This is today’s download., Our weekly newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s happening in the world of technology.
The three-parent baby system may put babies at risk of serious illness.
The first baby born using the controversial procedure had three genetic parents when he was born in 2016. The baby boy inherited most of his DNA from his mother and father, but a small amount from a third person.
The idea was to prevent the child from inheriting a deadly disease. His mother carried genes for the disease in the mitochondria. Altering these genes from a donor-third genetic parent can prevent the child from developing. The strategy seems to be working.
But it may not always be successful. MIT Technology Review shows two cases of babies conceived with the procedure that scientists call “reversals.” In both cases, the amount of mitochondrial genes from the child’s mother increased over time, from less than 1% in both fetuses to around 50% in one child and 72% in the other.
Fortunately, both children were born without the genes for mitochondrial disease. But the scientists behind the work believe that about one in three babies born with the three-parent technique may inherit their mothers’ mitochondrial genes.
For babies born to people with disease-causing mutations, this can spell disaster—leaving them with devastating and deadly diseases. Read the full story.
Researchers launched a solar geoengineering test flight in the UK last year.
Last September, researchers in England released a high-altitude weather balloon that released a few hundred grams of sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere, which could be scientific in the field of solar geoengineering, MIT Technology Review reports.
In theory, spraying sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere would reflect more sunlight into space to mitigate global warming, mimicking the cooling effect that occurs after major volcanic eruptions. Concerns about potential unintended consequences, along with other issues, are highly controversial.
But the UK effort was not a geoengineering experiment. Instead, the stated goal was to evaluate a low-cost, controllable, renewable balloon system. There are those who are concerned that the effort went ahead without a broad public announcement and without prior cooperation. Read the full story.
– James Temple
The 11th Breakthrough Technology Flight of 2023 began
It’s official—after more than a month of open voting, hydrogen airplanes are the readers’ choice for the 11th item on the 2023 Breakthrough Technologies list.
There is also some interesting news about hydrogen planes this week. Startup Universal Hydrogen is planning a test flight today. If all goes according to plan, it will be the largest aircraft powered by hydrogen fuel cells.
But even if the test flight is successful, there is still a long way to go before cargo or passengers can take off on a hydrogen-powered plane. Read the full story.
– Casey Crownheart
Casey’s story is from Spark, a weekly climate change and energy newsletter. sign up To receive it in your inbox every Wednesday.
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It should be read
I’ve scoured the internet for the most entertaining/important/scary/amazing stories about technology today.
1 OpenAI wants to make AI smarter than humans
Rushing to build such models, however, does not make ethicists exactly confident. (Vox)
+ AI-powered search is getting messy. (Slate$)
+ Chatbots are not human, and it’s good to remember that. (NY Mag $)
+ According to CEO Meera Murathi, OpenAI can do with a little boost. (Fast Company $)
+ How to create, release and share creative AI responsibly. (MIT Technology Review)
2 The hunt for green graphite is on.
It’s essential for EV batteries, and supplies are dwindling. (Economist $)
+ A village in India is trapped in a lithium mine. (Wired $)
3 Twitter is being stretched to breaking point.
It’s running on a skeleton staff, and crashes and outages are on the rise. (WSJ$)
+ Just yesterday it had a major outage. (BBC)
+ Twitter is becoming a very boring place to be. (FT$)
+ What Happened to Elon Musk’s Plan to Switch to “All Apps”? (Ars Technica)
+ Here’s how a Twitter engineer says he’ll break it. (MIT Technology Review)
4 of NASA’s SpaceX crew are on their way to the ISS.
They are expected to spend a full year in orbit. (CBS News)
5 Psychedelics are being tested as treatments for anorexia.
Scientists are looking carefully at how derealization can benefit patients. (FT$)
+ The UK opened its first psychedelic treatment clinic. (deputy)
+ Psychedelics are having a moment and women can benefit. (MIT Technology Review)
6 TikTok’s screen time limit has been easily manipulated for young people.
But the company insists that it is still a meaningful intervention. (NPR)
7 Turkey shut down its most popular social platform.
Residents used Ekishi Sozluk to organize relief efforts in the wake of the earthquake. (the guard)
8 How greenwashing finally fell out of fashion
Financial regulation makes it very difficult to eliminate it completely. (Atlantic $)
9 AI is what art teaches us about real art.
There are no memories or life experiences behind the AI pictures, for one. (New York Dollar)
+ This artist is mastering AI-generated art. And he is not happy about it. (MIT Technology Review)
10. How Xerox Alto changed the world
The 50-year-old computer paved the way for modern laptops. (IEEE Spectrum)
Quote of the day
“If you enjoy your ride, please don’t forget to give it five stars.”
— SpaceX’s mission control manager jokes with crew aboard the Falcon 9 rocket en route to the International Space Station, Reuters reports.
The big story
We’re getting a better understanding of AI’s true carbon footprint.
Large language models have a dirty secret: they require huge amounts of energy to train and run. But how big the carbon footprints of these models are is still a bit of a mystery. But AI startup Hug Face believes he has come up with a new, accurate way to calculate it.
The startup’s work could be a step toward getting more concrete information from tech companies about the carbon footprint of their AI products — and it comes as experts are calling for the sector to do a better job of assessing AI’s environmental impact. Read the full story.
– Melissa Heikkila
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.)
+ TDcore is one Tiktok trend that pays off if tiring.
+ Giant armadillos are beautiful—and endangered.
+ This is exciting: Turkish baklava makers are back in business after the devastating earthquake.
+ I love these recipes for entertaining at home: Make my Horseshoe Vodka Bloody Mary.
+ The internet has a lot of ideas about the newly announced Lord of the Rings movies.