Download: The drama of the origins of Covid and the uncertain future of Tik Tok


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

Newly released information about the coronavirus continues to debate the origin of the virus.

This week saw the resurgence of a debate that has been swirling since the outbreak began—where did the virus that causes Covid-19 come from?

For the most part, scientists expect the virus to have jumped from animal to human at the Wuhan Huanan seafood market sometime in late 2019. But some say the virus jumped from people to animals, rather than the other way around. Around. And many continue to believe that the virus somehow escaped from a nearby laboratory studying the coronavirus on bats.

Data collected in 2020 and kept from public view since then adds weight to the animal theory. It highlights a possible suspect: a raccoon dog. But exactly how much weight you gain depends on who you ask. Read the full story.

-Jessica Hamzelu

This story is from Jessica’s weekly biotech newsletter, The Checkup. sign up To receive it in your inbox every Thursday.

Read more about the MIT Technology Review’s Covid report:

+ Our senior biotech editor Antonio Regalado explores the origins of the coronavirus behind Covid-19 in his five-part podcast series, Curious Coincence.

+ Meet the scientist at the center of the Covid lab leak controversy. Shi Zhenli spent years at the Wuhan Institute of Virology researching coronaviruses in bats. Her career has come under fire as the world tries to understand where Covid-19 came from. Read the full story.

+ This scientist now believes that Covid started in Wuhan wet market. Here’s why. Michael Worobey of the University of Arizona believes that the spread of the virus from animals at the Juan Seafood Market was behind the outbreak. Read the full story.

It should be read

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

1 Tik Tok’s future in America hangs in the balance.
The ban is a big challenge, and the authorities still do not have the legal authority to do so. (WP$)
+ TikTok CEO Xu Zi-chew has been subpoenaed by a congressional committee. (FT$)
+ The company told lawmakers it would gain confidence. (WSJ$)
+ Meanwhile, TikTok paid influencers to travel to DC to advocate for the cause. (wired $)

2 Crypto fugitives arrested in Montenegro
Do Kwon has been on a run since the collapse of TerraUSD stablecoin last year. (WSJ$)
+ Want to withdraw Bitcoin? Get yourself to Texas. (Reuters)
+ What’s next for crypto? (MIT Technology Review)

3 Twitter removes old blue checks
(The Verge)+ on April 1st The platform is still an unattractive prospect for advertisers. (Vox)

4 Chatbots are doing the heavy lifting for us.
ChatGPT specializes in writing scripts for confidential conversations with children and colleagues. (NYT$)
+ OpenAI has given ChatGPT access to live web data. (The Verge)
+ How Character.AI Became a Billion Dollar Unicorn (WSJ$)
+ The inside story of how chatgpt was built from the people who created it. (MIT Technology Review)

5 Jack Dorsey’s block was accused of fraudulent transactions
The payment company denied it and said it had exaggerated its user numbers.(FT $)
+ Dorsey has no history of concern for such matters. (data $)

6 Homeowners associations are secretly installing surveillance systems.
The system monitors the number plates and tracks the movements of residents. (The Intercept)

7 In the insidious ethics of using DNA to solve crimes
A new database helps protect users’ privacy. (string $)|
+ A citizen scientist who found murderers from her bed. (MIT Technology Review)

8 There are many reasons to be optimistic about the climate.
A healthier, more sustainable diet is a great place to start. (Scientific American)
+ We examine our past, present and future climates. (MIT Technology Review)

9 TikTok is visiting us.
We can’t seem to get enough of being angrily told what to do. (Vox)

10. Do not be deceived by deep lies
Caller ID cannot be trusted to protect you from fraudulent AI calls. (Gizmodo)

Quote of the day

“Wait, I need content.”

-Tik Tok fashion creator Kristen Thompson refused to miss an opportunity for content during a trip to the US Capitol to protest the TikTok ban, she told the New York Times.

The big story

This sci-fi blockchain game could help create a metaverse that no one owns.

November 2022

The Dark Forest is a vast universe, most of which is covered in darkness. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to venture into the unknown, avoid being destroyed by opposing players who may be lurking in the dark, and build empires on the planets you find and make them your own.

But while the video game looks and plays like other online strategy games, it does not depend on the servers that run other popular online strategy games. And it could point to something deeper: the possibility of a metaverse that isn’t owned by a single big tech company. Read the full story.

– Mike Orkett

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.)

+ If underwater terror is your thing. Joe Romero It takes some seriously amazing pictures and videos of sharks.
+ Try as he might, Ted Lasso’s British accent falls way short of the mark.
+ Let’s have a good old sneak around some celebrity bedrooms.
+ Why can’t we get those beautiful candles.
+ Interviewing animals with a small microphone, it doesn’t get much better than that.





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