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The Download, Mar 20, 2017: Uber’s Staff Exodus, New Genetic Drugs, and Diaper Power

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Three Things You Need to Know Today

Uber’s Great Staff Exodus
The ride-hailer can’t stop hemorrhaging senior staff. After just seven months at Uber, its president, Jeff Jones, is quitting, explaining that the “beliefs and approach to leadership that have guided my career are inconsistent with what I saw and experienced at Uber.” Add to the list, in the last month or so: vice president of maps and business Brian McClendon, vice president of product and growth Ed Baker, security researcher Charlie Miller, and senior engineer Amit Singhal. Uber’s CEO is hiring a COO to help him ride out the storm—but bigger changes may be required.

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A New Generation of Genetic Drugs
Therapeutics made from RNA may be the next great class of medicine. Shortly after he was born, Cameron Harding was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy—an inherited illness that destroys motor neurons, quickly limits movement, and usually kills children before they turn two. But after he was treated with a new kind of RNA drug, he was soon able to move again, making him one of the first children to make such a recovery. We investigate a new breed of RNA therapies to understand the complexities they face and the promise they could offer.

Ad Boycotts Tackle Offensive Online Content
Sometimes, money can be power. Offensive content remains a significant problem for Internet giants like Facebook and Google, but a particularly galvanizing solution to the problem may come from big-name companies boycotting advertising. A number of banks and telecom companies in the UK have pulled ads from Google and YouTube over concerns that their promotions are appearing next to extremist material. The news has left executives at the search firm—which makes most of its income from ads—reeling, with a quick fix solution already issued but some tough decisions ahead.

Ten Fascinating Things

Lab-made meat. Hornless cattle. Designer bacteria. Dozens of new products are being developed using biotech tools—but who will regulate them?

As we predicted, the WikiLeaks offer to help tech firms secure their software in the wake of the CIA data dump may have been too good to be true.

How do you turn your freckles into buttons that control your gadgets? With an electronic tattoo.

Repeat after me: reducing fossil fuel use won’t necessarily ruin the economy. CO2 emissions are flat for a third year running, but the economy continues to grow.

Intel’s new solid state hard drive is so fast that it can actually be used as RAM.

Want to pack one outfit for the tropics and the poles? A new fabric passively changes its structure to provide more insulation as the mercury falls.

If you think India's rush to join the 21st Century space race is strange, you’re not alone. But here's why its ambitions might just make sense.

Recently there’s been much chatter about robots taking over the jobs of lawyers. It might not happen as soon as you think.

A new whole-body PET scanner could reduce the amount of radiation exposure for patients to the equivalent of a return flight between Los Angeles and London.

Every day, millions of tampons and diapers are tossed into the trash. Instead of sending them to landfill, they could be used as fuel to generate electricity.

Quote of the Day

"Apple couldn’t beat us in China because even they have flaws ... They’re maybe too stubborn sometimes." 

— Duan Yongping, the co-founder of Chinese smartphone manufacturers Oppo and Vivo, explains how it’s still possible to topple Tim Cook & Co..

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Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

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