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Adrienne LaFrance

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How A.I. Will Redefine Human Intelligence

April 12, 2017 FROM NEXTGOV arrow The machines are getting smarter. They can now recognize us, carry on conversations, and perceive complex details about the world around them. This is just the beginning. As computers become more human-like, many worry that robots and algorithms will displace people. And they are right to. But just as crucial...

When a Reality-TV President Orders a Missile Strike

April 10, 2017 We are, by now, accustomed to televised wars. For much of 2003, CNN was awash in the green, night-goggled view of bombs exploding over Baghdad. But it was the first Iraq war, in 1990, that offered viewers live broadcasts from the front lines—and buoyed cable news subscriptions as a result....

Trolls Are Winning the Internet, Technologists Say

March 29, 2017 FROM NEXTGOV arrow I’m going to confess an occasional habit of mine, which is petty, and which I would still enthusiastically recommend to anyone who frequently encounters trolls, Twitter eggs, or other unpleasant characters online. Sometimes, instead of just ignoring a mean-spirited comment like I know I should, I type in the most...

Who Owns Your Face?

March 27, 2017 FROM NEXTGOV arrow It takes a feast of facial imagery to teach a machine how to recognize an individual person. This is why computer scientists so often use the faces of Hollywood celebrities in their research. Tom Hanks, for example, is in so many publicly available photographs that it’s fairly easy to build...

What Happens If Uber Fails?

March 23, 2017 FROM NEXTGOV arrow The thing about a market bubble is that you don’t really know how big it is until it pops. So it doesn’t pop, and doesn’t pop, and doesn’t pop, until one day it finally pops. And by then, it’s too late. The dot-com collapse two decades ago erased $5 trillion...

The Fight Between Waymo and Uber Intensifies

March 13, 2017 FROM NEXTGOV arrow The legal showdown between Uber and Waymo appears to be escalating, weeks after Waymo accused Uber of stealing its top-secret designs for driverless vehicles. An Uber spokesperson on Friday reduced Waymo’s claims to a “baseless attempt to slow down a competitor,” in the ridesharing giant’s strongest public response yet to...

The 9-1-1 Paradox

March 12, 2017 FROM NEXTGOV arrow The warnings began trickling in around supper time on Wednesday night. AT&T was experiencing what officials in several states described as a nationwide outage affecting 9-1-1 services. The problem was that some AT&T customers who dialed 9-1-1 in at least 18 states couldn’t reach emergency dispatchers—and instead would hear either...

Car Wars

March 12, 2017 FROM NEXTGOV arrow The stakes are impossibly high. Self-driving cars are arguably the great technological promise of the 21st century. They are in that rare class of technology that might actually change the world. And not just in the way everyone in Silicon Valley talks about changing the world—but really, fundamentally change it....

The 9-1-1 Paradox

March 10, 2017 The warnings began trickling in around supper time on Wednesday night. AT&T was experiencing what officials in several states described as a nationwide outage affecting 9-1-1 services. The problem was that some AT&T customers who dialed 9-1-1 in at least 18 states couldn’t reach emergency dispatchers—and instead would hear either...

Now You Can Use NASA's Volcano-Tracking Technology to Monitor Your Baby

March 5, 2017 FROM NEXTGOV arrow The best way to monitor a baby, most parents will tell you, is with your eyes and ears. Does the baby seem to need something? Okay. Go get that thing for the baby. Is the baby safe and calm? Excellent. Good monitoring, everyone. The fact that babies have an extraordinarily...