This is today’s edition of The Download, our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s happening in the tech world.
We have enough materials to feed the world with renewable energy
The news: Powering the world with renewable energy will require a lot of raw materials. The good news is that when it comes to aluminum, steel and rare earth metals, there’s plenty to go around, according to a new analysis.
Biggest Payout: Although emissions are an inevitable side effect of extracting the materials, they add up to less than one year of global fossil fuel emissions over the next 30 years. Experts are confident that the initial cost of emissions will be more than offset by savings from clean energy technologies that replace fossil fuels.
But there is a catch: While we technically have enough of the materials we need to build renewable energy infrastructure, actually extracting and processing them can be challenging. If we don’t do it responsibly, putting these materials into usable form could lead to environmental damage or human rights violations. Read the whole story.
Could ChatGPT do my job?
—Melissa Heikkilä, AI Senior Reporter
There has been a lot of talk lately about whether journalists or editors could or should be replaced by AI. So far, newsrooms have pursued very different approaches to integrating the hottest new tool, ChatGPT, into their work: tech news site CNET secretly used it to write articles, while BuzzFeed (more transparently) announced plans to use it to generate quiz answers.
But here’s journalism’s dirty little secret: A surprisingly large amount could be automated. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing if we can outsource some of the boring and repetitive parts of the job to AI. The real problems arise when you give the AI too much control. Read the whole story.
Melissa’s story is from The Checkup, her weekly newsletter that gives you the inside track on all things AI. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Monday.
I’ve combed the internet to find you the funniest/important/scary and fascinating stories about technology.
1 Elon Musk wants to turn Twitter into a fintech platform
It’s all part of their plan to look beyond advertising to make money. (FT$)+ Old Twitter staff don’t know what to do with their old laptops. (via cable $)
+ The company has made the first interest payment on its massive debt. (Bloomberg$)
2 Inside FTX’s shadowy PR influence campaigns
A new filing reveals an undisclosed network of powerful political figures. (The Interception)
+ Things are getting even messier for the collapsed crypto exchange. (NY Mag$)
+ FTX victims are still furious. (The Atlantic $)
3 The US has stopped allowing companies to export to Huawei
It is just the latest in a series of China-related sanctions. (BBC)
4 The race for AI supremacy is heating up
But whether American or Chinese labs will come out on top is anyone’s guess. (Economist $)
+ Generative AI is changing everything. But what’s left when the hype has worn off? (MIT Technology Review)
5 You don’t necessarily need a headset to enter the metaverse
Our everyday reality is getting closer every day to dystopia. (The Atlantic $)
+ Kpop could help improve the image of the metaverse. (NOW $)
6 deepfakes of celebrity voices have been co-opted to spew racist hate
This, sadly, seemed inevitable. (motherboard)
+ AI voice actors sound more human than ever. (MIT Technology Review)
7 Boeing has made its last 747
Once a symbol of accessible travel, it is likely to end up carrying cargo. (NYT$)
+ Hydrogen-powered planes take off with a startup’s test flight. (MIT Technology Review)
8 Social media has a dark obsession with being #kind
Is it really a good action if you film it to click? (The Guardian)
9 Spanish-speaking live streams are hot right now
Twitch is booming in Latin America, creating new opportunities for gamers. (Bloomberg$)
10 dogs love to swallow AirTags
Tracking your furry friend is not without its dangers. (WSJ$)
quote of the day
“I could push the red button, close my laptop and get under the covers for a couple of hours.”
—Phoebe Gavin, former executive director of talent and development at the news site Vox, reflects on the advantages of being fired over video call rather than in person at the Wall Street Journal.
The great story
A private security group regularly sent misinformation to Minnesota police about protesters
When U.S. Marshals shot and killed a 32-year-old black man named Winston Boogie Smith Jr. in a Minneapolis parking lot on June 3, 2021, the city was already in a full-blown police crisis. George Floyd had been killed by a member of the police the previous May. As protests reignited across the city, the police couldn’t keep up.
Into the void stepped private security groups, hired primarily to prevent property damage. But the organizations often ended up managing protest activity, a task normally reserved for the police and for which most private security guards are not trained.
One company, Conflict Resolution Group (CRG), regularly provided Minneapolis police with information about activists that was sometimes false and deeply politicized. Read the whole story.
—Tate Ryan-Mosley and Sam Richards
We can still have beautiful things
A place for comfort, fun and distraction in these strange times. (Got ideas? Drop me a line or tweet them to me.)
+ This one page calendar seriously blows my mind.
+ I love that actors rehearse Shakespeare within the dystopian video game Fallout (thanks Will!)
+ Quick: I need an emergency photo of a bearstate!
+ Can you believe that these impressive plants are carved from wood?
+ Ambient tunes are massive right now, and I can see why.