This is today’s edition of The Download, our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s going on in the world of technology.
Why China is betting big on chiplets
For the past couple of years, US sanctions have had the Chinese semiconductor industry locked in a stranglehold. Chinese companies can still manufacture chips for today’s uses, but they are not allowed to import certain chipmaking technologies, making it almost impossible for them to produce more advanced products.
There is a workaround, however. A technology known as chiplets is now offering China a way to circumvent these export bans, build a degree of self-reliance, and keep pace with other countries, particularly the US.
Chiplets are one of several ways that the semiconductor industry could keep increasing the computing power of chips despite their physical limits. But for Chinese chip companies, chiplets could reduce the time and costs needed to develop more powerful chips domestically and supply growing, vital technology sectors like AI. Read the full story.
If you’d like to learn more about Wuxi, the center of chip packaging, check out the latest edition of China Report, our weekly newsletter covering tech and power in the country. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Tuesday.
Chiplets were one of our 10 Breakthrough Technologies of 2024. Read more here.
I’ve combed the internet to find you today’s most fun/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.
1 DALL-E 3 will embed images with watermarks and metadata
Which should make it way easier to identify whether an image is AI-generated. (The Verge)
+ Meta reckons a standard form of industry-wide labeling would make sense. (NYT $)
+ OpenAI and DeepMind are getting impatient with the UK government. (FT $)
2 Texas telecoms firms have been accused of making deepfake Biden calls
Between 5,000—25,000 bogus calls were made urging people not to vote. (Politico)
3 A coalition of US states are pushing for heat pumps in your home
Here’s hoping the industry can make enough to meet demand, then. (Wired $)
+ Everything you need to know about the wild world of heat pumps. (MIT Technology Review)
4 Google is parting ways with a human AI training team
Its AI could end up training other AI systems in lieu of human annotators. (Rest of World)
+ The people paid to train AI are outsourcing their work… to AI. (MIT Technology Review)
5 Abortion access activists are throwing their weight behind the Democrat party
They’re shelving concerns surrounding Roe and pro-choice messaging to focus on the bigger picture. (Vox)
+ A controversial abortion pill study has been retracted. (Wired $)
+ Texas is trying out new tactics to restrict access to abortion pills online. (MIT Technology Review)
6 AI is making it easier to design complex chips
Which is handy, given that there aren’t enough US engineers to take on the challenge. (WSJ $)
+ These simple design rules could turn the chip industry on its head. (MIT Technology Review)
7 Anyone can join Bluesky now
How many people are still in the market for a Twitter alternative, is the question. (Bloomberg $)
+ Have you skeeted yet? (TechCrunch)
+ Decentralized social media services was one of our Breakthrough Technologies for 2024. (MIT Technology Review)
8 The race is on to find submerged cities before it’s too late
Climate change and coastal development is making the job decidedly tougher. (Motherboard)
+ An asteroid sample may hold clues to other ocean-covered worlds. (New Scientist $)
9 Boston Dynamics’ Atlas robot is getting better at lifting
Thanks to a snazzy pair of new hands. (Ars Technica)
10 Giraffes could be the next casualty of China’s social media censorship
An innocuous post about the animals has snowballed into a hotbed for economic discontent. (Insider $)
+ Now China wants to censor online comments. (MIT Technology Review)
Quote of the day
“I just want peace in the world.”
—GPT-4-Base, a version of OpenAI’s AI model that hasn’t been fine-tuned with human feedback, explains its reasoning for launching nuclear weapons in a conflict simulation, Motherboard reports.
The big story
Uyghurs outside China are traumatized. Now they’re starting to talk about it
The Uyghur diaspora have been forced to watch from afar as their loved ones disappear and a way of life is erased. The trauma has sparked a mental health crisis that leaders in the diaspora say is all too apparent.
Many are reluctant to seek help, leaving the community’s needs both underassessed and unmet. But a small group of outspoken Uyghurs is trying to change that. Using social media, they’re starting conversations about grief and mental health and, through telehealth, connecting people across the country with volunteer therapists. Read the full story.
We can still have nice things
+ Kimchi udon? Yes please!
+ Aww, spare a thought for the recently grounded Ingenuity helicopter, grounded forever in Mars’ dusty plains.
+ This baby rhino is just too cute
+ It’s nearly Super Bowl time, which means it’s also time to crack out some tasty dips.
+ Cozy cardio sounds right up my street.