretty good surgeons. (Spectrum IEEE)

The big story

A plan to redesign the internet could make apps that no one

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By: Rhiannon Williams
Title: The Download: Tweaking AI for energy efficiency, and China’s leaked data
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Published Date: Wed, 06 Jul 2022 13:33:50 +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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