Is Virtual Reality an Empathy Generator?

February 2, 2015

Most of us think about video games as escapist fare. But a new genre of games, called news games, can take players deeper into real-world situations, helping them to develop an understanding of news that goes far beyond headlines. This NPR story talks about the potential impact of these games, including a USC student project called Project Syria.

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Deep Learning: Artificial Intelligence Breakthroughs that Will Change Your Life

January 6, 2015

For decades researchers have experimented with machine learning—software that can improve with experience without being reprogrammed. That research has paid off in a number of applications, including the intelligent search engines that we use every day. But recent breakthroughs in a field called deep learning are likely to bring radical transformations to our lives very soon.

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Automation in Perspective: The Workforce Crisis

December 23, 2014

We’ve speculated for decades about the impact of robots and automation on the future of jobs. But in this eye-opening TED talk, Rainer Strack considers automation as part of the larger question: How will society meet the needs of people in 2030? He raises many profoundly important questions and provides a few answers that we should all consider.

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Holding Your Files Hostage

December 22, 2014

Malware makers are always coming up with new ways to exploit innocent computer users. One relatively new breed of malware, ransomware, encrypts files, making them effectively unusable, unless their owners pay ransom to the perpetrators. This short NPR story focuses on this very real threat.

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License to Know Too Much?

December 15, 2014

The digital technology explosion of the last decade has produced many new threats to our privacy, including some unexpected ones. In this short TED talk, Catherine Crump explains how the automatic license plate scanners used by police might have disastrous ramifications for law-abiding citizens.

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Smart Phone, Dumb Posture

November 21, 2014

It’s fairly well known that sitting at a desk staring at a computer all day can be hazardous to your spine (see page 86 of Digital Planet), but new research suggests that standing with your smart phone can also cause problems. This short Huffington Post piece explains why.

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The Military Internet Complex and the Invisible War

November 20, 2014

War and technology have been intertwined throughout human history. Today’s digital technology is creating a whole new form of war that’s all but invisible to most of us. In his book @War, Shane Harris describes the war that’s waged on the Internet and describes the relationship between government and the tech industry that makes that war possible. In this NPR Fresh Air program he’s interviewed by Terry Gross.

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The 3D Printing Revolution

October 28, 2014

The name “3D printer” doesn’t come close to evoking the transformative potential of this rapidly emerging technology. In this intriguing TED Talk, Avi Reichental describes how 3D printers are revolutionizing medicine, manufacturing, and more.

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30 Years of Living in the Future

October 27, 2014

Nicholas Negroponte has been predicting—and creating—the future for decades. In this TED talk he walks us through those decades, pointing out what the future looked like from many vantage points in the past, and ending with a startling prediction.

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The Unlikely Stories Behind the Internet

October 16, 2014

In Digital Planet we tell the stories of many of the pioneers of the digital age—people who invented or discovered ways of doing things that weren’t previously possible. In his book The Innovators, Walter Isacson weaves many of those stories, and others, together into a larger story—the story of the creation of the Internet. In this Fresh Air interview, he makes it clear that great changes often result from the work of many people over time.

npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2014/10/06/353269811/how-the-cold-war-and-george-orwell-helped-make-the-internet-what-it-is

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