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The Download

The Download: AI paternalism in health care, and Nigeria’s answer to Tesla

Plus: Goodbye to Twitter's legacy blue checks

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.

Artificial intelligence is infiltrating health care. We shouldn’t let it make all the decisions.

Would you trust medical advice generated by artificial intelligence? It’s a question raised by yet more headlines this week proclaiming that AI can diagnose a range of diseases. The implication is often that they’re better, faster, and cheaper than medical professionals.

But many of these technologies have well-known problems. They’re trained on limited or biased data, and they often don’t work as well for women and people of color as they do for white men.

And there's another issue. As these technologies begin to infiltrate healthcare, researchers say we’re seeing a rise in what’s known as AI paternalism. The fear is that doctors may be inclined to trust AI at the expense of a patient’s own lived experiences, as well as their own clinical judgment. Read the full story.

— Jessica Hamzelou

Jessica’s story is from The Checkup, her weekly newsletter giving you the inside track on all things biotech. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Thursday.

This Nigerian EV entrepreneur hopes to go head to head with Tesla

Nigerians have become accustomed to long lines for gasoline and wild fluctuations in bus fares. Though the country is Africa’s largest producer of oil, its residents don’t benefit from a steady supply.

Mustapha Gajibo is doing what he can to alleviate the problem. His startup, Phoenix Renewables Limited, is launching a homegrown electric-­vehicle industry in the city of Maiduguri. Building the necessary infrastructure is crucial to the success of the project—and state and local governments are starting to take notice. Read the full story.

—Valentine Benjamin

This story is from our forthcoming Education print issue, due to launch next Wednesday. If you’re not already a subscriber, you can sign up from just $69 a year—a special low price to mark Earth Week.

The must-reads

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

1 Twitter’s legacy blue checks have finally gone 
Elon Musk has finally followed through on what he’s been threatening for months. (WP $)
+ LeBron James didn’t pay for a check, but Musk’s given him one anyway. (The Verge)
+ What is the value of a blue check now, exactly? (Vox)
+ We’re witnessing the brain death of Twitter. (MIT Technology Review)

2 Google is merging its two AI units
Google DeepMind will be led by DeepMind boss Demis Hassabis. (WSJ $)
+ Americans aren’t worried about AI governance after all. (Vox)
+ Should AI even be called AI? (New Yorker $)

3 China is plotting to take control of enemy satellites
The CIA believes it’s building weapons to exploit other nation’s communications. (FT $)
+ How to fight a war in space (and get away with it) (MIT Technology Review)

4 College professors use ChatGPT to write recommendation letters ✏️
Turns out it’s not just the students, after all. (The Atlantic $)
+ ChatGPT is a very effective role player. (New Scientist $)
+ It’s also playing a helping hand in content creators going viral. (NBC News)
+ ChatGPT is going to change education, not destroy it. (MIT Technology Review)

5 Chromebooks are garbage
They’re a significant contributor to our growing e-waste problem. (Motherboard)
+ Why you might recycle a battery—and how to do it. (MIT Technology Review)

6 Ukraine’s influencers are switching to speaking Ukrainian
Prior to the war, they spoke in Russian to reach wider audiences. (NYT $)

7 The Nord Stream pipeline mystery is still unsolved
After seven months, we’re still none the wiser. (Bloomberg $)

8 Why menstrual suppression technologies matter
Access to these technologies is essential for proper equality. (Wired $)

9 The high stakes of getting longevity drugs to market
First, they have to prove they can treat diseases effectively. (Proto.Life)
+ The debate over whether aging is a disease rages on. (MIT Technology Review)

10 This little-known tech protocol could change the internet
ActivityPub makes social networks interoperable and interconnected. (The Verge)

Quote of the day

“When Apple takes an interest in a company, it’s the kiss of death. First, you get all excited. Then you realize that the long-term plan is to do it themselves and take it all.”

—Joe Kiani, the founder of a company that makes blood-oxygen measurement devices, describes Apple’s aggressive approach to copying startups to the Wall Street Journal

The big story

The YouTube baker fighting back against deadly “craft hacks”

September 2022

Ann Reardon is probably the last person you’d expect to be banned from YouTube. A former Australian youth worker and a mother of three, she’s been teaching millions of subscribers how to bake since 2011. But the removal email was referring to a video that was not Reardon’s typical sugar-paste fare.

Since 2018, Reardon has used her platform to warn viewers about dangerous new “craft hacks” that are sweeping YouTube, tackling unsafe activities such as poaching eggs in a microwave, bleaching strawberries, and using a Coke can and a flame to pop popcorn.

On this occasion, Reardon got caught up in the inconsistent and messy moderation policies that have long plagued the platform. In doing so, she exposed a failing in the system: How can a warning about harmful hacks be deemed dangerous when the hack videos themselves are not? Read the full story.

—Amelia Tait

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.)

+ Up early in Boston? Here’s what you should be doing to make the most of it.
+ Are you tying your shoelaces wrong? If you’re making a granny knot, you are.
+ These shots of scientific infrastructure may look like something out of a movie, but they’re all real.
+ Who, oh who, will buy Britain’s most expensive house?

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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