The Download: lab-grown meat’s climate impact, and Congress’ AI plans

This is today’s edition of The Download, our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s going on in the world of technology.

Here’s what we know about lab-grown meat and climate change

Soon, the menu in your favorite burger joint could include not only options made with meat, mushrooms, and black beans but also patties packed with lab-grown animal cells. Not only did the US just approve the sale of cultivated meat for the first time, but the industry is in the process of raising billions of dollars to bring its products to restaurants and grocery stores. 

In theory, that should be a big win for the climate—greenhouse-gas emissions from the animals we eat account for nearly 15% of the global total. But whether cultivated meat really is better for the environment is still not entirely clear. Read the full story.

—Casey Crownhart

Three things to know about how the US Congress might regulate AI

Two weeks ago, Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer announced his grand strategy for AI policymaking at a speech in Washington, DC, ushering in what might be a new era for US tech policy. He outlined some key principles for AI regulation and argued that Congress ought to introduce new laws quickly.

Schumer’s plan is a culmination of many other, smaller policy actions, and is part of a recent flurry of AI-related activity. Tate Ryan-Mosley, our senior tech policy reporter, has identified three key themes in all this chatter that you should know to help you understand where US AI legislation could be going. Read the full story.

This story is from The Technocrat, Tate’s weekly tech policy newsletter. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Friday.

The must-reads

I’ve combed the internet to find you today’s most fun/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.

1 Advertisers aren’t happy about Twitter’s new tweet-viewing limit  
Just as new CEO Linda Yaccarino is trying to woo them back. (Reuters)
+ Elon Musk blamed data scraping for the extreme new measure. (The Verge)
+ Running Twitter is hard, Jack Dorsey has admitted. (Insider $)

2 The Titan submersible was an accident waiting to happen
OceanGate ignored repeated warnings that its craft wasn’t safe. (New Yorker $)
+ What happened during the sub’s final hours. (NYT $)

3 San Francisco may play host to 24/7 driverless cabs
Local officials are far from happy about it. (WP $)
+ A shortage of lithium is bad news for EV manufacturers. (NYT $)
+ Robotaxis are here. It’s time to decide what to do about them. (MIT Technology Review)

4 Crypto miners are pivoting to AI
All those powerful graphics chips have got to be good for something. (WSJ $)
+ Bitcoin mining was booming in Kazakhstan. Then it was gone. (MIT Technology Review)

5 Washington is the home of nuclear fusion
Scientists are racing to shape the future of alternative fusion. (IEEE Spectrum)
+ This startup says its first fusion plant is five years away. Experts doubt it. (MIT Technology Review)

6 The Musk-Zuckerberg cage fight might actually happen
Both billionaires are committed to trying to make the scrap a reality. (NYT $)

7 Misconceptions are already circulating about Ozempic
But weight-loss drugs aren’t short-term solutions. (Vox)
+ Weight-loss injections have taken over the internet. But what does this mean for people IRL? (MIT Technology Review)

8 Apple’s Vision Pro headset is off to a rocky start
Apple’s already cut planned production numbers, just a month after unveiling it. (FT $)
+ Don’t credit the headset for Apple’s $3 trillion valuation. (Bloomberg $)
+ A finger-worn controller for it sounds… interesting. (The Verge)

9 We may soon be able to generate electricity from humid air
Thanks to a student’s happy accident. (The Guardian)
+ Anxious about the climate? You’re not alone. (Vox)

10 Good recipes are hard to come by online
It’s time to narrow down the search. (Wired $)

Quote of the day

“The party last night was great craic.”

—Alexa, Amazon’s AI voice assistant, practices its Irish slang as part of the company’s bid to teach it to speak with a wider array of accents, the New York Times reports.

The big story

These impossible instruments could change the future of music

October 2021

When Gadi Sassoon met Michele Ducceschi backstage at a rock concert in Milan in 2016, the idea of making music with mile-long trumpets blown by dragon fire, or guitars strummed by needle-thin alien fingers, wasn’t yet on his mind. 

At the time, Sassoon was simply blown away by the everyday sounds of the classical instruments that Ducceschi and his colleagues were re-creating with computers. 

The sounds were the early results of a curious project at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, where Ducceschi was a researcher at the time. The project aimed to produce the most lifelike digital music ever created, by running simulations of trumpets, guitars, violins, and more on a supercomputer—creating a combination of sounds that would be pretty much impossible to nail otherwise. Read the full story.

—Will Douglas Heaven

We can still have nice things

A place for comfort, fun and distraction in these weird times. (Got any ideas? Drop me a line or tweet ’em at me.)

+ Germany’s architecture theme park reads like a who’s-who of contemporary design.
+ All of the year’s buzziest books, in one handy list.
+ It turns out that Arnie wanted Terminator 2 to be even bloodier—because of his long-standing beef with Sylvester Stallone.
+ No computer? No problem—this techno track doesn’t need it (thanks Will!)
+ Wow, the JWST’s latest image of Saturn is quite something.


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