IBM’s quantum ambitions and tasting lab-grown burgers

Also: Ron DeSantis’ US presidential campaign launch on Twitter was an absolute disaster

This is today’s edition of La Descarga, our daily newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s happening in the world of technology.

IBM wants to build a 100,000-qubit quantum computer

What’s happening: Last year, IBM held the record for the largest quantum computing system with a processor containing 433 quantum bits, or qubits, the building blocks of quantum information processing. Now the company has set its sights on a much bigger goal: a 100,000-qubit machine that it aims to build within 10 years.

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Why it matters: The project is part of IBM’s plans to bring quantum computing to the realm of large-scale operation, where the technology could address pressing problems that no standard supercomputer can solve.

The potential: The idea is that the 100,000 qubits will work together with the best “classic” supercomputers to achieve new breakthroughs in drug discovery, fertilizer production, battery performance, to name just a few fields. Read the full story.

—Michael Brooks

This Is What A Lab-Grown Burger Tastes Like

Eating meat has an undeniable impact on the planet. Animal agriculture accounts for nearly 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and beef is a particular offender, with more emissions per gram than basically any other meat.

Intrigued by the promise of lab-grown meat, our climate reporter Casey Crownhart decided to see if a cultured Wagyu burger could ever live up to the lofty promises made by alternative meat companies. Find out how it went.

Casey’s story is from The Checkup, your weekly climate and energy newsletter. Register to receive it in your inbox every Wednesday.

If you’re interested in the future of alternative meats, why not take a look at:

+ Will lab-grown meat make it onto our plates? Ethical, environmentally friendly, mass-produced meat might be nothing more than a pipe dream. Read the full story.

+ Your first lab-grown burger is coming soon, and it will be “mixed.” Growing meat in a laboratory is still too expensive. But mixing it with plants could help it finally reach our plates. Read the full story.

The must reads

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

1 Ron DeSantis’ presidential campaign got off to a disastrous start
The launch on Twitter Spaces was plagued with glitches. (NYT$)
+ Even without the bugs, launching the campaign on Twitter would have been weird. (vox)
+ Elon Musk’s commitment to free speech tilts sharply to the right. (Insider $)

2 OpenAI CEO Sam Altman Is On A Global PR Offensive
However, protesters outside his talk in London don’t think so. (The edge)
+ OpenAI supports regulation of “superintelligence”, which conveniently does not exist. (WP$)
+ Our quick guide to the 6 ways we can regulate AI. (MIT Technology Review)

3 Chinese Hackers Have Compromised Critical US Infrastructure
Microsoft says they have been gathering intelligence in a staggering variety of sectors. (FT$)
+ The hack’s targets would be critical in an Asia-Pacific conflict. (The Guardian)

4 Moore’s Law is struggling
A new scheme might be the only hope to keep it going. (IEEE spectrum)
+ Inside the machine that saved Moore’s Law. (MIT Technology Review)

5 We can generate electricity from nothing ⚡
If it can be scaled up, it could be a future alternative to fossil fuels. (Motherboard)
+ This abundant material could unlock cheaper batteries for electric vehicles. (MIT Technology Review)

Six new Alzheimer’s drugs carry very high risks
While they appear to slow the progression of the disease, they can cause people’s brains to swell and bleed. (Wired $)
+ How AI is helping scientists study human brains more closely. (Economist $)

7 This chatbot promises to protect your privacy
Data leakage is one of the biggest challenges facing current models. (Motherboard)
+ Three ways AI chatbots are a security disaster. (MIT Technology Review)

8 How Nextdoor blew up local politics
The nosy neighborhood app has been accused of politically biased moderation. (The Atlantic $)

9 Ticket Vendor Technology Just Isn’t Up To It
The demand to see the biggest stars in Latin America perform is causing systems to collapse. (Rest of the world)

10 How We Can Finally Communicate With Aliens 📡
Or interpret signals from other parts of the universe, at least. (vox)

quote of the day

“Bad. Tech issues. Awkward silences. A complete failure to launch. And that’s just the candidate.”

—A Trump spokesperson is harshly criticizing US presidential candidate Ron DeSantis’ failed ad on Twitter, Politico reports.

the great story

How technology helped archaeologists dig deeper

April 2021

Construction workers in the Lower Manhattan neighborhood of New York were breaking ground for a new federal building in 1991 when they unearthed hundreds of coffins. The site, known as the African Burial Ground, became one of the best-known archaeological discoveries in the country and is now a national monument.

The African Burial Ground project was one of the first to use a new constellation of “bioarchaeology” tools that went far beyond traditional picks and brushes. But this was simply the first stage of a much broader archaeological revolution that brought together scientists and scholars in the humanities to generate data on our ancestors. Read the full story.

—Annalee Newitz

We can still have nice things

A place for comfort, fun and distraction in these strange times. (Do you have any idea? drop me a line either tweet them to me.)

+ Farewell to the one and only Tina Turner, you truly were simply the best.
+ Do you want to book a holiday in June and need some inspiration? Look no further.
+ The brilliant colors of butterfly wings have inspired a new kind of paint: in fact, the lightest paint in the world.
+ How much cake is too much cake?
+ The Greek island of Paros looks absolutely amazing.