The Download: the future of batteries, and China’s chips

The Download: the future of batteries, and China’s chips thumbnail

Every year, the world relies more and more on batteries. Electric vehicles passed 10% of global vehicle sales in 2022, and they’re on track to reach 30% by the end of this decade. The transition from gas-powered cars into EVs will require a lot of batteries, and better and more affordable ones. EVs are powered by lithium-ion battery technology, which is a decades-old technology that companies and academic labs are trying to make more efficient and more affordable.

In the midst of a growing demand for EVs, and an explosion at battery development, one thing seems certain: batteries will play a crucial role in the transition towards renewable energy. Here’s what to expect in 2023. Read the complete story .

–Casey Crownhart

Chinese chips will keep powering your everyday life

The global semiconductor industry is in a state of flux. The US started to take steps to freeze China out of the industry in 2022, pushing the sector to diversify from the Chinese supply chain and build factories elsewhere.

The US government has begun to impose punitive sanctions on China over the next few months. While the sector will likely suffer from the loss of its high-end end, it may play a greater role in the production of older-generation chips still used in everyday life. Read full story .

–Zeyi Yang

Zeyi’s story is from China Report, his weekly newsletter giving you the inside track on all things about China. Sign up and receive it in your inbox every Tuesday.

The must-reads

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

1 China is furious at other countries’ covid travel restrictions
Beijing claims the covid testing requirements “lack scientific basis.” (The Guardian)
AI isn’t very good at detecting covid. (New Scientist $)

2 Sam Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty to all charges
He’ll face trial in October. (CoinDesk)
It’s possible he’ll try to strike a plea deal with prosecutors. (Economist $)

3 Microsoft wants to integrate ChatGPT into Bing
It hopes to chip away at Google’s search dominance. (The Information $)
How accurate its answers will be is still up for debate. (Bloomberg $)
A new app claims to detect whether essays have been written using ChatGPT. (Insider $)
How to spot AI-generated text. (MIT Technology Review)

4 US pharmacies can sell abortion pills for the first time
While a prescription is still required, it’ll significantly broaden access to medicated abortions. (BBC)
Where to get abortion pills and how to use them. (MIT Technology Review)

5 Political adverts are returning to Twitter
The U-turn comes months after advertisers started leaving in their droves. (Politico)
Covid misinformation spiked on Twitter after NFL player Damar Hamlin collapsed. (WP $)

6 Ethereum is getting greener
It won’t solve crypto’s environmental footprint entirely, though. (Motherboard)
Taiwan isn’t worried about the crypto crash. (Rest of World)

7 Instagram is paying musicians a fortune to soundtrack its Reels
It’s low-effort, high-reward. (New Yorker $)
But it’s mostly getting tougher out there for online creators. (The Information $)

8 Amazon in Pakistan is overrun with scammers
The fraudsters are concocting increasingly elaborate schemes to trick victims. (Rest of World)

9 Those cheap TVs come at a price
Once a staple of the American home, they’re not the status symbol they used to be. (The Atlantic $)

10 Don’t hold a holiday party in the metaverse
Your colleagues are unlikely to want to join, unfortunately. (Wired $)

Quote of the day

“I can smell the stench of crime.”

–An unnamed customer criticizes crypto exchange FTX in a complaint filed with the FTC, Gizmodo reports.

The big story

What cities need now

April 2021

Urban technology projects have long sought to manage the city. These “smart cities” projects share many similarities with previous versions. These initiatives promise new “solutions” for urban “problems

Despite a decade of flashy demonstrations and pilot projects, it’s still unclear if smart city technologies can solve or mitigate the problems cities face. It is clear that technology companies are increasingly taking over administrative and infrastructure responsibilities previously held by governments. If smart cities want to avoid increasing urban inequalities, it is important to look back at the history of cities. Read the full story.

–Jennifer Clark

We can still have nice things

A place for comfort, fun and distraction in these weird times. Have any other ideas? Drop me a line or tweet ’em at me. )

Did anyone hear the story about the nun and the monk that fell in love and were married? No, really!
The Centenarians of Oklahoma sound absolutely fabulous.
An English seaside town canceled its New Year fireworks–to protect a visiting walrus.
Loads of us will set ourselves reading goals this year, but not all of us will stick to them.
Aww. Rats deride pleasure from watching fellow rodents getting tickled.

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