The Download: Apple’s AI plans, and a carbon storage boom

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.

Apple is promising personalized AI in a private cloud. Here’s how that will work.

At its Worldwide Developer Conference on Monday, Apple for the first time unveiled its vision for supercharging its product lineup with artificial intelligence. The key feature, which will run across virtually all of its product line, is Apple Intelligence, a suite of AI-based capabilities that promises to deliver personalized AI services while keeping sensitive data secure. It represents Apple’s largest leap forward in using our private data to help AI do tasks for us. 

To make the case it can do this without sacrificing privacy, the company says it has built a new way to handle sensitive data in the cloud. The pitch offers an implicit contrast with the likes of Alphabet, Amazon, or Meta, which collect and store enormous amounts of personal data. So how will it work? Read our story to find out.

—James O’Donnell

The world’s on the verge of a carbon storage boom

A growing number of carbon storage projects are on the way across California, the US, and the world—a trend driven by growing government subsidies, looming national climate targets, and declining revenue and growth in traditional oil and gas activities.

Proponents hope it’s the start of a sort of oil boom in reverse, kick-starting a process through which the world will eventually bury more greenhouse gas than it adds to the atmosphere. 

However, opponents insist these efforts will prolong the life of fossil-fuel plants, allow air and water pollution to continue, and create new health and environmental risks that could disproportionately harm disadvantaged communities surrounding the projects. Read the full story.

—James Temple

How Gogoro’s swap-and-go scooter batteries can strengthen the grid

If you’ve ever been to Taiwan, you’ve likely run into Gogoro’s green-and-white battery-swap stations. With 12,500 stations around the island, it’s built a sweeping network that allows users of electric scooters to drop off an empty battery and get a fully charged one immediately. 

Back in April, Gogoro’s network reacted to emergency blackouts after a 7.4 magnitude earthquake. Zeyi Yang, our China reporter, spoke to Horace Luke, Gogoro’s cofounder and CEO, to understand how it helped to boost the grid’s resilience in the face of disaster. Read the full story.

This story is from China Report, our weekly newsletter covering tech in China. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Tuesday.

The must-reads

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

1 Elon Musk has dropped his lawsuit against OpenAI
Just hours ahead of a scheduled hearing in San Francisco. (CNBC)
+ Musk had argued that OpenAI had breached its commitment to investors. (WP $)+ The billionaire is locked in an ongoing dispute with Sam Altman. (FT $)

2 A far-right TikTok star is set on governing France
He uses the platform to normalize his party’s toxic policies for younger voters. (FT $)

3 Adderall is still in short supply across the US
Americans are hiring workers in the Philippines to source scarce prescriptions. (404 Media)

4 This startup 3D-printed an entire rocket engine
Within just 72 hours. (IEEE Spectrum)

5 Ozempic seems to have numerous health benefits beyond weight loss
But we’re not really sure why. (The Atlantic $)
+ Weight-loss injections have taken over the internet. But what does this mean for people IRL? (MIT Technology Review)

6 Meet the Spanish women taking on Wikipedia’s gender gap
They’re dedicated to publishing pages focused on unsung female heroes. (The Guardian)

7 The secret to a safe space flight? Software engineers
They’re essential to keeping missions on an even keel. (WP $)

8 Temu is threatening to dethrone eBay
The Chinese retail site is now attracting more repeat shoppers. (Bloomberg $)
+ This obscure shopping app is now America’s most downloaded. (MIT Technology Review)

9 How media companies became hooked on games
Blame Wordle. (NYT $)

10 The internet isn’t actually more toxic than it used to be
It just feels that way. (Bloomberg $)
+ How to fix the internet. (MIT Technology Review)

Quote of the day

“It’s the nail in the coffin for future creators launching a blog.”

—Amber Venz Box, co-founder of social shopping app LTK, warns would-be bloggers to reconsider now that Google has launched its AI Overviews summary feature, she tells The Information.

The big story

The world is moving closer to a new cold war fought with authoritarian tech

September 2022

Despite President Biden’s assurances that the US is not seeking a new cold war, one is brewing between the world’s autocracies and democracies—and technology is fueling it.

Authoritarian states are following China’s lead and are trending toward more digital rights abuses by increasing the mass digital surveillance of citizens, censorship, and controls on individual expression.

And while democracies also use massive amounts of surveillance technology, it’s the tech trade relationships between authoritarian countries that’s enabling the rise of digitally enabled social control. Read the full story.

—Tate Ryan-Mosley

We can still have nice things

A place for comfort, fun and distraction to brighten up your day. (Got any ideas? Drop me a line or tweet ’em at me.)

+ This tiny driftfish is a master of disguise.
+ Why the USA’s national forests are every bit as amazing as its national parks.
+ Follow these tips and you’ll be producing barista-level coffee in no time at all.
+ Feeling burnt out? Try playing these fun, short video games.

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