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How to talk to conspiracy theorists—and still be kind

On May 4, a slick, 26-minute video was released, alleging that the coronavirus was actually a laboratory-manipulated virus deployed to wreak havoc so that a resulting vaccine could be used for profit. None of that was true, and Plandemic’s claims were thoroughly, repeatedly debunked. Still, it went viral, getting liked on Facebook 2.5 million times. A central position of Plandemic is that Bill...

Podcast: Lassoing the venture capital cowboys

The numbers tell the story. US venture capital firms have $444 billion under management, including $121 billion in “dry powder” waiting in reserve—all in pursuit of the next “unicorn” startup that will grow to be worth billions. But about three-quarters of the industry’s cash goes to support software innovation—a habit that’s looking particularly short-sighted at…


TUESDAY 14. JULY 2020


Biden steps up his clean-energy plan, in a nod to climate activists

Joe Biden has raised the ambitions of his climate plan, in a clear sign his campaign is responding to demands for greater action among the progressive flank of his party. In a speech on Tuesday, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president announced proposals to spend $2 trillion on clean-energy projects and eliminate carbon emissions from the electricity sector by 2035, stepping up his...

Is there a relationship between blood type and covid-19 infection?

This story is part of our ongoing list of answers to the biggest questions our readers have about the coronavirus. That list is constantly updated, and you can check it out here. Since early in the pandemic, there’s been an interest in learning whether blood type has anything to do with who is more likely to get infected by the coronavirus or how bad the effects will be. Here’s what we know...

Prepare for a winter covid-19 spike now, say medical experts

The news: We should prepare now for a potential new wave of coronavirus cases this winter, according to the UK’s Academy of Medical Sciences. Healthcare systems tend to struggle in winter anyway due to the faster spread of infectious diseases as we spend more time in poorly ventilated indoor spaces, and the fact that conditions like asthma, heart attacks and stroke tend to be exacerbated in...

The US is turning away the world’s best minds—and this time, they may not come back

For decades, US policymakers have bet that the world’s best and brightest will endure a dysfunctional immigration process for a chance at the opportunities the country offers. And for decades, they have been right. Talented people born outside of the US have continued flocking to America’s schools, companies, and way of life, and staying for good when they can. The Trump administration is...


MONDAY 13. JULY 2020


Astronomers found a giant intergalactic “wall” of galaxies hiding in plain sight

Astronomers have found one of the largest structures in the known universe—an intergalactic “wall” of galaxies that’s at least 1.4 million light-years long. And given how close it is to us, it’s remarkable that we haven’t seen it before now. What happened: An international team of scientists reported the discovery of the South Pole Wall in a paper published Thursday in the...

Smarter devices, better patient care

We are at the very beginning of a medical revolution, fueled by our ability to analyze hitherto unheard-of amounts of data using artificial intelligence (AI). AI is enabling the development of smart medical devices that can address some of society’s most persistent and expensive health problems. Conditions such as heart arrhythmias, type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and...

Immunity to covid-19 could disappear in months, a new study suggests

The lowdown: Immunity to covid-19 may be short-lived, according to a new longitudinal study of people who have caught the disease and recovered. The study: Researchers at King’s College London repeatedly tested 96 patients and healthcare workers at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS foundation trust for antibodies between March and June. All of the participants were confirmed to have had covid-19,...


SATURDAY 11. JULY 2020


If the coronavirus is really airborne, we might be fighting it the wrong way

This was the week airborne transmission became a big deal in the public discussion about covid-19. Over 200 scientists from around the world cosigned a letter to the World Health Organization urging it to take seriously the growing evidence that the coronavirus can be transmitted through the air. WHO stopped short of redefining SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes covid-19) as...


FRIDAY 10. JULY 2020


A new way to train AI systems could keep them safer from hackers

The context: One of the greatest unsolved flaws of deep learning is its vulnerability to so-called adversarial attacks. When added to the input of an AI system, these perturbations, seemingly random or undetectable to the human eye, can make things go completely awry. Stickers strategically placed on a stop sign, for example, can trick a self-driving car into seeing a speed limit sign for 45 miles...

8 million people, 14 alerts: why some covid-19 apps are staying silent

When France launched its app for digital contact tracing, it looked like a possible breakthrough for the virus-ravaged country. After going live in June, StopCovid was downloaded by 2 million people in a short time, and digital affairs minister Cédric O said that “from the first downloads, the app helps avoid contamination, illness, and so deaths.” But officials soon had to walk their...


THURSDAY 9. JULY 2020


Activating the opportunity marketplace and investing in the workforce of the future

This virtual panel session from MIT Technology Review’s EmTech Next conference takes an in-depth look at Deloitte and MIT Sloan Management Review’s recently released research on Opportunity Marketplaces. Right now, businesses are facing a three-dimensional challenge—survival while remaining competitive, re-engagement of the workforce, and continuous cultivation of the...

Microsoft’s solution to Zoom fatigue is to trick your brain

There’s a certain routine to logging on to the now-ubiquitous videoconference: join a screen of Brady Bunch–like squares, ping-ponging your gaze between speakers but mostly staring self-consciously at your own face. What started as a novelty of working at home is now an exhausting ordeal that can leave us feeling mentally wiped out.  Microsoft thinks it’s got a solution. On Wednesday...

These are the factors that put you at higher risk of dying from covid-19

The news: A study of more than 17 million people in England has confirmed the various factors that are linked with an increase in a person’s risk of dying from covid-19: their age, being male, Black or from an ethnic minority background, or having underlying health conditions. It confirms a lot of previous research, but it’s by far the largest study yet. It was published in Nature yesterday....


WEDNESDAY 8. JULY 2020


How carbon-sucking machines could cut aviation emissions

Two companies have teamed up on a project that could provide a key test of our ability to use synthetic fuel, made from carbon dioxide captured from the air, to cut emissions from aviation. Carbon Engineering, a direct air capture company based in British Columbia, has signed a deal with Aerion, a startup based in Reno, Nevada, that is developing a supersonic business jet known as the AS2, to...

Will astronauts ever visit gas giants like Jupiter?

Every week, the readers of our space newsletter, The Airlock, send in their questions for space reporter Neel V. Patel to answer. This week: Can we go to Jupiter? Once we move past the asteroid belt, is it realistic to assume there is a chance humans could ever explore any of the gas giants, like Jupiter, really close to its atmosphere? And what that would look like?  —Sarah...

The internet is changing drastically for Hong Kong’s citizens

The big picture: It’s only been one week since China passed a controversial national security law that gives it vast new powers over Hong Kong, but the internet has already changed dramatically for people in the semi-autonomous city. What sort of powers? The law lets mainland Chinese officials operate in Hong Kong for the first time. It also gives Beijing the power to overrule local laws, and...


TUESDAY 7. JULY 2020


Criminal charges reveal the identity of the “invisible god” hacker

A notorious hacker who made an estimated $1.5 million by stealing information from more than 300 companies and governments in 44 countries has been identified as a 37-year-old man from Kazakhstan.  Known as Fxmsp, the hacker became famous in 2019 when he advertised access and source code for leading cybersecurity companies, amid claims that he could make a customer “the invisible god of...

A group of 239 scientists says there’s growing evidence covid-19 is airborne

The news: A group of 239 scientists from 32 countries have written an open letter to the World Health Organization arguing that covid-19 can be transmitted through the air. You might think we know that already, but most current guidance is based on the idea that covid-19 is transmitted via droplets expelled from an infected person’s nose or mouth. The thought is that these larger respiratory...


MONDAY 6. JULY 2020


Beyond the AI hype cycle: Trust and the future of AI

There’s no shortage of promises when it comes to AI. Some say it will solve all problems while others warn it will bring about the end of the world as we know it. Both positions regularly play out in Hollywood plotlines like Westworld, Carbon Black, Minority Report, Her, and Ex Machina. Those stories are compelling because they require us as creators and consumers of AI technology to decide...


SUNDAY 5. JULY 2020


If you’re over 75, catching covid-19 can be like playing Russian roulette

Are you hiding from covid-19? I am. The reason is simple: the high chance of death from the virus.  I was reminded of the risk last week by this report from the New York City health department and Columbia University which estimated that on average, between March and May, the chance of dying if you get infected by SARS-CoV-2 was 1.45%. That’s higher than your lifetime chance...


FRIDAY 3. JULY 2020


Are we making spacecraft too autonomous?

When SpaceX’s Crew Dragon took NASA astronauts to the ISS near the end of May, the launch brought back a familiar sight. For the first time since the space shuttle was retired, American rockets were launching from American soil to take Americans into space. Inside the vehicle, however, things couldn’t have looked more different. Gone was the sprawling dashboard of lights and switches...


THURSDAY 2. JULY 2020


Another experimental covid-19 vaccine has shown promising early results

The news: An experimental covid-19 vaccine being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech provoked immune responses in 45 healthy volunteers, according to a preprint paper on medRXiv. The levels of antibodies were up to 2.8 times the level of those found in patients who have recovered. The study randomly assigned 45 people to get either one of three doses of the vaccine or a placebo. But there were side...


WEDNESDAY 1. JULY 2020


Intelligent infrastructure: How an agile, robust, and flexible IT infrastructure can make or break digital transformation

In today’s business environment, strategic technology initiatives are driven by the need to grow with greater agility and adapt to rapidly changing commercial, environmental, and regulatory conditions. A new report, sponsored by Panduit, explores how IT leaders from a variety of industries are building intelligent infrastructure that provides a platform for innovation and insights. The key...