The Download

What's up in emerging technology

Yesterday An image of Alice in action

In Russia, There’s an AI Helper That Makes Fun of You—and It’s Wildly Popular

The unfailingly polite tone of personal assistants like Siri and Alexa isn’t to everyone’s taste. Many in Russia, in fact, seem to prefer their AI helpers with sass and a dark sense of humor.

The Moscow-based tech giant Yandex launched a Russian-speaking… Read more

Source: Image credit:
  • Yandex

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SEC Chair Jay Clayton

As it Turns Out, the SEC Doesn’t Completely Hate ICOs

Hours after the Securities and Exchange Commission announced Monday that it had halted a second initial coin offering in less than a week, SEC chair Jay Clayton published a lengthy statement expressing his views on the controversial new fund-raising… Read more

Image credit:
  • Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images

Editor's Pick

Can China Contain Bitcoin?

It was only a matter of time before Bobby Lee, CEO of China’s longest-running Bitcoin exchange, found himself in the crosshairs of Chinese regulators. His exchange, BTCC, had occupied a gray area of Chinese law, neither licensed nor explicitly illegal....

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Yesterday The FF91 electric car looks good, but will it ever get made?

A Wannabe Tesla Rival Appears to Be on a Knife Edge

The electric-car startup Faraday Future is reported to be in dire financial straits. Its FF91 car is billed to have a 378-mile range, 1,050 horsepower, and a 0-to-60 time of 2.39 seconds—but reports suggest that there may never be enough money to actually… Read more

Source: Image credit:
  • Maurizio Pesce | Flickr
We eat a lot of meat. Should we tax it?

Should We Have a Meat Tax?

Call it the burger lover’s dilemma: we know deep down that it’s awful for the planet, but the beef patty tastes so damn good.

Most of us still chow down. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that the average American consumed 211 pounds of meat per… Read more

Source: Image credit:
  • lLkas Budimaier | Unsplash
December 11, 2017 CBOE trading floor

What Do Bitcoin Futures Mean for the Future of Bitcoin?

Great question, so glad you asked.

A big securities exchange in Chicago on Sunday began selling Bitcoin futures for the first time, something seen by many as an important step toward mainstream usage. But what this really means for Bitcoin and its users… Read more

Image credit:
  • yuan2003 | Flickr
Man outside with a mosquito trap.

Microsoft Announces $50 Million for Its “AI for Earth” Project

There are plenty of stories about artificial intelligence ending the world as we know it (see 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Terminator, certain Elon Musk tweets). There are fewer about how AI could save the world, but believers are out there. At a gathering… Read more

Image credit:
  • Microsoft

Editor's Pick

The Tax Overhaul Could Cripple the U.S. as a Leader in Science

The graduate education system in the United States is rightly considered the best in the world. But Republicans in the House of Representatives have passed a bill that would undermine America’s great universities and the nation’s preeminence in scientific...

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December 11, 2017 Trucker on semi

Self-Driving Cars Endanger Nearly Four Million Jobs but Could Create a $7 Trillion Industry

Fully autonomous vehicles would hit the U.S. workforce hard. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 3.8 million people operate motor vehicles for their livelihood. This includes truck driving, the most common profession in 29 U.S. states,… Read more

Source: Image credit:
  • Joshua Sazon | Unsplash
A new RNA drug slows down the production of a protein that leads to irreversible damage in the brain.

A New RNA Drug Could Help Slow Huntington’s Disease

A human trial shows that synthetic strands of RNA slow down the production of a protein that leads to irreversible damage in the brain.

Huntington’s disease is caused by a gene mutation that causes the body to create a rogue version of a protein called… Read more

Source: Image credit:
  • Gabriel González-Escamilla | Wellcome Images