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Giant Antarctic Icebergs and Crushing Existential Dread

I went to Antarctica 20 years ago, and I didn’t care about ice shelves. I noticed one at last when the blinding white of the ice, struck up against an abidingly black ocean, made me understand at last why the penguins all around me and the orcas occasionally surfacing a few dozen feet away had the same basic color scheme. Evolution ain’t stupid. But evolution isn’t smart, either, or we humans would be much better at perceiving patterns with...
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What a Phishing Attack Looks Like Up CLose

On a typical morning I have about 30 new emails in my personal inbox, and 40 in my work account. You know how it is. I archive what I don't want, scan part of a newsletter, click through to a coworker's Google Doc, and click "track my package" more often than I'd like to admit. It's all pretty standard stuff. These days, though, I face my inboxes with grim determination. Because for about five weeks this spring I was under attack by a team ...
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By Facebook's Logic, Who Is Protected From Hate Speech?

For months now, social media companies have been grappling with how to minimize or eradicate hate speech on their platforms. YouTube has been working to make sure advertisers' content doesn't show up on hateful videos. Instagram is using AI to delete unsavory comments . And earlier this week, ProPublica reported on the internal training materials Facebook gives to the content managers who moderate comments and postings on the platform on ho...
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Westworld’s Creators Know Why Sci-Fi Is So Dystopian

Urs Hölzle and Google’s AI chip, the TPU 2.0. Cole Wilson for WIRED Urs Hölzle has a big job. As senior vice president of technical infrastructure at Google, he’s in charge of the hundreds of thousands of servers in data centers spread across the planet to power the company’s ever widening range of services.He’s also the person that the company’s engineers turn to when all that computing power turns out not to be enough.Today at the 2017 Wi...
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Bailing on the Paris Agreement Leaves No Cure for Climate Change

Finding a cure for climate change just got a lot less likely. President Trump’s decision to quit the Paris Climate Agreement  means that even if the United States once again goes all-in on a treaty to reduce carbon emissions—even if climate becomes a determinative issue in the 2020 elections—the world will not trust the US to keep its policy stable. At the poker table of international negotiations, the US has become that unpleasant player w...
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Google’s Fight Against Uber Takes a Turn for the Criminal

Things don’t look good for Uber and autonomous vehicle wunderkind Anthony Levandowski, the former Google engineer who now leads the startup’s robocar program. This week, US District Court William Alsup made two decisive decisions in the lawsuit between Google’s autonomous vehicle spinoff  Waymo and Uber . You know, the one accusing Levandowski of swiping 14,000 confidential documents from and taking them with him to Uber. First, Alsup rebuf...
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While You Were Offline: Um, Steve, Your Whiteboard Is Showing

Was it only just last week that folks were debating the quality of the first 100 days of the Trump administration? It seems so long ago. Remember those days when everyone wasn’t talking about health care? Good times, people. Good times. Is it our age or the state of current events that makes it feel as if time is speeding up? Perhaps it’s the internet. It moves so fast that it’s impossible to keep pace. That’s why we...
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If You Want to Like The Dark Tower, Reset Your Expectations

“The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.” This is Stephen King’s best opening line. It’s one of the best opening lines in literature . However, it is not the opening line in the trailer for The Dark Tower that dropped this morning. That trailer instead opens with Idris Elba slinging guns, cuts to a shadowy Matthew McConaughey, then to New York, then back to Idris. This, Constant Viewer, is not the movie version...
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March for Science: Live Updates from Washington DC and Around the US

On Saturday, April 22, scientists and science advocates around the globe come together in a March for Science. Well, mostly together . Although the march’s official statement says it champions “robustly funded and publicly communicated science as a pillar of human freedom and prosperity,” organizers and participants have disagreed on just how political (and partisan) scientists ought to be. Can scientists afford to lose their veneer of unbi...
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Facebook Just Handed Out Thousands of 360 Cameras. We’ve Got a Review

Facebook just gave Giroptic iO 360 cameras to 4,000 people at Facebook’s F8 conference, so expect a flood of 360-degree selfies to hit the interwebs any moment now. Ugh. At least the image quality will be pretty good. Giroptic released a new Android-compatible version of its mobile 360 camera as part of the F8 giveaway. While I haven’t gotten my hands on one of those yet, I’ve been using the iOS version that debuted in December. The Giropti...
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Hack Your Pearly Whites With These High-Tech Toothbrushes

Good news: Tooth decay and other dental problems are on the decline. Bad news: Not by much . If you’re over 20, there’s a 91 percent chance you’ve had at least one cavity; by the time you’re middle-aged, some of those will have rotted and fallen out of your mouth. The solution? Brushing your teeth, just like mom told you. Good dental hygiene doesn’t require a fancy electric toothbrush, but dentists commonly recommend them because, let’s be ...
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North Korea Probably Can’t Strike the US Yet—But It’s Still Plenty Scary

National security experts and North Korea watchers say the reclusive country may test a nuclear bomb on Saturday, the ‘Day of the Sun’ holiday that marks the birthday of national father Kim Il-sung. The Hermit Kingdom’s recent saber-rattling prompted the United States to dispatch the Vinson carrier group as a show of force, and President Trump has not ruled out a pre-emptive strike. The government of North Korea told the media to expect som...
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While You Were Offline: Game of Thrones Has Itself a Song of Ice and Backfire

Sometimes there’s one tweet that just chirps a little louder than the rest. This last week brought one of those tweets, and as soon as President Trump fired off a few characters alleging President Obama tapped his phones, that message drove conversation for days. That’s too bad—there were environmental issues and well-placed nuns to talk about! Alas. With so much going on, don’t feel bad if you missed some things along the way. Read on, dea...
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20 Years Later, the World Needs Buffy the Vampire Slayer More Than Ever

Don’t look now, but Buffy the Vampire Slayer is 20 years old. Twenty. If you’re having trouble believing that it’s actually been that long since Sarah Michelle Gellar grabbed a stake and got busy, though, that’s because Joss Whedon’s supernatural action-comedy about an unlikely teen savior did the impossible: it managed to stay relevant for two solid decades. In fact, the world needs Buffy now more than ever. Buffy Summers  began as the pro...
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FCC Chair on Trump’s War on the Press: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Media outlets critical of President Trump are used to being called “fake news.” But they have good reason to worry that the president will go beyond name-calling. He could try to use his power to retaliate against media companies that criticize him and reward those that praise him. And, at least by the lights of a Senate hearing today, the officials tasked with protecting Americans’ access to the airwaves and the internet don’t seem eager t...
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How the CIA Can Hack Your Phone, PC, and TV (Says WikiLeaks)

The NSA, it seems, isn’t the only American spy agency hacking the world. Judging by a new, nearly 9,000-page trove of secrets from WikiLeaks , the CIA has developed its own surprisingly wide array of intrusion tools, too. On Tuesday morning, WikiLeaks released what it’s calling Vault 7, an unprecedented collection of internal CIA files—what appear to be a kind of web-based Wiki—that catalogue the agency’s apparent hacking techniques. And wh...
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The Race to Sell True Quantum Computers Begins Before They Really Exist

Within the next five years, Google will produce a viable quantum computer. That’s the stake the company has just planted. In the pages of Nature late last week, researchers from Google’s Quantum AI Laboratory told the world that a machine leveraging the seemingly magical principles of quantum mechanics will soon outperform traditional computers on certain tasks. They said this long-anticipated technology will, among other things, improve th...
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If the Feds Did Wiretap Trump Tower, It’s Not Obama Who Should Worry

It started, like so many eruptions these days, with a tweet. Early Saturday morning, President Trump fired off a series of tweets accusing, without evidence, former President Barack Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower in the month before the election. Trump compared the alleged snooping to “Nixon/Watergate,” and intimated legal action. Is it legal for a sitting President to be "wire tapping" a race for president prior to an election? Turned do...
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How to Film a Jaguar Without Getting Eaten

In case you missed it, Planet Earth II has finally made its debut on your television. A couple episodes into the season, we found ourselves with lots of questions. Questions like, how do you put a camera right in the face of a spider monkey? Or, what happens when you’re filming and a capybara decides you’re what’s for dinner? So we asked. Over the next few weeks, we’re sitting down with some of the people who make Planet Earth II to talk ab...
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Even Architecture Prizes Are Political In This Crazy World

In an oblique commentary on global politics, the Pritzker Prize jury just awarded architecture’s highest honor to a little-known trio of Spanish architects who carefully honor local topography and culture in their contemporary designs. Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem, and Ramon Vilalta are the principals at  RCR Arquitectes , a small studio in Olot, a Catalonian town known for welcoming immigrants. The firm’s oeuvre is similarly provincial: Nota...
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Google Takes on Cable With ‘YouTube TV’—40 Channels for $35

Google just joined the “skinny bundle” TV war with  YouTube TV , a paid subscription service that streams a slew of premium broadcast and cable networks to your mobile device, tablet, computer, and anything with Chromecast. Just $35 a month gets you six accounts and access to live TV from more than 40 providers including the big broadcast networks, ESPN, regional sports networks and dozens of popular cable networks. Subscriptions include cl...
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Are Some Animals So Smart You Shouldn’t Eat Them?

Christoph Niemann I’m an omnivore, but are there animals that are just too intelligent to eat? During high school, I went to visit a friend in Louisiana. Because I was a Northerner who’d never been to the South, I was given a lot of exotically Southern stuff to eat, like alligator and rattlesnake. Then came the big Louisianan feast: heaps of spicy crayfish, which we savagely twisted the heads off of then washed down with gallons an...
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Hiding From the Law Is Now Pretty Much Impossible

The new CBS reality series Hunted features ordinary Americans trying to hide from ‘the hunters,’ a group of top law enforcement professionals. One of those hunters is fantasy and science fiction author Myke Cole , who honed his fugitive-hunting skills while tracking terrorists in Iraq. He says it was very intimidating to be working as part of such an elite team. “I’ve met George R. R. Martin and I’ve met Stanley McChrystal , I’ve met a lot ...
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Hip to Be Square

Continuing our miniseries of year-end recap shows, David and Michael name their picks for the best products, apps, and gadgets across all of the major categories. Phones, computers, cars, kitchen stuff, and everything else you want to know about. We also hear from the transportation team: Alex, Aarian, and Jack, who discuss Tesla’s big year. Also, we hear from you, our listeners, about your picks for the best gadgets of 2016. Some notes: Th...
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Republicans Are Trying to Let Internet Providers Sell Your Data

The Affordable Care Act is far from the only Obama-era policy Republicans want to take down now that they control the government. A set of internet privacy rules passed by the Federal Communications Commission last year has also become a target. Though it’s received far less attention than healthcare or immigration, the rollback would affect millions of consumers and bring basic changes to how they use the internet—though they might not eve...
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