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At China’s World Internet Conference last November, a group of the country’s major universities and a government think tank issued a document laying out the principles of cyber sovereignty. A key concept underpinning the short paper (link in Chinese) was the free flow of data in cyberspace. Beijing pinpointed that same concept in its new data security law, which takes effect in September.
But the free flow of data is circumscribed by another principle (link in Chinese): the secure flow of data. And the two can be in conflict. For example, a Chinese company may amass troves of user data that criss-cross servers worldwide, potentially posing national security concerns for Beijing if the data fall into the hands of an adversary.
That conflict is now playing out in real time, as the Chinese government dramatically intensifies its crackdown on domestic tech platforms, most notably ride-hailing app Didi. The company refutes allegations that it hands over user and road data to the US, but on July 4 regulators ordered the app removed from China’s app stores, just days after Didi’s blockbuster listing in New York. The ban follows a cybersecurity review spearheaded by China’s cyberspace administration, which barred the company from new user sign-ups. Didi has since lost $15 billion in market value.
China has a strong economic incentive to promote the free flow of data: According to McKinsey, global data flows raised global GDP by over 10%. But just as Beijing’s 2016 cybersecurity law framed cybersecurity reviews as a national security issue, the new law stipulates that firms found to be mishandling “core state data” can face hefty fines, or even be ordered to cease business operations. Those tactics are aggressive, but the tension they speak to is universal. After all, former US president Donald Trump tried to ban Chinese apps TikTok and WeChat over concerns that their data would be used to spy on Americans. —Mary Hui
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Urban upgrades. Rumors of the city’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. If anything, the pandemic has made people more aware of how city life could be enhanced with alternative forms of transportation and affordable rents, just for starters. As Camille Squires reports, Madrid is ready to make that city more livable by prioritizing residents over tourists, creating intergenerational co-living spaces, and more. The complete list is a cheat sheet for planners and concerned citizens ready for change. —Lila MacLellan, senior reporter
We’re obsessed with microdosing
Psychedelic drugs are entering a second golden age in the US and Europe. Advocates say microdosing can boost creativity, happiness, focus, and energy. Meanwhile, startups are attracting hundreds of millions of dollars in venture capital for potentially lucrative applications in legal pharmaceuticals to treat conditions like depression, eating disorders, PTSD, and addiction. But the neurochemistry to explain how psychedelics actually work remains poorly understood. So can microdosing really fix our sad, broken brains? Or is its benefit all in our heads? The Quartz Weekly Obsession is willing to experiment.
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What has to happen for psychedelic medicines to reach patients in need?
The science may be promising and the business community may be ready, but there are still some hurdles to overcome:
🤑 Continued investment in drug development initiatives
🔓 Changing government regulation around psychedelics
🏥 Establishing scalable, reliable clinics where patients can have a therapeutic experience
👯 Continued destigmatization
⚖️ Clear ethical standards for the field
🚦 Ensuring patient access
🔬 More research to answer more questions
✦ Our field guide on the rise of psychedelic medicine details what a long, strange trip it’s been, perhaps unnecessarily so. Get a microdose of a Quartz membership by trying it free for a week.
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Mastering debt. Almost all of the discussion surrounding the high cost of tuition in the US has focused on undergraduate education, but as Melissa Korn and Andrea Fuller report in the Wall Street Journal, master’s degree programs at elite universities are loading students with staggering levels of debt. Using education department data, Korn and Fuller show that at Columbia University, for example, graduates of its master’s film program owed a median of $180,000 in student loans yet earned less than $30,000 two years after graduation. —Oliver Staley, business and culture editor
Getting care for a disease without a name. The medical system may have been disrupted by Covid-19 but the maddening amount of work patients must do to receive proper care seems to be unchanged. Sandhya Kambhampati recounts in the Los Angeles Times how she had to navigate dozens of medical professionals through nearly 200 appointments and tests to reach a long Covid diagnosis. She and her doctors know little about what the future brings, but her story is a necessary reminder of the effort it will take before the medical system is ready to identify and treat the Covid long-haulers of the future. —David Yanofsky, Things editor
Who run the world? Maybe not China after all. China’s ascent to becoming the world’s top economic power can seem all but inevitable, particularly to those within the country. But there’s still a possibility it will end up like Japan. For Bloomberg, Eriz Zhu and Tom Orlik explore the myriad of obstacles—low fertility, manipulated economic data, fraying relations with allies—Beijing will have to overcome in order to overtake the US. —Liz Webber, deputy email editor
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