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Inside Elon Musk’s Mind Meld, Your Flying Car Problem, and a Meat Tax—The Download, April 21, 2017

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Three Things You Need to Know Today

The Limits of Genome Diagnoses
Sometimes even exhaustive analysis of DNA can't provide an answer for the sick. In the fourteen years since the human genome was first sequenced, the technique has gradually been put to incredible use—to diagnose illness, predict disease susceptibility, and even tailor treatments for some patients. But, there’s a problem: some conditions still refuse to yield their secrets, no matter how hard scientists study the genome of a patient. Our own Emily Mullins explains why.

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Inside Elon Musk’s AI Mind-Merge Vision
More details have emerged about Elon Musk’s desire to meld human and machine. His Neuralink project was sketched out last month, but Musk and his team spoke with Wait But Why as part of a 36,000-word dive into the topic. The company plans to build “micron-sized devices” that read brain signals—“an engineering problem,” it says—and help “severe brain injuries … in about four years.” If that works, it may earn money and regulatory approval for a grander vision: “a high-bandwidth interface to ... digital enhancements,” which Musk says is “8 to 10 years away.”

The Real Flying Car Constraint Could Be You
You were promised flying cars and, actually, you might get them—if you dare. AeroMobil has unveiled its first market-ready flying car, the 3.0, and deliveries start 2020 (though it will cost you $1 million). Meanwhile, Lilium has demonstrated that its all-electric two-seater air taxi really flies. Great, so, who wants a ride? Well, a University of Michigan survey just about sums up the answer: “despite the fact that most Americans are very concerned about the safety of flying cars, most would still ultimately like to use them.” Your first flight, then, may boil down to bravery.

Ten Fascinating Things

Another day, another climate milestone. This week, the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii recorded the first-ever CO2 reading to top 410 parts per million.

Google Home’s latest AI assistant trick: it can tell the voices of six people apart. (But it still responds to strangers, so another Burger King slip is possible.)

Wikipedia editors have to find some way to discern good sources from bad for use on the encyclopedia's pages. But right now, argues Outline, that process is a mess.

Here’s an interesting idea to help reduce emissions and feed the world: how about a tax on meat?

Chinese firm LeEco tried to blitz the U.S. gadget scene with budget hardware. But, a report by Gizmodo reveals, the venture has fallen to pieces.

Could a GitHub for science, based on the open-source computer code repository, help amplify the work-in-progress nature of academic research?

Electrical stimulation of the brain can boost your cognitive abilities—if you get the timing right. Don’t worry, because an AI can work that part out for you.

Until now, coal has been the archenemy of environmentalists. Next on the list is natural gas.

WeChat is China’s most popular messaging app. And, says BackChannel, a powerful tool for public persuasion that helped Trump score votes.

In a concrete bunker beneath the fields of Fürstenfeldbruck, Germany, an incredible laser rig will measure the seismological twists and turns of the planet.

Quote of the Day

"The BBC told me it was too intellectual. When you hear that from the BBC, where else do you go?"

— June Cohen, a former executive producer at TED Media, describes how the conference organizer's iconic lectures proved a tough sell for TV.

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The Download: the Saudi sci-fi megacity, and sleeping babies’ brains

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 exclusive satellite images show Saudi Arabia’s sci-fi megacity is well underway In early 2021, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia announced The Line: a “civilizational revolution” that would house up…

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Every year, we pick the 10 technologies that matter the most right now. We look for advances that will have a big impact on our lives and break down why they matter.

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