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Neil Postman, a well-known cultural critic, suggests that computer technology is too important to be left entirely to the technologists. “Embedded in every technology,” he says, “is a powerful idea….”
A sociologist presents four theories of how technology and society interrelate.
Not long ago California suffered under rolling blackouts and startlingly high electric bills. Soon, Americans began hearing that the culprit was not deregulation and energy traders like Enron but, rather, the “gluttonous energy appetite of computers.” This struck Brian Hayes as “quite remarkable.”
Ever since some economists began to doubt that computers contribute to a company’s productivity, still others have been trying to prove the opposite. Productivity figures for the past couple of years seem to be on their side. Not so fast, says Stephen Roach, chief economist for Morgan Stanley.
Volumes have been written about the dot com boom and bust. Silicon Valley seems to be coming back. This time the geeks are in charge.
Bell Labs, the legendary home of innovation in science and computing, is asking its scientists for results.
You have a company. You have a website. Now, how do you make it to the top of Google searches?
Microsoft is beginning to realize that Linux is a threat in the operating systems market.
Do immigrants displace native workers? Is the United States siphoning off talent from countries that can ill afford to lose it? This Berkeley professor argues that high-skill immigration is more complex than that.
Highly paid programming jobs are being outsourced to places like India and other countries with educated workforces who are willing to earn less than Americans.
The recession in Silicon Valley has been difficult for many. Santa Clara County, California combines some of the highest unemployment in the country with some of the highest housing prices.
A majority of U.S. firms record and review some form of employee communications and the number is expanding rapidly. In this article, Sarah Boehle asks and answers the question, “What’s behind this rush to Orwellian oversight?”
In this first part of a two-part series, a lawyer advises employers about how to violate employee privacy within legal parameters. Here, Jonathan Segal offers guidance on how to design policies that give employers the right to “search” employees (including their electronic communications).
In this second part of a two-part article, Jonathan Segal tells employers how to be “circumspect” and to respect employees’ privacy rights when implementing the right to search.
“We’re entering a world in which the complexity of devices and the system of interconnecting devices is beyond our capability to easily understand,” says veteran tech observer Howard Rheinhold in this interview with Reason.
What happens when your boss or your boyfriend reads what you said about them in your on-line diary or blog?
Would you wear a computer helmet that would let you filter out the “ever-greater intrusions by government and business” on your “personal space and freedom?” What is the cost of not having such an item?
Multitasking is a computer term that has now entered the popular lexicon. Is using multiple communications devices simultaneously making us more productive?
Novelist Max Barry has designed a game where you create a country of your own.
How Google ranks web sites may mislead us into thinking that what is popular is also true.
When a company name, “Google,” becomes a transitive verb—“to google someone”—in just a few short years, you know that something big is happening.
According to the author, “the problem with piracy is not the inadequacy of existing laws, but the high cost of enforcing any law against the large universe of infringers.”
Manufacturers are exercising increasing control over their products after they have left the store. Users gain security at the price of freedom.
Increasingly, companies that become targets of legal action find that “Exhibit A against them is their own employees’ written correspondence … and in more and more cases, the starring role is played by e-mail.” In this article, a former prosecutor and an expert on business writing offers advice on the do’s and don’ts of e-mail and how to legally prevent bad documents.
In this essay, Paul DePalma criticizes the view that women avoid computer science because of “math anxiety.” He argues, rather, that women “embrace” mathematics and that computer science programs would attract more women if they were more like math.
“Whatever the problems,” write the authors, “the move to automate war has become an irreversible force.”
“What’s being tested in Iraq is not just the mettle of the U.S. military but an entire philosophy of warfare,” say the authors. Is it true that large numbers of land troops aren’t “always needed in an era when powerful networked-computing systems…can do much of the work?”
Even a modest missile defense system is years away.
The institutional structure of the Internet may help solve some of the regulatory issues that networked computers raise.
Charles Mann learns from computer security expert Bruce Schneier that “the trick is to remember that technology can’t save you.”
In July 2001, “more than 359,000 servers were infected with the Code Red Worm in less than 14 hours.” Carolyn Meinel explains how the worm was spread and the damage it caused. She also reports on more virulent plagues in the making and the possibilities of future cyberwars and their potential consequences.
Clive Thompson states, “when Mario is bored…he likes to sit at his laptop and create computer viruses and worms.”
One of the significant risks to the viability of email as a communications medium is spam.
“Email is the most incredible communication vehicle invented and it is on the verge of being made useless,” says spam tracker Steve Linford.
Sometimes the risks of computing are found in unlikely places. Critics complain that a slide show presentation underplayed the dangers facing the Columbia space shuttle.
There is a worldwide shortage of information technology (IT) workers. Wealthy nations offer attractive incentives to lure IT specialists from other countries, but this strategy can exacerbate IT labor shortages in disadvantaged parts of the world. Therefore, IT may contribute to a “pervasive gap in the wealth-creation potential between nations.”
In many nations, human rights groups are learning the art of encryption. Other computer applications are allowing organizations to track abuses with scientific rigor. Such developments are subtly changing the balance of power between repressive governments and the human rights groups that watch them.
According to Shanthi Kalathil, “many authoritarian regimes have realized that adapting to the information age means relinquishing a measure of control.”
Afghans are beginning to go online in Internet cafés.
This article shows “how the FBI tricked two Russian cybercriminals into justice in the United States.”
Japanese youth appear to be foresaking computers for cell phones.
“The future promises lots of robots in our everyday lives.” Many of them may look and behave like people. Rodney Brooks gives us a brief overview of robot history as well as current and future developments in humanoid robotics.
March 2003 was the 50th anniversary of the concept of a computer experiment, the idea that nature may be understood by running simulations on a computer. Real progress in many areas of medicine “will require a melding of both great discoveries of 1953,” the other being the structure of DNA.
“Wet lab processes that took weeks to complete are giving way to digital research done in silico.” This marriage is called “bioinformatics.” Though powerful drugs are the promise, the danger “is that it is seductively easy for bioligists to rely on … computers and to ignore the scientific grind of hypothesis and proof.”
Digitized music and high-speed networks are putting an end to records and record stores.
Digital assistants may one day help us control the flood of information.