The Download: covid’s origin drama, and TikTok’s unsure future

The Download: covid’s origin drama, and TikTok’s unsure future

This is at this time’s version of The Download, our weekday e-newsletter that gives a each day dose of what’s happening on this planet of expertise.

Newly-revealed coronavirus information has reignited a debate over the virus’s origins

This week, we’ve seen the resurgence of a debate that has been swirling for the reason that begin of the pandemic—the place did the virus that causes covid-19 come from?

For probably the most half, scientists have maintained that the virus in all probability jumped from an animal to a human on the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan sooner or later in late 2019. But some declare that the virus leaped from people to animals, fairly than the opposite method round. And many proceed to say that the virus someway leaked from a close-by laboratory that was finding out coronaviruses in bats.  

Data collected in 2020—and saved from public view since then—doubtlessly provides weight to the animal principle. It highlights a possible suspect: the raccoon canine. But precisely how a lot weight it provides is dependent upon who you ask. Read the full story.

—Jessica Hamzelou

This story is from The Checkup, Jessica’s weekly biotech e-newsletter. Sign up to obtain it in your inbox each Thursday.

Read extra of MIT Technology Review’s covid reporting:

  • Our senior biotech editor Antonio Regalado investigated the origins of the coronavirus behind covid-19 in his five-part podcast collection Curious Coincidence.

    + Meet the scientist on the heart of the covid lab leak controversy. Shi Zhengli has spent years on the Wuhan Institute of Virology researching coronaviruses that dwell in bats. Her work has come underneath hearth because the world tries to know the place covid-19 got here from. Read the full story.

  • This scientist now believes covid began in Wuhan’s moist market. Here’s why. Michael Worobey of the University of Arizona, believes {that a} spillover of the virus from animals on the Huanan Seafood market was virtually actually behind the origin of the pandemic. Read the full story.


p class=”has-medium-font-size”>The must-reads

I’ve combed the web to search out you at this time’s most enjoyable/vital/scary/fascinating tales about expertise.

1 TikTok’s future within the US is hanging within the stability
Banning it’s a colossal problem, and officers nonetheless lack the authorized authority to take action. (WP $)
+ TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew was grilled by a congressional committee. (FT $)
+ He advised lawmakers the corporate would earn their belief. (WSJ $)
+ Meanwhile, TikTok paid for influencers to journey to DC to foyer its trigger. (Wired $)

2 A crypto fugitive has been arrested in Montenegro
Do Kwon has been on the run since TerraUSD stablecoin collapsed final yr. (WSJ $)
+ Want to mine Bitcoin? Get your self to Texas. (Reuters)
+ What’s subsequent for crypto. (MIT Technology Review)

3 Twitter’s eliminating its legacy blue checks
On the totally severe date of April 1. (The Verge)+ The platform’s nonetheless an unattractive prospect for advertisers. (Vox)

4 Chatbots are having robust conversations for us
ChatGPT is adept at writing scripts for delicate talks with youngsters and colleagues. (NYT $)
+ OpenAI has given ChatGPT entry to the net’s dwell information. (The Verge)
+ How Character.AI grew to become a billion-dollar unicorn. (WSJ $)
+ The inside story of how ChatGPT was constructed from the individuals who made it. (MIT Technology Review)

5 Jack Dorsey’s Block has been accused of fraudulent transactions
The funds firm denied it, and claims it inflated its customers numbers, too.(FT $)
+ Dorsey doesn’t have a monitor document of caring about this type of factor. (The Information $)

6 Homeowners associations are secretly putting in surveillance programs
The system tracks license plates and follows residents’ actions. (The Intercept)

7 Inside the difficult ethics of utilizing DNA to unravel crimes
A brand new database may assist to guard customers’ privateness. (Wired $)|
+ The citizen scientist who finds killers from her sofa. (MIT Technology Review)

8 There’s loads of causes to be optimistic concerning the local weather
Healthier, extra sustainable diets are a great place to begin. (Scientific American)
+ Taking inventory of our local weather previous, current, and future. (MIT Technology Review)

9 TikTok retains hectoring us
It appears we simply can’t get sufficient of being aggressively advised what to do. (Vox)

10 Don’t get scammed by a deepfake
CallerID can’t be trusted to guard you from rogue AI calls. (Gizmodo)


p class=”has-medium-font-size”>Quote of the day

“Wait, I would like content material.”

—TikTok style creator Kristine Thompson refuses to overlook a content material alternative throughout a visit to the US Capitol to foyer towards a possible TikTok ban, she tells the New York Times.

The massive story

This sci-fi blockchain sport may assist create a metaverse that nobody owns

November 2022

Dark Forest is an enormous universe, and most of it’s shrouded in darkness. Your mission, do you have to select to simply accept it, is to enterprise into the unknown, keep away from being destroyed by opposing gamers who could also be lurking at nighttime, and construct an empire of the planets you uncover and may make your individual.

But whereas the online game seemingly appears to be like and performs very like different on-line technique video games, it doesn’t depend on the servers working different common on-line technique video games. And it could level to one thing much more profound: the opportunity of a metaverse that isn’t owned by a giant tech firm. Read the full story.

—Mike Orcutt

We can nonetheless have good issues

A spot for consolation, enjoyable and distraction in these bizarre instances. (Got any concepts? Drop me a line or tweet ’em at me.)

  • If underwater terrors are your factor, Joe Romiero takes some critically spectacular shark footage and movies.
    + Try as it’d, Ted Lasso’s British dialog falls broad of the mark.
    + Let’s have a great previous snoop round some celebrities’ bedrooms.
    + Why we will’t get sufficient of these fancy candles.
    + Interviewing animals with a tiny microphone, it doesn’t get significantly better than that.



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