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Op-Ed Contributor: Social Media Is Making Us Dumber. Here's Exhibit A.

NYT > Home Page

This week, a video surfaced of a Harvard professor, Steven Pinker, which appeared to show him lauding members of a racist movement. The clip, which was pulled from a November event at Harvard put on by Spiked magazine, showed Mr. Pinker referring to "the often highly literate, highly intelligent people who gravitate to the alt-right" and calling them "internet savvy" and "media savvy." The neo-Nazi Daily Stormer website ran an article headlined, in part, "Harvard Jew Professor Admits the Alt-Right Is Right About Everything." A tweet of the video published by the self-described "Right-Wing Rabble-Rouser" Alex Witoslawski got hundreds of retweets, including one from the white-nationalist leader Richard Spencer. "Steven Pinker has long been a darling of the white supremacist'alt-right,'" noted the lefty journalist Ben Norton.


Drones Invasion Of Pop Culture: Fact or Fiction?

Forbes Europe

Maybe you've read the statistics on how many drones are filling our skies: The FAA anticipates 7 million by 2020. Perhaps you've heard about how drones are revolutionizing commercial operations. It's possible you know someone who has a drone of their own, or seen a quadcopter hovering over your local park. The reality is there's no shortage of drones filling our homes, stores, skies, and seas. It should come as no surprise that the technology is steadily making its way into our media.


Amazon, Microsoft's Awkward Partnership Sees Alexa Come To PCs

Forbes Europe

Just as Apple's iOS is forever linked to the iPhone, Alexa has been synonymous with Amazon's Echo speaker. But Amazon's digital assistant is becoming increasingly independent -- integrating into speakers made by Sonos, the Nest thermostat or lights made by Philips. Now it's also finding its way onto computer towers and notebooks made by PC makers, a move that could simultaneously ratchet up tensions between Amazon and Microsoft. PC makers like HP, ASUS and Acer are announcing Alexa integrations at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, and in some cases the partnerships see hardware being upgraded to make Alexa more accessible, according to GeekWire. HP, for instance, plans to add a custom LED to its Pavillion Wave desktop computer tower that can glow when it hears Alexa's name, activating the digital assistant.


How smart speakers stole the show from smartphones

The Guardian - Technology (UK)

The battle now raging between the big technology companies for consumer cash is focused on the voice-controlled smart speaker. Having already conquered the pocket with the ubiquitous smartphone, big tech has been struggling to come up with the next must-have gadget that will open up a potentially lucrative new market – the home. A pilot light was lit when Amazon's Echo launched in 2014 and became a sleeper hit. Now the voice controlled smart speaker is rapidly becoming the next big thing, capable of answering questions, setting timers, playing music, controlling other devices about the home, or even potentially selling products. "The last 12 months have been explosive for smart speakers, which have surged into the mass market for two reasons.


Before Self-Driving Cars Become Real, They Face These Challenges

WIRED

In the spring of that year, the good Swedes at Volvo introduced Drive Me, a program to get regular Josefs, Frejas, Joeys, and Fayes into autonomous vehicles. By 2017, Volvo executives promised, the company would distribute 100 self-driving SUVs to families in Gothenburg, Sweden. The cars would be able to ferry their passengers through at least 30 miles of local roads, in everyday driving conditions--all on their own. "The technology, which will be called Autopilot, enables the driver to hand over the driving to the vehicle, which takes care of all driving functions," said Erik Coelingh, a technical lead at Volvo. Now, in the waning weeks of 2017, Volvo has pushed back its plans.