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The Download

The Download: hydrogen’s potential, and Twitter’s terrorism accusations

Plus: Microsoft's Bing is stopping you from making prompts about "feelings"

February 23, 2023

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.

When hydrogen will help climate change—and when it won’t. 

Hydrogen is often heralded as a climate hero because when it’s used as a fuel in things like buses or steel production, there are no direct carbon emissions to worry about. As the world tries to cut down on our use of fossil fuels, there could be plenty of new demand for this carbon-free energy source.

But how hydrogen is made could determine just how helpful it is. Last week, the European Commission released rules that define what it means for hydrogen to be green. But what does that mean, exactly, and how could we produce it? Read the full story.

—Casey Crownhart


Casey’s story is from The Spark, her weekly climate newsletter giving you the inside track on all things energy. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Wednesday.

New report: Generative AI in industrial design and engineering

Generative AI has the potential to transform industrial design and engineering, making it more important than ever for leaders in those industries to stay ahead. So MIT Technology Review has created a new research report that highlights the potential benefits—and pitfalls— of this new technology. 

The report includes two case studies from leading industrial and engineering companies that are already applying generative AI to their work—and a ton of takeaways and best practices from industry leaders. It is available now to download for $195

The must-reads

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

1 The Supreme Court is considering whether Twitter aided terrorists
The justices are expected to come to a conclusion by June. (Vox)
+ The case is the second this week to probe internet platforms’ legal liability. (NYT $)
+ The court seems wary about making sweeping legal changes. (Bloomberg $)

2 Bing doesn’t want to talk about your feelings
And it’ll shut down any prompt that mentions “feelings,” so don’t even try. (Bloomberg $)
+ The ChatGPT-fueled battle for search is bigger than Microsoft or Google. (MIT Technology Review)
+ Europe’s AI startups are being overshadowed by their US rivals. (Sifted)
+ Why Microsoft’s Clippy mascot is ChatGPT’s spiritual predecessor. (Fast Company $)

3 Google claims to have reached a quantum milestone
It says it’s found a way to correct the errors present in today’s quantum machines. (FT $)
+ What’s next for quantum computing. (MIT Technology Review)

4 Russian propagandists are buying Twitter blue checks
Allowing them to spread misinformation under a veil of legitimacy. (WP $)
+ Russia-controlled publication RT is still on YouTube, despite supposedly being banned. (The Guardian)

5 A major ransomware attack tried to extort victims’ bitcoin
It’s apparently one of the most widespread ransomware attacks on record. (FT $)
+ The US government is investigating how military emails were leaked. (Bloomberg $)
+ Why the ransomware crisis suddenly feels so relentless. (MIT Technology Review)

6 Arizona is limbering up to become a major US chip hub
Just in time for the US government to grant federal funding. (NYT $)
+ These simple design rules could turn the chip industry on its head. (MIT Technology Review)

7 Your smartwatch could interfere with your pacemaker
Wearables can generate electrical interference that prevents cardiac devices from working properly.(The Guardian)

8 Take a rare look at the Korean Peninsula’s demilitarized zone
Courtesy of Google Street View. (WSJ $)

9 How to create an AI clone of yourself
While it looks the part, the voice tends to be a dead giveaway. (Motherboard)

10 Your headphones could be made from mushrooms one day 🍄
This particular fungus is emerging as a viable plastic replacement. (The Verge)
+ Shrimp shells are the new leather, too. (Wired $)

+ In defense of plastic (sort of) (MIT Technology Review)

Quote of the day

“‘Commenting for reach’ turns us all into dribbling robots at the feet of the algorithm.”

—Olivia Nelson, who works at an education technology company, has had enough of LinkedIn users writing ‘commenting for reach’ on posts in a blatant effort to make them go viral, she tells the Wall Street Journal.

The big story

The cognitive dissonance of watching the end of Roe unfold online

August 2022

When the United States Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade on the morning of June 24, 2022, thousands of people first heard the decision by reading news site SCOTUSblog. Katie Barlow, the blog’s media editor, was one of the few correspondents on camera the moment the opinion was released, reading it out to her audience on TikTok.

These days, the phone might still be how you learned of the decision made by six justices, but now that device could let us help someone we’ve never met before travel to a state where abortion is still legal. Read the full story.

—Melissa Gira Grant

We can still have nice things

A place for comfort, fun and distraction in these weird times. (Got any ideas? Drop me a line or tweet 'em at me.)

+ I really enjoyed the unexpected wonders of Google Reviews (thanks Charlotte!)
+ What do you mean, a bar of soap doesn’t actually prevent restless leg syndrome!?
+ It’s fair to say that farcical horror movie Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey hasn’t been so much poorly received, as savaged by the critics.
+ This mesmerizing timelapse of a nesting blue tit is really very sweet.
+ If I lived in 17th century Germany, I’d definitely be forced to wear one of these gossip punishment masks.

Deep Dive

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