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Stories from Around the Web (Week Ending July 12, 2013)

A roundup of the most interesting stories from other sites, collected by the staff at MIT Technology Review.

Object of Interest: Pepper Spray
A short New Yorker piece about the history of pepper spray, including a good breakdown of the science behind it.
—Rachel Metz, IT editor

What’s Wrong with Technological Fixes?
Catching up with provocateur Evgeny Morozov and the reaction to his much-discussed book about technological “solutionism.”
—Brian Bergstein, deputy editor

How Microsoft Handed the NSA Access to Encrypted Messages
Microsoft worked closely with the FBI to reëngineer its systems to help NSA surveillance, leaked documents say.

Drone, Drone on the Range
Drone aircraft could have many uses on farms, if U.S. regulators allow them to take off.
—Tom Simonite, senior IT editor

Pollution Leads to Drop in Life Span in Northern China, Research Finds
One of the several news summaries of an important PNAS paper quantifying the impact of deadly air pollution in China.
—David Rotman, editor

What I Learned from Researching Almost Every Single Smart Watch That Has Been Rumored or Announced
Christopher Mims reviews all the players competing in the smart watch market.
—Mike Orcutt, research editor

Climate Change Will Cause More Energy Breakdowns, U.S. Warns
New about how climate change is likely already causing problems for the power grid.
—Kevin Bulllis, senior energy editor

Gene Therapy Coming of Age?
Stem cells and gene therapy work together to cure disease in clinical trials.
—Susan Young, biomedicine editor

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Meta’s new learning algorithm can teach AI to multi-task

The single technique for teaching neural networks multiple skills is a step towards general-purpose AI.

Professor Gang Chen of MIT
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All charges against China Initiative defendant Gang Chen have been dismissed

MIT professor Gang Chen was one of the most prominent scientists charged under the China Initiative, a Justice Department effort meant to counter economic espionage and national security threats.

conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned
conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned

A horrifying new AI app swaps women into porn videos with a click

Deepfake researchers have long feared the day this would arrive.

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Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

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