Technology

Do We Need More Google Cities?

Carlo Ratti— One of the lesser-known casualties of COVID-19 has been a new, large-scale urban development in Toronto, led by Google sibling company Sidewalk Labs. Several years in the making, the “Google City”—as it was sometimes dubbed in the media—ultimately came to a halt because of the ongoing recession, but

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Five Ways to Protect Democracy from Misinformation Online

Philip N. Howard— We need mandatory reporting on the ultimate beneficiaries of data. Citizens should easily be able to see which organizations are receiving and manipulating personal data. Social media companies should be able to report back to users on which advertisers, data-mining firms, and political consulting firms have made

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Can Engineering Ethics Be Taught?

Deborah G. Johnson— In 2010, after a two-year inquiry, a judge concluded that Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney had acted inappropriately when he accepted large amounts of cash from a German Canadian arms lobbyist. The judge suggested that all public servants should get ethics training. Peter Worthington, a columnist for

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Because You Just Can’t Stop Reading the News

We get it. It’s tough to unplug from the current news cycle. If you’re looking for a deeper dive into topics around COVID-19 and beyond, we’ve got you covered (with a little bonus on the power of solitude snuck in just because). A “brilliant and sobering” (Paul Kennedy, Wall Street Journal)

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The Pace of Change

Danny Dorling— Did you think that the rate of innovation was rising and that more and more was being invented every year? Did you pause to question the claim, if you ever heard it, when, on January 23, 2018, at Davos, Justin Trudeau said: “Think about it: The pace of

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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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