The Download: How AI capitalizes on catastrophe, and the Bitcoin cities of Central America

Crypto millionaires are pouring money into Central America to build their own cities

El Salvador’s Conchagua Volcano, home to a lush ecotourism retreat amid its sun-dappled forest, is set to host a glittering new Bitcoin City, the country’s president announced in November 2021. A massive construction project to transform virgin forest into a bustling metropolis could soon begin.

While some residents and politicians believe that crypto can jump-start the economy’s growth, others see history repeating itself. While El Salvador’s experiment is taking shape in the form Bitcoin City, a similar development has been underway in Honduras. However, it is facing backlash from locals and could be in danger of being stopped. While the project’s proponents hope to create a hundred more Bitcoin Cities in the future, others are unsure about who these projects are for and if the countries that serve as test beds will really benefit. Read more .

–Laurie Clarke

Quote of the day

“Hugs for everyone!”

–A Disney employee celebrates costumed characters being able to hug Disneyland visitors after dropping its enforced no-hugs ban, according to The New York Times.

The must-reads

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

1 Ukraine’s ‘internet army’ is pressurizing Western brands to exit Russia
And their campaigns seem to be working. (WSJ $)
More than one in four people in Ukraine have left their homes. (WSJ $)
The US and its allies are sending more weapons to Ukraine. (BBC)

2 What has the zero-covid policy taught China?
It’s saved countless lives, but it is becoming harder and harder to enforce. (The Atlantic $)
Moderna is optimistic that its new vaccine will offer better protection against variants. (NYT $)

3 NASA wants to charter a mission to Uranus
We know surprisingly little about the distant planet. (The Atlantic $)
Why have we been so focused on sending humans to Mars? (Slate $)
Maybe we should be sending robots instead of astronauts. (Wired $)

4 People are canceling their Netflix subscriptions in their droves
And sneakily sharing passwords between households. (Variety $)
Netflix may start running ads, too. (Hollywood Reporter)

5 Twitter may be preparing to turn down Elon Musk’s offer to buy it
Which would force him to reconsider his position. (WSJ $)
Regardless of the outcome, Musk’s proposition could ultimately be good for the company. (FT $)
A crypto billionaire wants to get involved, too. (Bloomberg $)
Here’s what making Twitter’s algorithm public could entail. (CNN)

6 Maybe the tech bubble really is impenetrable after all
Or maybe we’re just bored of hearing it’s about to burst. (NYT $)
There may be trouble ahead for the UK’s startups. (The Times $)

7 Unmasking the woman behind the Libs of TikTok Twitter account
A Brooklyn real estate agent has played an outsized role pushing hateful anti-LGBTQ narratives in the US. (WP $)

8 Getting sober is about more than just stopping drinking
Sober influencers are reframing our thinking around alcohol. This is not always a good thing. (Wired $)
Does paying people to stop drinking keep them sober in the long-term? (Boston Globe $)

9 Why it’s so hard to build unbiased AI
For starters, bias is in the eye of the beholder. (Vox)
AI might reduce the number of car crashes. (NYT $)
Motorists using self-driving cars in the UK might soon be allowed to watch TV behind the wheel. (The Times $)

10 This Twitter account spots writers’ tics
Because you can’t keep repeating yourself. Or can you? (New Yorker $)

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