The scars and pits of aging apartments and housing units under the care of the New York City Housing Authority did not immediately convey the idea of innovation. The largest homeowner in the city, nearly 1 in 16 New Yorkers, NYCHA has seen its buildings literally fall apart after decades of delayed maintenance and poor management. All told, this abandoned subsidized home sits amid what local planners have called “destroy by neglect. “It will take about $40 billion or more, at least $180,000 per unit, to get the buildings back in good repair.
Years ago, there was evidence of innovation hidden inside these appliances – in the kitchen. In the late ’90s, the NYCHA realized that the existing refrigerators in many units were extremely inefficient, outdated, and costly to the agency. It held a successful competition for appliance manufacturers, asking them to create smaller, more efficient flats. The winner, Maytag, was given access to NYCHA and other housing regulators, and sold 150,000 units of his novelty Magic Chef model, between 1995 and 2003.
Now NYCHA wants to do the same with heating and cooling. The Clean Heat for Everyone challenge is asking manufacturers to develop easy-to-install, low-cost heat pump technologies to retrofit buildings. The stakes for the agency, the winning company, and for society itself can be huge — and good for the planet.
After all, retrofitting existing buildings is much more sustainable than tearing them down and building new ones. Read full story.
Things to read
I scoured the internet to find you today’s most interesting/important/scary/fascinating stories about tech.
1 Amazon wants Alexa to mimic the voices of your deceased loved ones
Yes, it looks like a leaked Black Mirror script. (CNBC)
+ How your life data means a version of you can live forever. (MIT Technology Review)
2 Finland is sealing spent nuclear fuel deep underground
It is the first country to build a complete deep geological storage facility. (Economist $)
+ Zap Energy, a fusion startup, claims to have injected plasma into the reactor core. (NYT $)
+ Can the US solar panel industry recover? (Slate $)
3 Recession? Which recession?
The economy is slowing, but if we do fall into a recession, it may not be as catastrophic as previously believed. (New Yorkers $)
+ Defining a recession isn’t straightforward yet, but we’ll know when it’s here. (Bloomberg $)
4 Cash is dying
But even though less and less people use it, it is still a lifesaver for the vulnerable. (NY Mag)
+ Safe for cash: technology we may never be able to replace. (MIT Technology Review)
+ Praise the dollar. (MIT Technology Review)
5 How a group dedicated to destroying missionaries was abolished
No White Saviors has been accused of similar misconduct against the aid workers it targeted. (Input)
+ How the AI industry benefits from disaster. (MIT Technology Review)
6 Mark Zuckerberg is not allowed to rule the metaverse
And his current monopolies should be taken as a warning sign. (Time $)
+ Meta no longer sponsors US celebrations. (WSJ $)
+ Facebook’s Board of Supervisors is pushing for more transparency. (WP $)
7 Alibaba sets its sights on South Asia
After conquering China, it is looking to expand into new grasslands. (FT $)
8 How Bored Apes Overshadowed Its Crypto Origins
And become a cultural movement in the process. (Unit)
+ Crypto Game Axie Infinity Could Benefit From Apes’ Fortunes. (The rest of the world)
+ Finally, at least GPU prices are falling. (Motherboard)
9 This Tiny Robotic Fish Removes Microplastics From The Ocean
But we’ll need a LOT of them to make a difference. (Guardians)
10 Disassociation music reflects the bleak state of our world right now
Fans are reveling in separating themselves from reality. (Pitchfork)