The Download: the Saudi sci-fi megacity, and sleeping babies’ brains

The must-reads

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

1 Covid data is starting to disappear in China
It’s about to enter its deadliest phase of the pandemic. How deadly? We won’t know. (FT $)
A letter from Foxconn’s founder may have helped to persuade China’s leaders to abandon zero-covid. (WSJ $)
The policy pivot has been met with relief—but also worry and confusion. (NYT $)
Here’s what scientists have to say about it. (Nature)

2 AI selfies are everywhere
You can thank the app Lensa, and the fact people can’t resist sharing how sexy it makes them look. (WP $)
However, it generates troublingly NSFW images. Even when the photo is of a child. (Wired $)
AI is getting better and better at producing convincing text too. (Vox)
Can you tell a real tweet from one written by an AI? (WSJ $)

3 Americans are flocking to climate danger zones
Migration patterns are mostly away from safer areas, towards hotter, drier regions with more wildfires. (Wired $)
These three charts show who is most to blame for climate change. (MIT Technology Review)

4 A lawsuit claims women were targeted for Twitter layoffs
In engineering roles, 63% of women lost their jobs compared to 48% of men. (NBC)
Musk’s plan to encrypt Twitter messages seems to be on hold. (Forbes)
+ Twitter is planning to change the cost of ‘Twitter Blue’ after a spat with Apple. (The Information $)
Elon Musk is openly courting a far-right, conspiracy obsessed fan base. (Wired $)

5 CoinDesk’s FTX scoop shot its own parent company in the foot
Ownership structures in crypto are complex—and in this case, a bit too cozy for comfort. (The Verge)
+ Crypto execs exchanged frantic texts as FTX collapsed. (NYT $)

6 Exhausted by the internet? You’re not alone.
It’s beginning to feel like a dying mall full of stores you don’t want to visit. (New Yorker $)
Amazon is launching a TikTok clone. Yes, Amazon. (WP $)

7 The hype around esports is fading
A wider economic downturn is causing sponsors and investors to flee. (Bloomberg $)
The FTC is trying to block Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of video game giant Activision Blizzard. (Vox)

8 What causes Alzheimer’s?
A stream of recent findings suggest that it’s more complex than the build-up of amyloid plaques. (Quanta)
The miracle molecule that could treat brain injuries and boost your fading memory. (MIT Technology Review)

9 The global spyware industry has spiraled out of control
And the US is playing both arsonist and firefighter, adopting the very same tools it condemns. (NYT $)
It’s hard to control spyware technology when it’s in such high demand from governments around the world. (MIT Technology Review)

10 Xiaomi taught a robot to play the drums
Professional musicians can rest easy for now though, if the demo clip is anything to go by. (IEEE Spectrum)

Quote of the day

“Globalization is almost dead. Free trade is almost dead. And a lot of people still wish they would come back, but I really don’t think that it will be back for a while.”