Technology

How Do You Make Electricity?

Ivo van Vulpen— One of the greatest threats to our prosperity and way of life is a shortage of energy. We don’t often pause to think about it, but our Western society is addicted to energy, and without electricity, it would come to a complete standstill in less than a

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Fiber Connectivity in the United States

Susan Crawford— In the United States, we cannot even imagine cheap, unlimited communications capacity in our homes. Because of decades of political maneuvering by the enormous private companies that sell internet access to American consumers, a lack of leadership at the federal level, and the invisibility of this entire policy

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Addicted to Distraction

Judson Brewer— This is where the magic happens. Once behavior and reward are paired, the dopamine neurons change their phasic firing pattern to respond to stimuli that predict rewards. Enter the trigger into the scene of reward-based learning. We see someone smoking a cigarette, and we suddenly get a craving.

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How Soon Will We Make Artificial Brains?

Michael D. Mauk— Artificial minds are all the rage in books and movies. The popularity of characters such as Commander Data of Star Trek Next Generation reveals how much we enjoy considering the possibility of machines that think. This idea is made even more captivating by real-world artificial intelligence successes

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Who Owns Software?

Gerardo Con Diaz— When we own something, we can usually explain what that thing is. My car is an object that I recognize, and the blog posts I write are texts that I can identify rather quickly. It wouldn’t be difficult for me to tell whether someone took my car

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Resilient Design: Innovation for Future Uncertainty

Jon Coaffee— Recent scientific research has revealed that we have drastically underestimated the threat of climate change, with the impacts of sea level rise and extreme weather abnormalities likely to be felt most dramatically in large urban conurbations. Almost exactly seven years after Hurricane Sandy hit the US Eastern seaboard causing devastation

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Nine Steps to a Sustainable Future

In our new book A Better Planet, leading environmentalists present long-term solutions for a sustainable future amid our ecological crisis. The forty essays advocate a bipartisan program and cover topics like forestry, agriculture, data, public health, natural disasters, and city planning. We’ve selected excerpts from nine of the essays that

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Net Neutrality Is a Class Issue

David Elliot Berman and Victor Pickard — Net neutrality is often depicted as a Manichean battle between two warring parties: “good” innovators and content creators such as Google, Facebook, and Netflix, which use and want to protect the internet’s open architecture, and “bad” internet service providers (ISPs) such as Comcast

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The Battle over Source Code

Aram Sinnreich— Professional prognosticators and commentators often treat the development of media technology as a one-way street, an inevitable series of magical innovations leading to an equally inevitable set of disruptions in business, culture, and society. In reality, of course, the process is far more complex. Technology developers and media

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The World of Fiber Optics

Susan Crawford— Here is the tech revolution America may miss: On a gray, cloudy weekday morning in August, I drove across the wide Han River that divides the northern and southern parts of Seoul. I turned east onto a furiously busy highway that runs alongside the river. I was noticing

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