The Download: hope for renewables, and AI’s role in journalism

The news: Powering the world with renewable energy will take a lot of raw materials. The good news is, when it comes to aluminum, steel, and rare-earth metals, there’s plenty to go around, according to a new analysis.

Greater pay off: Although emissions are an unavoidable side effect of extracting the materials, over the next 30 years they add up to less than a year’s worth of global emissions from fossil fuels. Experts are confident the up-front emissions cost will be more than offset by savings from clean energy technologies replacing fossil fuels.

But there’s a catch: While we technically have enough of the materials we need to build renewable energy infrastructure, actually mining and processing them can be a challenge. If we don’t do it responsibly, getting those materials into usable form could lead to environmental harm or human rights violations. Read the full story.

—Casey Crownhart

Could ChatGPT do my job?

—Melissa Heikkilä, senior AI reporter 

There’s been a lot of talk lately about whether journalists or copywriters could or should be replaced by AI. So far, newsrooms have pursued very different approaches to integrating the buzziest new tool, ChatGPT, into their work: tech news site CNET secretly used it to write articles, while BuzzFeed (more transparently) announced plans to use it to generate quiz answers.

Source: MIT Technology Review

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