The Download

What's up in emerging technology

Yesterday Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook has been sharing user data with Stanford to study US inequality

The social network is working with economists to throw light on America’s widening income gap.

The news:  Politico reports that Facebook is sharing data with Stanford economist Raj Chetty and his researchers. Facebook confirmed the partnership to Politico… Read more

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  • Facebook

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Pyongyang, North Korea

North Korea’s hacking abilities are even stronger than we thought

Pyongyang has a surprisingly powerful cyber-espionage team at its disposal, according to a new report.

The news: Security researchers at FireEye have published research describing a hacking group called APT37, or Reaper. FireEye says that there is “high… Read more

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  • (stephan) | Flickr

Editor's Pick

“We’re in a diversity crisis”: cofounder of Black in AI on what’s poisoning algorithms in our lives

Artificial intelligence is an increasingly seamless part of our everyday lives, present in everything from web searches to social media to home assistants like Alexa. But what do we do if this massively important technology is unintentionally, but fundamentally,...

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Yesterday The foreman for a mining company holds up a fragment of cobalt in Mpaza.

Our love of batteries is powering a boom in exploitative cobalt mines

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, some mines known to use child labor are benefiting from the electrification of our economy.

Backstory: The world wants lithium-ion batteries. But one of their key ingredients, cobalt, is in short supply. That makes… Read more

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  • Trocaire | Flickr

This video game wants to be a fake-news vaccine

By building up pretend propaganda empires, can we learn how news is weaponized against us?

The game: Players of the new video game Bad News, which has been built by a team of academics and journalists, must win social-media fans, bend the truth, and… Read more

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  • Bad News
February 19, 2018 Falcon Heavy

SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket could help humans mine more asteroids

The world’s most powerful rocket may be good for more commercial missions than Mars supply trips. One astronomer says it could open access to lots of asteroids on which humans could strike it rich mining metals.

Backstory: Earlier this month, SpaceX… Read more

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  • SpaceX

Elon Musk’s Boring Company will start digging a tunnel in Washington, DC

Permission to excavate in the city could be a first step to building an East Coast Hyperloop—or just an expensive folly.

Backstory: Last July, Musk announced “verbal government approval” for an underground Hyperloop between New York City and Washington,… Read more

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  • Boring Company

Editor's Pick

Missing the Paris climate target by just a little means raising the odds of extreme weather by a lot

While the lofty goal of the landmark Paris climate agreement was to prevent global temperatures from rising 2 °C, it’s increasingly unlikely the world will pull that off (see “Global warming’s worst-case projections look increasingly likely”).


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February 19, 2018 Mark Zuckerberg

Russian meddling charges stoke fear that midterms will bring more of the same

Indictments against Russia reveal the nation’s skills at creating chaos online, and it’s unclear if Big Tech can yet fight off another onslaught.

David vs. Goliath: On one hand, 13 Russian nationals charged with inflicting “information warfare” on America.… Read more

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  • Facebook
Sheep-human chimeras won't provide big benefits just yet.

Human-sheep chimeras won’t grow us replacement organs just yet

Researchers say they've grown sheep embryos containing human cells—but the benefits that the work could bring are still a way off.

The news: Scientists report that they've fused human stem cells into sheep embryos, and grown the resulting "chimeras"… Read more

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  • Megan Johnston