The Download: Twitter edit button and fossil fuel cleanup

This is today’s issue of the magazine. The Download, our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s happening in the tech world.

Edit button won’t solve Twitter problems

Below: After years of requests, Twitter has finally introduced an edit button that gives users the ability to edit their tweets within 30 minutes of sending them. But this feature is unlikely to solve any of the biggest problems facing the company, and in some cases may make them worse.

What does it mean: Twitter resisted adding the ability to edit tweets for years, despite it being the most requested feature from its users, including would-be owner Elon Musk. Paying subscribers to the platform will now be the first users to be able to edit their tweets “multiple times” 30 minutes after they’re posted, while Twitter is exploring ways to abuse the feature.

The problem is in: Experts have repeatedly pointed out that the ability to edit tweets can allow attackers to rewrite history and spread disinformation, even if the full history of tweet editing is available. Read the full story.

— Rhiannon Williams

The US agency responsible for developing fossil fuels has a new challenge: to clean them up.

In his first month in office, US President Joe Biden signed an executive order calling for the elimination of carbon emissions from the electricity sector by 2035 and a net-zero economy by 2050.

The move redefined the mandate of the US Department of Energy’s Fossil Energy Administration, a research agency whose mission has been to develop more efficient ways to produce fossil fuels for nearly half a century. He is now in charge of helping to clean up the industry.

While the agency continues to explore the extraction of oil, gas and coal, its main task is to minimize the impact of the production of these fossil fuels. He must also decide where the billions of dollars in a series of recent federal laws will go to address carbon sequestration and the ongoing harm from fossil fuels. Read the full story.

— James Temple

Required Reading

I scoured the internet to find the most hilarious/important/scary/exciting tech stories to date.

1 Jackson enters his fifth day without water
Residents of the Mississippi state capital bear the brunt of decades of government neglect. (The keeper)
+ The city was forced to go for years without money for infrastructure and repairs. (Voice)
+ It is not yet clear when tap water will be restored. (New York Times $)

2 The implications of the cancellation of Roe v. Wade are global.
This decision inspired pro-life activists in other countries as well. (famous magazine)

3 California asked electric car owners to refrain from charging
It’s a pretty horrendous time, coming just days after the recent announcement of a phase-out of gas-powered cars. (New York Times $)
+ The current heat wave is forcing the power grid to operate at its limits. (Los Angeles Times)
+ A solar company wants to build microgrids with solar panels in California areas. (New York Times $)
+ There are only 6,000 electric vehicle fast charging stations in the US.. (MIT Technology Review)

4 Meta AI Can ‘Read’ Brain Waves
Although not very accurate. (New scientist $)

5 What an exoplanet looks like
The world, nearly 400 light-years away, was photographed by the James Webb Space Telescope. (Quanta)
+ NASA’s Artemis 1 lunar mission will attempt to take off again tomorrow. (Space)

6 How the police track the phones of US citizens
Also without a warrant. (Motherboard)
+ Cops build shady surveillance car in Minnesota after George Floyd’s murder. (MIT Technology Review)

7 Moth’s Sensitive Ears Are Like A Perfect Microphone
Scientists want to better understand how they work. (IEEE Spectrum)

8 What It’s Like To Spend A Sabbatical Inside The Metaverse
The strange, uncanny wilderness is even more unsettling when there is no one to interact with. (Slate $)
+ VRChat users teach visitors how to manage a Kmart virtual store. (Wired $)
+ The metaverse is a new word for an old idea. (MIT Technology Review)

9. Video games are not considered a major cultural artifact.
But archivists hope to give them the recognition they deserve. (New Yorker $)

10 Musicians Make Good Money From Their Poop Songs
They can thank the kids who scream “poop” on Alexa. (Buzz Feed News)

Quote of the Day

There are no whites there.

— Gino Womack, program director for the nonprofit Operation Good Jackson, explains Salon as the city’s basic infrastructure, including its water supply systems, fell into disrepair.

big story

Keynes was wrong. Generation Z will be even worse.

December 2019

The founder of macroeconomics predicted that capitalism would last approximately 450 years. This is the period of time between 1580 and 2030 when John Maynard Keynes suggested that mankind would solve the problem of their needs and move on to higher concerns.

It is true that today the system appears to be on the verge of transformation, but not in the way that Keynes hoped. Generation Z’s destiny was to be to relax and immerse themselves in an idle and creative life. Instead, it is preparing for wage stagnation and an environmental crisis.

What the hell happened? To understand why Generation Z will not become Generation EZ, we must ask some fundamental questions about economics, technology, and progress. After we have assumed for a century that a better world will emerge on top of the rubbish we have accumulated, these assumptions seem unfounded. The situation is getting worse. Read the full story.

— Malcolm Harris

We can still have good things

A place for comfort, fun and distraction during these strange times. (Any ideas?Write meorwrite me.)

+ Turn off those audiobooks – your dog prefers classical music.
+ This vegan risotto sounds absolutely delicious.
+ Reminder that teenagers loved phones long before the advent of smartphones.
+ I’m still not entirely sure I understand why a group of researchers decided to snack on a 55,000-year-old buffalo.
+ I like the look of these cute lil pokemon.

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