As a medical student, I used to enjoy the Fox show House M.D.--or at least, the first 20 minutes of the hourlong episodes. Each week, the cynical genius Dr. Gregory House would take on one new case, each seemingly more bizarre than the last. Early in the episode, House and his team would sit around a table kicking around the details of whatever mysterious ailment was afflicting their latest patient. They'd generated the so-called differential diagnosis, a list of possible conditions that should have included the real culprit. Their differential diagnosis was especially useful for a medical student because it was usually a reasonably accurate and inclusive list of the conditions that the patient ought to have had, were it not a fictional TV show.
Apple finally joined the smart speaker competition in February with the launch of its $349 HomePod. The device was anxiously anticipated. Reports that Apple had been working on a "Siri speaker" had circulated for more than a year, but the device missed its targeted December 2017 debut. Now, the HomePod seems to be missing the mark with consumers. According to recent reports, HomePod sales haven't hit Apple's expectations, and the company is considering options including a lower priced model.
Future Tense is a partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University that examines emerging technologies, public policy, and society. In 2015, an A.I.-powered Twitter bot did something a little out there--avant-garde one might say. It tweeted, "I seriously want to kill people," and mentioned a fashion event in Amsterdam. Dutch police questioned the owner of the bot over the death threat, claiming he was legally responsible for its actions, because it was in his name and composed tweets based on his own Twitter account. It's not clear whether tweeting "I seriously want to kill people" at a fashion event actually constitutes a crime--or even a crime against fashion--in the Netherlands.
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Tesla found itself further embroiled in scandal this week as it faces new allegations of misrepresenting its departure from a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation. On March 23, 38-year-old Walter Huang died when his Model X ran into a highway barrier in Mountain View, California. The NTSB sent representatives to look into the fire that resulted from the crash and to determine whether the car's autopilot feature had any role in the fatality. Tesla was a formal participant in the investigation, which means that the company would be expected to offer technical assistance and follow protocols regarding the release of information. The company would also have the ability to influence the official report and to access information that the NTSB discovered.
While Uber's self-driving car endeavors may have been put on hold following a pedestrian fatality in Arizona last month, the company is continuing to expand from its ride-hailing roots at a rapid pace. After launching its dockless bike-sharing initiative Uber Bike in January, the company announced it would be acquiring its electric bike-providing partner Jump earlier this week. Now, the company is embarking on a new venture: a peer-to-peer car rental service called Uber Rent. Like its bike-sharing program, Uber Rent will debut in San Francisco before rolling out to other metropolitan areas. Also like Uber Bike, the service is made possible thanks to a partnership with another startup--Getaround, which lets you rent cars from other people in your area for as little as $5 per hour.
Ikea isn't the first name that comes to mind for smart home products, but the Swedish home furnishings magnate has been making a steady push into the space since 2015. First came its Qi wireless charging accessories, which made sense: One of the benefits of wireless charging is that charging pads can be built into furniture, desktop, and countertop accessories, minimizing the number of unsightly wires hanging around--not to mention the growing number of compatible smartphones. Next came smart lighting, which arrived late last year. While reviews are mixed, the company already sold its own lightbulbs, so it may as well offer shoppers a smart alternative. Now, Ikea has made its latest move into the smart home with connected speakers.
Better Life Lab is a partnership of Slate and New America. Last summer, while psychological scientist Julia Shaw was visiting San Francisco with three other friends for July Fourth, inspiration struck. They had all been discussing the harassment-related firings at Uber. In some cases, complicity extended beyond the perpetrator to the human resource department: Instead of supporting the employees who came forward about the abuse, it dismissed or ignored them. Other tech companies followed the same old fashioned script: Societally, we tend to disbelieve, blame, or retaliate against victims of sexual harassment and abuse.
All eyes were on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg today as sat through his second Congressional hearing on the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Have you ever really looked at Mark Zuckerberg's eyes? On Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning, a significant segment of the American population did. As Zuckerberg dodged stupid questions from U.S. senators and representatives, observers wondered about the two dark bulbs in his head. People on Twitter compared his eyes to those of anime characters, robots, sharks, and dolls.
Future Tense is a partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University that examines emerging technologies, public policy, and society. From 1449–74, an association of market towns and cities along the Baltic coast in Europe known as the Hanseatic League waged an on-again, off-again war with England over maritime trading privileges. Hanseatic man-of-war ships, including the feared Peter von Danzig, raided the English coast. The Anglo-Hanseatic War ended with the Treaty of Utrecht in 1474, which gave the Hanseatic League access to many British ports and ownership of the London Steelyard until it sold the property in 1853. At its zenith in the 15th century, the Hanseatic League boasted about 200 cities across seven countries, flexing its economic might across Europe, imposing blockages to promote its interests, and even waging wars.