The download: CRISPR cultures and demystifying renewable energy

The download: CRISPR cultures and demystifying renewable energy

The download: CRISPR cultures and demystifying renewable energy

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This is today’s edition of The Download,our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s happening in the tech world.


How CRISPR could help save crops from pest devastation

For decades, California grape growers have battled Pierce’s disease, a nasty infection that causes vines to wither. The arrival of an invasive insect in the late 1980s accelerated the spread of the disease, turning it from a nuisance into a nightmare.

The disease still has no cure and it is likely to get worse due to climate change. But an unlikely solution has arrived in the form of CRISPR gene-editing technology, which allows researchers to modify the pest’s genome so that it can no longer spread the bacteria. Read the full story.

—Emma Foehringer Merchant

Busting three myths about renewable materials and energy

When it comes to renewable energy, some myths are hard to shake. The raw materials we need to fight climate change are often at the center of some of the most widespread untruths or misunderstandings.

Our climate reporter, Casey Crownhart, delved into three of the biggest myths related to climate change materials and renewable energy, demonstrating how important it is to ignore the hype and follow the science. Read the full story.

Casey’s story is from The Spark, his weekly energy and climate newsletter. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Wednesday.

The unavoidable

I’ve scoured the internet to find you today’s funniest/important/scariest/fascinating stories about technology.

1 Do you remember Amazon’s drone delivery program?
He is still struggling to take off. (Information $)

2 These videos show how Iran is violently suppressing protests
Security forces strike and open fire on civilians. (WP$)
+ Thousands of demonstrators, however, continue to attack the authorities. (WSJ$)

3 Whisper is the quieter cousin of ChatGPT
The accuracy of the transcription model, also made by OpenAI, is almost perfect. (New Yorkers $)
+ ChatGPT is launching a subscription tier for $20 per month. (Gizmodo)
+ Microsoft wasted no time integrating ChatGPT into Teams. (Reuters)
+ OpenAI is a real talent pool in AI. (Information $)
+People are already using ChatGPT to create training plans. (MIT Technology Review)

4 The crucial role satellites will play in space warfare
They collect data to reveal the locations and weapon systems of their rivals. (Wired $)
+ How to fight a war in space (and get away with it) (MIT Technology Review)

5 Instagram founders launched an AI-aggregated news app
They believe that Artifact can break the news echo chambers popularized by Twitter. (FT$)

6 We don’t know exactly how psychedelics can alter our brains
All the more reason to exercise caution before expanding your mind. (Atlantic $)
+ Mind-altering substances are overhyped as miracle drugs. (MIT Technology Review)

7 Are you ready to feel the metaverse?
Haptic technology is the next step in making immersive experiences more realistic. (Economist $)
+ Meanwhile, Meta’s metaverse labs continue to hemorrhage money. (Initiate $)

8 Forget 3D printers, it’s a 3D printing factory
It’s all about scale, baby. ($Bloomberg)
+ Meet the printing designers in salt and clay. (MIT Technology Review)

9 Voice-dictated text messages are riddled with errors
Goof duck performing them! (WSJ$)

10 TikTok’s ‘lucky girl syndrome’ is just another term for manifesting itself 🍀
Generation Z has discovered the power of positive thinking. (voice)
+ Tiktok’s “dark psychology” trend sounds a lot like gaslighting to me. (Vice)

quote of the day

“Privacy has been extinguished. It is now a zombie.

—Shoshana Zuboff, professor emeritus at Harvard Business School, points to a similarity between Western tech giants and China’s surveillance state in an interview with the Financial Times.

The big story

How megacities could lead the fight against climate change

April 2021

In 2050, 2.5 billion more people will live in cities than today. As the world urbanizes, many cities are becoming more populated while trying to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate the effects of climate change.

In the decades to come, cities will be the engines of economic growth. But they must also play a key role in the fight against climate change. Find out how some of the biggest cities in the world, called megacities, are meeting this challenge. Read the full story.

—Gabrielle Merite & André Vitorio

We can still have beautiful things

A place of comfort, pleasure and distraction in these strange times. (Have ideas? Message me or tweet them to me.)

+ Atlas fell – and I cackle to the blooper reel (thanks Will!)
+ Don’t worry if your home is looking a little messy these days, even cleanliness queen Marie Kondo is toning down.
+ These exhibitions are worth traveling around the world.
+ I am desperate to visit this breathtaking sea serpent sculpture on a French beach.
+ This cat is kind of well hydrated genius.


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