Slate


How Will Voice Control Change the Web Browser?

Slate

We all know how to use a desktop browser. You type in a URL or search term, head to the website of your choice, and read the information it serves up. While browsers have added some bells and whistles--additional security features to protect your data while browsing, for example, or things like Reading Lists to circle back to longreads when you've got extra time--their general operation and navigation hasn't changed much over the past decade. Now, a new trend is gaining traction--voice control--and it could give us a new way to browse the internet. VoiceOver offers auditory cues for what's on your computer screen, including descriptions of each on-screen element.


Switzerland's Xherdan Shaqiri Is a Roomba Made of Lead

Slate

Switzerland beat Serbia 2–1 on Friday in a terrifically exciting game that was decided at the brink of regulation when Swiss star Xherdan Shaqiri sprinted 60 yards and slotted the ball just beyond the goalkeeper's reach. Shaqiri is a mercurial player, but when he's in good form he can seemingly do anything he wants on the pitch. He also happens to be built like a rotary phone. Squat and stout, he has no business being as quick as he is, and yet it shouldn't surprise anyone that he was able to leave the Serbian defense in his dust. Given Shaqiri's unique dimensions, his goal looked less like a goal and more like, well, a whole bunch of other bizarre things.


Don't Take Ultrasounds for Granted

Slate

Future Tense is a partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University that examines emerging technologies, public policy, and society. This article is part of Update or Die, a series from Future Tense about how businesses and other organizations keep up with technological change--and the cost of falling behind. The patient was probably going to die. The one X-ray in town is often broken and isn't even at the hospital. Getting an accurate diagnosis is typically dependent on the clinical expertise of the health care professionals on staff and what they can ascertain with little more than a stethoscope.


Can Self-Driving Cars Handle Boston's Infamously Congested and Confusing Streets?

Slate

Future Tense is a partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University that examines emerging technologies, public policy, and society. Boston drivers, pedestrians, bikers, and T riders will soon share the road with self-driving vehicles. The city announced in a statement Wednesday that it has granted permission for Boston-based autonomous vehicle company nuTonomy to test its fleet of autonomous cars on all city roads. The company had previously been limited to testing its cars in the Seaport, a neighborhood downtown that's largely nonresidential. Boston's Mayor Marty Walsh said, "If deployed thoughtfully, shared fleets of autonomous vehicles could offer the City of Boston the potential to improve safety on our streets, provide equitable connections to the MBTA, and offer a new source of mobility to all Boston residents."


After Having a "Consensual Relationship" at Work, Brian Krzanich Is Out as Intel's CEO

Slate

Brian Krzanich is no longer the chief executive of Intel, the world's largest chipmaker, according to a statement from the company Thursday morning announcing his resignation. The reason: Krzanich "had a past consensual relationship with an Intel employee," which Intel says violates the company's non-fraternization policy. Put differently, Intel is saying that in the past Krzanich had an affair with someone else who works at Intel, probably someone under him, since he's been an executive for decades, and that's against the rules. Krzanich is married with two children. Now the company's chief financial officer, Robert Swan, will serve as Intel's interim CEO.


Future Tense Newsletter: Google Home and Chromecast May Have Been Revealing Precise User Location

Slate

This week, Google is scrambling to fix a security bug in its Google Home and Chromecast devices that enables malicious third parties to access a device user's precise location via mapped Wi-Fi networks. But the bug itself isn't the only thing that has Slate's Christina Bonnington concerned. The issue highlights just how much Google knows about you, and how insecure our connected homes can be. Moving on to more intentional tracking devices: Think the Health app on your iPhone is only good for making you feel guilty about skimping on steps yesterday? That's because Apple is in the process of transforming the iOS app, which now--in addition to tracking and storing personal health data such as activity, sleep, nutrition, heart rate, and vitals--can also store medical history like test results, prescriptions, and immunizations.


Alexa Is Headed to Your Hotel Room

Slate

Amazon's Alexa has infiltrated our homes, offices, bathrooms, and cars. It was only a matter of time before it expanded to other places we spend time, too--like our hotel rooms. While some enterprising chains and establishments had begun introducing Echos and Echo Dots into their guest quarters, Amazon on Tuesday announced Alexa for Hospitality, a hotel-specific version of its assistant software. The announcement included a partnership with Marriott Hotels, where Alexa for Hospitality will debut at select Marriott, Aloft, Westin, Autograph Collection, and St. Regis hotels and resorts this summer. It'll come to other hotels and vacation rental facilities on an invite-only basis.


Do You Always Blink When a Picture Is Taken? Facebook Wants to Fix Those Photos.

Slate

Future Tense is a partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University that examines emerging technologies, public policy, and society. It's a common curse: The flash goes off, and you blink, resulting in an image that makes you look ridiculous. But Facebook thinks it doesn't have to be that way. Researchers there have created an artificial intelligence system that can retouch images of people blinking to replace closed eyes with convincing computer-generated open eyes. The tool uses a generative adversarial network, or GAN, which is a two-part machine learning system whose dual components compete against each other to try to fool the system into thinking its computer-generated images are real.


The Blockchain of Things

Slate

Future Tense is a partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University that examines emerging technologies, public policy, and society. On March 6, 2016, a small drone belonging to the open-source software company Drone Employee lifted into the Russian sky, traveling across an open field of white snow. Drone flight is relatively unremarkable today, but this particular drone wasn't controlled by anyone. Brought to life by a predetermined agreement, or "smart contract," running on the Ethereum blockchain, the drone's engines powered on and it lifted itself into the air, taking a flight path dictated--only and exclusively--by code. The smart contract controlled the drone's trajectory, without the need for a middleman with a remote to manage the device.


In the Race for Our Skies, a New Drone Testing Program Just Gave a Big Boost to Big Business

Slate

Future Tense is a partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University that examines emerging technologies, public policy, and society. On May 9, the Department of Transportation announced the first 10 project sites it chose to participate in its new three-year Drone Integration Pilot Program aimed at expanding the testing of new drone technology in a select number of local, state, and tribal jurisdictions. Selected from 149 lead applicants and over 2,800 private sector "interested parties," they're an eclectic bunch: the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma; projects in the city of San Diego; the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Investment Authority in Herndon, Virginia; the Lee County Mosquito Control District in Florida; the Memphis–Shelby County Airport Authority in Tennessee; the North Carolina, Kansas, and North Dakota departments of transportation; the city of Reno, Nevada; and the University of Alaska–Fairbanks all saw their specific public-private partnership proposals get the greenlight. The projects include plans to test various kinds of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS for short, as they are formally known), including drone-based mapping, inspections, traffic and weather monitoring, commercial and medical delivery, and law enforcement surveillance systems. Selected applicants will be given special attention from the Federal Aviation Administration.