The Download: online safety laws, and mastering pure math

However, the content of these bills varies drastically from state to state. While some aim to protect privacy, others risk eroding it. Some could have a chilling effect on free speech online.

There’s a decent chance that many of the measures will face legal challenges, or prove unenforceable. It’s a messy, complex situation. But below the surface, there are some important arguments that will shape how tech is regulated in the US. So what’s going on? And why does it matter? Let us explain.

—Tate Ryan-Mosley

This story is from The Technocrat, Tate’s weekly newsletter all about power, politics, and Silicon Valley. Sign-up to receive it in your inbox every Friday.

How to bring the lofty ideas of pure math down to earth

There’s an undeniably mystical quality to math. Mathematicians speak of their profession in quasi-religious terms. There’s even a general derision toward those who seek useful application. No wonder, then, that it’s so hard to find accessible math textbooks. What you really need is a sympathetic voice—the testimony of one who has climbed the heights of abstract math but also has the patience to guide a newcomer. Luckily, such a voice exists in mathematician and concert pianist Eugenia Cheng, who has written a number of books that aim to demystify math. Read our review.

The must-reads

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

1 How Apple plans to entice you to buy its headset
By packing it with tons of features, and hoping buyers might find something they like. (Bloomberg $)
+ Inside the cozy but creepy world of VR sleep rooms. (MIT Technology Review)

2 Elon Musk has turned blue checks into a source of embarrassment
They used to signify public status. Now they just show you’ve paid a billionaire $8. (Slate $)
+ Musk has sucked the life out of Twitter. (The Atlantic $)
+ He’s reignited his reputation for risk in the past week. (WSJ $)
+ Twitter is removing inaccurate labels calling prominent news organizations ‘state-funded’. (NYT $)
+ How Twitter helped to fuel the Silicon Valley Bank run. (Axios)

3 China is still hampering efforts to study covid
Three years on, we still don’t know how the pandemic started. (NYT $)
+ Meet the scientist at the center of the covid lab leak controversy. (MIT Technology Review)
+ Listen to our podcast that delves into the mystery surrounding covid’s origins. (MIT Technology Review)

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