Happy long-weekend TechAways readers,

Let me introduce myself briefly because life is too short for long names. Mine is Marco Moreno. As a Spaniard/Norwegian I am constantly trying to decide whether I prefer the cold embrace of winter or the sunlit intensity of summer. Hot cocoa by the fireplace or swimming in the Mediterranean? As many wise people have said, it’s all about that balance. At Cambre, I am a sustainability afficionado who has the opportunity to dive into such diverse topics as chemicals, textiles and batteries. As a previous Liberal Arts & Sciences student, I’m not surprised to find that my place in the world of EU policy is right at the intersection of several issues.  

One of the hot button issues in today’s sustainability agenda is the move towards a “toxic-free environment”. The European Commission published its Zero-Pollution Action Plan on 12 May which sets targets and the foundation for a monitoring framework to tackle air, soil and water pollution. In practice, this means there will be greater focus on ensuring “cutting-edge” technologies are able to provide a clear overview of how exactly the EU is meeting its Zero-Pollution ambition. We also can’t forget the recent publications of the inception impact assessments to revise the REACH and CLP regulations. Why should you care? Chemicals are an intrinsic part of technology in general and these reforms will have consequences for how substances are managed. Needless to say, the functionality and efficiency of tech cannot be understood in isolation of its various components.

As we enter a long weekend I hope that you enjoy this edition of Techaways and that you at some point take a small break from technology to appreciate the break, regardless of sun, rain or snow. Once refreshed, we welcome you to apply to join our dedicated tech team.

Have a great read!


The dirty side of Bitcoin [FT]

Have you ever considered how bad Bitcoin is for the environment? According to Professor Brian Lucey from Trinity College Dublin, “Bitcoin alone consumes as much electricity as a medium-sized European country”. The logic is simple. Machines mining Bitcoin are forced to solve difficult puzzles to gain the currency, requiring a significant amount of energy to operate. However, only 39% of Bitcoin’s energy consumption comes from renewables. As the world is becoming increasingly climate conscious, this spells trouble for the currency, which has no intrinsic value or state guarantee.  

The digital currency era 💸 [EURACTIV]  

On the other end of cryptocurrency, many central banks are actively looking into central bank digital currencies (CBDC). Here is why. CBDC, or the digital equivalent of any local currency, is highly inclusive. Countries like the Bahamas and China are among the first to digitalise their currency, making it accessible to areas where payment infrastructure is underdeveloped. Moreover, CBDC provides enhanced payment efficiency domestically as well as cross-border. Others believe that it is one way to tackle money-laundering, terrorism financing, and sanctions evasion. And while Europe is considering its plans with the digital euro, the pros and cons hint at the stable position of the physical one.

Young entrepreneurs find the pandemic’s silver lining [FT]

Struggling to see anything positive about the COVID pandemic? Check out this inspiring story showing that many young entrepreneurs are actually thriving in adversity. A standout example is Joel Hellermark, who taught himself to code at 13, launched his first company at 16, and now at 24 runs a thriving Swedish digital education start-up. Like others his age, he is using the pandemic-spurred acceleration of digitalisation as well as readier access to capital to forge a career outside the traditional business world. Long may this liberating trend last.

Size does matter 😉 [MedGadget]

The speed at which healthcare wearables evolve is amazing! Their objectives vary from dispensing medication, to measuring biological parameters or enhancing your hearing/speech/movement… What they all have in common is the aim of improving quality of life. One characteristic these devices also often share is their “lack of discretion”. However, that can’t be said about this latest implantable ultrasound chip that can only be viewed under a microscope. While it is currently only being used in mice, it’s fair to wonder how such tiny medical devices will handle big problems like patient privacy – or even how to get rid of the chip once it has served its purpose. We’ll just have to wait and see!

About this week’s editor, Marco Moreno:

I joined Cambre in September 2020 and, like many others, I have spent the entirety of my professional life teleworking. As someone who moved to Brussels during the pandemic, I have heard tales of a bustling city where young professionals thrive socially. I think I speak on behalf of many when I say I look forward to seeing this materialise. One of my favourite things in life is cooking and sharing food with people I can have deep conversations with. I wouldn’t say I‘m a great cook by any means but since home-ed in 9th grade I learned to truly appreciate the food on my table. If you have any recipes that you love or recommendations for things to do once Brussels fully reopens, please do feel free to shoot me a message

In case you haven’t had enough:

The new media world’s streams lead to Amazon [FT]

DeepMind Wants to Use AI to Transform Soccer [Wired]

Facebook’s Oversight Board Has Upheld Trump’s Ban — What’s Next? [The Verge]

Online Dating Apps Are Actually Kind of a Disaster [Wired]

A paralyzed man is challenging Neuralink’s monkey to a match of mind Pong [MIT Technology Review]

This facial recognition website can turn anyone into a cop — or a stalker [Washington Post]

Veritone launches new platform to let celebrities and influencers clone their voice with AI [The Verge]

New Brain Implant Turns Visualized Letters into Text [Scientific American]

Facebook ordered not to apply controversial WhatsApp T&Cs in Germany [TechCrunch]

The woman who will decide what emoji we get to use [MIT Technology Review]