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From MIT. Information on Emerging Technologies & impact on business & society

Category: Technology

  • Survival in the Age of Spotify

    Two rock musicians find flaws—and hope—in a book that suggests how artists can earn a decent living even after free online access to music has ravaged the business.

    Mann: Ted, we are both intimately affected by the issues discussed in Cory Doctorow’s book Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free. I was very apprehensive about how to approach it. I thought, “If I’m going to be reading a bunch of suggestions about how I can tweet for couches to sleep on after shows, I’m going to be really depressed.” And in fact, in the beginning of the book there’s a lot of that language we’re familiar with that comes across as: “Those artists out there who were doing okay by the old systems and now are flailing—too bad! Sorry, lamplighters! Too bad you couldn’t keep up, buggy-whip makers!”

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    Details: http://www.technologyreview.com/review/536031/survival-in-the-age-of-spotify/

  • Compulsive Behavior Sells

    Nir Eyal is showing software designers how to hook users in four easy steps. Welcome to the new era of habit-forming technology.

    A middle-aged woman sits before a computer screen on the 11th floor of Expedia’s glass-clad headquarters in Seattle. Two electrodes are taped to her brow just above her left eye, two more on her left cheek. A one-way mirror reflects her face as she responds to requests issuing from a speaker mounted in the ceiling.

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    Details: http://www.technologyreview.com/news/535906/compulsive-behavior-sells/

  • Single-Dose Cures for Malaria, Other Diseases

    A leading researcher issues a call for pills that deliver a full course of treatment in one swallow.

    One of the world’s preëminent biomedical researchers is calling for a concerted effort by scientists to develop pills that would stay in the stomach or gut for weeks or months once swallowed, delivering one or more drugs continuously or over set intervals.

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    Details: http://www.technologyreview.com/news/535776/single-dose-cures-for-malaria-other-diseases/

  • Bracing for the Data Deluge

    Michael Stonebraker helped invent technology that put databases into every business. Now a growing flood of data means he needs to reinvent it.

    From Facebook to the Department of Motor Vehicles, the world is catalogued in databases. No one knows it better than MIT adjunct professor and entrepreneur Michael Stonebraker, who has spent the last 25 years developing the technology that made it so. He got his big break by inventing and commercializing technology that underlies most of the databases, known as relational databases, that rule today. But Stonebraker now happily calls his earlier inventions largely obsolete. He’s working on a new generation of database technology that can handle the flood of digital data that is starting to overwhelm established methods.

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    Details: http://www.technologyreview.com/news/424037/bracing-for-the-data-deluge/

  • Amazon Robot Contest May Accelerate Warehouse Automation

    Robots will use the latest computer-vision and machine-learning algorithms to try to perform the work done by humans in vast fulfillment centers.

    Packets of Oreos, boxes of crayons, and squeaky dog toys will test the limits of robot vision and manipulation in a competition this May. Amazon is organizing the event to spur the development of more nimble-fingered product-packing machines.

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    Details: http://www.technologyreview.com/news/536086/amazon-robot-contest-may-accelerate-warehouse-automation/

  • Love of Labor

    Automation makes things easier, whether it’s on the factory floor or online. Is it also eroding too many of the valuable skills that define us as people?

    Messages move at light speed. Maps speak directions. Groceries arrive at the door. Floors mop themselves. Automation provides irresistible conveniences.

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    Details: http://www.technologyreview.com/review/530141/love-of-labor/

  • Technology and Persuasion

    Persuasive technologies surround us, and they’re growing smarter. How do these technologies work? And why?


    GSN Games, which designs mobile games like poker and bingo, collects billions of signals every day from the phones and tablets its players are using—revealing everything from the time of day they play to the type of game they prefer to how they deal with failure. If two people were to download a game onto the same type of phone simultaneously, in as little as five minutes their games would begin to diverge—each one automatically tailored to its user’s style of play.

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    Details: http://www.technologyreview.com/news/535826/technology-and-persuasion/

  • Reality Check: Comparing HoloLens and Magic Leap

    After trying demos of Magic Leap and HoloLens, it’s clear that commercializing augmented reality technology will be difficult.

    I’ve seen two competing visions for a future in which virtual objects are merged seamlessly with the real world. Both were impressive in part, but they also made me wonder whether augmented reality will become a successful commercial reality anytime soon.

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    Details: http://www.technologyreview.com/news/535806/reality-check-comparing-hololens-and-magic-leap/

  • High-Resolution 3-D Scans Built from Drone Photos

    A drone spent hours swarming around Rio’s iconic Christ statue to show a cheap way to capture highly accurate 3-D scans.

    The 30-meter tall statue of Christ overlooking Rio de Janeiro from a nearby mountain was under construction for nine years before its opening in 1931. It took just hours to build the first detailed 3-D scan of the monument late last year, using more than 2,000 photos captured by a small drone that buzzed all around it with an ordinary digital camera. The statue’s digital double was unveiled last month, and is accurate to between two and five centimeters, enough to capture individual mosaic tiles.

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    Details: http://www.technologyreview.com/news/535596/high-resolution-3-d-scans-built-from-drone-photos/

  • Virtual Reality Advertisements Get in Your Face

    Some companies see virtual and augmented reality as a way to make money from a new type of ads.

    I’m sitting in a desk chair in an office in Mountain View, California. But with a virtual-reality headset strapped to my head and headphones over my ears, it looks and sounds like I’m standing in the belly of a blimp, flying high above silent city blocks dotted with billboards for a Despicable Me theme-park ride.

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    Details: http://www.technologyreview.com/news/535556/virtual-reality-advertisements-get-in-your-face/

  • Rewriting the Rules of Turing’s Imitation Game

    Some researchers are searching for more meaningful ways to measure artificial intelligence.

    We have self-driving cars, knowledgeable digital assistants, and software capable of putting names to faces as well as any expert. Google recently announced that it had developed software capable of learning—entirely without human help—how to play several classic Atari computer games with skill far beyond that of even the most callus-thumbed human player.

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    Details: http://www.technologyreview.com/news/535391/rewriting-the-rules-of-turings-imitation-game/

  • A Contrarian in Biotech

    Peter Thiel was the first large investor in Facebook. Now he’s turning his investing skills to biotechnology.

    Peter Thiel is the co-founder of PayPal, the investor who discovered Facebook, and the author of Zero to One, a short account of the counterintuitive thinking that’s made him a godfather figure in Silicon Valley (see “The Contrarian’s Guide to Changing the World.”)

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    Details: http://www.technologyreview.com/news/535771/a-contrarian-in-biotech/

  • The Electric Mood-Control Acid Test

    A startup called Thync will sell electrodes that you put on your head to improve your mood. The results may vary to a surprising degree.

    I’m working on a story that’s almost due. It’s going well. I’m almost finished. But then everything falls apart. I get an angry e-mail from a researcher who’s upset about another article. My stomach knots up. My heart pounds. I reply with a defensive e-mail and afterward can’t stop mentally rehashing my response. Taking deep breaths and a short walk don’t help. I can’t focus on finishing my story, and as the deadline approaches, that makes me more uptight and it gets even harder to write.

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    Details: http://www.technologyreview.com/featuredstory/535641/the-electric-mood-control-acid-test/

  • Engineering the Perfect Baby

    Scientists are developing ways to edit the DNA of tomorrow’s children. Should they stop before it’s too late?

    If anyone had devised a way to create a genetically engineered baby, I figured George Church would know about it.

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    Details: http://www.technologyreview.com/featuredstory/535661/engineering-the-perfect-baby/

  • India’s Ambitious Bid to Become a Solar Power

    The Indian government hopes to increase the country’s solar capacity 30-fold by 2020.

    India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, made headlines last fall by announcing his ambition to install 100 gigawatts of solar power capacity—over 30 times more than India has now—by 2022. Skeptics noted Modi’s lack of a detailed plan and budget, but some well-capitalized industrial players have apparently caught Modi’s solar fever: at a renewable energy summit called by Modi last month he collected pledges for 166 gigawatts of solar projects.

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    Details: http://www.technologyreview.com/news/535551/indias-ambitious-bid-to-become-a-solar-power/

  • The Mystery Behind Anesthesia

    Mapping how our neural circuits change under the influence of anesthesia could shed light on one of neuroscience’s most perplexing riddles: consciousness.

    A video screen shows a man in his late 60s lying awake on an operating table. Just outside the camera’s view, a doctor is moving his finger in front of the man’s face, instructing him to follow it back and forth with his   eyes. Seconds later, after a dose of the powerful anesthetic drug propofol, his eyelids begin to droop. Then his pupils stop moving. Only the steady background beeping of the heart monitor serves as a reminder that the man isn’t dead. “He’s in a coma,” the doctor, Emery Brown, explains. “General anesthesia is a drug-induced reversible coma.”

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    Details: http://www.technologyreview.com/featuredstory/426432/the-mystery-behind-anesthesia/

  • Electronic Inks Make 3-D Printing More Promising

    A startup called Voxel8 is using materials expertise to extend the capabilities of 3-D printing.

    Three cofounders of Voxel8, a Harvard spinoff, are showing me a toy they’ve made. At the company’s lab space—a couple of cluttered work benches in a big warehouse it shares with other startups—a bright-orange quadcopter takes flight and hovers above tangles of wires, computer equipment, coffee mugs, and spare parts.

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    Details: http://www.technologyreview.com/news/535466/electronic-inks-make-3-d-printing-more-promising/

  • Google Researchers Make Quantum Computing Components More Reliable

    Researchers from a university and Google demonstrate a crucial error-correction step needed to make quantum computing practical.

    A solution to one of the key problems holding back the development of quantum computers has been demonstrated by researchers at Google and the University of California, Santa Barbara. Many more problems remain to be solved, but experts in the field say it is an important step toward a fully functional quantum computer. Such a machine could perform calculations that would take a conventional computer millions of years to complete.

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    Details: http://www.technologyreview.com/news/535621/google-researchers-make-quantum-computing-components-more-reliable/

  • Smart Watches Show More Style and Substance

    New and improved smart watches were unveiled at Mobile World Congress—but consumers remain unconvinced.

    From telling the time to telling you how many times you’ve been retweeted, watches keep taking on new functions. The ones on show at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, finally add form to their functionality—but it remains far from clear what the killer features are for these devices.

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    Details: http://www.technologyreview.com/news/535471/smart-watches-show-more-style-and-substance/

  • Zuckerberg: Internet Growth Means More than Drones

    Efforts to expand Internet access via mobile technologies may be stymied by economic and social challenges.

    Mark Zuckerberg said today at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, that Internet.org, Facebook’s effort to subsidize Internet access in the developing world, has brought new people online and helped telecommunications operators pick up new data subscribers around the world. “It works,” Zuckerberg said.

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    Details: http://www.technologyreview.com/news/535461/zuckerberg-internet-growth-means-more-than-drones/

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