This is today’s edition of The Download†our weekday newsletter that gives a daily dose of what’s going on in the world of technology.
Quantum computing has a hype problem
As a buzzword, quantum computing probably only ranks below AI in terms of hype. Major tech companies now have significant research and development efforts in quantum computing. Numerous startups have also sprung up, some with staggering valuations.
A true quantum computer will have unimaginable uses today, just as when the first transistor was created in 1947, no one could have foreseen how it would eventually lead to smartphones and laptops. But even quantum computing experts are alarmed by some of the big claims, especially when it comes to claims about how — and how quickly — it will be commercialized.
The systems we have today are a huge scientific achievement, but they don’t get us any closer to a quantum computer that can solve a problem that everyone cares about. We don’t know how long that will last, but it’s a lot further away than the burgeoning industry and its marketers would have you believe. Read the full story.
Sankar Das Sarma is the director of the Condensed Matter Theory Center at the University of Maryland, College Park.
The must reads
I’ve scoured the internet to find the funniest/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology today.
1 Nokia technology-enabled digital surveillance in Russia
The Finnish company’s equipment and software were used to track opposition supporters. (NYT$)
+ How?Putin became the tyrant he is today.(NYT$)
†Why Europe is still catching up with Russian espionage efforts.(FT$)
2 China’s covid strategy is crumbling
Xi Jinping’s party faces little choice but to give up its hopes for a zero-covid policy. (Economist $)
†Shanghai has been closed as cases rise across China.(Guardian)
†Elsewhere in Asia, covid restrictions are being lifted – despite the spread of ommicron.(NYT$)
3 About a third of the NFT collections have expired in principle
Insiders insist the bubble won’t burst, but interest certainly seems to be cooling. (Bloomberg $)
†Museums are jumping on the NFT train, but buyers want masterpieces?(NYT$)
†Turns out buying real estate in the metaverse is just as expensive as IRL.(IEEE spectrum)
†A plain text internet beckons† (Protocol)
4 Keanu Reeves Has Been Wiped Off The Chinese Internet
The Canadian actor (and beloved web character) took part in a pro-Tibet concert, much to the chagrin of Chinese authorities. (LA times)
5 black Tesla employees allege widespread racial abuse in company factories
They report that they have to work under extremely grim conditions. (LA times)
Yelling, threats and angry emails are just the tip of the iceberg for auto regulators dealing with Elon Musk. (WP$)
†Musk thinks he can be ‘helpful in conflict’.(Insider)
†Tesla bros are making it harder to report issues with Full Self-Driving software.(Observer)
†Park a primer in parallel.(The conversation)
6 News of an investigation into fake news turns out to be… fake
Does someone else’s head hurt? (The Atlantic $)
†Scientists use Twitter to check if their work is being misunderstood.(Science)
†Conservative influencers worry right-wing platforms are echo chambers† (NBC)
7 Maybe we don’t want jetpacks after all
It would actually be total chaos if there were tons of them flying around everywhere. (slate $)
8 Are mental health tech startups making it too easy to get ADHD drugs?
The lines between ‘patient’ and ‘customer’ look alarmingly blurry here. (WSJ$)
9 Billions of Genetically Modified Mosquitoes Will Be Released in California
It is a huge experiment to control the possible spread of dangerous diseases. (Guardian)
10 Is This The End Of The Teen House Party?
Smart home technology stands in the way of Gen Z letting their hair down. (The information $)
Quote of the day
“What’s the point of doing politics in Russia if you’re not willing to protest war at such a historic moment?”
—Ilya Yashin, political activist, says: the observer that he has no intention of fleeing Russia, despite tens of thousands of people fleeing the country for fear of closing the borders.
We can still have nice things
A place for comfort, fun and distraction in these strange times. (Have any ideas? Message me or tweet them to me.)
+ Taylor Hawkins was not only an excellent drummer, he also loved to sing Queen songs. Here’s a real one.
+ Fans of Lord of the Rings will be delighted that a new illustrated version of The Silmarillion will be released in October.
+ All the drama of the Oscars red carpet — minus the blows.
+ A fun representation of what the Capitol Hill rioters left behind: camouflage condoms, anyone?
+ This interview with Jason Lee of Hollywood Unlocked is a wild ride.
+ This peaceful moose family would be most welcome in my yard.
A foot tickling machine designed to induce uncontrollable laughter is my worst nightmare.