This is today’s edition of The Download,our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s happening in the tech world.
These exclusive satellite images show Saudi Arabia’s sci-fi megacity is under way
In early 2021, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced The Line: a “civilized revolution” that would house up to 9 million people in a zero-carbon megacity 170 kilometers long and half a kilometer wide. height but only 200 meters wide. Within its car-free, mirrored walls, residents would move around in underground trains and electric air taxis.
Satellite images of the $500 billion project obtained exclusively by MIT Technology Review show that the line’s massive linear construction is already taking shape. Visit The Line’s location on Google Maps and Google Earth, however, and you’ll see little more than bare rock and sand.
The strange gap in the images raises questions about who has access to the high-resolution satellite technology. And if the biggest urban work on the planet doesn’t appear on Google Maps, what else can’t we see? Read the whole story.
Why do babies sleep so much?
Babies spend much more time sleeping than awake. Scientists still don’t know exactly why, but new technologies are starting to shed a little more light on this mystery, and could help reveal what’s going on inside a newborn’s rapidly developing brain.
During the first few months, babies’ brains are developing connections at a rate of about one million synapses per second. These connections are thought to play a key role in helping babies learn to make sense of the world around them, laying crucial foundations for the rest of their lives. Read the whole story.
This story is from The Checkup, a weekly newsletter from our senior reporter Jessica Hamzelou that brings you the scoop on all things biomedical and biotech. Sign up to get it delivered to your inbox every Thursday.
I’ve combed the internet to find you the funniest/important/scary and fascinating stories about technology.
1 Covid data starts to disappear in China
It is about to enter its deadliest phase of the pandemic. How deadly? We won’t know. (FT$)
+A letter from Foxconn’s founder may have helped convince China’s leaders to abandon zero-covid. (WSJ$)
+The political pivot has been met with relief, but also concern and confusion.(NYT$)
+Here’s what scientists have to say about it. (Nature)
2 AI selfies are everywhere
You can thank the Lensa app and the fact that people aren’t afraid to share how hot it makes them look. (WP$)
+It does, however, generate disturbing NSFW images. Even when the photo is of a child. (via cable $)
+Artificial intelligence is getting better at producing compelling text.(Voice)
+Can you tell a real tweet from one written by an AI?(WSJ$)
3 Americans are approaching climate danger zones
Migration patterns are mostly away from safer areas, towards warmer and drier regions with more forest fires. (via cable $)
+These three charts show who is most to blame for climate change.(MIT Technology Review)
4 Lawsuit claims women were targeted in Twitter layoffs
In engineering positions, 63% of women lost their jobs compared to 48% of men. (NBC)
+Musk’s plan to encrypt Twitter messages appears to be on hold.(Forbes)
+Twitter plans to change the cost of “Twitter Blue” after a dispute with Apple. (The $ info)
+Elon Musk is openly courting a conspiracy-obsessed far-right fan base.(via cable $)
5 CoinDesk’s FTX scoop shot its own parent company in the foot
Ownership structures in crypto are complex and, in this case, a little too cozy for comfort. (The edge)
+Crypto executives exchanged frantic texts as FTX collapsed.(NYT$)
6 Exhausted by the Internet? You are not alone.
It’s starting to feel like a dying mall full of stores you don’t want to visit. (New Yorker $)
+Amazon is launching a TikTok clone. Yes, Amazon. (WP$)
7 The hype around sports is fading
A wider economic downturn is causing backers and investors to flee. (Bloomberg$)
+The FTC is trying to block Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of video game giant Activision Blizzard.(Voice)
8 What causes Alzheimer’s?
A stream of recent findings suggests that it is more complex than the accumulation of amyloid plaques. (Regarding)
+The miracle molecule that could treat brain injuries and boost fading memory.(MIT Technology Review)
9 The global spyware industry has spiraled out of control
And the US is playing both incendiary and firefighter, adopting the very tools it condemns. (NYT$)
+It is difficult to control spyware technology when it is in such high demand by governments around the world.(MIT Technology Review)
10 Xiaomi taught a robot to play drums
However, professional musicians can rest easy for now, if the demo clip is anything to go by. (IEEE spectrum)
quote of the day
“Globalization is almost dead. Free trade is almost dead. And a lot of people would still like to come back, but I really don’t think I’ll be back for a while.”
—Morris Chang, founder of Taiwanese chip giant TSMC, made some strong comments about geopolitics at the launch of a new plant in Arizona this week, Nikkei Asia reports.
The great story
Energy-efficient refrigerators are the future of urban housing
Aging apartments under the purview of the New York City Housing Authority do not scream innovation. The city’s largest landlord, housing nearly 1 in 16 New Yorkers, NYCHA has seen its buildings literally crumble after decades of deferred maintenance and mismanagement. It would take about $40 billion or more, at least $180,000 per unit, to restore the buildings to good repair.
Despite the scale of the challenge, NYCHA hopes to address them. It has launched a Clean Heat for All challenge asking manufacturers to develop low-cost, easy-to-install heat pump technologies for building retrofits. The stakes for the agency, the winning company, and for society itself could be huge and good for the planet.
After all, it is much more sustainable to refurbish existing buildings than to demolish them and build new ones. Read the whole story.
We can still have beautiful things
A place for comfort, fun and distraction in these strange times. (Got any ideas? Drop me a line ortweet them to me.)
+ This Photoshop comic about replacing the sky is really lovely.
+ Father Christmas, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas: you name it, it has a long and illustrious history.
+ How to dress smart, but casual.
+ Cow Butter, anyone?