Download: hope for renewable energy and the role of AI in journalism
This is today’s edition of Download, Our weekday newsletter provides daily coverage of what’s happening in the tech world.
We have enough materials to power the world with renewable energy
News: Powering the world with renewable energy will require a lot of raw materials. The good news is, when it comes to aluminum, steel and rare earth metals, there’s a lot to consider, according to a new analysis.
Bigger rewards: While emissions are an inevitable side effect of material extraction, over the next 30 years they will generate less than a year of global emissions from fossil fuels. Experts believe that the initial emissions costs will be more than offset by savings from clean energy technologies that replace fossil fuels.
But there is a downside: While we technically have the materials needed to build renewable energy infrastructure, in practice, extracting and processing them can be a challenge. If we don’t do it responsibly, turning those materials into usable form could result in harm to the environment or violations of human rights. Read full story.
Can ChatGPT do my job?
—Melissa Heikkilä, senior reporter on AI
There has been a lot of discussion lately about whether journalists or copywriters can or should be replaced by AI. So far, newsrooms have pursued very different approaches to integrating the latest tool, ChatGPT, into their work: tech news site CNET has secretly used it to write articles, while BuzzFeed (more transparently) announced plans to use it to generate answers to quizzes.
But here is the dirty secret of journalism: a surprisingly large amount can be automated. That’s not necessarily a bad thing if we can outsource some boring and repetitive parts of the work to AI. The real problems arise when you give the AI too much control. Read full story.
Melissa’s story is from The Checkup, her weekly newsletter that gives you insights into all things AI-related. Register to get it in your inbox every Monday.
I’ve scoured the Internet to find you today’s most interesting/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.
1 Elon Musk wants to turn Twitter into a fintech platform
It’s part of his plan to look beyond advertising to make money. (FT $)+ Ex-Twitter employees don’t know what to do with their old laptop. (Wired $)
+ The company made its first interest payment on its massive debt. (Bloomberg $)
2 Inside FTX’s shady PR influence campaigns
A new profile reveals an undisclosed network of powerful political figures. (intercept)
+ Things got even more messy for the crypto exchange that went down. (NY magazine $)
+ The victims of FTX are still angry. (Atlantic $)
3 US stops allowing companies to export to Huawei
This is just the latest in a series of sanctions related to China. (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 $)
+ Innovative AI is changing everything. But what remains when the hype is gone? (Technology Review MIT)
5 You don’t have to have headphones to enter the metaverse
Our everyday reality is getting closer to astigmatism every day. (Atlantic $)
+ Kpop can help improve the image of the metaverse. (NYT $)
6 celebrity voice deepfakes co-opted to cause racist hate
This sadly feels inevitable. (motherboard)
+ AI voice actors sound more human than ever. (Technology Review MIT)
7 Boeing built the last 747
Once a symbol of accessible travel, it is likely to shift to cargo. (NYT $)
+ A hydrogen-powered plane takes off during a startup’s test flight. (Technology Review MIT)
8 Social media has a dark obsession with being #nice
Is it really a good move if you’re filming for views? (Guard)
9 Spanish-speaking live streamers are hot right now
Twitch is exploding across Latin America, creating new opportunities for gamers. (Bloomberg $)
10 Dogs who love to devour AirTags
Tracking your furry friend isn’t without its dangers. (WSJ $)
Quote of the day
“I can press the red button, close my laptop, and get under the covers in a few hours.”
—Phoebe Gavin, former talent and development executive at news site Vox, reflects on the downsides of being fired via video call rather than face-to-face The Wall Street Journal.
A private security group regularly sends Minnesota police misinformation about protesters
When the US sheriff shot dead a 32-year-old Black man named Winston Boogie Smith Jr. in a Minneapolis garage on June 3, 2021, the city was plunged into a full-blown policy crisis. George Floyd was murdered by a member of the police force the previous May. As protests broke out across the city, the police couldn’t keep up.
Private security teams stepped into the void, hired primarily to prevent damage to property. But organizations often end up managing protest activity—a task typically reserved for the police, and one for which most private security guards have no training.
One company, the Conflict Resolution Group (CRG), regularly provides Minneapolis police with information about activists that is sometimes false and deeply politicized. Read full story.
—Tate Ryan-Mosley & Sam Richards
We can still have good things
A place for comfort, fun and entertainment in these strange times. (Any ideas?Drop me a lineortweet them with me.)
+ This one one page calendar is seriously blowing my mind.
+ I like actors who are rehearsing Shakespeare inside the dark video game Fallout (thanks Will!)
+ Quick—I need an emergency bear photostatistical!
+ Can you believe it? Impressive plants Carved from wood?
+ surrounding melodies very big right now, and I can see why.