Download: Sam Altman’s Big Longevity Bet, and How CRISPR Is Changing Lives


This is today’s download., Our weekly newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s happening in the world of technology.

Sam Altman invests 180 million dollars in a company that tries to delay death

As a startup called Retro Biosciences eases out of stealth mode in mid-2022, it has announced that it has raised $180 million to bankroll a bold mission: to add 10 years to the average human lifespan.

The business was always vague about where the money came from. Now MIT Technology Reveals that the entire sum was provided by Sam Altman, the 37-year-old startup guru and chief executive investor of OpenAI.

The amount is one of the largest ever invested by a start-up in the pursuit of human longevity, and will fund Retro’s “painful mission” to halt or even reverse aging. Read the full story.

– Antonio Regalado

If you want to read more about OpenAI:

+ Read the inside story of how ChatGPT was built from the people who made it.
+ Sam Altman: This is what I learned from DALL-E 2.

Forget designer babies. Here’s how CRISPR is changing lives

Gene editing is a technology that many people associate with its ethical potential to create designer babies. But that’s a distraction from the real story of how the technology is changing lives with treatments for adults with serious illnesses.

According to data from MIT Technology Review, more than 50 experimental studies are now underway in human volunteers using gene editing to treat diseases ranging from cancer to HIV and blood disorders.

But these first-generation treatments tend to be more expensive and difficult to implement — and could quickly be replaced by next-generation, improved editing drugs. Read the full story.

– Antonio Regalado

How China is taking extreme measures to protect young people from Tik Tok

The American people and the Chinese people have more in common than either side would like to admit. Take the collective risk of how much time children and teenagers spend on Tik Tok (or the Chinese domestic version, Duyin).

Several US senators have called for bills that would limit access to apps like TikTok to underage users. But ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, is no stranger to these questions. In fact, China has been dealing with similar government pressure since at least 2018. Read the full story.

– Zei Yang

Zeyi’s story is from China Report, a weekly newspaper that covers China. sign up To receive it in your inbox every Tuesday.

It should be read

I’ve scoured the internet for the most entertaining/important/scary/amazing stories about technology today.

1 Google developed a powerful chatbot years before ChatGPT.
However, the system has been called out for failing to meet security and fairness standards.(WSJ $)+ How Tech’s AI Obsession Covers Power Abuse (Bloomberg $)
+ In theory, copyright law could discourage creative AI. (in $)
+ ChatGPT is everywhere. Where did it come from? (MIT Technology Review)

2 A pro-Ukraine group may have coordinated the Nord Stream pipeline attack.
But there is no evidence that Ukrainian authorities were involved. (NYT$)
+ Ukraine last year denied any involvement in the attack. (BBC)
+ Here’s how to fix Nord Stream gas faucets. (MIT Technology Review)

3. How the FBI pushed for more powerful facial recognition
It can be used to fuel a vast espionage network. (WP$)
+ Fake CCTV footage is also on the rise. (wired $)
+ South Africa’s private spy machine is fueling digital apartheid. (MIT Technology Review)

4 Crypto Startups Seeking Funding
Times are tougher than ever for the industry’s favorite bank since things went south. (data $)

5 meta large language model released on 4Chan
It is the first model from the original company to leak. (motherboard)
+ Why did Meta’s latest big language model survive online for only three days? (MIT Technology Review)

6 Japan is forced to detonate its own rocket.
The vehicle’s secondary engine failed to ignite during takeoff. (Ars Technica)
+ What’s next in space? (MIT Technology Review)

7 YouTube can’t remove Andrew Tate.
Despite the ban, his misogynistic videos continued to be re-uploaded. (Atlantic $)

8 hidden dangers of the stock economy
Not everyone has the best intentions when it comes to renting anything to strangers. (the guard)

9 viral TikTok drinks that leave a bad taste in your mouth.
Users are making increasingly unusual concoctions to bid for views. (FT$)
+ A porcelain test doesn’t need to be real to get views. (MIT Technology Review)

10 The work phone is coming back.
Partly because companies are infringing on TikTok. (Bloomberg $)

Quote of the day

“I made my own money, on the contrary, I inherited the emerald mine.”

– Haley, a recently fired Twitter employee; It burns back His former boss, Elon Musk, accused Haley of shirking his duties.

The big story

Why can’t technology fix the gender problem?

August 2022

Despite the tech sector’s considerable wealth and vocal corporate commitment to the rights of women, LGBTQ+ people, and ethnic minorities, the industry is largely a straight, white man’s world.

It wasn’t always like this. Software programming was once an entirely female profession. As recently as 1980, women held 70% of programming jobs in Silicon Valley, but the ratio has completely reversed since then. While many factors contribute to the shift, from the education pipeline to the tiresome, persistent fiction of technology as a gender-blind “meritocracy,” none fully explain it. At the core of technology’s gender problem is money. Read the full story.

– Margaret O’Mara

We can still have something good.

A place of comfort, relaxation and distraction in these strange times. (Do you have an idea? Drop me a line Or Tweet at me.)

+ Aw, Dave Grohl cemented his status as the best man in rock.
+ These photos of cheetah cubs and puppies are the cutest things you’ll see today.
+ If you like to poke your nose through the emails of tech executives, This A Twitter account is for you.
+ Actor Jeremy Strong’s 10 Things He Can’t Live Without are normally unbreakable.
+ This story sent shivers down my spine.


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