The Download: Unhelpful chore apps, and bitcoin’s plummeting value

Unhelpful chore apps aimed at mother, and bitcoin’s plummeting value | MIT Technology Review

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The Download

Plus: How a Turkish drone changed the face of modern warfare

May 10, 2022

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.

Chore apps were meant to make mothers’ lives easier. They often don’t.

A few years ago, Jamie Gravell needed help. She was working full time while finishing her dissertation, her son had just turned two, and the housework was piling up, even after she’d repeatedly asked her husband to do more. So she downloaded Cozi. It’s one example of an increasingly popular solution: chore apps designed to help families split housework more fairly. Gravell’s hope was that her husband would do more to lighten her load without her having to keep asking. 

It was a disaster. “It doesn’t solve the problem: that you’re nagging someone else or parenting your partner,” she says. “It doesn’t empower or engage the other person to be a part of the family team.” Within a week, Gravell had ditched the app. Cozi “just didn’t work,” she says.

On paper, chore apps could help to solve the very real problem that women in heterosexual couples still shoulder a disproportionate amount of the housework. They could get male partners to become more like, well, partners. But as Gravell discovered, these apps might actually be doing the very opposite, by forcing women—and especially mothers—to take on the additional burden of using technology to assign tasks. Read the full story.

—Tanya Basu

The must-reads

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

1 Bitcoin’s value has fallen by more than 50% from its peak last November
A rise in interest rates, coupled with fears of a recession, is fuelling even more volatility in the crypto market than usual. (Bloomberg $)
+ The commissioner nicknamed “crypto mom” isn’t a fan of the moniker. (Protocol)
+ Social media is an easy hunting ground for crypto scammers. (LA Times)
+ Bored Ape’s creator is looking beyond NFTs—to sell land in an ‘open’ metaverse. (FT $)  

2 How an inexpensive Turkish drone revolutionized modern warfare
And bolstered the image of Turkey as an industrialized, military nation. (New Yorker $)
+ “Digital twin” copies of planes help aircraft to book themselves in for repair. (Economist $) 

3 Clearview AI has agreed not to sell its facial recognition database to private companies
But it can still do business with federal and state agencies. (NYT $)+ Your picture is probably in its database. (TR)

4 NSO Group is ignoring questions over whether it’s operating legally
The consultancy tasked with overseeing the company worries it’s being “kept in the dark.” (FT $)
+ NSO was about to sell hacking tools to France. Now it’s in crisis. (TR)

5 Twitter’s top lawyer isn’t the chief censor Elon Musk painted her to be
Her colleagues are worried much of Vijaya Gadde’s good work is about to be undone. (WP $)

6 Art robot Ai-Da is redefining what a celebrity artist is 🎨
Which raises questions about whether the robot or the team behind it is the creator. (Dazed)

7 Can new EU regulations rein in the use of AI across the public sector?
It’s becoming a serious issue: an AI scandal effectively topped the Dutch government last year. (Spectrum IEEE)
+ Meta’s new language AI system wants to combat the prejudice many systems parrot. (TR)
+ How the AI industry profits from catastrophe. (TR)

8 Resurrecting an extinct species is technically impossible 🦣
But that isn’t stopping scientists from trying. (Quanta)

9 How to find serenity in being hacked
Learning to let go of your tweets is half the battle. (Slate $)
+ Bonds with caregivers in early childhood may inform whether you obsess over social media. (WSJ $)

10 Can’t be bothered to get dressed? Deepfaking your wardrobe on Zoom?
It looks much more realistic than filters. (Nikkei Asia)

Quote of the day

“It’s like bees. Everyone does their own thing, collects their own honey—until a bear with its bloody paws comes in.”

—Taras Topolia, a popular Ukrainian singer turned soldier, explains the country’s collective resilience against the Russian invasion to the Wall Street Journal.

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