Tech Companies Should Stop Pretending AI Won’t Destroy Jobs

from MIT Technology Review No matter what anyone tells you, we’re not ready for the massive societal upheavals on the way. I took an Uber to an artificial-­intelligence conference at MIT one recent morning, and the driver asked me how long it would take for autonomous vehicles to take away his job. I told him it would happen in about 15 to 20 years. He breathed a sigh of relief. “Well, I’ll be retired by then,” he said. Good thing we weren’t in China. If a driver there had asked, I would have had to tell him he’d lose his […]

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The House That Spied on Me

from Gizmodo In December, I converted my one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco into a “smart home.” I connected as many of my appliances and belongings as I could to the internet: an Amazon Echo, my lights, my coffee maker, my baby monitor, my kid’s toys, my vacuum, my TV, my toothbrush, a photo frame, a sex toy, and even my bed. “Our bed?” asked my husband, aghast. “What can it tell us?” “Our breathing rate, heart rate, how often we toss and turn, and then it will give us a sleep report each morning,” I explained. “Sounds creepy,” he said, […]

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The Tyranny of Convenience

from NYTs Convenience is the most underestimated and least understood force in the world today. As a driver of human decisions, it may not offer the illicit thrill of Freud’s unconscious sexual desires or the mathematical elegance of the economist’s incentives. Convenience is boring. But boring is not the same thing as trivial. In the developed nations of the 21st century, convenience — that is, more efficient and easier ways of doing personal tasks — has emerged as perhaps the most powerful force shaping our individual lives and our economies. This is particularly true in America, where, despite all the […]

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The Social Media Threat to Society and Security

from Project Syndicate It takes significant effort to assert and defend what John Stuart Mill called the freedom of mind. And there is a real chance that, once lost, those who grow up in the digital age – in which the power to command and shape people’s attention is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few companies – will have difficulty regaining it. The current moment in world history is a painful one. Open societies are in crisis, and various forms of dictatorships and mafia states, exemplified by Vladimir Putin’s Russia, are on the rise. In the United States, […]

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Is the Answer to Phone Addiction a Worse Phone?

from NYTs I’ve gone gray, and it’s great. In an effort to break my smartphone addiction, I’ve joined a small group of people turning their phone screens to grayscale — cutting out the colors and going with a range of shades from white to black. First popularized by the tech ethicist Tristan Harris, the goal of sticking to shades of gray is to make the glittering screen a little less stimulating. I’ve been gray for a couple days, and it’s remarkable how well it has eased my twitchy phone checking, suggesting that one way to break phone attachment may be […]

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Cryptocurrency Boom, A Problem For Gamers, Is A Bonanza For GPU Makers

from ars technica The cryptocurrency boom has created a persistent shortage of high-end graphics cards. That has been a headache for gamers, who have to pay inflated prices for GPUs—if they can find them at all. But it has been a financial windfall to leading graphics card makers Nvidia and AMD. On Thursday, Nvidia reported soaring profits for the fourth quarter of 2017—a period when rapidly rising prices for Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies was driving a boom in amateur cryptocurrency mining with graphics cards. “Strong demand in the cryptocurrency market exceeded our expectations,” Nvidia chief financial officer Colette Kress said […]

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To Power the Future, Carmakers Flip on 48-Volt Systems

from NYTs While automakers sketch out a world of sleek and silent electric cars or even self-driving pods that are more den than dragster, the all-electric future is further off than it may appear. Car companies, starting with Volvo last summer, have laid out plans to electrify entire lineups of vehicles. But the fine print makes it clear that the coming decade and beyond will focus not just on massive battery packs powering electric motors, but also on adding a little extra juice to the venerable internal combustion engine. Increasingly, that juice will arrive in the form of new electrical […]

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Waymo: “We’re Bringing This Case Because Uber Is Cheating”

from ars technica In a packed courtroom on the first day of the blockbuster Waymo v. Uber trade secrets trial, both sides presented their opening arguments. Charles Verhoeven, Waymo’s top lawyer, said that Travis Kalanick, Uber’s CEO from 2010 until mid-2017, was not playing fair in his company’s efforts to catch up with Waymo. “The evidence is going to show that Mr. Kalanick, the CEO at the time, made a decision that winning was more important than obeying the law,” he said. “He made a decision to cheat. Because for him, winning at all costs, no matter what, was his […]

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What It’s Like to Live in a Surveillance State

from NYTs Imagine that this is your daily life: While on your way to work or on an errand, every 100 meters you pass a police blockhouse. Video cameras on street corners and lamp posts recognize your face and track your movements. At multiple checkpoints, police officers scan your ID card, your irises and the contents of your phone. At the supermarket or the bank, you are scanned again, your bags are X-rayed and an officer runs a wand over your body — at least if you are from the wrong ethnic group. Members of the main group are usually […]

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Tackling the Internet’s Central Villain: The Advertising Business

from NYTs Pretend you are the lead detective on a hit new show, “CSI: Terrible Stuff on the Internet.” In the first episode, you set up one of those crazy walls plastered with headlines and headshots, looking for hidden connections between everything awful that’s been happening online recently. There’s a lot of dark stuff. In one corner, you have the Russian campaign to influence the 2016 presidential election with digital propaganda. In another, a rash of repugnant videos on YouTube, with children being mock-abused, cartoon characters bizarrely committing suicide on the kids’ channel and a popular vlogger recording a body […]

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Laptops Are Great. But Not During a Lecture or a Meeting.

from NYTs Step into any college lecture hall and you are likely to find a sea of students typing away at open, glowing laptops as the professor speaks. But you won’t see that when I’m teaching. Though I make a few exceptions, I generally ban electronics, including laptops, in my classes and research seminars. That may seem extreme. After all, with laptops, students can, in some ways, absorb more from lectures than they can with just paper and pen. They can download course readings, look up unfamiliar concepts on the fly and create an accurate, well-organized record of the lecture […]

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The Shape Of Work To Come

from nature Last year, entrepreneur Sebastian Thrun set out to augment his sales force with artificial intelligence. Thrun is the founder and president of Udacity, an education company that provides online courses and employs an armada of salespeople who answer questions from potential students through online chats. Thrun, who also runs a computer-science lab at Stanford University in California, worked with one of his students to collect the transcripts of these chats, noting which resulted in students signing up for a course. The pair fed the chats into a machine-learning system, which was able to glean the most effective responses to […]

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China To Build Giant Facial Recognition Database To Identify Any Citizen Within Seconds

from SCMP The goal is for the system to able to match someone’s face to their ID photo with about 90 per cent accuracy. The project, launched by the Ministry of Public Security in 2015, is under development in conjunction with a security company based in Shanghai. The system can be connected to surveillance camera networks and will use cloud facilities to connect with data storage and processing centres distributed across the country, according to people familiar with the project. However, some researchers said it was unclear when the system would be completed, as the development was encountering many difficulties […]

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How Americans Really Feel About Facebook, Apple, And More

from The Verge This year marked a sea change in our attitude toward tech’s largest players — and not for the better. Facebook, with a user base twice the size of the Western Hemisphere, seems to be in the midst of an identity crisis: CEO Mark Zuckerberg spent much of 2017 on a national tour that The New York Times billed as a “real-world education.” Meanwhile, the platform has become embroiled in a national debate that started with fake news and has evolved into an investigation into how the Russian government weaponized the network to influence the 2016 presidential election. […]

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Apple Does Right By Users And Advertisers Are Displeased

from EFF With the new Safari 11 update, Apple takes an important step to protect your privacy, specifically how your browsing habits are tracked and shared with parties other than the sites you visit. In response, Apple is getting criticized by the advertising industry for “destroying the Internet’s economic model.” While the advertising industry is trying to shift the conversation to what they call the economic model of the Internet, the conversation must instead focus on the indiscriminate tracking of users and the violation of their privacy. When you browse the web, you might think that your information only lives […]

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Co-Parenting With Alexa

from NYTs You are going to have a chance to play with Alexa,” I told my daughter, Grace, who’s 3 years old. Pointing at the black cylindrical device, I explained that the speaker, also known as the Amazon Echo, was a bit like Siri but smarter. “You can ask it anything you want,” I said nonchalantly. Grace leaned forward toward the speaker. “Hello, Alexa, my name is Gracie,” she said. “Will it rain today?” The turquoise rim glowed into life. “Currently, it is 60 degrees,” a perky female voice answered, assuring her it wouldn’t rain. Over the next hour, Grace […]

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Small Businesses In Sweden Try To Adapt To A World Without Cash

from WaPo Sweden is serious about becoming a cashless society. How serious? Even the Abba Museum no longer accepts cash. Now that is serious. Some researchers are predicting that cash there will be a “very marginal payment form” by 2020. Things are definitely trending in that direction. According to this BBC report, less than 20 percent of retailers now use cash. That’s half what it was just five years ago. Everywhere from public transit to tourist attractions — yes, even the Abba Museum — have also gone cashless. Since the government and banking officials announced their plans to reduce bank notes […]

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Waymo vs. Uber: Unsealed Court Documents Reveal Damning Evidence

from The Verge The due diligence report that Uber fought so hard to keep from being used in its legal battle with Waymo and Alphabet was made public on Monday — and it’s easy to see why Uber resisted as hard as it did. The document, prepared by cybersecurity firm Stroz Friedberg as part of Uber’s acquisition of self-driving trucking startup Otto, describes a thorough forensic review of personal devices belonging to five people at Otto, including the much-embattled Anthony Levandowski, who earlier this year attempted to invoke the Fifth Amendment to avoid turning over documents in the case. The […]

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Google Updates Policy on News Pay Walls. ‘First Click Free’ to End.

from NYTs Publications like The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times and The New York Times have long asked readers to pay for access to online articles. But many reading this article online are probably familiar with an easy workaround: Plug a search term or headline into Google, and voilà! Free access to articles normally locked behind pay walls. That digital sleight of hand is great for inquisitive readers, but bad for the publishers that are increasingly dependent on subscription dollars for survival. So now, in an acknowledgment of this industrywide strategy shift, Google is working on new tools that […]

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