PBS NewsHour


Can you be hacked by the world around you?

PBS NewsHour

As someone who researches 3-D modeling, including assessing 3-D printed objects to be sure they meet quality standards, I'm aware of being vulnerable to methods of storing malicious computer code in the physical world. Researchers at the University of Washington tested another possibility recently, embedding a computer virus in DNA. Closer to home, when you scan a QR code, your computer or phone processes the data in the code and takes some action – perhaps sending an email or going to a specified URL. For example, to prevent the infection of our 3-D printing quality sensing system by a conventional attack, we proposed placing it on another computer, one disconnected from the internet and other sources of potential cyberattacks.


A mother uses a similar tone with babies, no matter the language

PBS NewsHour

"We usually Skype with my parents," was one phrase spoken to an adult interviewer, while another phrase spoken to an infant was, "Let's not eat the kitty cat." It deciphers the strength of audio frequencies while taking into account how the human ear hears sounds. This consistent pattern across languages was picked up by their algorithm even when the training data set only had English phrases. "Previous studies have shown that babies can perceive timbre differences between musical instruments," she said.


Why some doctors are questioning Trump's new birth control rules

PBS NewsHour

The Trump administration's new birth control rule is raising questions among some doctors and researchers. WASHINGTON -- The Trump administration's new birth control rule is raising questions among some doctors and researchers, who say it overlooks known benefits of contraception while selectively citing data that raise doubts about effectiveness and safety. Here's a look at examples from the Trump administration's birth control rules that are raising questions: Emergency contraception is birth control for use after unprotected sex, often called the "morning-after pill." The Trump administration's rule takes issue with the science behind the Obama-era decision to require most employers to cover birth control as preventive care.


Trump: If Tillerson called me a moron, we should 'compare IQ tests'

PBS NewsHour

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump suggested he's smarter than Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, saying in an interview published Tuesday that if Tillerson did call him a moron, as reported, the two should "compare IQ tests." Still, last week Trump told reporters he has "total confidence" in his secretary of state. "I'm not undermining," Trump told Forbes. As for Tillerson's reported "moron" 'comment, the president said, "I think it's fake news.


Economics Nobel winner Thaler shed light on how real people behave

PBS NewsHour

We start with a little bit of background from our economics correspondent, Paul Solman. PAUL SOLMAN, Economics Correspondent: In Chicago's Millennium Park two-and-a-half years ago, Richard Thaler, the academic revolutionary who won this year's Nobel Prize for insisting, for decades now, that his field, economics, is wedded to distorted view of human behavior. RICHARD THALER, 2017 Nobel Laureate in Economics: After the '87 crash, when the market fell 20 percent in a day, and the Internet bubble, when the Nasdaq went from 5000 to 1400, and then the real estate bubble, which led to a financial crisis from which we're still trying to extricate ourselves, the idea that markets work perfectly is no longer tenable. PAUL SOLMAN: In the past few years, Thaler's behavioral economic insights have been applied by governments around the world, including ours.


The odd swimming style of plesiosaurs decoded by a robot

PBS NewsHour

The front flippers create thrust, while the back flippers steer. By adding colorful dyes to the water to observe the flow over the robotic flippers, Turk said Mucutt's experiments offer a more precise picture of the plesiosaur's fluid dynamics than a computer model. Unlike the sea turtle's flippers, which steer or propel, Muscutt found that the plesiosaur robot uses all four flippers to power through the water. Muscutt found the back flippers' performance while in the wake of the front flippers increased by 60 percent in thrust and by 40 percent in efficiency This finding argues that the plesiosaur's back flippers were not just for steering.


Reviews of Clinton's memoir were deleted for violating company guidelines, Amazon says

PBS NewsHour

Tommy Noonan, founder of product review analysis site ReviewMeta, says concerns that Amazon's deletions serve as a cover-up of negative press is false, according to his data. In the case of Clinton's book, most of the unverified reviews flagged for removal happened to be negative. After a deeper investigation into similar cases, Noonan says "review brigades" were probably at work. According to research by Eric Anderson from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern and Duncan Simester at MIT Sloan School of Management, reviews by unverified users are twice as likely to receive a one-star review.


Are big tech companies trying to control our lives?

PBS NewsHour

FRANKLIN FOER, Author, "World Without Mind": Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple are among the most powerful monopolies in the history of humanity. PAUL SOLMAN: The most powerful gatekeepers ever, Foer calls them, the first, second, fourth and fifth most valuable companies on the U.S. stock market. And even though I'm somebody who likes to read conservatives, likes to read people on the far left, it's essentially only giving me screeds against Donald Trump, because that's what, based on my data, it thinks that I want. PAUL SOLMAN: You use the word pander several times in the book, pander to our taste.


How online graduate programs offer degrees at significant savings

PBS NewsHour

HARI SREENIVASAN: It's graduation day, and these two students are earning their computer science master's degree from a top 10 program in the country. NICA MONTFORD, Online Graduate Student, Georgia Teach: Every GM employee gets $8,500 to spend in higher education every year, and so it falls well within the $8,500 that we get. EBONI BELL, Online Graduate Student, Georgia Teach: I knew I wanted to get my master's, and I also knew that I wanted to have a company that paid for it, because I didn't want to go into even more student loan debt. A professor of computer and cognitive science, Goel created an artificial intelligence tool to help answer questions for the 4,500 online master's degree students.


Are we on the brink of a jobless future?

PBS NewsHour

PAUL SOLMAN: In Silicon Valley, author Vivek Wadhwa says he already lives in the future. PAUL SOLMAN: Scary, because, while automation is the very definition of productivity -- more output per unit of labor -- as Oxford's Carl Frey points out: CARL FREY: Sadly, since the 1980s, quite a few workers have had a bad experience from automation, and I think that is what is determining much of the resurgence in populism that we see now. JERRY KAPLAN, Author, "Artificial Intelligence: What Everyone Needs to Know": There's more people employed today than there ever have been. For the PBS NewsHour, economics correspondent Paul Solman reporting -- don't do that again -- somewhat anxiously from El Camino Real in Palo Alto.