Technology

Computational linguistics reveals pervasive gender bias in modern English novels

Gender bias is an insidious problem throughout society. It arises most obviously through deliberate discrimination but also exists through widespread unconscious bias. This permeates our culture, our workplaces, and even our language, often in ways we are unaware of. The first step in changing this is uncovering bias where it exists. And that’s where the emerging science of computational linguistics ...

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Why adding bugs to software can make it safer

When it comes to radar tracking, one of the most effective countermeasure is to release a cloud of aluminum strips or metallized plastic. These strongly reflect radar and create thousands of targets, which swamp and confuse the radar returns. That confuses anything trying to track you, such as a radar-guided missile. Most military aircraft and warships, and many ballistic missiles, have ...

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Predicting the Future of Work: Preparing for an Uncertain Tomorrow

AI, robotics and cognitive computing are advancing rapidly and will have a massive impact on how people do their jobs, eliminating some tasks done by humans altogether and significantly altering others. That makes the future of work a clouded, even ominous, horizon for many companies today. One challenge, discussed at the recent EmTech Next conference, produced by MIT Technology Review, ...

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From the age of perplexity to the era of opportunities

We are living in an era of “mega-change”, in which social, economic and political models are no longer fixed, and this causes insecurity and fear: fear of others, fear of the future. Moreover, today’s accelerated technological change makes it even more difficult to predict the future of the global economy. There are differences in opinion regarding the direction; magnitude and ...

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Fukushima’s nuclear signature found in California wine

Throughout the 1950s, the US, the Soviet Union, and others tested thermonuclear weapons in the Earth’s atmosphere. Those tests released vast quantities of radioactive material into the air and triggered fears that the nuclear reactions could ignite deuterium in the oceans, thereby destroying the planet in a catastrophic accidental fireball. Atmospheric tests ended in 1980, when China finished its program, ...

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Iris scanner can distinguish dead eyeballs from living ones

The 1993 film Demolition Man is set in the fictional future of the 2030s, where people gain access to more or less everything via iris scans. That leads to an unsurprising plot device in which a prisoner escapes from jail by cutting out the warden’s eyeball and using it to spoof the biometric scanners. This raises an interesting question. Is ...

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How to turn a kitchen microwave into a plasma-etching device

Every high school science course focuses on the fundamental states of matter in the form of gases, liquids, and solids—states that are straightforward to study and manipulate. But there is a fourth state of matter that most people are much less familiar with because it does not exist freely on Earth. This is plasma—a gas in which electrons have been ...

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The secret world of disabled gamers

By some estimates, as many as 2.6 billion people take part in digital gaming, a significant fraction of the global population. There is much ongoing study by games makers and researchers into why and how people play: for fun, for the challenge, to relax, to engage with friends, and so on. And yet one group of people are conspicuous by their ...

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