The Promise—and Complications—of Domestic Robots

Every year, for just a few days in a major city, a small team of roboticists get to live the dream: ordering around their own personal robot butlers. In carefully-constructed replicas of a restaurant scene or a domestic setting, these robots perform any number of simple algorithmic tasks. “Get the can of beans from the […] […]

Britain Is Developing an AI-Powered Predictive Policing System

The tantalizing prospect of predicting crime before it happens has got law enforcement agencies excited about AI. Most efforts so far have focused on forecasting where and when crime will happen, but now British police want to predict who will perpetrate it. The idea is reminiscent of sci-fi classic Minority Report, where clairvoyant “precogs” were […] […]

Inspired by Sci-Fi, an Airplane With No Moving Parts and a Blue Ionic Glow

Since their invention more than 100 years ago, airplanes have been moved through the air by the spinning surfaces of propellers or turbines. But watching science fiction movies like the Star Wars, Star Trek, and Back to the Future series, I imagined that the propulsion systems of the future would be silent and still—maybe with […] […]

Digital Authoritarianism Is Rising. Here’s What That Means

The internet has long been touted as a force for freedom that can topple dictatorships around the world. But according to a new report on digital freedom, authoritarian forces are clawing back control and even re-purposing the web in ways that undermine democracy. Back in 2010, the Arab Spring was seen as definitive proof of […] […]

It’s Time For an Airport Security Tech Upgrade

We’re in the midst of one of the busiest weeks of the year for air travel, with 30.6 million passengers expected to fly on US airlines in the days leading up to and following Thanksgiving. On a daily basis, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) needs to manage both frustrations and fears. Travelers are agitated by […] […]

Follow the Data? Investigative Journalism in the Age of Algorithms

You probably have a picture of a typical investigative journalist in your head. Dogged, persistent, he digs through paper trails by day and talks to secret sources in abandoned parking lots by night. After years of painstaking investigation, the journalist uncovers convincing evidence and releases the bombshell report. Cover-ups are exposed, scandals are surfaced, and […] […]

The Fascinating, Creepy New Research in Human Hibernation for Space Travel

No interstellar travel movie is complete without hibernators. From Prometheus to Passengers, we’ve watched protagonists awaken in hibernation pods, rebooting their fragile physiology from a prolonged state of suspended animation—a violent process that usually involves ejecting stomach fluids. This violent re-awakening seems to make sense. Humans, after all, don’t naturally hibernate. But a small, eclectic […] […]

Our Voting System Is Hackable. Here’s How to Secure It

The November 6, 2018 midterm elections are being widely regarded as a referendum on President Trump, but they will also serve another, less obvious purpose. The integrity of our election infrastructure is being tested. Key technological vulnerabilities remain. Although media coverage of Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election has largely focused on the […] […]

NASA Wants to Send Humans to Venus. Here’s Why That’s a Brilliant Idea

Popular science fiction of the early 20th century depicted Venus as some kind of wonderland of pleasantly warm temperatures, forests, swamps and even dinosaurs. In 1950, the Hayden Planetarium at the American Natural History Museum were soliciting reservations for the first space tourism mission, well before the modern era of Blue Origins, SpaceX, and Virgin […] […]

Will Tech Make Insurance Obsolete in the Future?

We profit from it, we fear it, and we find it impossibly hard to quantify: risk. While not the sexiest of industries, insurance can be a life-saving protector, pooling everyone’s premiums to safeguard against some of our greatest, most unexpected losses. One of the most profitable in the world, the insurance industry exceeded $1.2 trillion in […] […]