The download: Longevity for the ultra-rich and the wrongful persecution of Chinese scientists


It’s today’s edition of The Download, our weekly newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s happening in the tech world.

Inside the billion-dollar meeting for the mega-rich who want to live forever

Back in September, Jessica Hamzelu, our senior biotech reporter, traveled to Gstaad, a luxury ski resort town in the Swiss Alps, to attend the first in-person Longevity Investor Conference.

During the two-day event, scientists and biotech founders outlined different approaches to extending the number of years we can spend in good health. Most of them were trying to win investors with deep pockets.

As the field of longevity tries to establish itself as science-based, a plethora of “anti-aging treatments” based on little or no human evidence continue to enter the market. But can billions of investor money—some of it from ethically dubious sources—ever offer a concrete path to evidence-based life extension? Read the full story.

Read more about the quest to extend our healthy years:

+ How scientists want to make you young again. Research labs are pursuing technology to “reprogram” aging bodies back to youth. Read the full story.

+ Aging clocks aim to predict how long you will live. These clocks promise to measure biological age and help identify antiaging drugs, but questions remain about their accuracy. Read the full story.

A big settlement for a Chinese-American scientist won’t end wrongful prosecutions

Last week, our senior investigative reporter Eileen Guo wrote about the historic settlement won by Chinese-American scholar Sherry Chen, who was wrongly accused of being a Chinese spy.

Her case illustrates how difficult it is to stand up to a powerful federal agency and hold it accountable. It’s also an anomaly—it’s usually incredibly difficult to prove racial bias in court, but a broad pattern of misconduct by her accusers was conclusively proven.

However, Chen’s victory does not necessarily mean that others in her position will have an easier time getting justice. Read the full story.

— Zeyi Yang

Zeyi’s story is from China Report, his weekly newsletter that covers everything you need to know about China. Sign up to get it in your inbox every Tuesday.

Podcast: Warzone Farming

Tune in to the latest episode of our In Machines We Trust podcast, where we look at how shortages of everything from seeds to fertilizers could accelerate the adoption of technologies that can help supplies last longer in war-torn Ukraine. Listen to it on Apple Podcasts or wherever else you usually listen.

The required readings

I’ve scoured the internet to find you today’s funniest/important/scary/fascinating tech stories.

1 Donald Trump will run for president again
He is dismissive of critics, especially those in his own party. (Vox)
+ Republicans are not thrilled with their performance in the midterms. (Atlantic $)
+ His decision to run is no surprise. (New Yorker $)
+ Technically, Trump and Elon Musk are already competitors on social media. (Domestic $)

2 FTX boss Sam Bankman-Fried fights for cash (again)
He is desperately trying to fix the $8 billion hole in the crypto exchange’s finances. (WSJ$)
+ The Bahamian branch of FTX has also filed for bankruptcy. (Bloomberg $)

3 Twitter is playing with fire in the EU
The increasingly volatile platform could be undone by its new rules controlling Big Tech. (FT$)
+ Twitter’s Blue Verified service relaunched on November 29. (Reuters)
+ Social media giants could be forced to reveal details of their algorithms in the UK. (FT$)
+ Musk has a sinister new nickname: Elmo. (Domestic $)
+ What exactly is Musk thinking right now? (Vox)

4 NASA’s Artemis 1 mission finally launches
After months of setbacks, it took off in the early hours. (CNN)
+ The mission hopes to shed light on what space is doing to our bodies. (Vox)
+ See the moment NASA’s DART spacecraft crashed into an asteroid. (MIT Technology Review)

5 Taylor Swift Revealed How Terrible Ticketmaster’s System Is
Buying concert tickets is increasingly like fighting a rigged lottery. (WP$)

6 The world’s population has reached 8 billion people
But this is not a reason for either panic or relaxation. (Economist $)
+ A new global map shows that population is growing faster in flood-prone areas. (MIT Technology Review)

7 Million Indians rely on businesses controlled by one person
Mukesh Ambani’s conglomerate made him extremely powerful. (Rest of the World)

8 Boston Dynamics is suing a rival over its robot dog
He claims that Ghost Robotics’ four-legged design is too similar to his own. (The Register)
+ This robot dog just learned to walk. (MIT Technology Review)

9 TikTok encouraged brands to give back to customers 👏
Unfortunately, that means they’re more annoying than ever. (with cable $)
+ The platform also repackaged MTV Cribs for a new generation. (The Keeper)

10 Your next match on Tinder could be generated by AI
For just $19, you too can be “the best you’ve ever looked.” (Motherboard)
+ No one knows what’s next for AI copyright. (On the edge)

Quote of the day

“The taller ones mostly played chess and board games. There were no parties. They were undersexed, if nothing else.

— Dr. George Lerner, an in-house performance coach at crypto exchange FTX, tells the New York Times that reports of hedonistic behavior at the firm are wildly exaggerated.

The big story

Delivery apps are reshaping life in India’s megacities

From 7 a.m. to dusk, seven days a week, N. Sudhakar sits behind the counter of his hole-in-the-wall grocery store in the southern Indian city of Bangalore. Packed floor-to-ceiling with everything from 20-kilogram sacks of rice to one-rupee ($.01) sachets of shampoo, this one-stop shop provides most of the daily needs of many in the neighborhood. It is a replica of the 12 million or so family ‘kirans’ found on almost every corner in India.

Increasingly, the tech industry is challenging stores like his. Across the road, a steady stream of delivery drivers queue up to pick up groceries from a “dark store” — a mini-warehouse built to allow ultra-fast deliveries run by Dunzo, a Bangalore startup.

In India’s megacities, the urban middle class is gradually getting addicted to online shopping. These shoppers make up a small fraction of the population, but their spending power is significant, and in the wealthier pockets of big cities, the battle for India’s street corner is on. Read the full story.

— Ed Gent

We can still have good things

A place of comfort, entertainment and distraction in these strange times. (Any ideas? Email me ortweet them to me.)

+ If you enjoyed the book Fleischmann in Trouble, a TV adaptation starts streaming on Hulu tomorrow.
+ John Wick is back and angrier than ever.
+ If your Birkenstocks are looking a little shabby, don’t worry—someone just paid $218,000 for Steve Jobs’ old pair (thanks, Alison!)
+ I had no idea that Skyfall was almost called something else entirely.
+ Paper peepshows were the 19th century’s answer to virtual reality—and just as awesome.





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