This is today’s download version, Our weekday newsletter provides daily updates on what’s happening in the world of technology.
The U.S. military wants to understand the most important software on the planet
It’s no exaggeration to say that the whole world is built on the Linux kernel – even though most people have never heard of it.
It is one of the first programs that most computers load when they start up. It enables the hardware that runs a machine to interact with software, control the use of its resources, and serve as the basis for an operating system.
It’s the core building block of nearly all cloud computing, nearly every supercomputer, the entire Internet of Things, billions of smartphones, and more.
But the kernel is also open source, which means anyone can write, read and use its code. That worries cybersecurity experts within the U.S. military. Its open-source nature means that the Linux kernel — and many other critical open-source software — is exposed to malicious manipulation in ways we still barely understand. Read the full article.
–Patrick Howell O’Neal
Heat is not good for plant health. Here’s how gene editing can help.
news: Some of the world’s most productive agricultural regions have already broken temperature records this year, which could have worrying effects on food supplies. Even a slight increase in temperature can make crops more vulnerable to pests. To address this, the researchers identified a gene that appears to be the culprit in temperature sensitivity, and found a way to repair the plant’s immune system at higher temperatures.
How they do it: For many plants, an important immune pathway involves salicylic acid. The chemical has antibacterial properties, and it also acts as a signal to initiate other immune pathways. However, this pathway essentially shuts down under unusually hot conditions. The researchers were able to tweak the genomes of plants so that they produce more salicylic acid, thereby enhancing the plants’ protection against pests and diseases.
What does it mean: Although the experiment was conducted in a Arabidopsis Plants, including many others including wheat, corn and potatoes, share the same salicylic acid pathway, making this work potentially impactful far beyond the lab. Read the full article.
– Kathy Cronhart
I combed the internet to find you the funniest/most important/scariest/most fascinating tech stories of the day.
1 Russian propaganda is booming on social media again
Months after the war, Ukraine said big tech had lost interest in exiting it. (WP USD)
+ Russia’s bombing campaign has turned to terrorism. (Atlantic $)
+ A U.S. defense company has supplied Ukraine with kamikaze drones. (foot)
+ Ukraine war could threaten regulation of killer robots. (New Scientist$)
+ A Chinese housewife tricked Wikipedia into thinking she was a Russian expert. (motherboard)
2 Uber sued by 550 women over sexual assault allegations
According to the harrowing document, the American women said they were raped and sexually assaulted by their drivers. (BBC)
3 Post-Roe, we’re more surveilled than ever
It’s getting harder and harder to avoid leaving digital paper trails. (New York Times USD)
+ Big tech remains mum on data privacy concerns in post-Roy America. (MIT Technology Review)
4 These new encryption algorithms are quantum-proof
The researchers believe they can resist attempts by quantum computing to crack them. (economist $)
+ What is post-quantum cryptography? (MIT Technology Review)
+ Numbers with negative square values are part of quantum theory. (AEON)
5 Don’t bother to understand Elon Musk v Twitter
The madness will only intensify as they go to court. (Atlantic $)
+ Everyone involved looks like a loser. (Insider)
6 How one of cryptocurrency’s biggest lenders collapsed
Celsius has now filed for bankruptcy, leaving its customers out of pocket. (foot)
+The UK has approved the prosecution of someone via blockchain. (Bloomberg USD)
7 Turkey claims to have discovered rich rare earth element deposits
But experts are not convinced. (wired $)
+ Mining minerals for rechargeable batteries still makes us feel guilty. (Atlantic $)
8 Prime membership makes Amazon the internet’s jack of all trades
And allow it to weaponize facilitation in the process. (new statesman$)
9 Spam calls distract us
Some frustrated victims have begun emailing the FCC for answers. (motherboard)
+ People use humor to trolling their spam. (MIT Technology Review)
10 bad taste is the new good taste
The Internet aesthetics of the early 1900s were reassuringly flashy. (sound)
Quote of the day
“I feel like clickbait.”
— Maree, a woman from Melbourne, described her discomfort at being filmed without her consent in a viral “random act of kindness” TikTok video, The Guardian reports.
Why Gen Z is falling for online misinformation
In November 2019, a TikTok video claiming that “Trump” would carry out mass murders of LGBT individuals and people of color if Joe Biden were elected president of the United States quickly went viral and was viewed and shared by hundreds of thousands of people , likes and comments young people.
Obviously, these claims are false. So why are so many members of Gen Z (a label that applies to people around the age of 9 to 24 who are probably more digitally savvy than their predecessors) falling into such blatant misinformation? That’s partly because young people are more likely to believe and pass on misinformation if they share a sense of identity with the person who originally shared the information. Read the full article.
– Jennifer Neda John
we can still have good things
A cozy, fun and distracting place in these odd times. (Any ideas? leave me a message or Tweet me.)+ No matter how bad things get, at least we have Kirby.
+ Joke about the three guys who stole Don Henley’s handwritten California hotel lyrics just wrote it myself (thanks Alison!)
+ A missing dog accidentally won third place at a dog show while its owner was looking for her.
+ This is why the lost city buried deep in the Amazon rainforest took so long to find.
+ I love the fascinating story behind this viral photo of a 70s surf teacher.