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The Sci-Fi Sex Scene That Changed My Life

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Spark Notes is a recurring series about the lightbulb moments in sexual development. My parents were both readers, and they didn't let us watch that much TV. By the time I was 11, books had been my primary source of entertainment for as far back as my memory could go. Getting my adult library card in sixth grade was, in that context, a milestone of tremendous importance, a first moment of awe at being inducted into the grown-up world. Wandering into the adult stacks for the first time, I remember seeing the name Asimov in the "A" section in huge letters across dozens of titles, and taking two or three of them down to check them out.


Why Does Microsoft Want a Government Crackdown on Face Recognition?

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Future Tense is a partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University that examines emerging technologies, public policy, and society. A cogent and forceful argument for the government to regulate face-recognition technology was published on Friday--not by a legislator, pundit, or advocacy group, but by Microsoft. In a lengthy blog post, the Seattle-based tech giant made the case that face recognition is too potent, and comes with too many risks, for the public to leave entirely in the hands of private companies such as itself. The technology, which uses machine-learning software to automatically identify people in photographs and video footage, is increasingly used by social networks and photo apps, and as a security measure on devices like iPhones. It's also being used by a growing number of law enforcement agencies to help identify suspects in crimes such as the mass shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, in June.


Brett Kavanaugh Has Some Alarmingly Outdated Views on Privacy

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Future Tense is a partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University that examines emerging technologies, public policy, and society. Starting in 2012, the Supreme Court's approach to digital privacy has undergone a seismic shift. In a series of recent cases on location tracking and cellular phone searches, the court has recognized that, when it comes to big data, old rules about our expectations of privacy may not apply. Because information can now be gathered, stored, and analyzed cheaply, the Supreme Court has recently found that Fourth Amendment protections must be carefully recalibrated to prevent unchecked police power. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, however, has exhibited a contrasting and outdated understanding of privacy.


The TV for the Smartphone Age

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In its early days, the television was a wood-enclosed box that blended in with your existing living room furniture. Its screen was small; plastics and composites weren't yet commonplace. Over time, manufacturing abilities, design trends, and television usage changed. The TV became the focal point of the living room--and it didn't need to blend in anymore. The device lost its homely trappings and evolved into the giant, black, personality-less screen we know today.


The IPhone's Face ID Struggles in the Morning

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Future Tense is a partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University that examines emerging technologies, public policy, and society. Unlike Beyoncé, we do not all wake up flawless--at least not according to the iPhone X. Several iPhone X–owning Twitter users have taken to the latter (probably using the former) to complain that Face ID--the phone's facial recognition technology--fails to recognize their face first thing in the morning. Like a drunken one-night stand, the iPhone X doesn't quite know who they are in the morning light. Face ID, Apple's follow-up to Touch ID, allows users to unlock their phone with their face--or more specifically, with a mathematical representation of their facial structure.


Free Cash, No Strings Attached

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Better Life Lab is a partnership of Slate and New America. In an age where every day brings more doomsday forecasts of massive technologicallybdriven unemployment, from driverless cars to A.I. robots as caregivers, journalist Annie Lowrey set out to answer a question: Is it possible to live in a world where we get what she calls "wages for breathing"? This week her findings come out in Give People Money: How a Universal Basic Income Would End Poverty, Revolutionize Work, and Remake the World. We spoke about what the idea of giving every American cash--no strings attached--would mean for work, gender inequality, and American identity, and whether it's actually a policy that could pass in the U.S. given the current climate of tying even the most basic benefits to paid work. This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.


All I Want Is a Robotic Air Conditioner

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Northern California weather is pretty temperate. You can get by with a lack of central air conditioning, which is good news since nary a single place I've lived in the Bay Area has had it. But in the summer, there are sweltering days where the heat feels inescapable. While I don't wish I had central air, I do wish I had something better than a box fan for those hottest weeks, something that would follow me around while perfectly streaming air at my dew-drenched face. What I want is a robotic fan.


Here Are All the Cool Lines From the New Trailer for the Upcoming Mark Wahlberg Movie Mile 22, Ranked by How Useful They Would Be to Integrate Into Your Daily Life

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STX Entertainment released a new trailer on Friday for Mile 22, the upcoming Mark Wahlberg thriller from director Peter Berg, and if you were a fan of their past collaborations Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon, and Patriots Day, you're going to want to watch this trailer. If you're not a fan of Berg-Wahlberg movies, you're also going to want to watch this trailer, because it is absolutely packed with dramatic dialogue just waiting to be tersely snapped at the people in your life. It's clear on its face that we should all begin talking like we're living inside Mile 22 as soon as humanly possible, but which of the cool lines and snappy quips are going to do the most to help you succeed on your next "mission" to "the ARCO station" for an "inedible hot dog?" To help you prioritize, we've ranked all the coolest dialogue. "Failure is not an option."


A Quiz App Exposed 120 Million People's Facebook Data--and Cambridge Analytica Had Nothing to Do With It

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Future Tense is a partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University that examines emerging technologies, public policy, and society. The latest chapter in Facebook's data woes involves a quiz app that, until as recently as June, exposed the information of 120 million people who just wanted to know whether they were Cinderella or Elsa. According to De Ceukelaire, beginning as early as the end of 2016, NameTests collected Facebook users' data when they opted to take a quiz, such as "Which Disney Princess Are You?" The app then displayed that data--including names, birthdays, photos, and friends lists--in Javascript files easily accessible by third-party websites. De Ceukelaire writes, "Depending on what quizzes you took, the javascript could leak your Facebook ID, first name, last name, language, gender, date of birth, profile picture, cover photo, currency, devices you use, when your information was lasted updated, your posts and status, your photos and your friends." De Ceukelaire says he "would be surprised if nobody else found this earlier," since the flaw was "really easy to spot," but NameTests said it found no evidence of abuse.


Podcasting's New Great Interviewer Is Queer Eye's Jonathan Van Ness

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Maybe you, like me, are that person at a party. You meet someone with an interesting job or a head full of specialized knowledge, and you grill them (in a friendly way!) about their experience or expertise. "Tell me all about that!" you exclaim, totally meaning it, but eventually interrupting them to ask how the subject at hand relates to your own interests and pet theories. What a relief it is sometimes to listen to someone who actually knows what they're talking about. The general-interest podcast Getting Curious With Jonathan Van Ness feels like eavesdropping on the Queer Eye fan favorite do just that--interrogate an authority at a party about what she knows--without having to strain to hear them over the surrounding chatter.