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The Download: digital dollars, and AI guidelines

In 2020, digital currencies were one of the hottest topics in town. China was well on its way to launching its own central bank digital currency, or CBDC, and many other countries launched CBDC research projects. Even Facebook has proposed a global digital currency, called Libra.

Few eyebrows were raised when the Boston branch of the US Federal Reserve announced a project to research how a CBDC might be technically designed. A hypothetical US central bank digital currency was hardly controversial, after all. And the US couldn’t afford to be left behind.

How things change. Three years later, the digital dollar—even though it doesn’t exist——has become political red meat, as some politicians label it a dystopian tool for surveillance. And late last year, the Boston Fed quietly stopped working on its project.

So is the dream of the digital dollar dead? Read the full story.

—Mike Orcutt

Introducing MIT Technology Review Roundtables

I’m excited to announce that MIT Technology Review is launching a new participatory subscriber-only online event series called Roundtables. They’re 30-minute monthly conversations with our writers and editors aimed at keeping you informed about emerging tech like artificial intelligence, biotechnology, climate change and more.

The first, on August 10, will feature David Rotman, MIT Technology Review editor at large, in conversation with editor in chief Mat Honan, and they’ll be discussing AI’s impact on the economy. The second, on September 12, I (Charlotte, our news editor!) will be chatting with Melissa Heikkilä, our senior reporter for AI, about a topic she has bags of insight into: How should we regulate AI?

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