The Download: Twitter’s decline, and explaining fusion

The Download: Twitter’s decline, and explaining fusion thumbnail

This is today’s edition of The Download, our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s going on in the world of technology.

We’re witnessing the brain death of Twitter

The state of Twitter since Elon Musk’s takeover feels like a brain death: the processes that keep it online are somehow still beating, but what Twitter was before Musk is never coming back.

In recent weeks Twitter has dissolved its Trust and Safety Council, and welcomed back previously-banned high-profile extremists, far-right personalities, covid deniers, and other figures. Advertisers are also leaving in droves because Musk’s passion for the platform and his desire to eliminate jobs, cut costs, undo Twitter’s safety infrastructure have caused them to abandon their vision.

MIT Technology Review conducted an analysis in Hoaxy. This tool was created by Indiana University to track how information spreads via Twitter. It looks at keyword frequency and interactions among individual accounts. These results suggest that Musk is now a hall monitor for far right parties, putting himself at the centre of problematic conversations that were previously kept to the margins. Read the complete story .

–Abby Ohlheiser

What you really need to know about that fusion news

There has been a fusion breakthrough. This is not true. Although researchers have been claiming that it could be used to create unlimited clean energy for decades, they have never been able to prove their claims.

A national lab achieved a major research milestone earlier this week. It finally ran a reaction that released more energy than the lasers used to create it. Here are the reasons why this announcement is important, what it means and what you should learn from it. Read the complete story .

–Casey Crownhart

Casey’s story is from The Spark, her weekly newsletter covering climate and energy. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Wednesday.

Podcast: Optimizing for convenience

We’re in the middle of another major disruption in retail–one that’s been accelerated by the pandemic, and looks to take the convenience of e-commerce and apply it to physical environments. This episode examines how AI is at its core. Listen to it on Apple Podcasts, or wherever else you usually listen.

The must-reads

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

1 FTX’s lawyers say they ‘do not trust’ the Bahamian government
They claim the authorities could try to siphon digital assets from the collapsed crypto exchange. (Reuters)
Bahamian regulators were tipped off by an FTX associate. (FT $)
Sam Bankman-Fried always said he was pro-regulation. He might get his wish . (The Atlantic $)

2 Twitter has suspended accounts dedicated to tracking private jets
Including one that tracks Elon Musk’s own plane. (Bloomberg $)
Twitter’s changed its policy to bar users sharing a person’s “live” location. (The Intercept)
Musk is selling off billions of Tesla shares–again. (The Verge)

3 Russia is rapidly running out of ammunition in Ukraine
Its military will soon be reduced to using Cold War supplies, according to the Pentagon. (Motherboard)
Iran-made drones have been shot down over Kiev. (The Guardian)
The war will only get worse for Russia. (FT $)
GPS signals are being disrupted in the country’s cities, too. (Wired $)

4 A group of influencers have been charged with securities fraud
US authorities claim they manipulated stock prices through Twitter and Discord. (NBC News)
The seven men earned around $100 million through the “pump and dump” scheme. (Motherboard)

5 The golden age of mobile gaming is over
Revenues are set to fall for the first time ever. (FT $)
It’s been a tough year for tech, overall. (Economist $)

6 Lab-grown seafood is on the horizon
But unlike the majority of cultivated meat, lab-grown seafood will replicate pricey cuts. (Vox)
Microplastics are filtering into plankton. (Slate $)
Will lab-grown meat reach our plates? (MIT Technology Review)

7 Quantum computing is locked in a two-horse race
Both China and the US appear to think the other is in the lead, actually. (New Yorker $)
Quantum computing has a hype problem. (MIT Technology Review)

8 We’re getting closer to finding more dark matter
We still don’t know what it’s made of, though. (Wired $)

9 How Pokemon upped its fashion game
Designer threads are a must for wannabe trainers. (NPR)

10 Take a trip around the world’s tech markets
From smartphone repairs to karaoke mics, there’s something for everyone. (Rest of World)

Quote of the day

“He has become this pied piper for otherwise serious people…it feels in Silicon Valley like after Trump was elected and families got a little riven. “

–Alex Stamos, Facebook’s former chief information security officer, describes how Elon Musk has divided friendships among California’s tech workers during an appearance on the Dead Cat podcast, Insider reports.

The big story

The metaverse is a new word for an old idea

February 2022

In less than a year, the metaverse graduated from a niche term to a household name. Its metamorphosis began in July 2021, when Facebook announced that it would dedicate the next decade to bringing the metaverse to life: an immersive, rich digital world combining aspects of social media, online gaming, and augmented and virtual reality.

But we would be remiss if we didn’t take a step back to ask, not what the metaverse is or who will make it, but where it comes from. The history of a technology or the ideas it represents can reveal potential pitfalls or lessons learned and provide insight into the lives of those who have learned them. The metaverse, which is not as new as it seems, is no exception. Read the full story.

–Genevieve Bell

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. )

The Dutch approach to “total football” seems to be a great way to nurture a curious mind.
Radiooooo is an amazing website that dips into music from any country, any decade.
Beer is big business these days. This is all you need to know about beer slang to be able to communicate clearly with others at bars.
It is not easy to build a gingerbread house that is structurally sound. Here’s some tips to get you started.
Why some video games just get better with age.

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