The Download: tiny TikTok-style soap operas, and how algorithms change us


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

1 The US spacecraft that landed on the moon is about to stop functioning
But another lunar lander, from Japan, has unexpectedly popped back to life. (NYT $)

2 Meet the nine-month-old $2 billion French AI startup 
Mistral claims it’ll rival US giants—but it’s also just taken money from Microsoft. (WSJ $)
Microsoft is investing an undisclosed amount into Mistral. (FT $)

3 How a local news website became an AI-generated clickbait farm
This case provides a fascinating insight into how generative AI is starting to fill the internet up with trash. (Wired $)
We are hurtling toward a glitchy, spammy, scammy, AI-powered internet. (MIT Technology Review)

4 A Democrat consultant admitted to being behind the Biden robocall 📞
Well, that was pretty dumb, as campaigning strategies go. (WP $)
The US is not ready for what AI is going to do to its elections. (The Guardian)
Meta is promising it’ll form a team to tackle deceptive uses of AI in the upcoming EU elections. (BBC)

5 The US is reportedly using AI to choose where to bomb
It used machine learning algorithms to identify targets in the Middle East this month, a defense official said. (Bloomberg $)
Inside the messy ethics of making war with machines. (MIT Technology Review

6 What a huge solar storm could do to us ☀️
We’re poorly prepared for the havoc it could wreak on our energy grids and communication systems. (New Yorker $)

7 Bans on deepfakes take us only so far—here’s what we really need
Recent moves are promising, but the open source boom makes things tricky. (MIT Technology Review)

8 The promise of green ammonia
Ammonia production accounts for almost 2% of global CO2 emissions, but startups are racing to produce cleaner alternatives.  (BBC)
How ammonia could help clean up global shipping. (MIT Technology Review

9 Some etiquette rules for how to use tech without being rude
Let the debate commence. (WSJ $)

10 Here’s a Slack hack for you 
Change your name to ‘Slackbot’ and simply disappear into the ether. (The Verge)

Quote of the day

“We’re not clear exactly how these platforms work.”

—Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson sums up a very real problem facing judges and politicians trying to regulate social media companies during yesterday’s Supreme Court hearing, Vox reports. 

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