Technology

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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From House Telegraphs to Mobile Phones

Lee Jackson— In December 1858, Punch, the satirical magazine, imagined the next stage in the nineteenth century information revolution: the “house telegraph.” With such a device, one could be both at home and yet in constant telegraphic contact with the wider world. But was this really a good idea? A

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Thermodynamics in Our Daily Lives

R. Stephen Berry— Thermodynamics is a beautiful illustration of how needs of very practical applications can lead to very basic, general concepts and relations, very much in contrast to the view that the practical and applied facets of a science are consequences of prior basic studies.  Thermodynamics teaches us that

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Life Goes On

Shing-Tung Yau— My father’s death hit me hard, throwing me into an unfamiliar state in which I felt a weird mixture of things, all unpleasant, all at the same time. A powerful sadness welled up in me from a deep place I’d never accessed before. I felt a dull ache

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