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Adrienne LaFrance

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Can Somebody Please Tell Facebook's Algorithm Hillary Lost?

November 9, 2016 FROM NEXTGOV arrow My Facebook feed, on election day, was a study in contrasts. There were “Make America Great Again” hats on one side and primary-colored pantsuits on the other. The Hillary Clinton supporters in my feed, many of them women, were especially pronounced. For one thing, there are a lot of them....

Researchers Are Teaching Artificial Intelligence How to Terrify Humans

October 25, 2016 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Machines do creepy things all the time. The more they seem to be able to think and act for themselves, the freakier it gets. Consider, for example, this gif I just made of Boston Dynamic’s SpotMini robot. Legitimately impressive? Of course. Terrifying? Also yes. But SpotMini’s just trying to do...

How Much Will Today’s Internet Outage Cost?

October 22, 2016 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Internet outages continued into Friday afternoon, with major websites seeming to flicker an and off for internet users across the United States. The cause was a major, ongoing distributed denial of service attack—when hackers flood a website with traffic so it can’t handle visits from ordinary web users—on critical web...

Why Winter Won't Kill Zika

October 20, 2016 Okay, good news first: Mosquito season in the United States is basically over—even in warmer regions, like Florida and areas along the Gulf Coast. “The risk of mosquito transmission of viruses goes way down by the end of October,” says Peter Hotez, a pediatrician and the dean for the National...

A Computer’s Hot Take on the 2016 Election

October 19, 2016 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Donald Trump’s message of the week, in case you’ve somehow managed to avoid it, is that the election is rigged by a corrupt (and apparently monolithic) media. “The election is absolutely being rigged by the dishonest and distorted media pushing Crooked Hillary,” Trump wrote in a tweet on Sunday night....

Is Silicon Valley a Meritocracy?

October 13, 2016 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Every year, The Atlantic sends a survey to dozens of influential Silicon Valley executives, start-up founders, and tech thinkers to take the pulse of the technology industry. For this year’s View From the Valley, we asked people to tell us everything from who has the best job in Silicon Valley—Tesla’s...

A Computer That Stores Memories like Humans Do

October 4, 2016 FROM NEXTGOV arrow They called it the Hubble Telescope of the mind. This was in 2009, after the announcement that a team of scientists from IBM’s Cognitive Computing group had built what was, at the time, the largest artificial brain ever. It was a cell-by-cell computer simulation of the human visual cortex, large...

A Brief History of Presidential Candidates Standing in Front of Airplanes

September 21, 2016 Donald Trump’s latest complaint about Hillary Clinton is that she’s cribbing his style. “Do people notice Hillary is copying my airplane rallies,” he wrote in a Twitter post on Tuesday morning. “She puts the plane behind her like I have been doing from the beginning.” The observation is strange not...

A New Era for the Automobile

September 20, 2016 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Here’s how it usually happens: Technology comes first, and the law follows. Airplanes first flew across the skies long before control towers popped up, and cellphones were ubiquitous long before texting-while-driving was outlawed. This makes sense. It’s difficult, bordering on impossible, to predict all the ways in which transformative new...

A New DMV for Self-Driving Cars?

September 20, 2016 Here’s how it usually happens: Technology comes first, and the law follows. Airplanes first flew across the skies long before control towers popped up, and cellphones were ubiquitous long before texting-while-driving was outlawed. This makes sense. It’s difficult, bordering on impossible, to predict all the ways in which transformative new...