2022-The Download: open source insecurity, and gene editing plants


That is at this time’s version of The Download, our weekday publication that gives a every day dose of what’s occurring on the earth of expertise.

The US army needs to grasp a very powerful software program on Earth

It’s not a lot of an exaggeration to say that the entire world is constructed on prime of the Linux kernel—though most individuals have by no means heard of it.

It is among the very first applications that load when most computer systems energy up. It permits the {hardware} working the machine to work together with the software program, governs its use of sources, and acts as the muse of the working system.

It’s the core constructing block of almost all cloud computing, nearly each supercomputer, all the web of issues, billions of smartphones, and extra.

However the kernel can also be open supply, that means anybody can write, learn, and use its code. And that’s acquired cybersecurity specialists contained in the US army significantly anxious. Its open-source nature means the Linux kernel—together with a number of different items of crucial open-source software program—is uncovered to hostile manipulation in ways in which we nonetheless barely perceive. Learn the total story.

—Patrick Howell O’Neill

Warmth is unhealthy for plant well being. Right here’s how gene modifying might assist.

The information: Among the world’s best agricultural areas have already damaged temperature data this yr, with doubtlessly worrying implications for food provides. Even a slight rise in temperatures could cause crops to grow to be extra weak to pests. To fight this, researchers have recognized a single gene that appears to be the temperature-sensitive perpetrator and located a method to restore the vegetation’ immune system at increased temperatures.

How they did it: For a lot of vegetation, an essential immune pathway includes salicylic acid. The chemical has antibacterial properties, and it additionally acts as a sign to get different immune pathways going. Nevertheless, this pathway basically shuts down in unusually sizzling circumstances. Researchers have been capable of tweak the vegetation’ genome in order that they produced extra salicylic acid, thus boosting the vegetation’ safety in opposition to pests and illnesses.

What it means: Whereas the experiment was carried out on an Arabidopsis plant, many others, together with wheat, corn, and potatoes, share the identical sort of salicylic acid pathway, making it doable the work might have an effect far past the lab. Learn the total story.

—Casey Crownhart

The must-reads

I’ve combed the web to seek out you at this time’s most enjoyable/essential/scary/fascinating tales about expertise.

1 Russian propaganda is flourishing on social media once more
Months into the warfare, Ukraine says Huge Tech has misplaced curiosity in eradicating it. (WP $)
+ Russia’s bombing campaigns have tipped into terrorism. (The Atlantic $)
+ A US protection agency has provided Ukraine with kamikaze drones. (FT $)
+ The warfare in Ukraine might threaten regulating killer robots. (New Scientist $)
 + A Chinese language housewife fooled Wikipedia into pondering she was a Russian skilled. (Motherboard)

2 Uber is being sued by 550 ladies over sexual assault claims 
The US-based ladies say they have been raped and sexually assaulted by drivers, in accordance with the harrowing submitting. (BBC)

3 Put up-Roe, we’re extra surveilled than ever
It’s turning into more and more troublesome to keep away from leaving a digital paper path. (NYT $)
+ Huge Tech remains to be silent on questions on knowledge privateness in a post-Roe US. (MIT Expertise Evaluation)

4 These new encryption algorithms are quantum-proof
Researchers are assured they’re in a position to withstand quantum computing’s makes an attempt to crack them. (Economist $)
+ What’s post-quantum cryptography? (MIT Expertise Evaluation)
+ Numbers with unfavorable sq. values are integral to quantum concept. (Aeon)

5 Don’t trouble attempting to make sense of Elon Musk v Twitter
The insanity is simply set to accentuate by the point they make it to courtroom. (The Atlantic $)
+ Everybody concerned emerges trying like a loser. (Insider)

6 How one in every of crypto’s largest lenders collapsed
Celsius has now filed for chapter, leaving its prospects out of pocket. (FT $)
The UK has accredited suing somebody over blockchain. (Bloomberg $)

7 Turkey says it’s found a wealthy mine of uncommon earth components
However specialists aren’t satisfied. (Wired $)
+ Mining minerals for rechargeable batteries nonetheless makes us really feel responsible. (The Atlantic $)

8 Prime membership turned Amazon into the web’s jack of all trades
And allowed it to weaponize comfort alongside the way in which. (New Statesman $)

9 Spam calls are driving us to distraction
Some pissed off victims have taken to emailing the FCC for solutions. (Motherboard)
+ The individuals utilizing humor to troll their spam texts. (MIT Expertise Evaluation)

10 Dangerous style is the brand new good style
The early noughties web aesthetic is reassuringly gaudy. (Vox)

Quote of the day

“I really feel like clickbait.”

—Maree, a lady from Melbourne, describes her discomfort at being filmed with out her consent in a viral ‘random act of kindness’ TikTok video, stories the Guardian.

The massive story

Why Technology Z falls for on-line misinformation

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June 2021

In November 2019, a TikTok video claiming that if Joe Biden is elected president of the US, “trumpies” will commit mass homicide of LGBT people and folks of coloration quickly went viral, seen, shared, appreciated and commented on by a whole lot of 1000’s of younger individuals.

Clearly, the claims have been false. Why, then, did so many members of Technology Z—a label utilized to individuals aged roughly 9 to 24, who’re presumably extra digitally savvy than their predecessors—fall for such flagrant misinformation? It’s partly as a result of younger individuals are extra prone to consider and cross on misinformation in the event that they really feel a way of widespread identification with the one who shared it within the first place. Learn the total story.

—Jennifer Neda John 

We are able to nonetheless have good issues

A spot for consolation, enjoyable and distraction in these bizarre occasions. (Bought any concepts? Drop me a line or tweet ’em at me.)+ Regardless of how unhealthy issues get, at least we’ve got Kirby.
+ The jokes in regards to the three males who stole Don Henley’s handwritten Hotel California lyrics simply write themselves (thanks Allison!)
+ A lacking canine casually managed to win third place in a dog show whereas her homeowners have been trying to find her.
+ Right here’s why the lost cities buried deep in the Amazon rainforest took so lengthy to seek out.
+ I liked the charming story behind this viral image of a browsing instructor from the 70s.


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