The Download: risks to Reddit, and the potential return of the dodo

This is today’s edition of Download, Our weekday newsletter provides daily coverage of what’s happening in the tech world.

How the Supreme Court ruling on Section 230 could end Reddit as we know it

When the Supreme Court hears a landmark Section 230 case in late February, all eyes will be on the biggest players in tech—Meta, Google, Twitter, YouTube.

Where there can be a wide range of outcomes. One of the possible consequences is that these companies may be forced to change their approach to community content moderation.

Many websites rely on users to moderate the community to edit, shape, delete, and promote other users’ content online—think Reddit’s upvotes or changes to the Wikipedia page. If those users are forced to take legal risks every time they make decisions about content, experts warn that could have dire consequences for online speech communities. Read full story.

—Tate Ryan-Mosley

A destruction company is trying to revive the dodo

News: The dodo was large, flightless, and also quite tasty—all of which help explain why it went extinct around 1662. Now, a US biotech company says it has The plan to bring the dodo bird back to life.

Why dodo? This is the third species selected by Colossal Biosciences, Austin, Texas, for what they call a technological “de-extinction”. The company is also working on using large-scale genomics engineering to turn modern elephants back into mammoths and revive the Tasmanian tiger.

How are they doing it? The company recovered detailed DNA information from a 500-year-old dodo carcass kept at a museum in Denmark. It plans to try to modify the bird’s closest relative, the Nicobar pigeon, gradually turning it into a dodo and possibly “re-wilding” the animal in its natural habitat. The problem is that while bird cell genes can be easily edited in the lab, it’s very difficult to turn carefully edited cells back into a bird. Read full story.

—Antonio Regalado

Who will become a tech entrepreneur in China?

We are living in an era where the concept of entrepreneurship is expanding. It is often difficult to fit jobs — hosting a podcast, driving for Uber, even having an OnlyFans account — into traditional definitions of employment versus entrepreneurship.

Of course, this is not a purely Western phenomenon; it is happening all over the world. And in China, it is also changing the way people work — but with its own twists and turns.

Our China correspondent Zeyi Yang spoke with author Lin Zhang about her new book that explores the rise and social impact of Chinese people who have (at least temporarily) succeeded with as an entrepreneur. Read full story.

This story is from China Report, Zeyi’s weekly newsletter that covers all the latest news from China. Register to get it in your inbox every Tuesday.

Must read

I’ve scoured the Internet to find you today’s most interesting/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.

1 OpenAI released an AI-generated text detection engine
Unfortunately, it’s not very good. (WSJ $)
+ This tool returns a lot of false positives and false negatives. (axis)
+ It only correctly identified 26% of AI-written text. (Bloomberg $)
+ What the human brain can teach us about AI (Atlantic $)
+ Google appears to be testing its own ChatGPT competitors. (CNBC)
+ Watermark for chatbot that can display text written by AI. (Technology Review MIT)

2 The US defense industry struggled to arm Ukraine
Its supply chain is straining under the sheer demand for weapons. (FT $)
+ How Russia is surreptitiously bypassing oil sanctions (economist $)

3 Elon Musk’s Twitter feed is an echo chamber
Despite his insistence that broader platforms should be more open and diverse. (NYT $)
+ Twitter isn’t happy with the cost of private jets. (Bloomberg $)
+ We are witnessing the brain death of Twitter. (Technology Review MIT)

4 A streamer was caught watching a colleague’s deepfake porn
Non-consensual videos show the dangers of technology. (motherboard)
+ A terrible new AI app that swaps women into porn videos with a single click. (Technology Review MIT)

5 Covid seems to be messing with our immune system
Even mild infections seem to disrupt our ability to fight disease. (slate $)
+ How to know how healthy your immune system is. (new scientist $)

6 Tracking truck drivers don’t make long-distance driving safer
However, it has ushered in a new era of surveillance. (New Yorkers $)

What’s next for laid-off tech workers?
Their skills are highly valued—especially by businesses outside of technology. (Vox)
+ Blind Anonymous App is the hottest place to look for jobs. (CNN)
+ The United States is giving up its role as a nation of workaholics. (Atlantic $)

8 Assembling iPhones at Foxconn’s factory is a humiliating task
It pays well, but grueling working conditions challenge employees on a daily basis. (The rest of the world)

9 Airport Protocols Are Getting Faster 🛫
Electronic gates and biometric passports are making it easier to pass. (WP $)

10 Easier than ever to report a UFO sighting 🛸
Just fire up the Enigma Labs app. (Wired $)

Quote of the day

“As I continued to look, it was hard not to laugh out loud at the absurdity of those hands and teeth.”

—Programmer Miles Zimmerman recalls a nightmarish experiment with the AI ​​model Mindjourney, which created images of people with too many fingers and teeth, he said. Buzzfeed.

big story

This $1.5 billion startup promises to deliver clean fuel as cheap as gas. Experts are deeply skeptical.

April 2022

Last summer, Rob McGinnis, founder and chief executive officer of startup Prometheus Fuels, rallied investors and staged a theatrical show of his technology. Prometheus promises to transform the global fuel sector by sucking greenhouse gases out of the air and turning it into a carbon-neutral fuel, as cheap as conventional, dirty fuel.

But while investors have thrown money at the company, pushing it to a valuation of more than $1.5 billion, there is little evidence that it can actually live up to its lofty claims. . Read full story.

—James Temple

We can still have good things

A place for comfort, fun and entertainment in these strange times. (Any ideas?Drop me a lineortweet them with me.)

+ To be fair, I don’t see any twists in any of this aunt’s painful letters coming soon (thanks Jess!)
+ Some options are too difficult to consider, and this is one of them.
+ What is possible? board game teach us? More than you might think, really.
+ Keep an eye on green comet near Earth tonight—if you miss it, you’ll have to wait another 50,000 years.
+ Coffee date with these three angels is my idea of ​​a perfect day.


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