The Download: turning garbage into energy, and China’s app anxiety

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.

These companies want to tackle food waste with microbes

Some people might look in a grocery store’s dumpster and see garbage. But others are starting to see dollar signs.

New facilities are popping up in the US to help tackle food waste using a process called anaerobic digestion, which uses microbes to break down organic materials. Divert, a company working to address food waste, announced today that it’s received a $1 billion funding agreement to help build and deploy this technology.

It’s just one of a number of companies focussed on turning one person’s table scraps into another person’s energy—with the upside of a climate benefit. Read the full story.

—Casey Crownhart

Why the stress around Chinese apps in the US is overblown

If you take a look at app stores in the US right now, you might be surprised to find they are dominated by Chinese programs.

On Monday, the three most downloaded free apps on Apple’s App Store were Temu, TikTok, and CapCut (a TikTok video editor); the same chart in the Google Play Store was led by Temu, TikTok, and Shein. All four programs are made by Chinese social media or e-commerce companies. 

It’s clear that Chinese-made apps are having a moment in the US, which is particularly interesting given how governments across the world are currently trying to crack down on TikTok use on staff devices. The same treatment could easily be applied to other Chinese apps. 

But while there are real concerns about these apps’ privacy protocols, most of the anxiety around having Chinese apps on our phones is overblown and politicized. Read the full story.

—Zeyi Yang

Zeyi’s story is from China Report, his weekly newsletter giving you the inside track on all things China. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Tuesday.

The winner of our TR10 poll

Every year, we pick the 10 breakthrough technologies that matter the most right now. We asked you to vote for our honorary 11th technology, and hydrogen planes came out on top!

If you’d like to find out more, you’re in luck. Quickly sign up for today’s edition of The Spark, our weekly climate and energy newsletter, and get a special on the hydrogen plane industry delivered straight to your inbox. 

The must-reads

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

1 The race for US chips subsidies is underway
Lucky recipients will be required to share their excess profits, though. (WSJ $)
+ A ransomware attack on a chip supplier is causing weeks of delays. (FT $)

2 Investors are throwing cash at generative AI companies
However, not all of them will be runaway successes. (Economist $)
+ Generative AI is changing everything. But what’s left when the hype is gone? (MIT Technology Review)

3 Elon Musk has ruined Twitter’s crisis response
Glitches and misinformation have broken its ability to relay vital safety messages during disasters. (The Atlantic $)
+ Outages are on the rise, too. (NYT $)
+ Twitter’s new violent speech policy is inconsistent, to say the least. (Insider $)
+ We’re witnessing the brain death of Twitter.  (MIT Technology Review)

4 FTX’s cofounder has pleaded guilty to fraud and conspiracy
Nishad Singh allegedly helped Sam Bankman-Fried to backdate financial transactions. (BBC)
+ The original crypto king is planning a comeback. (NY Mag $)

5 The deep sea EV metal mining business is booming
But experts fear it’ll do irreparable damage to the seafloor. (Wired $)+ India wants to start mining for lithium in the world’s most militarized region. (Slate $)

6 Inside the satellite hack that sparked an industry-wide wakeup call
The machines and networks that power them are remarkably vulnerable. (Bloomberg $)

7 Los Angeles’ housing system discriminates against people of color
Black and Latino applicants are receiving less help than their white counterparts. (The Markup)
+ AI has exacerbated racial bias in housing. Could it help eliminate it instead? (MIT Technology Review

8 Beware of Tinder robbers
Men in Brazil are increasingly suspicious of their eager matches. (Rest of World)

9 How to store nuclear waste safely
Boreholes deep inside the earth are one option, but they can only store so much. (Ars Technica)+ Finding homes for the waste that will (probably) outlive humanity. (MIT Technology Review)

10 TikTok’s landlords don’t care if you hate them 💰
They’re making too much money through #influencing. (Motherboard)

Quote of the day

“We’re not writing blank checks to any company that asks.”

—Gina Raimondo, US Commerce Secretary, lays down the law for semiconductor companies hoping for a slice of government subsidies, Reuters reports. 

The big story

The pandemic created a “perfect storm” for Black women at risk of domestic violence

September 2022

Starr Davis was smitten when she met a handsome stranger in March 2020. He was charming and persistent; but their whirlwind romance took a major turn when she fell pregnant.

He became physically abusive a few weeks after she moved in with him. He forbade her from setting foot outside, saying it was to protect her and their unborn child from covid. With no friends or close family nearby for support, she suffered in silence.

Covid seems to have made things worse for many women experiencing violence at home. Anti-domestic-violence advocates point to dramatic increases in calls to shelters and support groups, and many care workers say this increase in domestic violence seems to have disproportionately affected Black women like Davis. Read the full story.

—Chandra Thomas Whitfield

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.)

+ Every single one of these pints looks good to me.
+ I bet that you look good on the dancefloor—and so do these guys.
+ Now that we know the forthcoming fourth season of Succession will be its last, let’s take a look back over some of its greatest quotes.
+ Some essential advice on how to have a Really, Really Good Bath.
+ This fun Twitter account collates Medieval art’s most bizarre creatures.

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