Hi! I am Martin Gorricho, one of Cambre’s sustainability policy geeks and this week’s editor of TechAways! With the EU’s intensive preparations for carbon neutral future, we all get excited listening to Vice-President Timmerman’s speeches about green Europe, don’t we? I know you missed him during summer as the Fit for 55 package gives us reasons to dream about a better future. However, this week I am not here to talk about years ahead, policies, or political promises. It is time to talk about what is happening today!

If there is a country that specialises in being neutral, and in this case, climate neutral, then it can only be Switzerland! This is where technology compensating our dirty CO2 emissions was born. The company that developed this technology goes by the name of Climeworks and they have hit the news this week with the opening of the first ever industrial carbon capture plant! Built in Iceland, the plant, called Orca, isolates CO2 in volcanic rock, ensuring that it does not escape for the next thousands of years. Even the giant Microsoft has invested in this company and started using the technology for its own eco-goals!

Sounds great, right? Before we start celebrating the end of climate change, you should know that this technology is in its initial stage of development and therefore is quite pricey. While we are happy to see Bill Gates pay for it, it is more exciting to see innovation and entrepreneurs show up to save the day (or the planet in this case). Stay tuned to follow more developments like this, and other exciting tech news shaping the world!

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#TechAways is brought to you by Giovanni Bazzoli, Derya Fikret, Martin Gorricho, Marco Moreno and Jarek Oleszczynski.

House party is put to bed 😴 [Gizmodo]

The recent year has forced us to redefine and innovate our social interactions. A highly infectious virus has created countless challenges, but it has also put the value of our relationships into perspective. Playing charades and having wine with friends on house party was a way to retain a spirit of comradeship in this bizarre period. Sadly, the platform where you can “jump” between different call rooms and guess the lyrics of 2000s hits is ending. As a conciliation, the team at Epic is working on new ways to have meaningful interactions. I loved house party, but this guy is looking forward to a slow return to normal where I can beat my friends in guessing the lyrics of “I want it that way” *in person*.

TikTok & mental health 🧠 [TechCrunch]

Being a teenager was never easy. As youngsters we had to put up with crazy hormones, peer pressure and difficult life choices (not even mentioning annoying parents). However, in a digitalised society this list has an extra addition – navigating social media. Although social media is considered as something fun, it has a dark side that we often forget about – its influence on mental health. TikTok, one of teenagers’ favorite platforms, decided to tackle this issue by educating users on the negative effects of social media on mental wellbeing. The question is whether TikTok’s tactics are something that will work or something in line of let us say… fast-food chains trying to promote a healthy lifestyle.

The Power Measurer 📏 [Protocol]

“Power wears out those who do not have it” some used to say. But how do we measure power? As power in Tech is transforming, so is the way we measure it. The Protocol Power Index is a project to assess the power of companies across the tech industry by digging deep into factors that make a company powerful (or not). It combines 30 data points for each company. The pointing system goes beyond financial turnover, and it investigates the ability to hire and retain the best workers, the efforts made in R&D, clear ambitions around diversity, equity and inclusion, a commitment to sustainability and an emphasis on privacy and security. It will not just focus on big household names, but also on critical sub-segments of enterprise, fintech and other burgeoning fields of tech.

Mind blown 🤯 [Wired]  

It is a well-known fact that to act fast, brain neurons need to make a rapid connection to recognise between life and death situations. A recent discovery shows that to react faster, brain cells break their DNA into pieces at key points and rebuild the fractured genome later. The DNA break occurs in double-strands, which are also linked to conditions such as cancer. Years ago, neuroscientist Li-Huei Tsai and her team claimed that the DNA breaks released enzymes to transcribe relevant genes nearby. Academics were sceptical about this theory, especially because DNA breakage is usually associated with something bad. However, with more evidence coming, neuroscientists hope that this theory will be recognised more widely.

About this week’s editor, Martin Gorricho

I am one of the most recent additions in Cambre’s sustainability team. I follow all the regulatory changes on climate issues. I mostly specialise in the energy field, in which I have worked previously in several European countries. Coming from the green mountains and blue seaside of the Basque Country, I am into discovering interesting Belgian landmarks and cuisine! So, if you want an exchange about energy sector innovations or have any suggestions on wonderful places in Belgium, drop me a line!

In case you haven’t had enough:

NASA is going to slam a spacecraft into an asteroid. Things might get chaotic [Technology Review] 

How AI simplifies data management for drug discovery [Technology Review] 

The startup where meetings are optional and Slack is forbidden [Protocol]  

Judge Says an AI Can’t Be an Inventor on a Patent Because It’s Not a Person [Gizmodo] 

Blockchain might be the solution to the digital identity hurdle [EURACTIV]  

Tinder Introduces ‘Completely New, Interactive Ways’ to Swipe Right for Sex [Gizmodo] 

Everyone will be able to clone their voice in the future [The Verge]