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The morning after: El Salvador makes Bitcoin a legal tender

Bitcoin has experienced a roller coaster in the past few months. Once the darling of Tesla, as its value climbed, the value of cryptocurrency plummeted when electric car manufacturers lowered the price of BTC (at the time of writing, it fell by 37% last month). But hey, don't tell El Salvador.

President Nayib Bukele has followed through on his campaign promise to make the turbulent Bitcoin legal tender, alongside the US dollar. It means that, in about 90 days, the cryptocurrency can be used as payment for goods or services unless a business doesn’t have the facilities to accept it.

Jose Cabezas / reuters

In the US, a few folks have tried to live their lives paying with Bitcoin, and it’s as hard as you might expect. El Salvador has tried to embrace cryptocurrency economies before taking this notable leap, at least: Two small beach towns, El Zonte and Punta Mango, formed Bitcoin economies last year, accepting it for groceries and utility payments.

The country has partnered with digital wallet company Strike to make sure it has all the infrastructure needed for its Bitcoin push.

— Mat Smith

What to expect at E3 2021

All digital, and all at home.ESA

After a one-year hiatus, E3 is back. The first event is later today, with the Summer Game Fest at 2PM ET. Expect some surprises, some of which include an appearance by Weezer and Jeff Goldblum. Separately. I think.

But that’s just the start. There will be major streams from all the big games makers — and Netflix — but you’ll have to wait till Tuesday for Nintendo’s showcase. Switch Pro, please.

If you’re looking for commentary alongside all the gaming news, we’ll be hosting live streams for four shows: the Summer Game Fest kickoff, Ubisoft, Xbox and Nintendo. Read on for the full schedule.

Everything you need to know about 'Battlefield 2042'

It's not 'Battlefield V.'DICE

The next Battlefield title is a massive, near-future, sandboxy title called Battlefield 2042. And clearly, developers are hoping this one will help players forget all about Battlefield V.

Ready for the grim world setting? Battlefield 2042 is set in a near-future world ravaged by climate-driven disasters, leading to the most severe refugee crisis in human history. The displaced are recruited to fight in a global war waged by — surprise, surprise — the US and Russia. We now know that Battlefield 2042 has three main modes: All-Out Warfare, Hazard Zone (the battle royale flavor) and a third mystery experience still in development at DICE LA.

Its predecessor, Battlefield V, was buggy, lean and emphasized single-player content at a time when battle royale was peaking. It missed the boat. How will 2042 stack up? Continue reading.

iOS 15 lets Siri perform tasks on a locked iPhone, if you own an Apple Watch

A similar trick to FaceID Unlock when wearing a mask.

You'll be able to issue voice commands for Siri without having to unlock your phone when iOS 15 comes around — so long as you have an Apple Watch. It’s included in the beta release for developers.

Apple has updated the Unlock with Apple Watch explanation to say you'll be able to use the connection between your phone and your Watch to issue Siri commands. You won’t have to unlock your phone with a Face ID or a password first, but your Watch must be nearby, and it has to be unlocked. Continue reading.

Wake Forest teams win a NASA prize for 3D-printing human liver tissue

One team received $300k and a chance to advance its research aboard the ISS.

A pair of research teams from Wake Forest University's Institute for Regenerative Medicine have topped NASA's long-running Vascular Tissue Challenge by 3D printing a biologically viable chunk of human liver. The teams, dubbed Winston and WFIRM, each managed to produce a centimeter-square hunk-o-meat capable of surviving and nominally operating for a span of 30 days.

The medical procedures and products this research potentially promises could well be revolutionary. Rather than rely on a network of volunteers, tomorrow's organ transplant candidates may just have their replacement organs printed ahead of their transplant surgeries, virtually eliminating their chances of rejection and essentially guaranteeing a full genetic organ match every single time. Continue reading.

'Overwatch' is finally getting crossplay support

“We are in harmony.”Blizzard

Five years late to the party, Overwatch is finally offering crossplay. Yes, you can be trounced by your PC-playing buddies as you play along on your Switch. I (half) joke, but it will ensure any Overwatch gamers will be able to ally themselves with their friends, regardless of platform.

There is a caveat: To use the feature, you’ll need to create a Battle.net account if you don't already have one and link it to your Xbox, PSN or Nintendo account. That’s something Blizzard will now require Overwatch players to do whether they plan to take advantage of crossplay support or not. Sadly, any collection content (costumes, emotes, etc.) you earn on one system won’t carry over to another platform.

And regarding my point about being thrashed by mouse wielders: Blizzard says that, by default, console players will only get matched up against other console players. If you want to play with/against people on PC, you’ll need to intentionally group up with other players on PC. Continue reading.

Facebook wants an AI that can beat the 'hardest game in the world'

You’re gonna die.

Facebook is asking for the AI community’s help in bringing down NetHack — one of the most notoriously difficult titles in gaming history — and maybe help computers learn to simulate instances faster using fewer resources. NetHack is a brutal dungeon crawler, originally made in the 1980s. Every time the player perishes, the entire dungeon resets, ensuring a ripe challenge for AI.

As part of the NeurIPS 2021 NetHack Challenge, Facebook is inviting researchers to design, train and release AI systems able to “develop agents that can reliably either beat the game or (in the more likely scenario) achieve as high a score as possible.” Continue reading.

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