The Download

What's up in emerging technology

February 23, 2018 Altered images

Fake images spread fast on Facebook—and its AI filters are missing them

There’s a weapon of mass manipulation that Facebook is reportedly struggling to overcome: Photoshop.

Fake pictures: The Wall Street Journal explains that doctored images were a “crucial and deceptively simple technique used by Russian propagandists to… Read more

Source: Image credit:
  • Herbert Spencer from the Noun Project

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Manufacturing worker

Why productivity growth slowed—and how we could turn things around

A perfect storm of economic and technological factors has produced America’s historically low productivity gains. So says new research by the consultancy firm McKinsey, which also offers some ideas for getting things back on track.

Economics 101: When… Read more

Image credit:
  • US Ruscal

Editor's Pick

AR still doesn’t have a killer app, but Google’s ARCore is here to help

You may not have a real Porsche in your driveway, but augmented reality will now let you plonk a virtual one there using a smartphone—and take it for a simulated spin.

That experience was created using ARCore, a set of software tools from Google that...

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February 23, 2018 SpaceX's Tintin satellites in orbit

SpaceX has launched its first internet satellites

Elon Musk has taken his first step toward building a global broadband network in space.

Flying high: SpaceX successfully launched two test satellites—called Tintin A and Tintin B—into orbit. Musk says that they’re “deployed and communicating to Earth… Read more

Source: Image credit:
  • SpaceX
February 22, 2018 Photo of the statue of liberty with New York in the background

The Big Apple is getting tough on biased AI

New York City has a new law on the books demanding “algorithmic accountability,” and AI researchers want to help make it work.

Background: At the end of 2017, the city’s council passed the country’s first bill to ban algorithmic discrimination in city… Read more

Image credit:
  • George Hodan | Public Domain Pictures
Lab-grown miniature tumors

Personalized mini-tumors could predict when cancer drugs will work

Researchers used cells taken from 71 patients with colon and rectal cancer and grew miniature 3-D tumors that were specific to each person.

What they did: Scientists tested 55 different drugs—some currently available and others experimental—on all the… Read more

Image credit:
  • Nicola Valeri
A child using a smartphone

Turns out we have no idea how tech affects our kids

We think our children are addicted to phones—but are we right to be worried about the fallout?

Parents always worry: A survey by Common Sense Media and SurveyMonkey featured in USA Today says 60 percent of US children own a smartphone or tablet that… Read more

Image credit:
  • Pan Xiaozhen | Unsplash

Editor's Pick

10 Breakthrough Technologies 2018

Every year since 2001 we’ve picked what we call the 10 Breakthrough Technologies. People often ask, what exactly do you mean by “breakthrough”? It’s a reasonable question—some of our picks haven’t yet reached widespread use, while others may be on the...

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February 22, 2018 Trending, going down?

It might be time to kill off trending topics on social media

Sites are trying to crack down on awful content, but fakes just keep rising to the top.

The news: On Wednesday YouTube briefly put an inaccurate conspiracy video, claiming that a survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting was an actor,… Read more

Image credit:
  • Mike Ashley for Noun Project
A robotic production line

Retraining may be the best way to ease impending tech-driven job losses

It’s inevitable that automation will put some people out of work—but our attention may be best focused on helping those individuals, not slowing the march of tech. So says a new report by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a think… Read more

Source: Image credit:
  • Spencer Cooper | Flickr