The Download: the mortality issue, and America’s new favorite shopping app
The latest issue of MIT Technology Review examines what death means to us in 2022, digging into why some people are still dedicating their lives to kicking against it, while others are developing their own coping mechanisms for grief. Here are some of the latest stories from the edition. They will get you thinking about the next chapter.
- Charlotte, a colleague, wrote a beautiful about creating digital clones (or digital copies) of her parents. This gives you a glimpse at what it might be like to speak to the dead. Would you consider doing the same for your family members?
- If you’ve ever wondered about what happens to your body when you donate it to science, wonder no more.
- Just because AI can make life-and-death decisions, doesn’t necessarily mean we should allow it to.
- Why the impossible-seeming dream of reviving frozen human bodies using cryonics refuses to die.
- Should we believe in–or even want–immortality?
- In an age when everything is being recorded, even knowledge has a lifespan.
- Are electric vehicles really the solution to the climate crisis they’re being touted as?
- Technology used to be something to get excited about. When did it become something to dread?
Read the full magazine, and if you haven’t already, you can subscribe to MIT Technology Review for as little as $80 a year.
The biggest shopping app in America that you’ve never heard of
A new Chinese e-commerce platform is quietly growing but it’s not slowing down. It’s called Temu. And on October 17, it became the most downloaded shopping app in the United States, beating off competition from Amazon, Walmart, and its Chinese competitor Shein.
If your immediate response is What? I have never heard of Temu! , you’re in good company. Although the app is not well-known, it represents another high-profile attempt by another Chinese tech giant to enter the American ecommerce market. How did Temu climb to the top of iOS App Store’s shopping charts? Read the full story.
Zeyi’s story is from China Report, his new weekly newsletter filling you in on all the latest happenings in China. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Tuesday.
I’ve combed the internet to find you today’s most fun/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.
1 Conspiracy theorists have seized upon Russia’s “dirty bomb” claims
Despite there being no evidence for its existence. (NYT $)
Russia’s presentation on the so-called dirty bomb contained 9/11 footage. (Motherboard)
The war in Ukraine is dragging us back to a bloodier age. (Economist $)
2 Celebrity deepfakes are advertising’s next frontier
The companies behind them think the guaranteed attention is worth the potential legal repercussions. (WSJ $)
Inside the strange new world of being a deepfake actor. (MIT Technology Review)
3 Twitter’s most active users are turning their back on it
And its staff aren’t entirely sure why. (Reuters)
Twitter has been ever madder than usual over the past week. (Motherboard)
Elon Musk is optimistic he can close his deal by Friday. (Reuters)
Why Twitter still has those terrible Trends. (MIT Technology Review)
4 US election officials are swamped with public records requests
It’s all thanks to one man in Florida. (Bloomberg $)
5 Climate activists are suing governments
They claim that authorities’ inaction to protect nature has harmed their constitutional rights. (Hakai Magazine)
Nature-based solutions can help to mitigate the climate crisis’ effects. (CNET)
Climate action is gaining momentum. The disasters are also increasing in number. (MIT Technology Review)
6 Tech’s unicorns are becoming rarer again
Investors aren’t giving up hope, though. (WP $)
Some venture capital funds are going after narwhals instead. (Bloomberg $)
7 Sexually transmitted infections are rising in the US
Doctors are holding off prescribing a pill specifically designed to combat them, though. (Vox)
8 The pandemic proved it was possible to conduct good science quickly
Greater transparency around research could help to carry it on. (Wired $)
Is a covid and flu “twindemic” on the horizon? (MIT Technology Review)
9 NASA’s major UFO investigation has begun
Maybe the truth really is out there. (Motherboard)
Radiation-resistant bacteria could survive on Mars for millions of years. (New Scientist $)
10 Singapore’s politicians are TikTok superstars
Their clips are met with almost unprecedented positivity. (Rest of World)
Quote of the day
“It’s not good, it’s not fun.”
–Palmer Luckey, who founded Oculus VR, is not a fan of Meta’s VR social app Horizon Worlds, Insider reports.
The big story
This is how AI bias really happens–and why it’s so hard to fix
If we want to be able to fix bias in AI, we need to understand the mechanics of how it arises in the first place.
We often shorthand our explanation of AI bias by blaming it on biased training data, but the reality is more nuanced. Biases can sneak in well before data is collected, as well as at various stages of deep-learning. This can be extremely difficult to fix. Read the full story.
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. )
Animals really do do the funniest things (thanks Charlotte! )
Men, would you dare to bare in a backless suit?
Well, this small wooden ball rolling down a colossal xylophone in a Japanese forest has made everything better.
I had no idea a magnified ant face would be such nightmare fodder.
Dare you visit this spooky Italian ghost town?
I’m a journalist who specializes in investigative reporting and writing. I have written for the New York Times and other publications.