The Download: US-built EV batteries, and California’s monkeypox emergency

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.

Electric vehicle uptake in the US could be held back by a lack of batteries

The news: The US Senate Democrats released a bill last week that could significantly cut the country’s carbon emissions. One of the bill’s key components is an extension of electric vehicle tax credits, which are designed to help push adoption of EVs by giving buyers $7,500 credit towards purchasing a qualifying new electric vehicle, or $4,000 for used cars.

The hitch? For a new vehicle to qualify for the tax credit, its battery and the key minerals used in it need to come mostly from the US or from countries it has free-trade agreements with.

Why it matters: Currently most lithium-ion cells for EV batteries are built in China. The US manufactures only about 7% of global supply. The legislation is an attempt to incentivize companies to build more capacity for mining and battery manufacturing in the US. While the restrictions could help to build a secure supply chain for batteries in the US in the long term, some experts are uncertain how quickly US companies will be able to respond.

The bigger picture: The ambitious EV tax credits could play a role in building domestic battery manufacturing and encouraging new supply chains in the US—and are an obvious attempt to slow China’s battery dominance. But whether those changes will come fast enough to keep up with booming EV sales remains very much an open question. Read the full story.

—Casey Crownhart

The must-reads

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

1 California declared a state of emergency over its monkeypox outbreak
It has more than 800 confirmed cases, and is the second state in three days to announce emergency measures. (CNN)
+ The US allowed millions of vaccines that could protect against monkeypox to expire. (NYT $)
+ India has recorded its first death from monkeypox. (BBC)
2 Amazon’s carbon emissions grew by 18% last year
Despite its attempts to paint itself as a green champion. (The Verge)
+ Just two years ago, it created a $2 billion climate fund. (MIT Technology Review)
3 What Facebook friendships can teach us about reducing poverty
Poor children with richer friends are much more likely to earn more as adults. (NYT $)
4 Black Mirror hasn’t helped the case for brain-computer interfaces
While the technology could help millions, many people are still understandably wary. (Wired $)
+ Why facial expressions are the new Xbox controllers. (WP $)
+ Brain implants could be the next computer mouse. (MIT Technology Review)
5 How Roblox responds to grooming
Leaked documents detail the popular gaming platform’s response to major moderation challenges. (Motherboard)
6 Schools are failing to protect children’s sensitive data 
Hacks and breaches could seriously affect their future prospects and employment. (NYT $)
7 A hateful Arabic anti-LGBTQ+ group is thriving on Twitter 
After being kicked off Facebook in early July. (Rest of World)
+ Anti-vaxx Twitter accounts are peddling food crisis misinfo. (The Guardian)
+ The company is probing Elon Musk’s associates about his deal to acquire it. (WP $)
8 Electric cars are too quiet 🚙
But settling on a sound that won’t drive us all to distraction is surprisingly hard. (New Yorker $)
+ Their adoption means gas stations are poised to pivot to…something else. (Protocol)
9 How daters ended up in a long term relationship with Tinder 📱
After a decade on the app, some users feel a committed partnership is further away than ever. (The Cut)

10 We still want to look good on BeReal
The app wants us to be authentic, but doesn’t negate that urge. (The Atlantic $)
+ Retraining your social media algorithm is a grueling undertaking. (The Information $)

Quote of the day

“You’re already chasing your tail if you’re going to wait for a case to show up.”

—Dr Yvonne Maldonado, a professor at the Stanford School of Medicine, tells Undark that because US public health agencies don’t generally test sewage for polio, the virus had likely spread before a man in Rockland County sought medical attention for it in June.

The big story

The miracle molecule that could treat brain injuries and boost your fading memory

August 2021

Carmela Sidrauski wasn’t looking for a wonder drug. Testing thousands of molecules during high-speed automated experiments, she plucked one of the compounds out of the reject column and moved it into the group that warranted further study. Something about its potency intrigued her.

That was in 2010; today the list of potential therapeutic applications for that molecule sounds almost too good to be true. It’s restored memory formation in mice months after traumatic brain injuries and shown potential in treating neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Lou Gehrig’s disease (also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.)

It also seems to reduce age-related cognitive decline and has imbued healthy animals—mice, at least—with almost photographic memory. And while we don’t currently know whether it would work to reverse cognitive decline in people, we will soon know more. Read the full story.

—Adam Piore

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.)

+ An intriguing explanation for why we’re so obsessed with the supernatural.
+ Beyoncé’s Renaissance album is being hailed as some of her greatest work to date, but it’s far from the first time she’s dabbled with dance music.
+ Here’s why it’s worth choosing to be cheerful – even if you don’t feel like it.
+ A video game putting you in the shoes (paws?) of a stray cat sounds just wonderful.
+ This fossilized fish is the stuff of nightmares.

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