The Download: Worldcoin under investigation, and food’s complex climate future
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The Download: Worldcoin under investigation, and food’s complex climate future

It’s a project that claims to use cryptocurrency to distribute money across the world, though its bigger ambition is to create a global identity system called “World ID” that relies on individuals’ unique biometric data to prove that they are humans.

Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI and one of the biggest tech celebrities right now, is one of the cofounders of the project, which launched on July 24 in more than 20 countries. But it’s already being investigated in at least four jurisdictions around the world. Read our story to find out why

This story is from The Technocrat, Tate Ryan-Mosley’s weekly newsletter all about tech, policy and power. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Friday.

+ If you want to learn more about Worldcoin, read our investigation into the company, based on more than 35 interviews with executives, contractors, and test users recruited primarily in developing countries. We found some vast gaps between its idealistic rhetoric and the realities on the ground, not least when it comes to handling people’s private biometric data.

The must-reads

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

1 Climate change is messing with your favorite foods 🚜
Farmers rely on knowing what grows where, but increasingly unpredictable weather makes that very challenging. (Wired $)
A group of older Swiss women are suing their government for allegedly violating their rights by failing to curb emissions. (NYT $)
New AI systems could speed up our ability to create weather forecasts. (MIT Technology Review)
2 Can gene therapies help to de-age us?
Even if they can (big if), any eventual treatments that hit the market will cost millions. (Proto.Life)
+  Inside the billion-dollar meeting for the mega-rich who want to live forever. (MIT Technology Review)
+ Longevity enthusiasts want to create their own independent state. They’re eyeing Rhode Island. (MIT Technology Review)
3 Russia’s pro-war bloggers are increasingly fighting each other
Which is perhaps not a huge surprise, given the tensions within Russia’s military itself. (NYT $)
4 Scientists say they’ve repeated a fusion power breakthrough 
This is bound to stoke a great deal of excitement, though many believe fusion power stations are decades away. (FT $)
+ This startup says its first fusion plant is five years away. Experts doubt it. (MIT Technology Review)
5 AI chatbots are becoming our friends
Lonely people are turning to them for companionship, but they could actually deepen their isolation. (WSJ $)
Technology that lets us “speak” to our dead relatives has arrived. Are we ready? (MIT Technology Review)
6 TikTok’s algorithm will be optional in Europe
In order to comply with EU laws which require giant platforms to let users opt out of receiving personalized content. (The Verge)
+ TikTok is being fined in the EU for breaching childrens’ privacy. (The Guardian)
TikTok’s live streaming section is deeply weird. (The Atlantic)
7 The FBI is investigating a ransomware attack on hospitals in four states
These kinds of attacks happen all the time, but this seems to have been a particularly big one. (CBS)
8 Elon Musk has said he’ll pay problem tweeters’ legal bills
He’s yet to elaborate on how anyone takes him up on the offer, though. (NPR)
+ Twitter (sorry, X) is failing to even pay content creators as it is. (The Verge)
9 How Indian women were lured into the gig economy—then forced out
Urban Company promised them flexibility and empowerment. It didn’t last long. (Wired $)
10 A Mom and daughter duo have won the chance to go into space 🚀
They’ll become the first people from the Caribbean to do so. (BBC)

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