The Download

What's up in emerging technology

April 18, 2019 I voted stickers

West Virginia will allow “blockchain voting” in the 2020 election. That’s a risky idea.

Military voters stationed overseas will be able to cast their votes for the 2020 presidential election via a mobile app that uses a private blockchain. Election security experts, avert your eyes.

Why would you do that?  Donald Kersey, West Virginia’s… Read more

Image credit:
  • Element5 Digital | Unsplash

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A woman wears Oculus headset at Dublin tech summit

Facebook is working on a voice assistant to embed within its products

It’s been developing the software since early 2018 but is yet to announce a release date, according to CNBC.

The team: The group developing the new voice assistant works within the company’s augmented- and virtual-reality group and is based in Redmond,… Read more

Image credit:
  • Niall Carson/PA Wire (Press Association via AP Images)

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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April 18, 2019 Time cover

The scientist who created CRISPR babies is on Time’s most-influential list—but not in a good way

He Jiankui wanted to become famous, but probably not like this. 

The editors of Time have put the creator of the first gene-edited children on its list of “100 Most Influential People” in the world for 2019. But in a twist, the magazine tapped CRISPR… Read more

Image credit:
  • TIME
A sketch of plans for a "smart city" area near Toronto's waterfront

Activists are suing Canada over plans to build a smart city in Toronto

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has filed a legal challenge against all three levels of the country’s government in a bid to put a stop to the scheme led by Sidewalk Labs, a Google subsidiary.

Specifically: The lawsuit seeks to end a contract… Read more

Image credit:
  • Sidewalk Labs
April 17, 2019 brain

Scientists have restored circulation to severed pig brains in a step that blurs the definition of death

It’s a cliché image from bad science fiction—the living “brain in a jar.” Now scientists at Yale University say they have actually done it.

Pig heads: A team led by Nenad Sestan report in Nature today how they have been picking up severed pig heads from… Read more

Image credit:
  • Flikr
The three Stanford professors who had been under investigation

Stanford has cleared its professors over the CRISPR baby scandal

Three Stanford scientists did not “directly participate” in a project to create the first CRISPR babies, the New York Times reports.

The context: The inquiry by Stanford University, which was first revealed by MIT Technology Review, was tasked with looking… Read more

Image credit:
  • Flickr | Philip Odegard

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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April 17, 2019 A photo of someone using a laptop keyboard

The UK is going to introduce its controversial porn block on July 15

The new law will force websites to check that users are over 18 before allowing them to access pornographic content—but it’s been repeatedly delayed and widely criticized.

What that means: From July, anyone in the UK who wants to look at porn online will… Read more

Image credit:
  • Associated Press
a T cell

CRISPR has been used to treat US cancer patients for the first time

The gene-editing tool has been used in a trial to enhance the blood cells of two patients with cancer, according to NPR.

The trial: The experimental research, under way at the University of Pennsylvania, involves genetically altering a person’s T cells… Read more

Image credit:
  • Wikimedia