The Download April 12, 2022: The future of money, and restyling the metaverse

This is today’s version of the download, Our weekly newsletter provides daily updates on what’s going on in the world of technology.

Money is about to enter a new era of competition

We are close to a huge upheaval in the way we pay for things. Cash is running out, and digital technologies set to replace it could change the nature of money. Today, central-bank finance serves as both a unit of account, a medium of exchange, and a storehouse of value. But new technologies, including cryptocurrency, can differentiate those functions. That shift could weaken the central bank’s dominance and trigger another wave of currency competition, which could have lasting consequences for many countries.

For many, cash now seems largely anachronistic. People around the world usually use their smartphones to pay for things. This shift may seem like a potential driver of inequality: if cash disappears, one imagines that it could deprive the elderly, the poor, and others of technological disadvantages. In practice, however, cell phones are almost saturated in many countries. And digital money, if implemented properly, can be a force for financial inclusion. The big questions now are how we move forward, and whether the massive digital money shift ultimately benefits humanity at large – or exacerbates existing local and global inequalities. Read the full story.

– Ishwar Prasad

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I used the internet to find out some of the most fun / important / scary / compelling stories about technology today.

1 There are growing suspicions that Russia has used chemical weapons in Mariupol
Both the US and the UK are investigating. (BBC)
, Why is it so difficult to confirm chemical weapons?(Axes)
, China is parroting Russian war propaganda. (NYT)
, The people of Buchanan experienced a month of intense terror under Russian occupation. (NYT)
, Ukraine has demanded billions of dollars from its allies. (FT)
, Twitch streamers in Ukraine are streaming war to their Russian followers(Motherboard)

2 Experimental fashion designers are pushing the boundaries in metavars
And they’re hopeful it will translate into real-world sales. (Wired $)
, Meta has taken the first steps towards monetizing Metavers. (The Verge)
, Shockingly, the pixel-flavored Coca-Cola doesn’t taste good. (The Verge)
Meta spent more than $ 15 million last year protecting Mark Zuckerberg(Bloomberg 2)

3 Shanghai lockdown residents live and sleep in their office
When trying to respect each other’s privacy. (AFP)
, They are also concerned about false-positive consequences. (SCMP)
, A lawyer was quarantined in China for three months. (NYT)
, Japan has reported the first case of its new covid strain Omicron XE. (CNBC)

4 China has given the green light to its first new online games for nine months
The country’s youth were addicted to gaming due to concerns. (FT)

5 AI helps hospitals to treat fatal sepsis infections
Algorithms can plug gaps in how physicians diagnose complex conditions. (WSJ)
, Hundreds of AI tools have been created to capture Kovid. None of that helped(TR)

6 How social media entered a decade of stupidity
Because we are all afraid of being caught in a firestorm. (Atlantic 2)
Is it possible to free social media from hatred? (Inspector)

7 more pet owners are cloning their favorite fluffy friends
But they do not share the same quirks as their predecessors. (WP)

8 Tesla fans struggle to convert loved ones into ‘full-self driving’
His family, quite rationally, has some concerns about his safety. (CNN)

9 Why Netflix has added a double thumbs-up icon
While just one thumbs-up is not enough to show your appreciation. (Protocol)
, The streaming platform is reviving the careers of Indian artists. (BBC)

10 love letters for slow, old emails
Its real beauty? You can answer at your own pace. (NYT)

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