The Download: what’s next for chips, and climate-tweaking controversy
Today’s edition ofThe Download,Our weekday newsletter provides a daily dose on what’s happening in the world technology.
What’s next in the chip industry?
For semiconductor companies, which are subject to cycles of high and low demand, the year ahead was already looking difficult. The industry was already anticipating a decline in growth, but geopolitics could pose a greater challenge.
The US has placed the most restrictive restrictions ever on the type of chips that can be exported to China in recent months. To encourage US manufacturers to return to the US, it has also provided generous federal subsidies. Similar protectionist policies have been adopted by other governments in Europe, Asia, and elsewhere.
These changes will continue to take place in 2023 and add uncertainty to an industry that has relied on global supply chains and free trade for decades. Here’s what experts believe will happen over the next year. Read the complete story.
Learn more about the MIT Technology Review’s predictions regarding the industries and technologies that will change our lives in our What’s next in tech? series.
One startup claims it has already begun to change the climate
The latest: Make Sunset, a startup, claims that it has launched weather balloons which may have released reflective sulfur particles into the stratosphere. This could potentially break a controversial barrier to solar geoengineering.
Why it’s controversial The theory is that sufficient amounts of sulfur and other particles could be sprayed to reduce global warming. Scientists have avoided this because of the lack of information about the real-world effects of such deliberate interventions.
What’s next: Luke Iseman is the cofounder and CEO at Make Sunsets. He acknowledges that it’s provocative but hopes it will help us to take more drastic steps to stop climate change. Experts in the field believe such efforts are premature and could have the reverse effect. Read the complete story.
What you might have missed during the holidays
Our top 2022 illustrations Our artists’ playful, thought-provoking creations bring our stories alive. Sometimes, images can say more than words. Check out our top picks from last year.
The crypto-code expert who searches for expensive bugs in crypto code. Programming errors on blockchains can result in $100 million being lost in a flash. Ronghui Gu and CertiK, his company, are trying to help. Read the complete story.
This tiny Dutch vehicle is being used by people with disabilities. The Canta, a compact, four-wheeled and two-seat microcar, is unlocking micromobility in the Netherlands. Read the complete story.
The farm’s newest crop? Solar panels. Some crops could benefit from some shade, which could also help to reduce carbon emissions. Read the complete story.
What would true diversity sound to you? Participatory project exploring the linguistic landscape in the US. Read the complete story.
These are the must-reads
I’ve combed the internet to find you today’s most fun/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.
1 How Ukraine crafted a scrappy, digitalized military
It has created a cheaper version of the systems that the Pentagon spent decades developing (and billions of dollar). (WSJ $)
According to Ukraine, it has shot down nearly 500 drones in the last nine months. (The Guardian)
2 Sam Bankman-Fried intends to plead not guilty
If he is found guilty of fraud or conspiracy, the FTX founder could spend up to 115 years behind bars. (Reuters)
China’s zero covid U turn is worsening its social inequalities
Rural youth are less likely to recover from disruptions to their education. (FT $)
Other countries require visitors from China to pass negative covid testing. (Vox)
In rare acts of unity, China’s foreign minister has publicly praised the US. (Bloomberg $)
4 tech startups experienced a terrible 2022
As it stands, 2023 doesn’t look much better. (WSJ $)
Many workers who have been laid off by Big Tech companies are now looking to start their own business. (Reuters)
Here’s a look back at the most embarrassing tech failures of the last 12 months. (Vox)
Five Brazil’s far-right is thriving on Twitter
Just as the country’s new left wing president takes office. (Rest of the World)
We are witnessing the brain death caused by Twitter. (MIT Technology Review)
6China’s generative AI models pose serious problems
The results can be offensive and inaccurate, just like their Western counterparts. (TechCrunch)
How AI-generated text is poisoning internet. (MIT Technology Review)
7The Earth is always creating its own music
A tiny device helps seismologists tune in to its rhythms. (NYT $)
8 The James Webb Space Telescope revolutionized astronomy
It has been especially adept at shedding light onto the lifecycles of stars. (The Verge)
The US military plans to launch a constellation satellites in March. (The Atlantic $)
NASA is on the lookout for potentially dangerous asteroids. (Inverse)
What’s next in Space? (MIT Technology Review)
10 Your nose can be blamed for the cold you can’t shake.
It is harder to fight off bugs in colder temperatures. (Wired $)
Quote of the Day
“It’s mostly scams, memes when it comes down to it.”
–Caroline Ellison is a close friend of FTX founder Sam Bankman Fried and is also facing criminal charges. She reflects on crypto industry in a resurfaced Tumblr posting from March 2022. Washington Post reports.
The big story
Alex Kendall was in a car on a rural road in the British countryside, and he took his hands off of the wheel in 2016. It was a small step towards a new direction that many startups hope will lead to driverless cars becoming a common reality.
It was the first time reinforcement learning, an AI technique that trains a neural system to perform a task through trial and error, had been used to teach a car how to drive on a real road. Kendall claims that the car learned to drive on its own in less than 20 minutes.
These startups believe that cheaper, smarter tech will allow them to overtake market leaders. Is this just more hype from an industry that has been drinking its Kool-Aid for many years? Read the complete story.
–Will Douglas Heaven
There are still nice things we can do
A new year brings new movies. Here These are some of the most important on the horizon.
You could win the lottery It’s like waiting for the bus.
The Architectural Photography Awards shortlist never disappoints.
How to really, truly get it done Relax.
Leonardo da Vinci was more than a Renaissance man. Cat fan, too.
I’m a journalist who specializes in investigative reporting and writing. I have written for the New York Times and other publications.