Today’s edition of The Download, MIT Technology Review’s daily tech newsletter


—Patrick Howell O’Neill

The must-reads

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

1 Food prices are soaring
Ukraine supplies much of the world’s wheat, corn, and barley—and its farmers are unlikely to be able to plant this season. (NYT $)
+ Climate change is compounding the problem. (Wired $)
+ A Ukrainian MP has accused Russia of trying to starve Mariupol into surrender. (BBC)
+ Russia is using cluster bombs, and they could pose a danger for decades. (Wired $)
+ 6.5 million people have been displaced inside Ukraine, according to the UN. (Axios)

2 Is Russia holding back from cyberwar?
The most dire predictions haven’t come to pass—yet. (Vox)
+ Right now, the propaganda war is the most significant virtual battlefront. (TR)
+ Russian families are fighting over reality, as different members receive vastly different reports on the war. (WP $)
+ Ukraine is appealing to DJI to restrict where its drones can fly. (Vice)

3 China reported its first covid deaths since January 2021
Omicron has arrived on its shores—but it’s meeting with stiff resistance. (The Guardian)
+ England’s health service has started giving out second covid boosters to people categorized as higher-risk. (The Guardian)
+ Hong Kong is emerging from some of the world’s strictest covid restrictions. (Nikkei)
+ But low vaccination rates and levels of immunity led to a heavy death toll. (The Guardian)

4 What’s a “normal” amount of time to grieve?
Psychiatry’s most powerful body thinks it’s about a year. (NYT $)
+ How to mend your broken pandemic brain. (TR)

5 Americans are hoarding nickels ????
The ones who’ve noticed its price spiking recently, at least. (The Atlantic $)
+ The war in Ukraine looks likely to also cause a shortage of neon. (Recode)
+ It could be a major setback for electric car sales too. (NYT $)

6 NASA’s giant new moon rocket has arrived at its launch pad ????
Marking a crucial milestone in NASA’s space exploration plans, though it may be months before it flies. (Ars Technica)
+ Russia sent three cosmonauts to the International Space Station amid turmoil over Ukraine. (WP $)

7 Sounds like SXSW was… kinda depressing
There’s always hype in tech, but the gap between promises and likely outcomes looks like a giant chasm recently. (Vice)

8 Have iPhone cameras become too smart?
Some users are complaining that the latest iteration over-corrects their photos. (New Yorker $)

9 Why do video games keep getting longer? ????⌛
It’s a golden age for games—you just need to have the time to actually play them. (WP $)

10 What AI thinks an Emily Dickinson poem looks like
Truly otherworldly stuff. (Debugger $)

“There can be no talk of any surrenders, laying down of arms. We have already informed the Russian side about this. Instead of wasting time on 8 pages of letters, just open a [humanitarian] corridor.”

—Ukraine’s deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk issues a defiant message as the Russian military deadline for the surrender of Mariupol passed today, news outlet Ukrainska Pravda reports.

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.)

+ Not NOW, Japanese demon.
+ These physics toys look endlessly entertaining.
+ Sean Connery’s Highlander voiceover dubbed over the opening of Teletubbies cannot be unheard—or unseen.
+ Why you should embrace being boring.
+ New Ben Affleck film Deep Water asks the eternal question: can a drone engineer be sexy?


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