This is today’s edition The download, our weekday newsletter that gives a daily dose of what’s going on in the world of technology.
Amazon has a new plan for its home robot Astro: to guard your life
The news: Amazon announced yesterday that its home robot, Astro, will be getting a slew of major updates to further embed it into homes and into our everyday lives.
The details: The new features offer more home monitoring. For example, Astro will be able to view pets and send a video feed of their activities to users. But the robot can also roam the house to keep an eye on rooms and access points. Amazon also announced a new partnership between Astro and the Ring home security camera system designed to protect areas outside the home from potential break-ins.
Why it matters: Ring’s approach to surveillance has not been without controversy. It’s reasonable to wonder if combining Astro’s ability to roam a house with Ring’s established surveillance system could cause even more problems than either product in their previous iterations. Read the full story.
The pandemic created a “perfect storm” for black women at risk of domestic violence
Starr Davis was smitten when she met a handsome stranger with flawless skin and a wide smile in March 2020. He was charming and persistent; but their whirlwind romance took a big turn when she became pregnant. His aggressive behavior started to make her uncomfortable, but he was the father of her child.
He was physically assaulted a few weeks after she moved in with him. He forbade her to set foot outside, saying it was to protect her and their unborn child from covid. With no friends or close family around for support, she suffered in silence.
Covid appears to have made matters worse for many women experiencing domestic violence. Proponents of anti-domestic violence point to a dramatic increase in calls to shelters and support groups, and many health care providers say this increase in domestic violence appears to have disproportionately affected black women like Davis. Read the full story.
—Chandra Thomas Whitfield
Podcast: AI gives birth to digital people
In the latest episode of our podcast, In Machines We Trust, we delve into the world of digital twins: AI-powered replicas designed to capture the physical appearance and expressions of real people. But while the entertainment industry embraces them, they raise familiar, thorny questions about ownership and digital rights. listen to it Apple Podcastsor whatever you usually listen to.
The must reads
I’ve scoured the internet to find today’s funniest/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.
1 Sweden has found a new leak in the Nord Stream pipeline
Russia still denies any responsibility for attacking the gas pipeline as the number of known leaks reaches four. (BBC)
+ Blaming someone is easier said than done. (wired $)
+ The methane leak is probably by far the biggest ever. (AP News)
+ Technology imports into the country have collapsed under sanctions. (Insider $)
+ Russia has not been honest about the state of the pipeline for quite some time. (Slate $)
2 A Bionic Pancreas Could Solve One of Diabetes’s Biggest Challenges
An algorithm takes over the heavy lifting of carbohydrate counting. (MIT Technology Review)
3 Crypto Is Still In A Crisis
Senior executives are still leaving big companies and investors are still wary. (Bloomberg $)
+ Do Kwon, the missing Terraform boss, has called the case against him “unfair.” (Bloomberg $)
+ Crypto is weathering a bitter storm. Some still hold on for the precious life. (MIT Technology Review)
4 A Teen Died After A Telehealth Provider Prescribed Antidepressants
The company did not receive permission from the minor’s parents. (WSJ $)
5 Chinese chipmakers are under investigation
Which deals a heavy blow to the industry’s dreams of self-sufficiency. (FT $)
+ Corruption sends shockwaves through China’s chip industry. (MIT Technology Review)
+ There are no chip reserves. (Vox)
6 What It’s Like To Be Stuck In A Driverless Car
The vehicles work pretty well – until they don’t anymore. (NYT $)
+ The big new idea to make self-driving cars that can go anywhere. (MIT Technology Review)
7 How Good Bacteria Can Fight Malnutrition
Foods that rebalance undernourished microbiomes can help children grow. (Economist $)
+ Choanoflagellates are tiny creatures that also harbor bacterial communities. (The Atlantic Ocean $)
8 Tech Startups Helping Bosnia Rebuild
The emerging companies want to reverse the brain drain of the war-ravaged country. (Rest of the world)
9 TikTok makes it harder for record executives to discover new musicians
There is enough chaff to separate from the wheat. (the guard)
+ A car rental couple follows their customers on the platform. (Motherboard)
+ Investors are getting tired of chasing TikTok-like social apps. (The information $)
10 The CIA Invests In Technology To Bring Mammoths Back To Life
It uses CRISPR gene editing to create optimized genetic code. (intercept)
Quote of the day
“Anything is possible if you are brave.”
—Katherin Bewijs, a regular at the Bam Bam Beach Bitcoin Bar in Lagos, Portugal, describes her bold approach to investing in volatile cryptocurrency for the New York Times.
The big story
Why the balance of power in technology is shifting to employees
Something has changed for tech giants. Even as they continue to exert a huge influence in our daily lives, a growing responsibility movement has begun to curb their power. A movement largely led by tech workers themselves has received unprecedented momentum, especially in the past year.
Concern and anger at the impact of technology companies in the world is, of course, nothing new. What has changed is that employees are becoming more and more organised. Read the full story.
We can still have nice things
+ Ever felt like you are watched?
+ It’s up to you, New York!
+ Forget the gym, the coolest cats are bouldering these days.
+ Lizzo visits the Library of Congress at a . to play priceless flute is the serotonin boost I needed today.
+ A handy reminder that everything is on LinkedIn not as it seems (thanks Beth!)