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.
Why the sci-fi dream of cryonics never died
When Aaron Drake flew from Arizona to the Yinfeng Biological Group in China in 2016, he traveled there to guide China’s first forays into cryonics or the freezing of corpses for resuscitation.
Drake had spent the past seven years working as the medical response director for the Alcor Life Extension Foundation, a small nonprofit that had managed to become the longtime leader in cryonics, freezing the bodies and brains of its members, with the idea of one day bring it back to life, since 1976.
The foundation, and cryonics in general, had long survived beyond mainstream adoption. But it’s Yinfeng’s recent involvement that signals something of a new era for cryonics.
With impressive funding, government support, and scientific staff, it is one of the few new labs focused on increasing the appeal of cryonics to consumers and retrying to give credibility to the long-disputed theory of human resuscitation. Yet the field remains rooted in belief rather than any real evidence that it works. Read the full story.
This piece is from our upcoming mortality themed issue, available October 26. If you want to read it when it comes out, you can subscribe to MIT Technology Review for just $80 a year.
Are rats with human brain cells still just rats?
This week my colleague Jessica Hamzelou wrote about a fascinating experiment in which human brain cells were implanted into the brains of rats. The brain cells of both species were able to form connections and work together. The human cells became part of the rats’ brains.
A few months after they were implanted, the human cells made up about one-sixth of the rats’ brains and appeared to play a role in controlling the animals’ behavior. That begs the tricky question: are these animals still 100% rat? Read the full story.
Jessica’s story comes from The Checkup, her weekly newsletter on all things biotech and health. Sign Up to get it in your inbox every Thursday.
This week, MIT Technology Review held its inaugural ClimateTech conference on climate change technology solutions – a big thank you to everyone who attended in person or online!
If you missed it, catch up on all the top news and announcements via our live blog covering day one and day two of the conference.
The must reads
I’ve scoured the internet to find today’s funniest/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.1 China Prepares For Its Historic Communist Party Congress
A third term for President Xi Jinping is almost certain. (Economist $)
+ Congress is an opportunity for Xi to reaffirm his control. (FT $)
+ All 23,000 senior party members will attend the meeting. (the guard)
+ Douying, Tiktok’s Chinese sister app, silences Cantonese speakers. (Rest of the world)
2 Not Everyone In California Can Afford Electric Vehicles
They’re expensive, and the state’s push for EVs threatens to overlook lower income earners. (the guard)
+ Even the US Secretary of Transportation recognizes the obstacles. (recode)
+ The US only has 6,000 fast charging stations for EVs. (MIT Technology Review)
3 Turkey passed a flawed “disinformation law” ahead of the elections
Which is handy enough to limit the criticism of his president Erdoğan. (FT $)
+ The European Parliament has accused Big Tech of covert lobbying. (Bloomberg $)
4 Food is getting more expensive
Supply problems and higher gas prices are just some of the reasons why. (Vox)
+ Rising food prices have contributed to those skyrocketing inflation rates. (New Yorker $)
5 An AI plans to run for election in Denmark
The Synthetic Party, which is led by an AI, claims to represent the values of “non-voting Danes”. (Motherboard)
6 Gamers Are The Perfect Target For Cyber Criminals
Younger players are especially vulnerable to the advances of fraudsters. (NYT $)
7 ads on Netflix arriving next month
The company is desperate to attract new customers after months of users canceling their subscriptions. (WSJ $)
8 Intense heat therapy isn’t just for elite athletes
Carefully controlled exposure to heat can also prevent cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. (Neo.Life)
9 Your Restaurant Server Hates Your Menu Hacks
And apps make it easier than ever to order elaborate concoctions anonymously. (Eater)
10 Surely there are no legs in the metavers
Hard to believe, I know, but Meta misled us. (Kotaku)
+ Meta is desperately trying to make the metaverse come true. (MIT Technology Review)
Quote of the day
“There will often be one or two people running around like crazy, or doing something like making a huge cartoon of a cat.”
—Antti Innanen, chief executive of Dot, a Finnish legal design consultancy, explains the pitfalls of trying to grab people’s attention while delivering seminars in the metaverse of the Financial times.
We can still have nice things
+ Hey, it’s not like that the next line of the song go!
+ The one and only Patti Smith is releasing a book next month — and it’s inspired by, er, Instagram.
+ This sunlit waterfall comes straight from House of the Dragon.
+ If you’re ever in London, it’s a good thing you indulge a little pub.
+ We tend to be attracted to the familiar when it comes to an end, and that’s okay.