This is today’s edition of The Download, our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s happening in the tech world.
The AI in charge has a burnout problem
Margaret Mitchell had been working at Google for two years before she realized she needed a break. Only after talking to a therapist did she understand the problem: she was burned. He ended up taking medical leave due to stress.
Mitchell, who now works as an AI researcher and chief ethics scientist at AI startup Hugging Face, is far from alone in her experience. Burnout is increasingly common in responsible AI teams, which are unlikely to receive the same levels of support as colleagues specializing in content moderation, even though the work can be just as psychologically draining.
All the professionals interviewed by MIT Technology Review spoke enthusiastically about their work: it is fueled by passion, a sense of urgency, and the satisfaction of creating solutions for real problems. But that sense of mission can be overwhelming without the right support. Read the whole story.
Will lab-grown meat end up on our plates?
Would you eat lab meat? Many companies have set out to generate meat products from muscle and fat cells grown in vats, around 80 at last count. The promise is huge: it could allow us to reduce intensive animal farming, which can be brutal and inhumane, and avoid the destructive effects of animal agriculture on the environment.
But whether these companies can deliver on that promise is another matter entirely. And even if companies manage to bring a cheap cultured meat product to market, would anyone eat it? Read the whole story.
This story is from The Checkup, Jessica’s new weekly newsletter covering the ins and outs of the biotech and healthcare sectors. Sign up to get it delivered to your inbox every Thursday.
I’ve combed the internet to find you the funniest/important/scary and fascinating stories about technology.
1 Elon Musk has bought Twitter
What happens next is anyone’s guess. (FT$)
+ Musk wasted no time: a number of executives are set to leave. (NOW $)
+ His first instinct was to reassure advertisers. (Variety $)
+ The European Union has reminded Musk to follow its rules. (Bloomberg$)
+ Here’s how to delete your Twitter account. (WP$)
2 Everyone is sick now
The flu and other bugs are back with a vengeance, now we’re mingling again. (Voice)
+ If you’re one of the lucky ones, here’s how to stay healthy. (The Atlantic $)
3 Ethereum is hard to beat
The botched launch of a challenger blockchain shows why. (via cable $)
+ The Merge has given birth to a new class of blockchain participants. (Bloomberg$)
+ Why Is Ethereum’s Proof-of-Stake Exchange Important? (MIT Technology Review)
4 Big Tech feels vulnerable
Its quarterly earnings are down and executives are nervous. (WP$)
+ Even the largest companies are no longer immune to the economic crisis. (NOW $)
5 How the arrest of a Huawei executive worsened relations between the US and China
The prisoner exchange also involved Canada. (WSJ$)
+ New restrictions on exports to China could be on the way. (WP$)
6 The future of online speech could depend on this European law
And force them to review their moderation systems in the process. (Blackboard $)
7 Hydroelectricity has an image problem
It’s efficient and green, why do so few countries want to invest in it? (IEEE spectrum)
+ World leaders will meet next week for COP27. (Economist $)
+ Droughts are cutting off California’s hydroelectric power. (MIT Technology Review)
8 This is what a future beyond animal testing could look like
A proposed US law could push us towards computer-based testing. (Neo.Life)
9 This is how the Iranian authorities are monitoring the phones of the protesters
The SIAM system breaks encryption and delays connections. (The Interception)
10 anime and manga fans rise up against DALL-E
Illustrators aren’t thrilled with text-to-image models either. (Rest of the World)
+ It’s getting harder and harder to tell the difference between AI art and real photographs. (FT$)
+ This artist masters AI-generated art. And he’s not happy about it. (MIT Technology Review)
quote of the day
“The metaverse is ‘living inside a computer.’ The last thing I want to do when I come home from a long day’s work is live inside a computer.”
— Evan Spiegel, who founded Snapchat, has no time for the metaverse, Bloomberg reports.
The great story
Aging clocks aim to predict how long you will live
Age is much more than the number of birthdays you’ve marked. Stress, sleep and diet influence how our organs deal with the wear and tear of everyday life. Factors like these can cause you to age faster or slower than people born on the same day. This means that your biological age could be very different from your chronological age – the number of years you have been alive.
Your biological age is probably a better reflection of your physical health and even your own mortality than your chronological age. But calculating it is not so simple. Scientists have spent the past decade developing tools called aging clocks that assess markers in your body to reveal your biological age.
The big idea behind aging clocks is that they will essentially tell you how much your organs have degraded and therefore predict how many years of health you have left. Among the hundreds of aging clocks developed in the past decade, however, accuracy varies widely. And researchers are still grappling with a vital question: What does it mean to be biologically young? Read the whole story.
We can still have beautiful things
A place for comfort, fun and distraction in these strange times. (Any ideas? Drop me a line ortweet them to me.)
+ Brandi Carlile coming out A case of yours it is simply amazing. What a voice!
+ Are you in touch with your shadow self?
+ Sorry wedding planners, donut walls are cancelled.
+ A lot happens in the new Final Fantasy XVI trailer.
+ Let’s just assume it’s all cake from now on, okay?