The Download: psychedelics for women, and Roe v. Wade online

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.

Psychedelics are having a moment and women could be the ones to benefit

Psychedelics are having a moment. After decades of prohibition and vilification, they are increasingly being employed as therapeutics. Drugs like ketamine, MDMA, and psilocybin mushrooms are being studied in clinical trials to treat depression, substance abuse, and a range of other maladies. And as these long-taboo drugs stage a comeback in the scientific community, it’s possible they could be especially promising for women.

Is this the beginning of a brighter future for women’s health, one where common mental disorders, symptoms of chronic pain, and intense mood swings are managed with mind-altering trips? While psychiatrists are optimistic, they are rightly concerned about the potential for abuse. Read the full story.

—Taylor Majewski

The cognitive dissonance of watching the end of Roe unfold online

When the United States Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade on the morning of June 24, 2022, thousands of people first heard the decision by reading SCOTUSblog, a news site launched 20 years ago. Katie Barlow, the blog’s media editor, was one of the few correspondents on camera the moment the opinion was released, reading it out to her audience on TikTok. It was a fitting way to enter the official post-Roe age: on platforms that can feel so personal to their publics, even as history unfolds.

Back in 1973, an issue of Time magazine appeared on newsstands, announcing that “abortion on demand” had been legalized by the Supreme Court, scooping the court’s own announcement by a few hours. In 2022, the phone might still be how you learned of the decision made by six justices, but now that phone could also give an instant voice to millions whose rights were rolled back with their ruling. And it’s also the device that could let us help someone we have never met before travel to a state where abortion is still legal. Read the full story.

—Melissa Gira Grant

The must-reads

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

1 Facebook gave a teenager’s messages about her abortion to police
The evidence is being used to prosecute her and her mother. (Motherboard)
+ Big Tech remains silent on questions about data privacy in a post-Roe US. (MIT Technology Review)

2 Conspiracy theorists are staking out voting drop boxes
They’re trying to catch fraudsters submitting fake ballots, but the legality of such surveillance differs state-to-state. (NYT $)

3 What sets bitcoin apart from other cryptocurrencies
Other coins haven’t weathered the crash as successfully. (Protocol)
+ It’s okay to opt out of the crypto revolution. (MIT Technology Review)

4 Chip makers are bracing themselves for a slump
Just as Joe Biden signed the CHIPS Act. (WSJ $)
+ Congress still needs to decide who will benefit from the legislation’s ample funding. (WP $)
+ Taiwan is pushing Foxconn to drop investment in a Chinese chips firm. (FT $)

5 5G is riddled with security vulnerabilities
It could take years to fully secure it. (Wired $)
+ Not all 5G coverage is built equally. (Android Police)

6 Russia’s propaganda is spreading beyond the West
It’s an attempt to justify and garner support for invading Ukraine from other countries. (NYT $)
+ TikTok is ‘shadow-promoting’ videos uploaded from Russia. (Wired $)

7 NASA’s space shuttle has a troubled legacy
50 years after it launched, its achievements are matched by its unfulfilled potential. (Slate)
+ SpaceX’s latest Super Heavy prototype orbital flight test was a success. (Gizmodo)

8 TikTokers are ‘shifting’ into new, desired realities
They’re partly motivated by the depressing current political climate. (Input)
+ There’s still no evidence that we’re living in a simulation though, I’m afraid. (The Guardian)

9 Google wants Apple to fix text messaging
It’s blaming Apple for the war of the blue and green bubbles. (Insider $)

10 Robot arms are coming to Japan’s convenience stores 🦾
Next stop: the US. (Bloomberg $)

Quote of the day

“In 10 years, will this be an Airbnb village?”

—Rhys Tudur, a member of Gwynedd council in Wales, despairs at the rise in landlords evicting tenants in favor of running lucrative Airbnbs in the local area, he tells the Guardian.

The big story

How Amazon Ring uses domestic violence to market doorbell cameras

September 2021

When Ring launched ten years ago with a crowdfunding campaign, the market for home surveillance cameras and video doorbells barely existed. Now Ring has it cornered.

Despite the company’s focus on police partnerships, it’s unclear how much the cameras actually help in deterring or solving crimes. Meanwhile, civil liberties groups have raised concerns about how Ring’s cameras and app may lead to racial profiling, excessive surveillance by police, and a loss of privacy.

As these doorbell cameras have become more widespread, law enforcement agencies have experimented with using them in more targeted ways, including to address one of the most intimate and complicated of crimes: domestic violence. But some experts in the field are concerned that initiatives in partnership with the police inject a combination of potentially dangerous factors into the lives of those they are supposed to protect. Read the full story.

—Eileen Guo

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.)

+ Bandit the home-guarding cat deserves a medal for his service (Thanks Craig!)
+ The eternal dilemma: should you buy a PC or build your own?
+ Nu metal dressing is the trend of the summer.
+ An intriguing introduction to America’s river wanderers of yesteryear.
+ This may be the only acceptable form of Croc.

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