The Download: resurrecting mammoths, and the climate bill’s big flaw

The Download: resurrecting mammoths, and the climate bill’s big flaw

Sara Ord holds one of the most futuristic jobs around–director for species restoration at Colossal Biosciences. This is the first “de-extinction” company in the world. Her team is working to create an embryo and eventually an animal from Asian elephants by adding genes for cold resistance, thick red hair, and turning them into woolly mammoths. While there are no resurrected species, Ord’s job involves imagining a future in which a high-tech combination DNA technology, stem cell research, gene editing and artificial wombs could not only lead to the resurrection of species that have been lost but also preserve species that are close to extinction.

If everything goes smoothly, the company hopes to succeed in re-creating its first long-extinct animal, the striped marsupial predator the thylacine, by 2025. It may also make a profit selling tickets to see them, just like Jurassic Park . Read more .

–Antonio Regalado

The US climate bill has made emission reductions dependent on economic success

In August, President Joe Biden signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act, the largest US climate bill for more than a decade. It has been welcomed by scientists, politicians, and manufacturers alike in the months that have followed. But beyond enacting specific measures to reduce US carbon emissions by more than 40% by 2030, the IRA also fundamentally reframes how the government approaches climate change.

Climate policy is now explicitly framed in an economic policy issue. This means that success in economic policy will be dependent on the success of economic policy. This could potentially complicate efforts to reduce US carbon emission and add to the already daunting challenges facing the country’s clean energy sector. Read full story .

By Jonas Nahm (assistant professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies) and expert on green industries.

The must-reads

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

1 Donald Trump has been allowed back onto Twitter
But he says he’s sticking to his own Truth Social platform. (CNBC)
It’s possible Trump may just tweet links to Truth Social anyway. (NYT $)
Elon Musk has also reinstated Kanye West’s account. (Bloomberg $)
It’s worth noting Twitter workers on visas can’t just quit. (Motherboard)

2 Amazon is betting big on healthcare
No great surprise, given that it’s one of America’s most lucrative industries. (Economist $)
Workers in the Alexa division haven’t been so lucky. (Insider $)

3 FTX customers are losing hope they’ll get their money back
Some are more pessimistic than others. (WSJ $)
The chair of the S.E.C. is unimpressed. (NYT $)

4 Iran’s protests show no signs of stopping
Women and young people are the driving forces behind the prolonged demonstrations. (Vox)
Big Tech could help Iranian protesters by using an old tool. (MIT Technology Review)

5 Weaponized robots are on the rise
But it’s not just military-grade weapons–it’s makeshift moderated commercial robots too. (The Guardian)
Robots designed to save satellites could destroy them instead. (Bloomberg $)
Why business is booming for military AI startups. (MIT Technology Review)

6 Vertical farming needs to widen its repertoire
Vegetables and crops would be more useful than salad. (Wired $)
Inside Singapore’s huge bet on vertical farming. (MIT Technology Review)

7 Why supergenes are a double-edged sword
While they help animals and plants evolve in unexpected ways, they could also trigger harmful mutations. (The Atlantic $)

8 China’s answer to Instagram is in trouble
A brutal crackdown on China’s startups means it could have lost up to half of its implied value. (FT $)

9 Say goodbye to the leap second
But not until 2035, probably. (NYT $)

10 Space junk is snowballing out of control
But China and Japan are competing to clean it up. (WP $)
How to cast a wider net for tracking space junk. (MIT Technology Review)

Quote of the day

“I can’t even quote Martin Luther King Jr. without having to take so many precautions.”

–Kahlil Greene, a TikTok creator, criticizes the platform’s over-zealous moderation rules around content discussing racism and Black history to the New York Times.

The big story

Eight ways scientists are unwrapping the mysteries of the human brain

August 2021

There is no greater scientific mystery than the brain. It is mostly made up of water, with a lot of fat. This three-pound block of material is responsible for our thoughts, memories, emotions, and other mental functions. It controls how we interact with the outside world and runs our bodies.

Increasingly, scientists are beginning to unravel the complexities of how it works and understand how the 86 billion neurons in the human brain form the connections that produce ideas and feelings, as well as the ability to communicate and react. Here’s a quick overview of some of the most innovative research and why it’s so important. Read the full story.

Read More