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Adrienne LaFrance

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Machine Learning Is Bringing the Cosmos Into Focus

March 2, 2017 FROM NEXTGOV arrow The telescope offers one of the most seductive suggestions a technological object can carry: the idea that humans might pick up a thing, peer into it, and finally solve the riddle of the heavens as a result. Unraveling that mystery requires its own kind of refraction in perspective, collapsing the...

The Scary State of Volcano Monitoring in the United States

March 1, 2017 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Thirteen days before Christmas, somewhere in the frigid waters of the Bering Sea, a massive volcano unexpectedly rumbled back to life. Just like that, Bogoslof volcano began its first continuous eruption since 1992, belching great plumes of ash tens of thousands of feet into the cold sky over the Aleutian...

A Doozy of a Lawsuit Over Self-Driving Cars

February 24, 2017 FROM NEXTGOV arrow A stunning claim of stolen trade secrets may be the first big intellectual property battle of the self-driving car era. Waymo, the self-driving car company that began at Google, is suing Uber and the self-driving truck company Otto, which Uber acquired last year. Waymo said in a federal lawsuit filed...

The Facebook Algorithm Is Watching You

February 23, 2017 FROM NEXTGOV arrow You can tell a lot about a person from how they react to something. That’s why Facebook’s various “Like” buttons are so powerful. Clicking a reaction icon isn’t just a way to register an emotional response, it’s also a way for Facebook to refine its sense of who you are....

A Border Wall by 2020? Doubt It

February 21, 2017 The construction of a massive wall along the border of the United States and Mexico is one of President Donald Trump’s central campaign promises. And it’s a promise he intends to keep. Within days of taking the oath of office in January, Trump began laying the groundwork for the construction...

A Border Wall by 2020? Doubt It

February 21, 2017 The construction of a massive wall along the border of the United States and Mexico is one of President Donald Trump’s central campaign promises. And it’s a promise he intends to keep. Within days of taking the oath of office in January, Trump began laying the groundwork for the construction...

Biometric Checkpoints in Trump’s America

February 15, 2017 FROM NEXTGOV arrow President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban called for, among other things, the speedy completion of a “biometric entry-exit tracking system” for all travelers to the United States. If this sounds familiar, it’s because the idea has been debated in Washington for more than a decade. The implementation of such a...

The Internet Is Mostly Bots

January 31, 2017 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Look around you, people of the internet. The bots. They’re everywhere. Most website visitors aren’t humans, but are instead bots—or, programs built to do automated tasks. They are the worker bees of the internet, and also the henchmen. Some bots help refresh your Facebook feed or figure out how to...

Will Donald Trump Dismantle the Internet as We Know It?

December 5, 2016 Talking about net neutrality is so boring, the comedian John Oliver once quipped, that he would “rather listen to a pair of Dockers tell me about the weird dream it had” than delve into the topic. So it’s unsurprising that Donald Trump—an entertainer with a flair for the dramatic and...

Will Trump’s Victory Be Silicon Valley’s Wake-Up Call?

November 11, 2016 FROM NEXTGOV arrow In the daze of an election post-mortem, there’s always plenty of culpability to go around. The people who wanted Hillary Clinton to be the next president of the United States are angry at the voters who elected Donald Trump, of course, but they’re also mad at the media, and the...