A View from MIT TR Editors
Recommended from Around the Web (Week ending January 16, 2016)
A roundup of the most interesting stories from other sites, collected by the staff at MIT Technology Review.
‘Moonshot’ to Cure Cancer, to Be Led by Biden, Relies on Outmoded View of Disease
Biden’s cancer moonshot ignores biology.
—Antonio Regalado, senior editor, biomedicine
What Happened When a Chinese TV Station Replaced Its Meteorologist with a Chatbot
A Microsoft artificial intelligence program is now explaining the weather to Dragon TV viewers, part of a one-year “internship” the program is doing at the station. The program, called Xiaoice, is designed to be a friendly version of Siri, one that remembers a user’s mood and participates in long conversations rather than offering quick answers.
—Nanette Byrnes, senior editor, Business Reports
A Lethal AI Robot Will Police the Great Barrier Reef for Starfish
A particular type of starfish is responsible for 42 percent of the decline in the Great Barrier Reef’s coral, and it’s wreaking havoc at a rate that human divers just can’t keep up with. So an autonomous underwater robot will soon be deployed to lend them a hand … or an extendable arm, as it were.
—Julia Sklar, social media editor
OkCupid Adds a Feature for the Polyamorous
One of the titan apps of the online dating world is branching out as far as what types of relationships its algorithms will support. But it got me thinking more generally: there are so many dating apps available to us, yet despite changes in the social era, so many of them are still heteronormative—a design choice for which algorithmic constraints are often scapegoated. I call BS. It’s 2016 and algorithms are learning to drive cars.
The Outcome of My Clinical Trial Is a Mystery
I’m biased because one of my friends from graduate school wrote this piece for the Atlantic, but I think she has a very compelling personal story that highlights the alarming holes in the clinical trial process. Especially as it relates to the experience of the human guinea pigs themselves.
Modeling Analysis of EPA’s Clean Power Plan
Opponents of the Clean Power Plan have charged that it will cause energy prices to soar. That’s not so, according to this report from the energy consultancy M.J. Bradley, which found that, under the plan, “U.S. households would save between 5% and 20% on their monthly electricity bills in 2030.”
—Richard Martin, senior editor, energy
ProPublica Launches the Dark Web’s First Major News Site
The new site can only be accessed using the Tor anonymity network. Facebook launched a Dark Web version of its own service in 2014, saying that some people need to carefullly hide their communications. Some countries use surveillance technology to track and target people accessing particular news sources or online services.
—Tom Simonite, San Francisco bureau chief
Big Cable Owns Internet Access. Here’s How to Change That.
Adoption of home broadband in the U.S. has plateaued at about two-thirds of households. Internet policy expert Susan Crawford says cable companies are blocking further progress on access and affordability.
Goodbye Jobs, Hello ‘Gigs’: How One Word Sums Up a New Economic Reality
This was a good, depressing piece about the rise of the “gig economy.”
—Rachel Metz, senior editor, mobile
David Bowie, the Internet Visionary
Lovely commentary on our dearly departed David Bowie. Michael Reilly, our new senior editor of news and commentary, wrote a similiar tribute.
—J. Juniper Friedman, associate Web producer
The High-Tech Cop of the Future Is Here Today
A nice infographic coupled with a run-down of high-tech gear most U.S. police officers already have at their disposal.
—Kyanna Sutton, senior Web producer
Lego Changes Policy After Ai Weiwei Controversy
Lego Group gets a lesson in political pushback when famous artist Ai Weiwei was denied a bulk order of the popular toy to use in an installation.