-Cross Currents

What a Difference 30 Years Makes….

February 6, 2014

In 1984 Apple rocked the advertising world with a Superbowl commercial directed by Ridley Scott. The commercial depicted a futuristic dystopian dictatorship being challenged by a courageous young heroine with a vision; a not-at-all-subtle metaphor for the soon-to-be-introduced Macintosh computer. The commercial won countless awards when it was aired, and many of the revolutionary features of the Macintosh were quickly adopted by Microsoft, the company that the commercial suggested was the enemy of freedom. Three decades later, Apple is no longer a feisty young rebel.

This new Apple commercial, filmed completely with iPhones, captures a much more optimistic vision of the role of digital technology in our future.

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Is Privacy History?—Snowden’s Message

January 2, 2014

Earlier this year Edward Snowden made a decision that changed the world. By leaking top secret government documents to the press, he revealed that US surveillance of private and public citizins goes far beyond what most of us had previously imagined. Because of those leaks, people all around the world are asking important questions about the balance between privacy and security in a free society.

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Helping Technology Addicts Return to Reality

October 29, 2013

For most of us, the word “addiction” evokes images of people whose lives are controlled by drugs. But for many people—especially younger men—addictions aren’t about chemicals; they’re about technology.

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Is the Dollar an Endangered Species?

August 6, 2013

When you get past all of the emotional trappings, your money is nothing more than a symbol of value, and it’s only as good as the trust we place in it. This TED talk suggests that we may be headed into an era of multiple monies.

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Drones Don’t Have a Right to Privacy

June 27, 2013

The robot drone is rapidly changing the face of war—and peace. In this gripping TED talk Daniel Suarez describes the very real—and very scary—threats robotic weapons pose to civilized society. He makes a compelling case for an international treaty on robotic arms control and a global ban on killer robots.

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The Man Who Lost his Jeopardy Title to a Computer

May 9, 2013

What’s it like to be the world Jeopardy champion and lose to a computer? Ken Jennings can tell you, and he does in this engaging TED talk. From his unique perspective, he suggests that we can—and must—make a choice about the kind of future we want to have. Which world do you want to live […]

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Digital Help for Indigenous People and the Planet

March 30, 2013
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A few short decades ago the Surui tribe lived a stone-age lifestyle in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon. Encroachment of modern civilization into their forest threatened their home—and their very existence. But today the tribe is using digital technology to help preserve the rainforest, the people that live there, and the health of our shared planet.

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A Human Statue Talks about Crowdfunding

March 20, 2013
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Crowdfunding—funding a project by asking many people for small contributions—has exploded in popularity because of Internet tools and social networks. Crowdfunding is being used to fund high-tech ventures, microbusinesses, charities, and artistic expressions. In this entertaining, moving TED talk, musician Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls talks about a dimension of crowdfunding that’s rarely discussed: the emotional connections that happen when we ask friends, fans, or strangers for what we need. She argues that Internet tools aren’t as important as our attitude about asking.

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Why Big Data Is a Big Deal

January 4, 2013
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More and more, we’re living in a data-driven world. In this excellent little piece that aired recently on NPR’s Fresh Air, Geoff Nunberg gives one of the clearest explanations we’ve seen of what Big Data is and why it’s important to all of us. http://www.npr.org/2012/12/20/167702665/geoff-nunbergs-word-of-the-year-big-data

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Uncovering Secrets in Government and Medicine

October 25, 2012
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The information explosion raises important questions about the free flow of information versus the threat to personal privacy. These two TED Talks present cases for more open information in government and medicine.

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