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.
What you need to know the monkeypox outbreak
The news: Monkeypox infections are spreading around the world, with 62 confirmed cases so far, and 55 suspected, according to a database compiled by researchers at the University of Oxford and Harvard Medical School.
The US reported its first infection yesterday in a man in Massachusetts, but cases have been identified in the UK, Europe, Canada, and Australia, suggesting the rare virus is spreading outside of the regions in Africa it has mostly been confined to so far.
What is it? Monkeypox is a viral infection that causes flu-like symptoms, including fever and aches, alongside a distinctive bumpy rash which can become itchy, according to the WHO. It can be contracted from prolonged close contact with an infected animal or human. It’s closely related to the virus that causes smallpox but is less severe—most people recover within a few weeks without treatment. However, it can still be fatal.
The origins of this particular outbreak are unclear, and scientists are searching for clues to explain its spread. The first case of this outbreak was reported in the UK, in a person who had recently returned from Nigeria, where the UK Health Security Agency believes they caught the virus.
Should we be worried? While the risk to the public remains very low, the WHO is concerned people could spread it unknowingly through contact with others, since milder cases can go undetected. It’s also possible that younger people who have not been vaccinated against the much deadlier smallpox, which was eradicated in the late 1970s, could be more susceptible to its monkeypox relative.
Smallpox vaccines are at least 85% effective in preventing monkeypox, and the US has stockpiled enough smallpox vaccines to vaccinate the entire population. That’s a drastic step, however, and may not be necessary if the current monkeypox outbreak can be successfully contained. That’s a test for global cooperation that will largely hinge on lessons learned from covid.
I’ve combed the internet to find you today’s most fun/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.
1 Mass shooters are hiding in plain sight online
But it’s wickedly hard to do anything before they commit violence. (New Yorker $)
+ Social media platforms are still struggling to stop the spread of the Buffalo shooting video. (TR)
+ How young men become radicalized online. (Slate $)
+ Facebook is running ads next to the Buffalo gunman’s video. (NYT $)
2 More than 1 million people have died from covid in the US
It’s the highest confirmed death rate in the world, but almost every country is undercounting. (NYT $)
+ Remembering those who’ve died. (WP $)
+ Anti-aging drugs are being tested as a way to treat covid. (TR)
3 The Starliner spacecraft has finally reached orbit
Despite problems with two of its four thrusters. (WP $)
4 Young people are being killed by dodgy pills bought on social media
Many pills contain lethal doses of the highly addictive fentanyl. (NYT $)
+ Why fentanyl is so dangerous. (WSJ $)
5 “Good faith” hackers no longer have to fear US federal prosecution
But companies can still go after individuals. (WP $)
6 Products that block electromagnetic radiation are a waste of money
At best they’re useless. At worst, they’re actively harmful. (The Verge)
7 UFOs are mostly pretty boring
That doesn’t stop us from being obsessed with them, though. (The Atlantic $)
8 Emergency 911 systems want your data
More data can help services to respond more quickly and effectively, but such information can be vulnerable to misuse. (Vox)
+ Women could end up paying a high price for us giving up our privacy. (NYT $)
9 The online pet spider market is booming
But the majority of traded arachnids are vulnerable to extinction. (Wired $)
10 Why pigs are so similar to dogs
If the two species are of comparable intelligence, why do we treat them so differently? (FT $)
+ The gene-edited pig heart given to a dying patient was infected with a pig virus. (TR)
+ The ethical, moral, and legal issues with xenotransplantation are vast. (Neo.Life)
Quote of the day
“We should stop pretending that these are companies that give a shit about anything other than making money.”
—Hany Farid, a professor of computer science at UC Berkeley, feels social media platforms are unmotivated to remove terror attack footage from their services, he tells The Guardian.
We can still have nice things
A place for comfort, fun and distraction in these weird times. (Got any ideas? Drop me a line or tweet ’em at me.)
+ The Wikipedia entry for Ship’s Cat is worth reading for the pictures alone.
+ Turn it up to 11—rock classic This is Spinal Tap is getting a sequel.
+ I watched this video of a 34-year old rug getting washed, so now you have to too.
+ Chess prodigy Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa sounds incredibly pragmatic, despite being just 16 years old.
+ Enjoy the incredible Blade Runner soundtrack in tribute to Vangelis, the Oscar-winning composer who has died aged 79.
+ This piece on the rise and rise of poets and artists on Instagram is an interesting read.
+ The Emoji Aquarium Twitter account autogenerates little underwater montages every few hours, creating an oasis of calm on your timeline.