None other than Roberto Viola, Director-General at DG CONNECT moderated our fantastic #BrusselsCalling media debate this week on tech and COVID-19, starring Natalia Drozdiak (Bloomberg), Javier Espinoza (FT) and Hadas Gold (CNN)! Did you miss it? Not to worry! You’ll find a handy summary and the video here.

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Tech Team

Taller turbines thanks to 3D printing [The Verge] 

It’s hard to imagine a 200-meter-tall onshore wind turbine, but GE is planning on making one! The company has announced that it is working with partners in the construction industry to use 3D printing for the turbine. Skyscraper-sized wind turbines can catch stronger winds at higher altitudes and the larger bases mean that they can use larger blades to generate more power. Because the bases need to be so massive; the goal is to use 3D printing to make them directly where they need to be placed. Not only would these bring renewable wind energy to new markets, it would also cut down on emissions from transporting the turbine pieces to the site. It’s exciting to see where renewable energy can go with innovative tech! 

ET phone home – but where is that? [WIRED] 

With billions of solar systems like ours in the galaxy, how come we have never encountered intelligent life forms like ours? From space agencies, scientists, to even conspiracy theories, the question on their minds for 70 years has been: ‘Where is everybody?’. Well, a new study has found that we probably have 36 communicating extra-terrestrial civilisations in our galaxy. Why haven’t we found them or they us? For now, it just seems we are too far apart. But who knows, we might get a call from ET soon! 

Drones to the rescue against mosquitoes [TechCrunch] 

Drones could soon accelerate efforts to eradicate mosquitoes, a real health hazard in many countries. How so? Not by spraying them or catching them in the air but by infiltrating them and changing the population from the inside. Sterilized male mosquitoes are to be grown in bulk and then released into the wild by the drones, mostly into the areas that cannot be reached easily – such as infested zones deep in the jungle. The sterilized mosquitoes would then compete with the other males for food and mates but produce no offspring. Proper sci-fi work! 

Humans VS machines: the COVID-tracking race [The Verge] 

There is more to contact-tracing than pure tech. While tech giants Apple and Google have succeeded in developing Bluetooth-based tracking apps in record time – with privacy protection in place – their roll-out has been hampered by low download statistics and a lack of government endorsement or follow-up, such as ensuring that patients in isolation are supported for food and medicine. Conversely Massachusetts’s Community Tracing Collaborative, relying solely on phone calls to potential cases, has helped effectively identify a huge chunk of potential new exposures. Our conclusion? We hate to say it but… tech truly is only as good as the user. 

In case you haven’t had enough… 

Big Tech zeros in on the virus-testing market (The New York Times) 

Europeans vow to pursue digital tax plans after US ‘provocation’ (Financial Times) 

The Silence of the Never Facebookers (The Atlantic) 

Tech companies just found out about Juneteenth, and this is what they’re doing (TechCrunch)