The Download

What's up in emerging technology

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1.5 million jobs in the UK are at “high risk” of being automated

The country’s Office for National Statistics analyzed 20 million people’s jobs in 2017 and found that 7.4% of them were at high risk of being replaced by technology.

Uneven impact: The ONS said that the most “at risk” groups were women, part-time workers,… Read more

Image credit:
  • Unsplash | Chuttersnap

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March 22, 2019 NASA astronaut Anne McClain assists fellow NASA astronauts Christina Koch (left) and Nick Hague as they verify their U.S. spacesuits are sized correctly and fit properly ahead of a set of upcoming spacewalks.

Watch two astronauts take a spacewalk to give the ISS a power upgrade

Even the International Space Station batteries need an upgrade once in a while.

The details: The battery change is being carried out by two NASA astronauts, first-time spacewalkers Anne McClain and Nick Hague. Some prep work was done in advance using… Read more

Image credit:
  • NASA

Editor's Pick

Should a self-driving car kill the baby or the grandma? Depends on where you’re from.

In 2014 researchers at the MIT Media Lab designed an experiment called Moral Machine. The idea was to create a game-like platform that would crowdsource people’s decisions on how self-driving cars should prioritize lives in different variations of the...

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March 22, 2019 Boeing 737 Max jets grounded at Sky Harbor International Airport

Boeing sold two safety features on its 737 Max planes as “extras”

The practice of selling fundamental features like communication, navigation, or safety systems as “add-ons” is rife within the airline industry, the New York Times reports.

What if: We can’t say for sure, but if they had been included, these two features… Read more

Image credit:
  • Associated Press
A masked password being entered, with a padlock logo beside it

Facebook has admitted it stored up to 600 million customers’ passwords insecurely

Facebook had stored hundreds of millions of user passwords in plain text since 2012, meaning they could have easily been accessed and read by more than 20,000 of its employees.

The details: In a carefully worded statement, Facebook said it hadn’t found… Read more

Image credit:
  • Facebook
March 21, 2019 DNA data storage device

Microsoft just booted up the first “DNA drive” for storing data


Microsoft has helped build the first device that automatically encodes digital information into DNA and back to bits again.

DNA storage: Microsoft has been working toward a photocopier-size device that would replace data centers by storing files, movies,… Read more

Image credit:
  • Microsoft
A swarm of robots with cogs around their rims

These cell-inspired robots can swarm together to move toward the light

The robots are inspired by the way cells travel through the bloodstream to wounds to assist with healing. 

How it works: The 25-strong cluster comprises disc-shaped robots, each equipped with magnets around the edges and cogs so they can “stick” to their… Read more

Image credit:
  • Felice Frankel

Editor's Pick

Photo of Ingvild Deila as Princess Leia

How acting as Carrie Fisher’s puppet made a career for Rogue One’s Princess Leia

Ingvild Deila had one of the most talked-about roles in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, but she was only on screen for about 15 seconds. No one even saw her face. Yet she can now claim on her IMDB page that she was once Princess Leia.

In reality, she was...

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March 21, 2019 Matt Hancock

The UK’s health minister accidentally revealed everything wrong with polygenic risk scores

The UK has been pioneering big databases that permit a new type of disease prediction called a polygenic score—basically, a guesstimate from your genome that you’ll develop a particular disease.

But an effort by the UK’s own health minister to promote… Read more

Image credit:
  • Wikimedia Commons
An image from a European Space Agency satellite showing the extent of Cyclone Idai's damage

Satellites and drones are showing the devastating extent of Cyclone Idai’s damage

Cyclone Idai swept through southeast Africa a few days ago, killing thousands and leaving entire towns and farmlands under water. The aftermath is only just starting to become clear, with the help of drones and satellite imagery.

Mapping: Satellites are… Read more

Image credit:
  • European Space Agency