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“We may remember 2018 as the year when technology’s dystopian potential became clear, from Facebook’s role enabling the harvesting of our personal data for election interference to a seemingly unending series of revelations about the dark side of Silicon Valley’s connect-everything ethos.
The list is long: High-tech tools for immigration crackdowns. Fears of smartphone addiction. YouTube algorithms that steer youths into extremism. An experiment in gene-edited babies .
Doorbells and concert venues that can pinpoint individual faces and alert police. Repurposing genealogy websites to hunt for crime suspects based on a relative’s DNA. Automated systems that keep tabs of workers’ movements and habits. Electric cars in Shanghai transmitting their every movement to the government.
It’s been enough to exhaust even the most imaginative sci-fi visionaries.
“It doesn’t so much feel like we’re living in the future now, as that we’re living in a retro-future,” novelist William Gibson wrote this month on Twitter. “A dark, goofy ’90s retro-future.”
More awaits us in 2019, as surveillance and data-collection efforts ramp up and artificial intelligence systems start sounding more human, reading facial expressions and generating fake video images so realistic that it will be harder to detect malicious distortions of the truth.
But there are also counter-measures afoot in Congress and state government – and even among tech-firm employees who are more active about ensuring their work is put to positive ends.”
JJ Editor's Picks
"Once again, the developed world is feeling the inherent tension between market capitalism and representative democracy. Each institution provides its own mechanisms for allocating society’s resources and distributing the income and..."
"Two hundred years ago, the Founding Fathers made a mistake. They decided that the president of the United States should be elected by a popular vote held among the entire country’s citizens. The results of this flawed system speak for themselves..."
"As alien enthusiasts arrive at a remote patch of the Nevada desert, one young hero has already emerged from the legion people who have pledged to invade Area 51, and finally “see them aliens.” The event, which was given the name “Storm Area 51..."
"Women’s empowerment is usually equated with paid work outside the home. That’s a mistake. Assuming that women who choose to stay home and nurture their young children are powerless or unenlightened is not only insulting but dangerous. A woman’s..."
""Since the financial crisis, income inequality has garnered increasing attention from economists, politicians, and journalists, and perhaps no income level has been cited more than the so-called 1 Percent. Yet that term can describe a wide..."
"It’s a formula that we turn to again and again to affirm the value of inclusion, especially in the realm of popular culture: the importance of people who “look like me.” The actor Eva Longoria, who appears in the film “Dora and the Lost City of..."
"In the next few days, we will hear a great deal about the need for a national unity government comprising both the Likud and Kachol Lavan (Blue and White) parties, if only because it will prove, yet again, impossible to put together a narrow and..."
"Artificial intelligence is getting smarter, but it isn’t getting cleaner. In order to improve at predicting the weather, sorting your social media feeds, and hailing your Uber, it needs to train on massive datasets. A few years ago, an A.I..."