Mother Jones


Using Data From Fracking Country, Scientists Train a Neural Network to Detect Earthquakes

Mother Jones

As earthquakes grow more frequent in the central United States--driven at least in part by the fracking boom--researchers have been working on sophisticated new tools, including satellites, underwater seismic sensors, and software to detect temblors and hopefully even predict them. The latest unvei...


A Convicted Sex Offender Was the Face of a New Trump Dating Site

Mother Jones

A new dating site intended for Trump-admirers seeking other Trump-admirers for romance, Trump.Dating, up until the last few days featured the image of a convicted sex offender, Barrett Riddleberger, alongside his wife Jodi on its homepage, wearing his-and-hers hats reading "Trump" and "Make America ...


We Already Have Planet-Cooling Technology. The Problem Is, It's Killing Us.

Mother Jones

The Agung volcano erupts, spewing magma and ash thousands of feet into the air on the island of Bali in Indonesia in November 2017.Josh Edelson/ZUMA This story was originally published by Grist and appears here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration. A trope of sci-fi movies these days, from Sn...


Good Luck Recruiting Top Talent, America

Mother Jones

The Trump White House has devoted much of its first year to putting America first, cracking down on who can come into this country--from promising a wall along the US-Mexico border and the deportation of thousands of undocumented immigrants, to numerous attempts at a travel ban blocking entrance for people from several Muslim-majority countries. But under the America First banner, the administration has been quietly but vastly increasing hurdles in another area: for foreign nationals looking to live and work legally in the US. Since the spring, the Trump administration has introduced a number of administrative changes aimed specifically at increasing scrutiny on work visa applications. Issued through policy memoranda from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency tasked with handling and adjudicating work and citizenship applications, the revisions have largely flown under the radar, as many of them have been incremental or seem innocuous on the surface. What's more, because a large number of the changes are adjustments to existing department policies or guidance, many have been able to go into effect immediately, without needing to undergo a formal rule proposal process or public comment period.


What Siri Says When New Zealanders Ask About Sex

Mother Jones

"Is it OK to put a jade egg in my vagina?" A team of New Zealand researchers posed these questions and 47 others to digital assistants to determine how effectively Siri et al. could answer questions on sex. The informal study, which was not peer-reviewed, was published online Wednesday by the medical journal BMJ. Three researchers used laptops to type out questions to Google.co.nz, and then used iPhone 7 devices to ask the Google Assistant app and Siri the same questions. The responses were rated by quality, with expert sources like universities and hospitals ranked most highly.


Study: AI Really Could Be a Breakthrough for Cancer Detection

Mother Jones

If you haven't lost your job to a computer yet, you probably will. Experts predict that robots will be folding laundry for us in the next five years, driving trucks in the next 10, and performing surgery in the next 40. And, they predict, they'll be doing it better than humans. This could lead to a massive shift in our economy, setting off an "era of mass joblessness and mass poverty," as Mother Jones' Kevin Drum recently reported. But what if technology being able to perform tasks better than humans also meant we'd be saving more lives?


A Lot of "Ethical Consumers" Are Going to Make Really Unethical Shopping Choices

Mother Jones

As a person living in the 21st century, it's almost inevitable that you've had the seamless, fast, and hassle-free experience of shopping online: a few clicks and you're done without ever needing to interact with anyone, and then your items can show up at your door in as little as a day. But as the holiday season ramps up, it's a good time to remember that there's actually a whole lot of human labor behind that fast and easy click. While we at Mother Jones recently reported on how robots will one day take these jobs, they haven't taken over just yet. Just consider a great story last week from Gizmodo's Bryan Menegus shedding light on a mysterious program known as Amazon Flex: a "nearly invisible workforce" of independent contractors charged with delivering the "last mile" of Amazon orders from a local storage facility to the customer's door. As Menegus explains, "It's a network of supposedly self-employed, utterly expendable couriers enrolled in an app-based program which some believe may violate labor laws."


We Already Have a Solution for the Robot Apocalypse. It's 200 Years Old.

Mother Jones

Fast-food workers, cashiers, cooks, delivery people and their supporters held a rally outside New York City Hall on May 24, 2017.Erik Mcgregor/Pacific Press/Zuma From the window of his university office in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, philosophy professor Philippe Van Parijs--considered by many to be Europe's most prominent advocate for the idea that the state should provide a regular income to every citizen--can see the mailbox where he sent off invitations to the first "basic income" conference more than 30 years ago. "I'm quite amazed by the seed we threw on the ground now," he says. After decades of obscurity, the idea is suddenly in fashion. Politicians around the world are interested and a handful of governments, such as Finland and the Canadian province of Ontario, are planning or considering basic-income pilot projects. But the idea of basic income has been around for more than 200 years, rising on waves of political and economic turmoil only to disappear in calmer times.


Trump Administration Guts Obamacare Birth Control Rule

Mother Jones

The Trump administration officially issued a new rule Friday that weakens the Affordable Care Act's mandate requiring employers to provide free birth control as part of health insurance plans. To do so, they had to file paperwork with the government indicating their objection, in turn triggering separate contraceptive coverage for employees provided directly by the insurance company. The Trump administration's new rule expands this exemption, allowing virtually any organization, not just a religious one, to opt out of the mandate if they feel contraception coverage violates their religious beliefs or "moral convictions"--a much broader (and murkier) standard than before. But by eliminating the requirement that objecting groups inform the government when they opt out of birth control coverage, it's possible Trump's new rule will provide a defacto end to this litigation.