Tag Archives: Tech

The Downside of Policing Violent Videos

Here’s why I’m not totally thrilled that Facebook and others will get better at quickly removing disturbing content.

Illustration by Li-Anne Dias

Hi, folks, Steven here. Earlier this week, I cited Peter Thiel’s now iconic complaint: “We were promised flying cars, and instead what we got was 140 characters.” I used the quote to tee up an interview regarding flying cars — which now seem to be imminent, for better or worse — but didn’t examine the second part of the sentence, which implied that “140 characters” was a frivolous and trivial advance. Actually, the ability to tap out a short message from anywhere in the world that could instantly reach a potential audience of many millions is an astounding power. Certainly Mark Zuckerberg understands … Read the rest

This Computer Language Is Feeding Hacker Values into Young Minds

At 10, Scratch is a popular tool to teach kids programming. But its real glory is how it imparts lessons in sharing, logic, and hackerism.

(RIJASOLO / Getty Images)

Last year, I went to Nigeria with Mark Zuckerberg. One of the first stops on the trip was a program that taught kids how to code. When Zuckerberg entered the room, many of the young students had a hard time pulling themselves away from their projects, even to gawk at one of the world’s richest men. Facebook’s founder instead came to them. “What are you making?” he’d ask. And they would proudly say, “A game!” or whatever it was, and begin showing him how it works. Zuckerberg would stop them. “Show me the code!” he’d say, because, … Read the rest

Melinda Gates and Fei-Fei Li Want to Liberate AI from “Guys With Hoodies”

These two female technologists discuss the promises of artificial intelligence — and how to diversify the field.

Photo courtesy of Pivotal

Artificial intelligence has a diversity problem. Too many of the people creating it share a similar background. To renowned researcher Fei-Fei Li, this paucity of viewpoints constitutes a crisis: “As an educator, as a woman, as a woman of color, as a mother, I’m increasingly worried,” she says. “AI is about to make the biggest changes to humanity, and we’re missing a whole generation of diverse technologists and leaders.”

From the chair next to her, Melinda Gates affirms this, adding, “If we don’t get women and people of color at the table — real technologists doing the real work — we will bias systems. … Read the rest

Sheryl Sandberg’s Accidental Revolution

How Sandberg’s grief became the catalyst for a new, emotionally honest management style at Facebook and beyond.

Sheryl Sandberg’s husband died of a heart arrhythmia on a Friday evening. They’d been vacationing in Mexico, and from the moment she saw him on the resort’s gym floor, a life built on relentless order — in the workplace, in the home, and especially in balancing the two — was thrust into terrifying chaos. She flew home and broke the news to her two young children. She listened to Bono perform “One” in front of 1,700 people crammed into the Stanford Memorial Auditorium for a memorial. She spent seven days welcoming friends for the traditional Jewish shiva, accepting food she mostly didn’t eat.

Then, on the following Monday, Sandberg … Read the rest

Inside the Glowing-Plant Startup That Just Gave up Its Quest

Taxa Biotechnologies promised a light-emitting plant that could replace street lamps. Here’s why that project failed.

Down in a basement along bustling Third Street in San Francisco’s SoMa startup district, Antony Evans unzipped a black tent. It’s the same kind of tent that marijuana growers use, he told me. But it was heavy, earthy patchouli, not skunk, that hit me when I stepped inside the brightly lit cube. Petri dishes piled high on a table contain clusters of green moss.

Evans had invited me to stop by his lab in late January. He was excited to share his latest news. After four years of false starts and failed plants, his startup Taxa Biotechnologies was now two months away from finally shipping its first product, a patchouli-scented … Read the rest

Our Machines Now Have Knowledge We’ll Never Understand

Illustrations by Todd Proctor / YouWorkForThem

The new availability of huge amounts of data, along with the statistical tools to crunch these numbers, offers a whole new way of understanding the world. Correlation supersedes causation, and science can advance even without coherent models, unified theories, or really any mechanistic explanation at all.

So wrote Wired’s Chris Anderson in 2008. It kicked up a little storm at the time, as Anderson, the magazine’s editor, undoubtedly intended. For example, an article in a journal of molecular biology asked, “…if we stop looking for models and hypotheses, are we still really doing science?” The answer clearly was supposed to be: “No.”

But today — not even a decade since Anderson’s article — the controversy sounds quaint. Advances in … Read the rest

Kimbal Musk’s Tech Revolution Starts with Mustard Greens

A leafy green grows in Brooklyn. (Photo by Natalie Keyssar)

The other Musk is leading a band of hipster Brooklyn farmers on a mission to overthrow Big Ag.

Farmers have always had a tough time. They have faced rapacious bankers, destructive pests, catastrophic weather, and relentless pressure to cut prices to serve huge grocery suppliers.

And now they must compete with Brooklyn hipsters. Hipsters with high-tech farms squeezed into 40-foot containers that sit in parking lots and require no soil, and can ignore bad weather and even winter.

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No, the 10 young entrepreneurs of the “urban farming accelerator” Square Roots and their ilk aren’t going to overthrow big agribusiness — yet. Each of them has only the equivalent of a two-acre … Read the rest

Sheryl Sandberg Is Starting a New Movement

Sandberg has learned a lot about resilience in the past two years. OptionB.Org is her training program for the rest of us.

Shortly after Sheryl Sandberg lost her husband suddenly to a heart condition, she was talking to a friend about an upcoming father-child activity. Together, they came up with a plan to fill in for her child’s dad, Dave Goldberg. Thinking about it felt awful, and she wept. “I want Dave,” she told her friend. “I want option A.”

The friend, as she later wrote on Facebook, put his arms around her and said, “Option A is not available. So let’s just kick the shit out of option B.”

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On April 24, just before the second anniversary of Goldberg’s … Read the rest

How Google Book Search Got Lost

Google Books was the company’s first moonshot. But 15 years later, the project is stuck in low-Earth orbit.

Illustration by Sandy van Helden.

Books can do anything. As Franz Kafka once said, “A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us.”

It was Kafka, wasn’t it? Google confirms this. But where did he say it? Google offers links to some quotation websites, but they’re generally unreliable. (They misattribute everything, usually to Mark Twain.)

To answer such questions, you need Google Book Search, the tool that magically scours the texts of millions of digitized volumes. Just find the little “more” tab at the top of the Google results page — it’s right past Images, Videos, and News. Then click on it, find “Books,” and … Read the rest

This sponge-like material is the strongest and lightest ever known

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Graphene, an ultra-thin sheet of carbon, was discovered in 2004, becoming the strongest material ever known. Now scientists have found a way to transform it from its natural two-dimensional shape into a stable three-dimensional form. This new form is 10 times stronger than steel. Read more…

More about 3 D, Material, Real Time Video, Real Time, and TechRead the rest