Simson Garfinkel wrote this issue’s essay, on privacy in the age of Facebook (”Privacy Requires Security, Not Abstinence”). He argues that in a time when people are simultaneously scared out of their wits about data theft and alarmingly cavalier about the exposure of their innermost secrets, we need to rethink what it means to maintain a private self while participating in a public life. “We need strong security for keeping our secrets safe from hackers and strong identification systems to make sure that we ourselves aren’t locked out,” he says. Garfinkel wrote his first article for Technology Review in 1989 and has been a regular contributor ever since. He published Database Nation: The Death of Privacy in the 21st Century in 2000. In 2003, as a PhD candidate at MIT, he spent a summer as a contractor working on the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Total Information Awareness project. Garfinkel spent two years at Harvard as a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Research on Computation and Society before becoming an associate professor at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA, where he does research on computer forensics and data fusion.
Peter Fairley reviews the European Union’s effort to reduce carbon emissions through the market-based approach known as “cap-and-trade” (”Carbon Trading on the Cheap”). “Putting a price on carbon has become a mantra for how to go about stopping and reversing climate change. And it is a necessary step. But it is not sufficient,” says Fairley. “The price has to be high enough to stimulate the long-term investments–like building nuclear reactors and carbon-capture plants–that will slash carbon emissions. Europe’s experience shows that politicians are unwilling to set the cap tight enough to drive prices up.” He adds, “When push comes to shove, politicians continue to err on the side of ensuring that the price doesn’t get too high and hurt industry.” A freelancer who regularly covers energy for Technology Review’s website, Fairley is now living in Paris. He writes for a number of magazines, including Discover and IEEE Spectrum.
Andy Kessler examines the likely impact of the economic stimulus bill’s $19 billion in incentives for the advancement of health-care IT, electronic health records in particular (”A Pound of Cure”). Kessler, who worked on Wall Street for 20 years investing in Silicon Valley, suggests that for financial reasons, the medical industry is reluctant to use this technology to improve preventive care and increase accountability. “Everyone’s first reaction to technology’s effect on health care is always about medical records. But that should be easy–it’s something even the airline industry has already done,” he says. “Instead, I think the real breakthrough will come from keeping all of us from getting sick in the first place.” Kessler is a former hedge fund manager who has written for the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Wired, Forbes, and the Los Angeles Times. His books include Running Money, Wall Street Meat, and The End of Medicine.
Photographer Jason Madara shot this issue’s photo essay, which examines the launch of the National Ignition Facility in Livermore, CA (”Igniting Fusion”). Scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Lab will attempt to create self-sustaining nuclear fusion using lasers; if they are successful, fusion could one day become a viable source of energy. “I was awed by the complexity and size of the construction,” says Madara. His work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, and elsewhere.