Download: Amazon’s home defense robot and the violent legacy of covid
This is today’s edition of Download, Our weekday newsletter provides daily coverage of what’s happening in the tech world.
Amazon has a new plan for the Astro home robot: protect your life
News: Yesterday, Amazon announced that its home robot, Astro, will receive a series of major updates aimed at further embedding it in our homes — and in our daily lives.
Details: New features provide more home monitoring. For example, Astro will be able to watch pets and send video feeds of their activities to users. But robots will also be able to roam around the house to monitor rooms and entrances. Amazon also announced a new partnership between Astro and a Ring home security camera system designed to protect areas outside the home from possible break-ins.
Why is it important: Ring’s surveillance approach is not controversial. It’s reasonable to question whether combining Astro’s ability to roam around the house with Ring’s established surveillance system could cause more problems than either product has done in the past few years. their previous iteration or not. Read full story.
The pandemic has created a “perfect storm” for black women at risk of domestic violence
Starr Davis was captivated when she met a handsome stranger with flawless skin and a wide smile in March 2020. He was charming and persistent; But their tumultuous love affair took a big turn when she became pregnant. His aggressive behavior starts to annoy her, but he is the father of her child.
He became physically abusive a few weeks after she moved in with him. He forbade her from setting foot outside, saying it was to protect her and their unborn child from living together. With no close friends or family around to support her, she suffered in silence.
Covid seems to have made things worse for many women experiencing domestic violence. Domestic violence advocates point to a significant increase in calls to shelters and support groups, and many care workers say this increase in domestic violence appears to have disproportionately affects black women like Davis. Read full story.
—Chandra Thomas Whitfield
Podcast: AI gives birth to digital humans
In the latest episode of our podcast, In Machines We Trust, we dive into the world of digital twins: AI-powered clones designed to capture a person’s appearance and expressions real people. But even though the entertainment industry is embracing them, they raise familiar and burning questions about ownership and digital rights. Listen to it on Apple Podcastsor anywhere else you often hear.
Things to read
I scoured the internet to find you today’s most interesting/important/scary/striking stories about tech.
1 Sweden found a new leak in the Nord Stream pipeline
Russia still denies any responsibility for the gas pipeline attack, as the number of known leaks has reached four. (BBC)
+ Finding someone to blame is easier said than done. (Wired $)
+ Methane leak could be biggest ever. (AP News)
+ The country’s technology imports have collapsed under the sanctions. (Insiders $)
+ Russia has been dishonest about the condition of the pipeline for a long time. (Slate $)
2 Biological pancreas could solve one of the biggest challenges of diabetes
One algorithm that takes on the hard work is counting carbohydrates. (MIT Technology Review)
3 Crypto is still in crisis
Senior executives are still leaving the big companies and investors are still wary. (Bloomberg $)
+ Do Kwon, the missing Terraform boss, called the case against him ‘unfair.’ (Bloomberg $)
+ Cryptocurrencies are weathering a fierce storm. Some still hold on to dear lives. (MIT Technology Review)
4 A teenager dies after a telehealth provider prescribes him an antidepressant
The Company does not receive consent from the parents of minors. (WSJ $)
5 Chinese chip manufacturers are under investigation
This is dealing a heavy blow to the industry’s dream of self-sufficiency. (FT $)
+ Corruption is causing shock waves in China’s chip industry. (MIT Technology Review)
+ No spare chips. (Vox)
6 Feeling trapped in a driverless car
The vehicles worked pretty well – until they didn’t. (NYT $)
+ The big new idea of creating self-driving cars that can go anywhere. (MIT Technology Review)
7 How good bacteria can fight malnutrition
Food that rebalances a malnourished microbiome can help children grow. (Economist $)
+ Choanoflagellates are tiny organisms that also contain communities of bacteria. (Atlantic $)
8 tech startups are helping rebuild Bosnia
Their burgeoning businesses want to reverse the brain drain of a nation threatened by war. (The rest of the world)
9 TikTok is making it hard for record executives to spot new musicians
There is a lot of husk to separate from the wheat. (Guardians)
+ A car rental couple tracked their customers on the platform. (Motherboard)
+ Investors are growing weary of the pursuit of TikTok-style social apps. (Information $)
10 CIA is investing in technology to revive mammoths
It uses CRISPR gene editing to generate optimized genetic code. (Interceptor)
Quote of the day
“Everything is possible if you are brave.”
—Katherin Bestandig, a regular at Bam Bam Beach Bitcoin Bar in Lagos, Portugal, describes her bold approach to investing in volatile cryptocurrencies to New York Times.
Why the balance of power in technology is shifting to workers
Something has changed for the tech giants. Even as they continue to hold immense influence in our daily lives, a growing accountability movement has begun to test their power. Largely led by the tech people themselves, a movement to reform the way these companies do business has taken off with unprecedented momentum, especially over the past year.
Of course, concern and anger about the impact of technology companies on the world is nothing new. What has changed is that workers are increasingly organized. Read full story.
We can still have good things
A place for comfort, fun and distraction during these strange times. (Any comments?Drop me a lineortweet ’em with me.)
+ Ever feel like you’re watched?
+ It’s up to you, New York!
+ Forget the gym, all the coolest cats are Pebble these days.
+ Lizzo visits the Library of Congress to play games priceless flute was the serotonin boost I needed today.
+ A helpful reminder that all on LinkedIn is not as it seems (thanks Beth!)