AUTHOR ARCHIVES

Adrienne LaFrance

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The Acrostic as a Form of Bureaucratic Dissent

August 24, 2017 Hiding an acrostic message in an otherwise ordinary resignation letter isn’t exactly the boldest way to express a political view, yet it’s proven surprisingly effective. It’s a trick that’s been tried twice in recent days. First members of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities spelled out “RESIST” with...

The Algorithm That Makes Preschoolers Obsessed With YouTube

July 25, 2017 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Toddlers crave power. Too bad for them, they have none. Hence the tantrums and absurd demands. (No, I want this banana, not that one, which looks identical in every way but which you just started peeling and is therefore worthless to me now.) They just want to be in charge!...

Evaluating Trump's Psyche in Public

July 25, 2017 It’s not hard to find somebody who’s willing to call the president of the United States crazy. “Madman” was, after all, one of the words that cropped up most frequently in coverage about him during the 2016 campaign. But psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental-health professionals have been especially careful about...

But His Emails!

July 12, 2017 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Nothing like a presidential scandal to turn something utterly mundane into a national obsession. But here we are, once again, talking about emails. The emails. Oh, the emails! During the 2016 presidential campaign, email became a symbol of Hillary Clinton’s alleged corruption. Clinton’s aides wiped about 33,000 emails from a...

The Technology That Will Make It Impossible for You to Believe What You See

July 12, 2017 FROM NEXTGOV arrow The president was seething. His problem was with the press, yes, but also with the technology they used. Electronic media had changed everything. People were glued to their screens. “I have never heard or seen such outrageous, vicious, distorted reporting,” he said in a news conference. The age of television...

Donald Trump’s ‘Impenetrable Cybersecurity’ Is Pure Fantasy

July 10, 2017 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Nothing connected to the internet is safe from hackers. And I mean nothing. Modern cybersecurity is a constant cycle of breaches and patches. Systems are compromised, security experts play catch up, and eventually hackers find a new way in. Each side tries to outwit the other. But at any given...

What an AI's Non-Human Language Actually Looks Like

June 20, 2017 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Something unexpected happened recently at the Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research lab. Researchers who had been training bots to negotiate with one another realized the bots, left to their own devices, started communicating in a non-human language. In order to actually follow what the bots were saying, the researchers had to...

In Hawaii, the Ghost of Climate-Change Future

May 30, 2017 The water is everywhere. For the second time in a month, Hawaii’s coastlines have been swamped by epic tides. The phenomenon, known as a king tide, is actually a convergence of a few different factors: high lunar tides, rising sea levels associated with last year’s strong El Niño and climate...

Cyberwar Is Officially Crossing Over Into the Real World

May 17, 2017 FROM NEXTGOV arrow The devastating effects of a massive cyberattack are no more confined to a computer network than any other action carried out online. People use the computers and the internet all the time to make things happen in the physical world. A cyberattack isn’t just a cyberattack. It’s an attack. Hospitals,...

Stolen NSA Tool Suspected in Global Ransomware Attack

May 12, 2017 A widespread cyberattack disrupted business and health systems in at least a dozen countries on Friday, including at least 16 hospitals across England that were crippled by a large-scale ransomware attack. Doctors, administrators, and other NHS workers were locked out of their computers, and instead saw a pop-up message demanding...