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Internet Television

Taking cues from Chromecast, Sharp turns TVs into art displays 08 January 2015, 00.14 Internet Television
Taking cues from Chromecast, Sharp turns TVs into art displays
One of the features Sharp had on display at its CES booth looked vaguely familiar: Sharp’s 2015 TVs automatically display a series of works of art and great-looking photos when not in use, which the company is calling
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Online outlets showed Hebdo images but offline media didn’t. Why? 08 January 2015, 00.14 Internet Television
Online outlets showed Hebdo images but offline media didn’t. Why?
As the world struggled to understand the violence in Paris, where 12 cartoonists and other staff at the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo were gunned down by Islamic extremists, media outlets were faced with a challenge: Should
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Neil Young: Pono won’t be a hardware company for long (video interview)
Neil Young’s high-definition audio startup Pono just started selling its Pono player, but the music legend told me during an interview at CES in Las Vegas Wednesday that he sees Pono getting out of the hardware business
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Tesco sells Blinkbox to TalkTalk and may offload Dunnhumby 08 January 2015, 00.14 Internet Television
Tesco sells Blinkbox to TalkTalk and may offload Dunnhumby
The British supermarket giant Tesco is, to put it mildly, having financial difficulties. On Thursday it unveiled a range of measures that it hopes will help dig it out of its hole. These include the sale of Tesco Broadband and
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Deezer buys mobile-focused Muve Music from Cricket / AT&T 08 January 2015, 00.14 Internet Television
Deezer buys mobile-focused Muve Music from Cricket / AT&T
Paris-based music streaming service Deezer has acquired Muve Music, the mobile-focused music service from Leap Wireless. Leap is a virtual mobile operator better known for its Cricket service, which was itself acquired by
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Earth News Reports

Top 7 WTF Fashion, Beauty Stories of 2015 (Vote for the Most Deplorable)
From toxic fire retardants in popular nail polishes to the brutal treatment of alligators that are skinned to make Hermès Birkin bags, here are seven stories that eroded our faith in humanity. Above, three years after a
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Green Transportation | Inhabitat - Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green Building
Welcome to Inhabitat, your online guide to the best green design ideas, innovations and inspiration to build a cleaner, brighter, and better future. Get the free Inhabitat Newsletter
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Top 7 Bizarre Eco-Fashion Stories of 2015 (Vote for the Weirdest)
Leave a Comment Please keep your comments relevant to this blog entry. Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments. Please note that gratuitous links to your site are viewed as spam and
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Top 7 Recycled Fashion Designs of 2015 (Vote for the Most Creative!)
No failures of the imagination here. From sneakers made from recycled ocean plastic to salvaged "Sheltersuits" that convert from weather-resistant jackets into sleeping bags for the homeless, here are seven closed-loop designs
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The best of the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards 29 December 2015, 23.09 Green Architecture
The best of the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards
Grand prizes for photography always give us the chance to discover spectacular, touching, or beautiful photos. Too often, the photos are a bit too serious, making us hope for something a bit lighter to handle. The Comedy
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Qwerkywriter: a tablet keyboard that looks like a mechanical one 29 December 2015, 23.09 Green Architecture
Qwerkywriter: a tablet keyboard that looks like a mechanical one
There is a reason why vintage products are so popular nowadays, there is some physical relation with it that can’t compare to the experience we have with electronic products. Qwerkywriter perfectly catches on this trend
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Top Web Design Trends to Watch for 2016 29 December 2015, 23.09 Green Architecture
Top Web Design Trends to Watch for 2016
That’s right, folks, we’ve followed an amazing set of design trends through 2015, and now we’re selecting our pick to watch for 2016. And just as in graphic design and fashion, there are usually some
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Phoreus Cherokee, a typeface to modernize the Cherokee language 29 December 2015, 23.09 Green Architecture
Phoreus Cherokee, a typeface to modernize the Cherokee language
With only 10’000 people still speaking the Cherokee language, it is becoming urgent for them to save one of the few remains of what was once a great nation. There are no magic methods to save a language, but a graphic
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These Victorian-era Christmas cards were dark and funny 29 December 2015, 23.09 Green Architecture
These Victorian-era Christmas cards were dark and funny
When you think of the Victorian era, you probably get serious images popping in your head. There is a good reason for that, photos from that period of time required that people stood still to get a clear image. If you do a
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A 3D printed shoe made from collected ocean plastic waste 29 December 2015, 23.09 Green Architecture
A 3D printed shoe made from collected ocean plastic waste
The fact that you don’t see ocean plastic waste on a daily basis doesn’t make it less of a terrifying problem for the future of the planet’s ecosystem. If you are not convinced, just do yourself a little
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Technology News Reports

Green Transportation | Inhabitat - Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green Building
Welcome to Inhabitat, your online guide to the best green design ideas, innovations and inspiration to build a cleaner, brighter, and better future. Get the free Inhabitat Newsletter
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The Internet of Things Is Everywhere, But It Doesn’t Rule Yet
Slide: 1 / of 1 . Caption: Giordano Poloni/Getty Images Skip Article Header. Skip to: Start of Article. Giordano Poloni/Getty Images In the future, everything will be connected. It won’t just be our phones that access
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The Most Important Cars of 2015 29 December 2015, 23.09 Tech
The Most Important Cars of 2015
Slide: 1 / of 12 . Caption: Tesla's game plan is simple: Build an electric luxury sedan, then a luxury SUV, then an affordable sedan for the masses. In October, it finally took step two, introducing the Model X. At $130,000,
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The Commercial Space Industry Takes Flight 29 December 2015, 23.09 Tech
The Commercial Space Industry Takes Flight
A few exploding rockets notwithstanding, commercial spaceflight had a great year. Elon Musk’s SpaceX got cleared to fly top secret Air Force cargo into space. Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin landed a rocket. And NASA announced its
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All the Most Winningest Science From 2015 29 December 2015, 23.09 Tech
All the Most Winningest Science From 2015
An illustration of the New Horizons spacecraft during its encounter with Pluto and Charon. Science is not a game of winners and losers. What am I saying: Of course it is. From the Nobel Prizes to congressional budget
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New Wireless Tech Will Free Us From the Tyranny of Carriers
Slide: 1 / of 1 . Caption: Alvaro Dominguez for WIRED Skip Article Header. Skip to: Start of Article. Alvaro Dominguez for WIRED Cell coverage can be fickle. You might get great reception at home but spotty coverage at
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Here’s What You Need to Watch Before It Leaves Netflix
Here's What You Need to Watch Before It Leaves Netflix | WIRED Skip Article Header. Skip to: Start of Article.The year of 2015 is almost over. That means there are a lot of loose ends to be tied up before you can
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Sun-powered Solar Impulse lands safely in Hawaii after longest solo flight in aviation history
Share on TumblrEmail Solar Impulse 2, piloted by André Borschberg has successfully completed its record-breaking solar-powered flight from Japan to Hawaii. The plane landed at 5:55am local time today, and was
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Quebec university students design a car that gets an astounding 2,098 mpg
Share on TumblrEmail We love zero fuel vehicles, but the next best thing is a mode of transportation that can take you reeeeeeally far on just a little fuel. Vehicles with that ability compete in the SAE
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The next-generation Nissan Leaf will be able to drive over 310 miles on a single charge
Share on TumblrEmail Range anxiety is one of the main things holding electric cars back – but the next generation of electric vehicles will be able to drive farther. Much farther. Nissan just announced plans to
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FitDesk Lets You Pedal Your Way to Fitness While You Work
Share on TumblrEmail Telecommuting saves workers money on subway or gas costs while conserving energy – but it can also mean less exercise. The folks at FitDesk have a solution – a brilliant bicycle/desk that
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Poop-powered bus breaks world speed record 26 May 2015, 17.17 Transportation
Poop-powered bus breaks world speed record
Share on TumblrEmail The UK’s poop-powered bus has set a speed record for a regular service bus with a top speed of 76.8 miles per hour (123.5kph). The vehicle is called the ‘Bus Hound’ (a tongue-in-cheek
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Watch this man set the world record for farthest hoverboard flight
Share on TumblrEmail Catalin Alexandru Duru, an inventor from Canada, set the world’s record recently for the longest flight by hoverboard. Ever since Marty McFly surfed the streets of Hill Valley on a
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This bike lane in Korea is topped with 20 miles of solar panels
Share on TumblrEmail Is this the greenest road ever? This video, shot by a drone, shows a stretch of highway in Korea featuring a solar-powered bike lane running right down the middle. The lane is offset,
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Vancouver will be powered by 100 percent renewable energy 13 April 2015, 23.28 Transportation
Vancouver will be powered by 100 percent renewable energy
Share on TumblrEmail Vancouver, Canada, has become the latest city to commit to running on 100 percent renewable energy. Following a City Council vote on March 26 in favor of making the switch, the city
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Gustavo Penna’s modular bus stop blends into the urban landscape in Brazil
Share on TumblrEmail Gustavo Penna Arquiteto & Associados just completed their design for the BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) bus stop in Brazil- a modular metallic structure that blends into the urban landscape.
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The Troll Hunters 13 April 2015, 23.28 Tech
The Troll Hunters
We’ve come up with the menacing term “troll” for someone who spreads hate and does other horrible things anonymously on the Internet. Internet trolls are unsettling not just because of the things they say but for the
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Paralyzed Again 13 April 2015, 23.28 Tech
Paralyzed Again
One night in 1982, John Mumford was working on an avalanche patrol on an icy Colorado mountain pass when the van carrying him and two other men slid off the road and plunged over a cliff. The other guys were able to walk
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Toolkits for the Mind 13 April 2015, 23.28 Tech
Toolkits for the Mind
When the Japanese computer scientist Yukihiro Matsumoto decided to create Ruby, a programming language that has helped build Twitter, Hulu, and much of the modern Web, he was chasing an idea from a 1966 science fiction novel
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IBM’s Watson Could Make a Knowledgeable Tour Guide
IBM researchers are exploring Watson’s abilities to answer museumgoers’ questions. By Rachel Metz on April 10, 2015 IBM’s Watson, the machine-learning computer that won Jeopardy! in 2011 and has found work searching
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Why Zapping the Brain Helps Parkinson's Patients
Deep brain stimulation could lead to a more effective, self-tuning device for Parkinson’s. By Courtney Humphries on April 13, 2015 Using electrodes (the white dots in this MRI image) on the brain’s surface,
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Mad Men Recap: Money Can’t Buy Don Draper Love
Seeing Mad Men through its ads: Every week, WIRED takes a look at the latest episode of Mad Men through the lens of the latest media campaign by advertising agency Sterling Cooper & Partners. “Yes…but is it art?”
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Why Everyone Went Nuts Over Hillary Clinton’s New Logo
Hillary Clinton speaks at the University of Miami on March 7, 2015. Rodrigo Varela/Getty Images On Sunday, shortly after Hillary Clinton announced her bid for the 2016 presidency, the internet erupted with a chorus of
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Veep GIF and a Graf: Selina Fails Pretty Much Immediately
Veep GIF and a Graf: Selina's Prompt Failure | WIRED Veep GIF and a Graf: Selina’s Prompt Failure Visually Toggle Menu Visually Toggle Search Click to go back to Wired Home PageSUBSCRIBE 1 / 1HBO HBO Last night Veep
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The 3DR Solo Is One Scary-Smart Drone 13 April 2015, 23.27 Tech
The 3DR Solo Is One Scary-Smart Drone
Great drone footage is mesmerizing, no matter what it depicts. (Exhibit A: This video of a truck driving through mud in super-slow-motion.) But perfect shots—the swooping landscapes, the hovering overheads—are hard to come
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This Week’s Trailers: True Detective Leaves Us Guessing
It feels like a lifetime ago that Rustin Cohle first darkened our doorways with his bleak and opaque philosophizing, and yet, it’s only been a year! And even though time is a flat blah blah blah, one more trip around the sun
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The Netflix of China Is Invading the US With Smartphones
For Letv, it's all about the screen time. Pau Barrena/Bloomberg/Getty Images When I describe Letv as the Netflix of China, Mark Li corrects me. “It’s the other way around,” he says. “Netflix is the Letv of the US.” He
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Blackberry wants to force popular services onto its platform in the name of net neutrality
Blackberry CEO John Chen has penned on the company’s blog his argument for extending net neutrality rules to the application and content layers. He cites the opening up of its Blackberry Messenger service (BBM) on the
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Hard drive failure rates point to clear winners and losers in 2014
One of the most common questions we’re asked about hardware reliability is whether there’s a real difference between the various storage manufacturers. This information is typically locked up like Fort Knox, which is one
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Windows 10: Microsoft raises the stakes for mobile Windows
In the two-plus-hour Microsoft press event revealing the details of Windows 10, none of us on the ET staff can recall hearing the words Android or iPhone, or any mention of how Windows would be improving its interoperability
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Canonical unveils Snappy Ubuntu Core, a lightweight operating system for your home
For the past few years, Canonical, the UK software developer behind the Ubuntu operating system, has been working to extend its traditional desktop operating system into a much broader range of products. Today, the company
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Elon Musk unveils new plan for global satellite internet, while Google invests a billion in SpaceX [UPDATED]
Update (1/20/2015): Multiple sources are claiming that Google is preparing a billion dollar investment into SpaceX that would give the company’s nascent internet plan an enormous capital boost. It’s not clear what kind
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Google ends existing Google Glass program, restructures program under Nest CEO
After months of controversy and limited visibility into the future of the program, Google has decided to restructure the Google Glass division, end the Explorer program, and hand the project off to the CEO of Nest, Tony
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Nissan and NASA team up to build autonomous cars for use in space
Share on TumblrEmail Nissan and NASA have inked a new partnership to further research autonomous vehicles that could be used not only here on Earth, but also in space. The five-year research and development
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Solar Impulse unveils route for first round-the-world flight powered by the sun
Share on TumblrEmail Slated for take off in either late February or early March 2015, the Solar Impulse 2 flight is expected to span approximately 25 flight days
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This cleverly designed bamboo bike charges mobile devices 24 January 2015, 00.26 Transportation
This cleverly designed bamboo bike charges mobile devices
Share on TumblrEmail Bambootec, a consortium from Yucatán, Mexico, has created a bamboo bicycle that turns pedaling into electricity for charging mobile devices. The bike also has a navigation dashboard in
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Resurrecting a Meltdown-Proof Reactor Design 24 January 2015, 00.25 Tech
Resurrecting a Meltdown-Proof Reactor Design
A new molten salt nuclear reactor design could make nuclear power safer and more economical. By Kevin Bullis on January 22, 2015 A view inside the 1970s version of the Oak Ridge molten salt nuclear reactor. A new take on
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Microsoft’s New Idea: A Hologram Headset to Rewrite Reality
A wearable display set for release by Microsoft later this year can augment your world with realistic, interactive virtual objects. By Tom Simonite on January 21, 2015 Microsoft has developed a version of the game
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Microsoft Researchers Get Wrapped Up in Smart Scarf
In the quest to make wearable electronics useful, researchers take a close look at the neck. By Rachel Metz on January 21, 2015 Microsoft researchers have created a scarf that can be commanded to heat up and vibrate via a
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Hawaii’s Solar Push Strains the Grid 24 January 2015, 00.25 Tech
Hawaii’s Solar Push Strains the Grid
Kauai’s utility takes a second stab at battery storage as solar heads toward 80 percent of peak power. By Peter Fairley on January 20, 2015 Shipping containers full of lithium batteries will stabilize Kauai’s grid
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Ford Finally Discovers Silicon Valley 24 January 2015, 00.24 Tech
Ford Finally Discovers Silicon Valley
Ford engineers show off a system for upgrading outdated infotainment hardware at the company’s newly opened Silicon Valley research center. Josh Valcarcel/WIRED “Cars!” says Dragos Maciuca, when asked why he left his
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Aspiring Singer Arrested in Israel on Suspicion of Hacking Madonna
Christie Goodwin/Redferns/Getty Images The specific hackers behind the Sony breach and data leaks may never be identified or arrested. But authorities say they have caught a hacker behind another high-profile breach: the
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Leatherman’s New Wearable Tech Can Repair Your Wearable Tech
Every link in the Leatherman Tread bracelet contains usable tools. It will come in both stainless steel and black DLC finishes (shown). Leatherman The Leatherman Tread will come out this Summer. It’s an interesting
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Here’s the Secret Silk Road Journal From the Laptop of Ross Ulbricht
freeross.org As the saga of the Silk Road has unfolded over the last four years, everyone has had an opinion about the unprecedented, billion-dollar online narcotics bazaar, from press to politicians to prosecutors. Even the
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The Strangely Competitive World of Sci-Fi Writing Workshops
courtesy Odyssey Writing Workshops Charitable Trust Each summer budding authors flock to writing workshops like Clarion, Clarion West, and Odyssey, which help prepare students for a career in fantasy and science fiction by
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While You Were Offline: American Sniper’s Fake Baby and a Drug-Buying Bot
Warner Bros. This week, Tumblr launched “Fandometrics,” a ranking that literally scores which fandom is more active and popular on the platform at any given moment. Is this a sign of an oncoming Internet apocalypse, or
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Google calls on FCC to mandate line-sharing, pits itself directly against Comcast and other ISPs
In the ongoing battle between net neutrality advocates and the ISPs, one of the hot-button issues that’s emerged is whether or not ISPs should be regulated as common carriers. Such regulation under Title II of the
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Microsoft is building a new web browser for Windows 10, may kill off Internet Explorer
According to a few sources from within Microsoft, it appears that the company is working on a new web browser — codenamed Spartan — that will debut with Windows 10. Spartan will reportedly look like a mix of Firefox and
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The Interview breaks online movie sales records: A case for simultaneous releases
It is exceedingly hard to find an angle that presents The Interview in a positive light — and yet, of course, Sony Pictures’ marketing department has managed to do just that. Yesterday, four days after the film’s
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Comcast announces plans to roll out gigabit internet by the end of the year
The various established telcos and cable operators have been under pressure ever since Google announced it would begin rolling out fiber networks to consumers in test locations across the country. Now, Comcast is gearing up
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Living with Amazon’s Echo: A cylinder of fun and frustration
Since I already own a Roku, a Chromecast, and an HTPC, I wasn’t in the market for another streaming device, especially not one that only does audio. But one thing about the Amazon Echo caught my attention immediately —
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Detroit Electric’s SP:01 will be the world’s fastest two-seater electric car when it hits the streets in 2016
Share on TumblrEmail Detroit Electric just unveiled the production version of the SP:01 electric sports car, which the automaker says will be the fastest pure-electric, two-seater electric car when it hits
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Johanson3′s electric cargo bikes are the perfect answer for the modern commute
Share on TumblrEmail Bike commuting is a great way to get around, but it can be limiting in terms of fashion choices and payload capacity. Johanson3 is about hit the market with a new product range of 5
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Mercedes-Benz unveils self-driving, hydrogen-powered F 015 Luxury in Motion vehicle at CES
Share on TumblrEmail Mercedes-Benz just unveiled its vision of the future of the automobile at Consumer Electronics Show“>CES 2015 – and it drives itself. The F 015 Luxury in Motion research vehicle is
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CES 2015: Wearables Everywhere 08 January 2015, 00.13 Tech
CES 2015: Wearables Everywhere
At the annual gadget show, wearable-device makers are moving beyond activity-tracking wristbands. By Rachel Metz on January 5, 2015 Melomind, a head-worn gadget from French company myBrain Technologies, purports to
Read More 369 Hits 0 Ratings
Cheap, Scratch-Resistant Displays 08 January 2015, 00.13 Tech
Cheap, Scratch-Resistant Displays
Ted Smick’s device loads crystal wafers for processing. Glass touch-screen displays are easily cracked and scratched, making them a weak point in today’s ubiquitous mobile devices. Sapphire—which is about three times
Read More 375 Hits 0 Ratings
The Dementia Plague 08 January 2015, 00.13 Tech
The Dementia Plague
  Evelyn C. Granieri is that rarest of 21st-century doctors: she still makes house calls. On a warm Thursday morning toward the end of August, the New York–based geriatrician, outfitted in a tailored white suit and high
Read More 367 Hits 0 Ratings
CES 2015: Unleash the Drones! 08 January 2015, 00.13 Tech
CES 2015: Unleash the Drones!
Prepare for takeoff. Unmanned aircraft are a rapidly growing category in consumer electronics. By Rachel Metz on January 7, 2015 The X-Star, a drone made by MaxAero of Shenzhen, China, takes a spin at the International
Read More 345 Hits 0 Ratings
CES 2015: Nvidia Demos a Car Computer Trained with “Deep Learning”
A commercial device uses powerful image and information processing to let cars interpret 360° camera views. By David Talbot on January 6, 2015 The Drive PX computer Many cars now include cameras or other sensors that
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A Bendable Implant Taps the Nervous System without Damaging It
Swiss researchers allow rats to walk again with a rubbery electronic implant. By Antonio Regalado on January 8, 2015 An implant made of silicone and gold wires is as stretchy as human tissue. Medicine these days
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Critics Say New Evidence Linking North Korea to the Sony Hack Is Still Flimsy
Cars pass by the entrance to Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. studios in Culver City, Calif. Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg/Getty Images If the FBI’s revelations on Wednesday about the sloppiness of North Korea’s hackers
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The Interface of Things: A Universal Remote for Your Life
Ford’s Sync. Ford When was the last time you tried to use the speech recognition feature on your phone or in your car? Maybe it was to ask your GPS program for directions, to place a call without taking your eyes off of
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Yahoo’s Share of US Search Traffic Rises After Its Firefox Deal
Photo: Courtesy of Yahoo Things are looking up for Yahoo. At least a bit. The venerable internet company has made some significant gains in the U.S. internet search market, while Google has experienced its biggest drop in
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How Tech Has Shaped Film Making: The Film vs. Digital Debate Is Put to Rest
Pixar The director Robert Rodriguez is famous for getting his shooting done rather quickly. He has described his process as one long day of work, beginning with shots and moving into editing all within the same day. He
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A Clever Plan to Teach Schoolkids New Languages With a Free App
Getty Images In developing countries like Ethiopia, Malaysia, and Mozambique, the market for English language learning is red hot. These are places where, often, English proficiency is seen as a stepping stone to a better
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Uber’s New Moving Service in Hong Kong Is No Mere Stunt
Uber Uber has proven many times over that it’s good for more than just ride-hailing. In the past, the app has acted as a Christmas tree delivery service, an ice cream truck-hailing app, an on-demand kitten-cuddling
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Chinese man builds working electric car from wood 26 December 2014, 02.50 Transportation
Chinese man builds working electric car from wood
Share on TumblrEmail Chinese carpenter Liu Fulong spent four months this year building a fully operational, all-electric car out of wood! The car is armored, it features several missiles mounted to the sides
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Volvo’s new connected helmet helps drivers and bikers avoid collision
Share on TumblrEmail Several automakers are working on new safety technology that will connect drivers to pedestrians and cyclists, with the ultimate goal of alleviating collisions. Volvo has already
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VIDEO: This dude floated up to 8,000 feet with nothing but a bunch of balloons and a lawnchair
Share on TumblrEmail Who hasn’t dreamed of grabbing a bunch of balloons and floating away into the sky? The difference between the dreamers and professional stuntman Erik Roner is that while the rest of the
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The Internet of Things Is Everywhere, But It Doesn’t Rule Yet PDF Print E-mail

Skip Article Header. Skip to: Start of Article. smart_home-2 Giordano Poloni/Getty Images

In the future, everything will be connected. It won’t just be our phones that access the Internet; it will be our light bulbs, our front doors, our microwaves, our comforters, our blenders. You can call it the Internet of Things, The Internet of Everything, Universal Object Interaction, or your pick of buzzwords that begin with Smart. They all hold as inevitable that everything, everything will be connected, to each other and to the Internet. And that will change the world.

Juniper research predicted that by 2020, there will be 38.5 billion connected devices. IDC says it’ll be 20.9 billion. Gartner’s guess? Twenty-five billion. The numbers don’t matter, except that they’re huge. They all agree that most of those gadgets will be industrial—the Internet of Things is less about you changing the color of your lightbulb and more about companies large and small finding new ways of making their businesses, and your life, easier and more efficient. But the market for connecting the devices you use all day, every day, is about to be huge.

2015 was the year everyone talked about the Internet of Things. (So was 2014. And 2013.) But unlike before, it was the year everyone started making plans, laying groundwork, and building the infrastructure for the day when all our devices are connected. It wasn’t the year those devices took over our homes, but—don’t look now—there are suddenly Trojan horses everywhere.

Did you buy an Apple TV this fall? You now have a Homekit hub in your house, and if you buy a HomeKit-enabled device it’ll be incredibly easy to set up. Have an Amazon Echo? Try saying, “Alexa, turn the lights off.” Actually, that one will only work if you have a Philips Hue set and you’ve already done the work of setting things up. It’s a whole thing.

Which brings us to the real dilemma the Internet of Things is facing as we come to the end of 2015: how the hell are all these things going to work together? Apple has Homekit; Google has Brillo and Nest; Microsoft has Windows; Samsung has SmartThings. There’s Wemo and Wink and Zigbee and Z-Wave and Thread and I’m not even making any of these up. You can control some things with your fitness tracker, some with a universal remote, and pretty much all of them with your phone. Some of the protocols overlap and support each other; others are more exclusive. But there’s no simple plug-and-play option, no way to walk out of Best Buy with something you know is going to work.

Right now, says Frank Gillett, a vice president and analyst at research firm Forrester, people mostly buy single products for a single purpose. “It works if you have a specific headache,” he says. “I want to lock my door, or I want to feed my pet.” He calls these app-cessories. “As a shelf item in an Apple Store or Best Buy, it works. But if you want to make those things sing and dance together, forget it.” Even these simple things aren’t taking off yet: his research shows only 7 percent of Americans partake in even a single smart-home scenario.

Our homes are going to get smarter. But it’s going to happen slowly, Gillett says, at the rate we’d upgrade our homes anyway. “None of us want to go out and do home renovations just to get a dang smart home,” he says. We won’t run out just to buy a smart crock-pot or refrigerator, but the next time we’re shopping for one—which could be a decade from now—we might buy the connected one.

Our smart homes and connected worlds are going to happen one device, one bulb at a time, not in a single motion. But companies know they have to get you into their platform with that first device, or risk losing you forever to someone else’s closed ecosystem. If you bought a Nest thermostat and plugged it into your wall, odds are you’re not switching to HomeKit anytime soon. (Or buying an Ecobee thermostat for upstairs.) The super-cool August Smart Lock works with HomeKit, but nothing else. It’s not that they’re completely mutually exclusive—you can just use your phone to control everything—but few things currently work together in that magical, my-home-just-gets-me way the Internet of Things has promised. Plus, your phone’s a lousy remote for the physical world. “The idea that we’re going to use our phone to adjust the light is bonkers,” Gillett says, “because it’s a lot harder to do it that way than hit the switch.”

It’s possible some regulatory body will decide on a set of standards, or everybody will agree to support everybody else and redundancy will rule the day and redundancy will rule the day. Or, maybe more likely, there will be a breakout smart-home product that finally gives a single platform enough clout to force others to play nice. That hasn’t happened yet, and no one really knows what it’ll be: a smart refrigerator that knows when you need groceries? A really great security system? There are so many nice products in the Internet of Things, but nothing mainstream enough to force the industry forward.

The technology is there. Connected light bulbs, connected tea kettles, connected fridges and fans and coffeemakers and cars—it’s all possible. It’s not perfect, but the parts are only going to continue to get better, smaller, and cheaper. So the question is no longer, is it possible to connect everything to the Internet? Yeah, it’s possible. The question now: How do we do it the right way? IoT companies need to set standards, pick both winners and losers, and come up with ways to make it easier for everyone to get on board.

In 2016, we’ll need to begin grappling with the security concerns these devices raise—having your Target account hacked is one thing, your car or home-security camera is another entirely. We’ll have to understand the sheer volume and intimacy of the data we’re handing over as we go about our hyper-connected lives, and hold our leaders and executives accountable for what they do with that data.

Know this, though: it may be coming like a molasses tidal wave, but the Internet of Things is coming. It’s not a matter of if or whether, but when and how. 2015 was about starting to sort out what these devices will look like, how they’ll work, how they’ll work together, and how we’ll make sure they don’t ruin everything. The tracks have been laid. Maybe it’ll be 2016, maybe the year after, but the train is coming. It’ll have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and probably eight other things, and you’ll definitely get a push notification when it gets here.

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  Section:  Articles - File Under:  Tech  |  
 
The Most Important Cars of 2015 PDF Print E-mail

Gallery Image

Slide: 1 of 12 .

Caption: Tesla's game plan is simple: Build an electric luxury sedan, then a luxury SUV, then an affordable sedan for the masses. In October, it finally took step two, introducing the Model X. At $130,000, the SUV can go 250 miles on a charge, seat seven, and stun passersby with its dramatic "falcon" doors. Now it just has to keep going. Tesla

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Slide: 2 of 12 .

Caption: At the Detroit auto show in January, General Motors CEO Mary Barra introduced the Chevrolet Bolt concept. It's a handsome little thing, but the looks don't really matter here: Barra said the all-electric car will go 200 miles on a charge and cost just $30,000. In other words, it will be the first long-range EV that's affordable for the masses. Expect to see the production version next month. Chevrolet

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Slide: 3 of 12 .

Caption: While the Bolt challenges Tesla at the affordable end of the market, Porsche's going after the Silicon Valley automaker on the luxury front with the Mission E, a concept it's promised to bring to production. We’re light on details, but we’ve got the most important numbers. The motor (or motors, Porsche hasn’t said) will produce more than 600 horsepower. The four-seater Mission E will go from 0 to 62 mph in under 3.5 seconds. And it will go 310 miles on a charge. Porsche

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Caption: The luxury market is an arms race, and each year, someone's got to pull ahead. In 2015, it was BMW, which introduced its latest 7 Series luxo-barge with a suite of active safety technologies, a Wi-Fi hotspot, massage seats, heated armrests, and screens everywhere---even on the key. Oh yeah, and it features gesture controls, an industry first. BMW

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Caption: Audi's family-friendly SUV seats seven, but the bit that matters most here is made for the driver: the "Virtual Cockpit." Audi's been at the forefront of smart and clean driver interfaces in recent years, an increasingly important field. The Q7 marks the progression of its latest system from the TT sports car into something more mainstream. Audi

Slide: 6 of 12 .

Caption: More than a decade ago, Toyota created the market for hybrids in the US, with the second generation of the Prius. That hatchback has gotten stale, so it's time for something new. The edgy new look is an effort to stand out again, to reinvigorate sales of a model that has seen its popularity slip in a market that's flooded with hybrids and doesn’t place as great a premium on fuel economy. Toyota

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Caption: When it hit the market in 2010, the Chevy Volt was the world's first plug-in hybrid. It became a cult favorite, beloved by a small group of customers, but soon eclipsed by the more exciting, all-electric Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S. The second generation is packed with a suite of improvements to identify the weaknesses of the first car and make each a non-issue. The result is a more capable, comfortable, affordable, and attractive EV. Chevrolet

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Caption: We've seen a lot of work in the supercar arena by the likes of McLaren and Lamborghini this year, but it's Mazda doing the all-important work of reminding us you don't need to drop a million bucks to have a thrilling ride. The svelte two-seater MX-5 Miata comes with a 155-horsepower 2.0-liter engine and a six-speed manual transmission, and starts for $25,735. Go have fun. Mazda

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Caption: Hyundai's moving into the luxury segment, and its opening salvo is the Genesis G90, a Mercedes S-Class-sized sedan that will undoubtedly be packed with a laundry list of luxury features and an engine big enough to ferry all that wood and leather down the highway in silence. Hyundai

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Caption: A few years ago, things were grim for Volvo. Its sales were down. Its owner, Ford, was struggling. Then China's Geely bought up the Swedish brand and gave it $11 billion to get its act together. This year, we saw the first result of that investment, the XC90 SUV. Packing a new engine and sitting on a platform that will be used to revamp much of the lineup, the $50,000 SUV's a great first act in what will hopefully be a long-running revival. Volvo

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Caption: The 2015 Jetta TDI may well go down as a modern day Czar Nicholas II---the last of its kind. It was among the diesel models carrying illegal software Volkswagen created to cheat emissions tests, and helped spark what could easily be the greatest automaker scandal of our age. VW

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Caption: It doesn't have a steering wheel or pedals. It's somewhere between goofy and adorable. You can't buy it. But this prototype, which hit roads this summer for testing, represents Google's best effort to kick the human out of the driver's seat for good. Google

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The Commercial Space Industry Takes Flight PDF Print E-mail

A few exploding rockets notwithstanding, commercial spaceflight had a great year. Elon Musk’s SpaceX got cleared to fly top secret Air Force cargo into space. Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin landed a rocket. And NASA announced its would be sending astronauts up to the International Space Station on private spacecraft starting in 2017. All of that is good momentum for an increasingly ambitious industry, but the real win came from a bunch of Washington bureaucrats. In November, Congress updated the SPACE Act to allow private companies to keep and sell on Earth whatever they may find in space. Yes, that means asteroid mining can now legally proceed. Of more immediate importance, the act also shields the commercial space industry from any FAA nannying through 2025. And you know why. So they can keep on ridin’ to the Danger Zone!

An illustration of the New Horizons spacecraft during its encounter with Pluto and Charon. An illustration of the New Horizons spacecraft during its encounter with Pluto and Charon. NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI

Science is not a game of winners and losers. What am I saying: Of course it is. From the Nobel Prizes to congressional budget allotments, first-time discoveries to straight up cool shit, some research just comes out on top.

You don’t have to think hard to come up with some of the obvious winners. Successfully flying a space probe to Pluto? Winner. Cut-and-pasting the human genome? Winner. Negotiating America’s energy future and also having superb flowing locks? Winner.

If you can stand feeling like an unaccomplished lump of crap, scroll down to see all the science heroics from the past year.

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Paris_Climate_Summit-01 Then One/WIRED

In 2015, the world finally, collectively, decided to take climate change seriously. Yes, I’m mostly talking about the historic Paris climate deal, where top negotiators from every country agreed to cut fossil fuel emissions in order to keep global temperatures from rising by 2˚C. A big part of that deal’s success came from groundwork laid earlier in the year. Most notably, Obama’s coal-cutting Clean Power Plan, and China’s commitment to a nationwide cap and trade program.

OK, maybe this victory is bittersweet. After all, climate action could have come a long time ago, if it weren’t for decades of obstructive, contrived, and conspiratorial denialism which put millions of human beings—both living and future—in unnecessary danger. And sure, the Paris deal isn’t perfect (it effectively relies on peer pressure to make sure countries comply). But after 50 years of warnings, even a tiny bit of progress feels nice.

Go Back to Top. Skip To: Start of Article.

Maybe I’m biased, but the top five worst things to happen in 2006 were a 6.3 earthquake that killed 6,000 people in Indonesia, the three Nickelback songs on the Billboard top 100, and Pluto’s demotion to a dwarf planet. That last one really stung, because earlier that year NASA had launched New Horizons, the now-famous interplanetary space probe en route to the planet. This year, Pluto fans were vindicated when the erstwhile probe reached its destination, and sent home some of history’s most exciting space data. New Horizons is a bona fide cultural phenomenon. And the mission’s principal investigator, Alan Stern, is vindicated after more than two decades of lobbying, planning, and waiting.

Ever since the July flyby, Stern’s face has been locked in a wide grin, and his mouth has been spewing data-backed Pluto boosterisms. His mic-drop moment came shortly after New Horizons sent home its now-iconic heart picture. When a reporter asked Stern to comment on Pluto’s status as a dwarf planet, he replied, “It’s bullshit.”

Go Back to Top. Skip To: Start of Article.

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesEarlier this year, the US and Iran inked a deal. The US lifted its economic sanctions, and the caliphate agreed not to make nuclear weapons. Coming to an agreement was a slog of sleepless nights, shouting matches, and walk outs. But the real battle was trying to sell the agreement to congressional Republicans. So the only sensible move for the Obama administration was to call in Secretary of Energy Ernie Moniz. Capped with a hairdo worthy of Shakespearean odes, Moniz calmly, scientifically, explained to fuming Repubs how the deal ensured that the US would know if Iran was making weapons. Pundits think Congress could agree to lift sanctions as early as January. If they do, it’s all thanks to Moniz and his Prince Valiant bob.

Or like, politics and stuff.

Go Back to Top. Skip To: Start of Article.

Thanks to some bold scientists working in gene-editing, playing God hit the mainstream in 2015. And while there are several ways to snip a nuclease, Crispr is taking all the headlines, due to its cheap price and ease of use. Things fired up in April, when Junjiu Huang, a molecular biologist at Sun Yat-sen University in China, used the technique to edit human embryos. Even though he used fertilized eggs with no shot of growing up, his paper set off a huge ethical debate. This eventually culminated in a December meeting in Washington, D.C., where researchers for the most part agreed to take gene editing nice and slow.

But that wasn’t Crispr’s only story arc. All year long various researchers kept announcing new applications: Super buff Crispr beagles, Crispr as a cancer treatment, Woolly mammoth genes Crispr’ed into elephant DNA. And the media took notice. Crispr in the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Atlantic, Popular Science, Scientific American, National Geographic. And yes, Crispr was even on the cover of WIRED. In case you needed any more convincing that this thing is a big deal.

Go Back to Top. Skip To: Start of Article.

Science isn’t exactly starving. But it has known some lean years, mostly thanks to the seemingly neverending budget standoffs on Capitol Hill. Never fear, nerds, Silicon Valley is here! Witness, Google (or Alphabet or whatever) putting $50 million towards curing heart disease. Check out YC Research Labs, an biotech incubator from the biggest mother hen in the tech world, YCombinator. Drool away at the $560 million venture capital groups sunk into synthetic biology this year. And for a nightcap, talk a walk down the red carpet to the 2015 Breakthrough Prizes, which awarded $22 million to researchers.

Not that the government has been totally lax. The 2016 omnibus spending bill—released November 16—adds $2 billion to the National Institutes of Health’s budget, among raises to NASA, the FDA, and NOAA. All that is awesome, but perhaps most surprisingly, the bill removed earlier restrictions placed on the National Science Foundation, limiting the amount of money it could put towards climate and earth sciences. Fatten up while you can, science.

Go Back to Top. Skip To: Start of Article.
Nasa_Spacewalking_18 NASA

Welcome to the future, where every space robot has its own Twitter account. Likewise, you’d be hard pressed to find an astronaut without an Instagram, a discovery without a hashtag, or a NASA mission without a multi-platform-spanning social media strategy. For example, look at how the agency’s media nerds carpet bombed Twitter during the New Horizons fly by, and debuted the now-famous Pluto heart picture on Instagram.

In all, NASA has over 500 social media accounts. Now, some people might scoff at the agency’s unabashed #branding. But truth is, public outreach has been in the agency’s mandate since its founding in 1958. And if this means more people get stoked on space—and therefore vote to give space research more funding—then we’re all for NASA’s relentless self-promoting. OK, sometimes they get a little bit out of hand. I mean, check out this email I got from them earlier this week:

NASA is getting really good at tying its new discoveries to whatever is trending in pop culture.

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Brian Nosek, right, who leads the Reproducibility Project team, with the team at the Center for Open Science in Charlottesville, Va., Aug. 26, 2015.Brian Nosek, right, who leads the Reproducibility Project team, with the team at the Center for Open Science in Charlottesville, Va., Aug. 26, 2015. Andrew Shurtleff/The New York Times/Redux

Science is about proving yourself wrong in order to be right. That means scientists are constantly checking their own and each others’ work, course-correcting towards captial-T Truth. Problem is, capital-S Scientists are usually too busy shoving coal into the new discovery engine to fact check the canon.

University of Virginia psychologist Brian Nosek wasn’t having it. So in 2013 he founded the Center for Open Science. Its flagship product is the Reproducibility Project—100 canonical psychology experiments re-run for verification. The results came out this year, and things didn’t look great. Well over half of the experiments didn’t work out the second time around. To some, that represents millions of wasted research hours, and lost research dollars. But really, it’s good news because it provides data-driven evidence that the field’s hypercompetitive push to publish new research is hurting the science. And for snigglers who think psychology was a soft target, look out: Nosek is coming after cancer biology research next.

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All the Most Winningest Science From 2015 PDF Print E-mail

An illustration of the New Horizons spacecraft during its encounter with Pluto and Charon.

Science is not a game of winners and losers. What am I saying: Of course it is. From the Nobel Prizes to congressional budget allotments, first-time discoveries to straight up cool shit, some research just comes out on top.

You don’t have to think hard to come up with some of the obvious winners. Successfully flying a space probe to Pluto? Winner. Cut-and-pasting the human genome? Winner. Negotiating America’s energy future and also having superb flowing locks? Winner.

If you can stand feeling like an unaccomplished lump of crap, scroll down to see all the science heroics from the past year.

2026-SpaceX_CRS-1_launch_cropped SpaceX

A few exploding rockets notwithstanding, commercial spaceflight had a great year. Elon Musk’s SpaceX got cleared to fly top secret Air Force cargo into space. Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin landed a rocket. And NASA announced its would be sending astronauts up to the International Space Station on private spacecraft starting in 2017. All of that is good momentum for an increasingly ambitious industry, but the real win came from a bunch of Washington bureaucrats. In November, Congress updated the SPACE Act to allow private companies to keep and sell on Earth whatever they may find in space. Yes, that means asteroid mining can now legally proceed. Of more immediate importance, the act also shields the commercial space industry from any FAA nannying through 2025. And you know why. So they can keep on ridin’ to the Danger Zone!

Go Back to Top. Skip To: Start of Article.
Paris_Climate_Summit-01 Then One/WIRED

In 2015, the world finally, collectively, decided to take climate change seriously. Yes, I’m mostly talking about the historic Paris climate deal, where top negotiators from every country agreed to cut fossil fuel emissions in order to keep global temperatures from rising by 2˚C. A big part of that deal’s success came from groundwork laid earlier in the year. Most notably, Obama’s coal-cutting Clean Power Plan, and China’s commitment to a nationwide cap and trade program.

OK, maybe this victory is bittersweet. After all, climate action could have come a long time ago, if it weren’t for decades of obstructive, contrived, and conspiratorial denialism which put millions of human beings—both living and future—in unnecessary danger. And sure, the Paris deal isn’t perfect (it effectively relies on peer pressure to make sure countries comply). But after 50 years of warnings, even a tiny bit of progress feels nice.

Go Back to Top. Skip To: Start of Article.

Maybe I’m biased, but the top five worst things to happen in 2006 were a 6.3 earthquake that killed 6,000 people in Indonesia, the three Nickelback songs on the Billboard top 100, and Pluto’s demotion to a dwarf planet. That last one really stung, because earlier that year NASA had launched New Horizons, the now-famous interplanetary space probe en route to the planet. This year, Pluto fans were vindicated when the erstwhile probe reached its destination, and sent home some of history’s most exciting space data. New Horizons is a bona fide cultural phenomenon. And the mission’s principal investigator, Alan Stern, is vindicated after more than two decades of lobbying, planning, and waiting.

Ever since the July flyby, Stern’s face has been locked in a wide grin, and his mouth has been spewing data-backed Pluto boosterisms. His mic-drop moment came shortly after New Horizons sent home its now-iconic heart picture. When a reporter asked Stern to comment on Pluto’s status as a dwarf planet, he replied, “It’s bullshit.”

Go Back to Top. Skip To: Start of Article.

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesEarlier this year, the US and Iran inked a deal. The US lifted its economic sanctions, and the caliphate agreed not to make nuclear weapons. Coming to an agreement was a slog of sleepless nights, shouting matches, and walk outs. But the real battle was trying to sell the agreement to congressional Republicans. So the only sensible move for the Obama administration was to call in Secretary of Energy Ernie Moniz. Capped with a hairdo worthy of Shakespearean odes, Moniz calmly, scientifically, explained to fuming Repubs how the deal ensured that the US would know if Iran was making weapons. Pundits think Congress could agree to lift sanctions as early as January. If they do, it’s all thanks to Moniz and his Prince Valiant bob.

Or like, politics and stuff.

Go Back to Top. Skip To: Start of Article.

Thanks to some bold scientists working in gene-editing, playing God hit the mainstream in 2015. And while there are several ways to snip a nuclease, Crispr is taking all the headlines, due to its cheap price and ease of use. Things fired up in April, when Junjiu Huang, a molecular biologist at Sun Yat-sen University in China, used the technique to edit human embryos. Even though he used fertilized eggs with no shot of growing up, his paper set off a huge ethical debate. This eventually culminated in a December meeting in Washington, D.C., where researchers for the most part agreed to take gene editing nice and slow.

But that wasn’t Crispr’s only story arc. All year long various researchers kept announcing new applications: Super buff Crispr beagles, Crispr as a cancer treatment, Woolly mammoth genes Crispr’ed into elephant DNA. And the media took notice. Crispr in the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Atlantic, Popular Science, Scientific American, National Geographic. And yes, Crispr was even on the cover of WIRED. In case you needed any more convincing that this thing is a big deal.

Go Back to Top. Skip To: Start of Article.

Science isn’t exactly starving. But it has known some lean years, mostly thanks to the seemingly neverending budget standoffs on Capitol Hill. Never fear, nerds, Silicon Valley is here! Witness, Google (or Alphabet or whatever) putting $50 million towards curing heart disease. Check out YC Research Labs, an biotech incubator from the biggest mother hen in the tech world, YCombinator. Drool away at the $560 million venture capital groups sunk into synthetic biology this year. And for a nightcap, talk a walk down the red carpet to the 2015 Breakthrough Prizes, which awarded $22 million to researchers.

Not that the government has been totally lax. The 2016 omnibus spending bill—released November 16—adds $2 billion to the National Institutes of Health’s budget, among raises to NASA, the FDA, and NOAA. All that is awesome, but perhaps most surprisingly, the bill removed earlier restrictions placed on the National Science Foundation, limiting the amount of money it could put towards climate and earth sciences. Fatten up while you can, science.

Go Back to Top. Skip To: Start of Article.
Nasa_Spacewalking_18 NASA

Welcome to the future, where every space robot has its own Twitter account. Likewise, you’d be hard pressed to find an astronaut without an Instagram, a discovery without a hashtag, or a NASA mission without a multi-platform-spanning social media strategy. For example, look at how the agency’s media nerds carpet bombed Twitter during the New Horizons fly by, and debuted the now-famous Pluto heart picture on Instagram.

In all, NASA has over 500 social media accounts. Now, some people might scoff at the agency’s unabashed #branding. But truth is, public outreach has been in the agency’s mandate since its founding in 1958. And if this means more people get stoked on space—and therefore vote to give space research more funding—then we’re all for NASA’s relentless self-promoting. OK, sometimes they get a little bit out of hand. I mean, check out this email I got from them earlier this week:

NASA is getting really good at tying its new discoveries to whatever is trending in pop culture.

Go Back to Top. Skip To: Start of Article.
Brian Nosek, right, who leads the Reproducibility Project team, with the team at the Center for Open Science in Charlottesville, Va., Aug. 26, 2015.Brian Nosek, right, who leads the Reproducibility Project team, with the team at the Center for Open Science in Charlottesville, Va., Aug. 26, 2015. Andrew Shurtleff/The New York Times/Redux

Science is about proving yourself wrong in order to be right. That means scientists are constantly checking their own and each others’ work, course-correcting towards captial-T Truth. Problem is, capital-S Scientists are usually too busy shoving coal into the new discovery engine to fact check the canon.

University of Virginia psychologist Brian Nosek wasn’t having it. So in 2013 he founded the Center for Open Science. Its flagship product is the Reproducibility Project—100 canonical psychology experiments re-run for verification. The results came out this year, and things didn’t look great. Well over half of the experiments didn’t work out the second time around. To some, that represents millions of wasted research hours, and lost research dollars. But really, it’s good news because it provides data-driven evidence that the field’s hypercompetitive push to publish new research is hurting the science. And for snigglers who think psychology was a soft target, look out: Nosek is coming after cancer biology research next.

Go Back to Top. Skip To: Start of Article.
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New Wireless Tech Will Free Us From the Tyranny of Carriers PDF Print E-mail

Skip Article Header. Skip to: Start of Article. wired-year-01 Alvaro Dominguez for WIRED

Cell coverage can be fickle. You might get great reception at home but spotty coverage at work or at the gym even though other carriers work fine. And even if your carrier has your entire city pretty well covered, all bets are off when you travel. Sure you can roam on other networks, but your carrier will prioritize its own cell towers, even if there are better ones nearby. And those roaming fees can sure add up quick. It would be nice to be able to switch carriers on the fly, picking whichever one happens to have the best service in your exact location at any given time. Today that would mean carrying around multiple SIM cards, each with a different phone number. But in the near future, your phone may be able to switch between carriers without you having to swap out cards or phone numbers—even if you’re in the middle of a call.

Today, Google is alone in offering its own cross-carrier wireless service, but it probably won't be for long.

Two year contracts are becoming a thing of the past, thanks in large part to carriers like T-Mobile and to new financing schemes from Apple. But it’s still a bit of a pain to switch. You still have to have to sign up for a new service, have your number ported over and get a new SIM card. And even if your phone is unlocked, there’s still a chance it won’t work on the carrier of your choosing if it wasn’t designed to handle both the GSM networks used by AT&T and T-Mobile and the CDMA networks used by Sprint and Verizon. But that’s starting to change. If you want a preview of the future, a future that started become clear in 2015, take a look at Google’s Project Fi.

Project Fi, which is still invite-only, is a wireless service that rides on both T-Mobile and Sprint’s networks, depending on which one has the strongest signal. If local WiFi is available, it will switch to that network, and even route calls over it. Instead of paying a monthly fee to both T-Mobile and Sprint, customers pay Google a lump fee, and Google handles paying out the carriers.

In Motion

The magic behind Google-Fi is a new type of SIM card created by a German company called G&D, or Giesecke & Devrient. SIM (short for “subscriber identification module”) cards are essentially tiny computers that handle the complexities of authenticating your phone whenever you switch between different cell towers. Typically, these have been built to handle authentication on one and only one carrier’s towers, but G&D’s SIM cards allow Google to handle authentication across multiple carriers, including both GSM and CDMA networks. That enables Google’s phones to seek out which ever carrier happens to offer the best signal at any given moment.

This is a complicated process, and the kinks haven’t all been sorted out, which is probably why reviews of Project Fi have been so mixed. Plus, Project Fi is still only available to a small group of people. Google only has two networks on board, and it’s possible that neither one would be game for a wider roll-out of the service (to say nothing of the conspicuous absence of AT&T and Verizon). And though it can move your call from a cellular network to WiFi if the signal is better, it can’t reverse that process and transfer your WiFi call to a cellular network.

Most tellingly, Project Fi is only fully supported on Google’s Nexus phones. The company did just announce support for a few tablets, including certain iPads and Samsung devices, but Project Fi will only provide data, not voice service, to these gadgets, and it will only work on T-Mobile’s network, not Sprint.

Moving with the Market

Today, Google is alone in offering its own cross-carrier wireless service, but it probably won’t be for long. Apple’s latest iPads also come with its own cross-carrier “Apple SIM” cards that support multiple carriers, including AT&T (but not Verizon). The difference, however, is that you still have to pick one and only one carrier at a time. Apple doesn’t support swapping carriers on the fly, and it doesn’t ship these SIMs in phone yet. But you can see the writing on the wall. And if this works out for Apple and Google, expect to see other mobile giants like Microsoft, Samsung, and Xiaomi follow suit.

The big question is how easy it will be to switch between different brands of device.

The carriers aren’t going to like this, of course. But if it’s where the market leads them, they will have no choice but to follow. The challenge of competing with the larger telcos has made T-Mobile and Sprint a bit more open to experimentation. T-Mobile, for example, was the first of the big four to offer month-to-month contracts with a separate monthly fee for your phone, freeing you up to take that phone to a different carrier if you choose. Sprint and Verizon followed T-Mobile’s lead this year, doing away with two-year contracts entirely.

Project Fi or other cross-carrier services could be the best way for the smaller carriers to get a leg up on AT&T and Verizon and ultimately force the larger competitors into the future. Cross-carrier services would also open the door to even smaller mom and pop or startup wireless providers that can’t guarantee blanket coverage in multiple cities, or even multiple neighborhoods, but could provide fast, reliable service to a small area.

The big question is how easy it will be to switch between different brands of device. Getting out of an exclusive relationship with a carrier might not be that great if it means replacing it with an exclusive relationship with Apple, Google or Microsoft. But at least you won’t have to worry about being the one person at a party who’s getting bad reception.

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Here’s What You Need to Watch Before It Leaves Netflix PDF Print E-mail

Here's What You Need to Watch Before It Leaves Netflix | WIRED
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The year of 2015 is almost over. That means there are a lot of loose ends to be tied up before you can officially bid adieu to the last 12 months. The top of that list (probably) is watching all those things on Netflix that you’ve been putting off for weeks. Seeing as it’s the holidays and you probably have some extra time on your hands, here’s everything leaving the streaming service at the end of the month, so make these your priority. Honestly, there are waaaaay too many good ones leaving after 2015 for us to pick out 10—so just take these 35 titles and get crackin’.

Leaving January 1

A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Almost Famous (2000)
American Psycho (2000)
The Bourne Identity (2002)
The Bourne Supremacy (2004)
Conan the Barbarian (1982)
Four Brothers (2005)
Gladiator (2000)
The Graduate (1967)
Grandma’s Boy (2006)
The Italian Job (2003)
Jackass: The Movie (2002)
Jerry Maguire (1996)
Lawrence of Arabia: Restored Version (1962)
The Machinist (2004)
Million Dollar Baby (2004)
Mission: Impossible (1996)
Mission: Impossible II (2000)
Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)
Rambo: First Blood (1982)
Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)
Rambo III: Ultimate Edition (1988)
Risky Business (1983)
Rocky (1976)
Rocky II (1979)
Rocky III (1982)
Rocky IV (1985)
Rocky V (1990)
Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
Serpico (1973)
The Sum of All Fears (2002)
There Will Be Blood (2007)
Trading Places (1983)
Zoolander (2001)

Leaving January 4
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

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The Troll Hunters PDF Print E-mail

We’ve come up with the menacing term “troll” for someone who spreads hate and does other horrible things anonymously on the Internet. Internet trolls are unsettling not just because of the things they say but for the mystery they represent: what kind of person could be so vile? One afternoon this fall, the Swedish journalist Robert Aschberg sat on a patio outside a drab apartment building in a suburb of Stockholm, face to face with an Internet troll, trying to answer this question.

The troll turned out to be a quiet, skinny man in his 30s, wearing a hoodie and a dirty baseball cap—a sorry foil to Aschberg’s smart suit jacket, gleaming bald head, and TV-trained baritone. Aschberg’s research team had linked the man to a months-long campaign of harassment against a teenage girl born with a shrunken hand. After meeting her online, the troll tormented her obsessively, leaving insulting comments about her hand on her Instagram page, barraging her with Facebook messages, even sending her taunts through the mail.

Aschberg had come to the man’s home with a television crew to confront him, but now he denied everything. “Have you regretted what you’ve done?” Aschberg asked, handing the man a page of Facebook messages the victim had received from an account linked to him. The man shook his head. “I haven’t written anything,” he said. “I didn’t have a profile then. It was hacked.”

This was the first time Aschberg had encountered an outright denial since he had started exposing Internet trolls on his television show Trolljägarna (Troll Hunter). Usually he just shoots them his signature glare—honed over decades as a muckraking TV journalist and famous for its ability to bore right through sex creeps, stalkers, and corrupt politicians—and they spill their guts. But the glare had met its match. After 10 minutes of fruitless back and forth on the patio, Aschberg ended the interview. “Some advice from someone who’s been around for a while,” he said wearily. “Lay low on the Internet with this sort of stuff.” The man still shook his head: “But I haven’t done any of that.”

 With evidence in hand, Aschberg confronts a troll on his show. 

“He’s a pathological liar,” Aschberg grumbled in the car afterward. But he wasn’t particularly concerned. The goal of Troll Hunter is not to rid the Internet of every troll. “The agenda is to raise hell about all the hate on the Net,” he says. “To start a discussion.” Back at the Troll Hunter office, a whiteboard organized Aschberg’s agenda. Dossiers on other trolls were tacked up in two rows: a pair of teens who anonymously slander their high school classmates on Instagram, a politician who runs a racist website, a male law student who stole the identity of a young woman to entice another man into an online relationship. In a sign of the issue’s resonance in Sweden, a pithy neologism has been coined to encompass all these forms of online nastiness: näthat (“Net hate”). Troll Hunter, which has become a minor hit for its brash tackling of näthat, is currently filming its second season.

Hate is having a sort of renaissance online, even in the countries thought to be beyond it.

It is generally no longer acceptable in public life to hurl slurs at women or minorities, to rally around the idea that some humans are inherently worth less than others, or to terrorize vulnerable people. But old-school hate is having a sort of renaissance online, and in the countries thought to be furthest beyond it. The anonymity provided by the Internet fosters communities where people can feed on each other’s hate without consequence. They can easily form into mobs and terrify victims. Individual trolls can hide behind dozens of screen names to multiply their effect. And attempts to curb online hate must always contend with the long-standing ideals that imagine the Internet’s main purpose as offering unfettered space for free speech and marginalized ideas. The struggle against hate online is so urgent and difficult that the law professor Danielle Citron, in her new book Hate Crimes in Cyberspace, calls the Internet “the next battleground for civil rights.”

A publicity shot for Troll Hunter.

That Sweden has so much hate to combat is surprising. It’s developed a reputation not only as a bastion of liberalism and feminism but as a sort of digital utopia, where Nordic geeks while away long winter nights sharing movies and music over impossibly fast broadband connections. Sweden boasts a 95 percent Internet penetration rate, the fourth-highest in the world, according to the International Telecommunication Union. Its thriving tech industry has produced iconic brands like Spotify and Minecraft. A political movement born in Sweden, the Pirate Party, is based on the idea that the Internet is a force for peace and prosperity. But Sweden’s Internet also has a disturbing underbelly. It burst into view with the so-called “Instagram riot” of 2012, when hundreds of angry teenagers descended on a Gothenburg high school, calling for the head of a girl who spread sexual slander about fellow students on Instagram. The more banal everyday harassment faced by women on the Internet was documented in a much-discussed 2013 TV special called Men Who Net Hate Women, a play on the Swedish title of the first book of Stieg Larsson’s blockbuster Millennium trilogy.

Internet hatred is a problem anywhere a significant part of life is lived online. But the problem is sharpened by Sweden’s cultural and legal commitment to free expression, according to Mårten Schultz, a law professor at Stockholm University and a regular guest on Troll Hunter, where he discusses the legal issues surrounding each case. Swedes tend to approach näthat as the unpleasant but unavoidable side effect of having the liberty to say what you wish. Proposed legislation to combat online harassment is met with strong resistance from free speech and Internet rights activists.

What’s more, Sweden’s liberal freedom-of-information laws offer easy access to personal information about nearly anyone, including people’s personal identity numbers, their addresses, even their taxable income. That can make online harassment uniquely invasive. “The government publicly disseminates a lot of information you wouldn’t be able to get outside of Scandinavia,” Schultz says. “We have quite weak protection of privacy in Sweden.”

The same information ecosystem that aids trolls also makes it easier to expose them.

Yet the rich information ecosystem that empowers Internet trolls also makes Sweden a perfect stalking ground for those who want to expose them. In addition to Aschberg, a group of volunteer researchers called Researchgruppen, or Research Group,has pioneered a form of activist journalism based on following the crumbs of data anonymous Internet trolls leave behind and unmasking them. In its largest troll hunt, Research Group scraped the comments section of the right-wing online publication Avpixlat and obtained a huge database of its comments and user information. Starting with this data, members meticulously identified many of Avpixlat’s most prolific commenters and then turned the names over to Expressen, one of Sweden’s two major tabloids. In December 2013, Expressen revealed in a series of front-page stories that dozens of prominent Swedes had posted racist, sexist, and otherwise hateful comments under pseudonyms on Avpixlat, including a number of politicians and officials from the ascendant far-right Sweden Democrats. It was one of the biggest scoops of the year. The Sweden Democrats, which have their roots in Sweden’s neo-Nazi movement, have long attempted to distance themselves from their racist past, adopting a more respectable rhetoric of protecting “Swedish culture.” But here were their members and supporters casting doubt on the Holocaust and calling Muslim immigrants “locusts.” A number of politicians and officials were forced to resign. Expressen released a short documentary of its reporters acting as troll hunters, knocking on doors and confronting Avpixlat commenters with their own words.

Make the Unknown Known

Martin Fredriksson is a cofounder of Research Group and its de facto leader. He is a lanky 34-year-old with close-cropped hair and a quietly intense demeanor, though he is prone to outbursts on Twitter that hint at his past as a militant anti-racism activist. I met Fredriksson at the tiny one-room office of Piscatus, the public records service for journalists that he oversees as his day job. Robert Aschberg, the chair of Piscatus’s board, has known Fredriksson for years and jokes that he is a brilliant researcher and an excellent journalist, but “you can’t have him in furnished rooms.” The extreme sparseness of the office bore him out. One of the only decorations was a Spice Girls poster.

Fredriksson hunched over his computer’s dual screens and logged in to the intranet he had created to coördinate Research Group’s unmasking of Avpixlat users. Research Group typically works in a decentralized manner, with members pursuing their own projects and collaborating with others when needed. The group currently has 10 members, all volunteers, including a psychology graduate student, a couple of journalism students, a grade school librarian, a writer for an online IT trade publication, and a porter in a hospital. The little organizing that occurs typically happens in Internet relay chat rooms and on a wiki. But analyzing the Avpixlat database, which contained three million comments and over 55,000 accounts, required a centralized, systematized process. An image on the main page of the intranet pokes fun at the immensity of the task. Two horses have their heads stuck in a haystack. “Find anything?” asks one. “Nope,” says the other.

The Expressen home page when the paper published the Avpixlat scoop, unmasking prominent Swedes.

Research Group was founded during the exhaustive process of unmasking a particularly frightening Internet troll. That episode began in 2005, when Fredriksson and his close friend Mathias Wåg learned that an anonymous person was requesting public information about Wåg from the government. As a return address, the requester used a post office box in Stockholm. That kept Fredriksson and Wåg in the dark at first. But the next year, they obtained a copy of a prison magazine in which a notorious neo-Nazi named Hampus Hellekant, who was in prison for murdering a union organizer, had listed the same post office box. In 2007, after Hellekant was released, pseudonymous posts began to appear on Swedish neo-Nazi forums and websites, soliciting information about Wåg and other leftist activists.

For three years, Fredriksson and some like-minded investigators tracked Hellekant’s every move, online and off. “He was functioning more or less as the intelligence service for the Nazi movement,” Fredriksson says. Their counterintelligence operation involved a mix of traditional journalistic techniques and innovative data analysis. One unlikely breakthrough came courtesy of -Hellekant’s habit of illegally parking his car all over Stockholm. Fredriksson’s team requested parking ticket records from the city. They were able to match the car’s location on certain days with time and GPS metadata on image files Hellekant posted under a pseudonym. In 2009 they sold the story of Hellekant’s post-prison activities to a leftist newspaper, and Research Group was born.

Since then, its members have investigated the men’s rights movement, Swedish police tactics, and various right-wing groups. Until the Avpixlat story they had mostly published their findings quietly on their website or partnered with small left-wing news organizations. “The official story is that we pick subjects about democracy and equality,” says Fredriksson. “But the real reason is that we just have special interests—we just try to focus on stuff that interests us as people.”

By the time Research Group came together, Fredriksson’s interest in Nazi hunting and talent for investigative reporting had landed him a job with Aschberg. Fredriksson had scraped data from a mobile payment platform with woefully inadequate security in order to investigate the donors to a neo-Nazi website. He also happened to get the records of scores of users who had made payments to Internet porn sites. Aschberg used the data on his show Insider, Sweden’s answer to NBC’s Dateline, where he exposed government officials who had bought Internet porn on their official cell phones. Then he hired Fredriksson as a researcher on Insider: he functioned as the technical brains behind many of Aschberg’s confrontations. Today Fredriksson does not work for Troll Hunter, and the show has no formal connection to Research Group. But Fredriksson’s legacy is clear in the technical detective work that the show often uses to expose its targets.

Fredriksson might accurately be called a “data journalist,” as his specialty is teasing stories from huge spools of information. But the bland term doesn’t do justice to his guerrilla methods, which can make the pursuit of information as thrilling as the hunt for a serial killer in a crime novel. When Fredriksson gets interested in a project, he seizes it obsessively. Aschberg speaks of him in awe, as a potent but alien force. “He’s very special,” he says. “He’s one of those guys who can sit for 24 hours and drink sodas and just work.”

 Members of Research Group.

Fredriksson is a member of a generation of Swedes known as “Generation 64,” who grew up tinkering with Commodore 64s in the 1980s and went on to revolutionize Sweden’s IT industry. His upbringing also coincided with the rise of a neo-Nazi movement in the 1990s, when he was a teenage punk rocker. He and his friends constantly clashed with a gang of skinheads in his small hometown in southern Sweden. “I was very interested in politics. I came to the conclusion that if I wanted to do politics I’d have to deal with the Nazi threat in some way,” he says. He joined the controversial leftist group Antifascistisk Aktion (AFA), which openly endorses the use of violence against neo-Nazis. In 2006 he was sentenced to community service for beating a man during a fight between a group of neo-Nazis and antiracists. “He said it was me. It actually wasn’t, but it just as well could have been,” Fredriksson says. He says he eventually came to believe that violence is wrong, and today his weapon of choice is information, not his fists. He is more interested in understanding hate than destroying it, although he wouldn’t mind if one led to the other. Research Group challenges the traditional divide between activism and journalism: it is guided by the values of its members, many of whom come from leftist circles. In the early 2000s, Fredriksson was heavily involved in Sweden’s free culture movement, which abhorred copyright laws, embraced piracy, and coded the first version of the legendary Pirate Bay’s BitTorrent tracker. Whenever Research Group is in the news, critics seize on its members’ leftist ties to discredit them as agenda-driven propagandists. But their methods are meticulous, and their facts are undeniable. “Our history will always be there,” says Fredriksson. “People will always say, ‘Oh, 10 years ago you did that.’ Whereas I live in the now. The only way for me to build credibility is to just publish valid stuff again and again, and hope I’m not wrong.”

However, his idiosyncratic background sometimes leads him from the path of traditional journalistic inquiry into murky ethical territory. “I like to pick up stones and see what’s under them,” he says. “I like to go wherever I want to go and just look at stuff.”

The mass unmasking of Avpixlat commenters in 2013 was an accidental consequence of this curiosity. Avpixlat is an influential voice in Sweden’s growing right-wing populist movement, which is driven by a xenophobic panic that Muslim immigrants and Roma are destroying the country. The site fixates on spreading stories of rapes and murders committed by immigrants, which it contends are being covered up by the liberal establishment. (“Avpixlat” means “de-pixelate,” as in un-censoring an image that’s been digitally obscured.) Initially, Fredriksson wanted to study how it functioned as a source of näthat. Avpixlat, and especially its unruly comments section, has become notorious as a launching pad for rampaging online mobs. “They provoke, they incite people to harass politicians and journalists,” says Annika Hamrud, a journalist who has written extensively about the Swedish right wing. When the site picked up the story of how a shop owner in a small town put up a sign welcoming Syrian refugees to Sweden, she explains, he was bombarded with online abuse. Wåg, Fredriksson’s friend and colleague, calls Avpixlat “the finger that points the mob where to go.” Fredriksson’s idea was to create a database of Avpixlat comments in order to investigate how its cybermobs mobilized. Avpixlat uses the popular commenting platform Disqus, which is also used by mainstream publications in Sweden and around the world. Fredriksson planned to scrape Disqus comments from Avpixlat and as many other Swedish websites as possible. He would then compare the handles of commenters on mainstream websites with those on Avpixlat. The extent of the overlap would suggest how dominant Avpixlat users were throughout the Web, and how responsible they were for the general proliferation of näthat.

A neo-Nazi rally in Linköping, Sweden, in 2005.

Fredriksson hacked together a simple script and began to scrape Avpixlat’s comments using Disqus’s public API (the application programming interface, which lets online services share data). As he built his database, he noticed something odd. Along with each username and its associated comments, he was capturing a string of encrypted data. He recognized the string as the result of a cryptographic function known as an MD5 hash, which had been applied to every e-mail address that commenters used to register their accounts. (The e-mail addresses were included to support a third-party service called Gravatar.) Fredriksson realized he could figure out Avpixlat commenters’ e-mail addresses, even though they were encrypted, by applying the MD5 hash function to a list of known addresses and cross-referencing the results with the hashes in the Avpixlat database. He tested this theory on a comment he’d made on Avpixlat with his own Disqus account. He encrypted his e-mail address and searched the Avpixlat database for the resulting hash. He found his comment. “By that time I knew I had stumbled on something which the newspapers would be very interested in,” he says. He kept his scrapers running on Avpixlat and other websites that used Disqus, including American sites like CNN, eventually assembling a database of 30 million comments. But the goal was no longer a general survey of näthat. He wanted to answer an even more fundamental question: who are the real people behind Avpixlat’s hateful comments? “It had been like this great unknown for many years,” Fredriksson says. “It was this huge blank spot on the map that we could just fill out. Make the unknown known.”

In order to begin the process of unmasking Avpixlat’s users, Research Group needed a huge list of e-mail addresses to check against the Avpixlat commenter database, especially those of people whose participation in a racist right-wing website would be newsworthy. Sweden’s liberal public-records laws proved invaluable again. Research Group filed public information requests and collected thousands of e-mail addresses of parliament members, judges, and other government officials. For good measure, Fredriksson threw in a list of a few million e-mail addresses he’d found floating around on the Web. All told, Research Group assembled a list of more than 200 million addresses—more than 20 times the population of Sweden—to check against the database of 55,000 Avpixlat accounts.

Fredriksson gives lectures about online research, and he has found it’s easier to unmask people than many believe. “Anonymity online is possible, but it’s frail,” he says. He clicked on one Avpixlat user who had used his account to complain a lot about Muslims. He entered the user’s e-mail address into Google and found that the man had listed the address and his full name on the roster of his local boating club: “There he is.” If users’ e-mail addresses didn’t suffice, a researcher would begin wading through their comments, which sometimes numbered in the thousands, to glean clues to their identity.

Research Group toiled away for 10 months on the Avpixlat data, eventually identifying around 6,000 commenters, of whom only a handful were ever publicly named. A few months into the research, Fredriksson approached Expressen, whose investigative reporting on the Swedish far right he admired. The newspaper bought the story.

Fredriksson says people who spread hatred don’t deserve anonymity.

Payback

Research Group was so focused on analyzing the database that it did not seriously consider what the public fallout from the revelations might be. When the story came out, it sparked a firestorm. Angry Internet users, who saw the exposé as an assault on freedom of speech, began to distribute addresses of Research Group members as payback, a favored tactic of online intimidation known as “doxxing.” A Research Group member named My Vingren moved from her apartment after strange men visited one night. The address of Fredriksson’s parents was circulated. Debate about the ethics of the story raged, and even political opponents of the Sweden Democrats voiced reservations. Particularly egregious to some critics was that while many of Expressen’s targets were politicians, some were private citizens, including businesspeople and a professor. “I was this close to having a stress reaction,” Fredriksson says.

“I like to pick up stones and see what’s under them,” Fredriksson says.

Fredriksson stands by Research Group’s work on the database. He does not believe anonymity should be protected if it’s used to spread hate. “I think there are legitimate causes for anonymity,” he says. “But I think the Internet is a wonderful thing—I’ve been part of spreading culture among the masses—and personally, I get pissed off when the Internet is abused by some people.” Still, he’s ambivalent about Expressen’s exposure of private citizens. Research Group left it up to Expressen to choose what to report. If it had been his choice, he says, he would only have exposed politicians. “It could have been a much stronger story if they had stuck to public figures,” he says.

Research Group emerged from the furor slightly shell-shocked but proud, with a newfound reputation as a reputable journalistic force. A few months later, the Swedish Association of Investigative Journalists gave the group and Expressen an award for the scoop. This past September, Expressen published a new series based on the data, exposing more Sweden Democrats. One had called a black man a chimpanzee, while another had suggested that Muslims were genetically predisposed to violence. For these stories, Research Group was nominated for the Stora Journalistpriset, Sweden’s most prestigious journalism prize.

The stories came out a week before Sweden’s general election and had, by all appearances, no effect on the outcome. In fact, the Sweden Democrats won 13 percent of the vote, doubling their previous result to become the third-largest party in Sweden. Some even suggested that Expressen had helped the Sweden Democrats by making them seem like victims. Fredriksson says he’s simply happy to have helped push their public persona a little closer to what he believes they stand for in their heart of hearts: the ugly id that’s visible in Avpixlat’s comments sections every day. “I say, well, we just showed that they are racist, and people are apparently liking that,” he says. “So, good for them.”

Research Group is currently deep into researching its next project, which is based on a huge database belonging to Flashback, Sweden’s largest general-interest forum. At a recent gathering, Research Group members spent six hours working through a list that Fredriksson provided of 100 e-mail addresses belonging to high-ranking military members, to see whether they had posted anything interesting on the site. They found only one—a man who had apparently confessed to hiring prostitutes, although this was unlikely to rise to the level of newsworthiness their publishing partner was looking for.

Exposing Flashback users could prove to be even more explosive than outing Avpixlat commenters. Flashback users do not talk mainly about their hatred of immigrants (though some do) but about their love lives, video games, cooking, politics, drug habits—the whole spectrum of human interest. Last summer, Fredriksson sparked an online outcry when someone asked on Twitter if Research Group had the database and he replied in the affirmative. When asked why, he brusquely responded, “Because we can.”

The tweet was controversial even within Research Group, and Fredriksson later tried to clarify that the team would be mining the database for näthat. But many Flashback users probably weren’t mollified. Research Group had “bragged about having stuff that would jeopardize vulnerable people’s secrets,” says Jack Werner, a journalist who covers online culture for the Swedish daily Metro and is a longtime Flashback user. “It was not very ethical but rather quite blunt and childish.” Anna Troberg, the leader of Sweden’s Pirate Party, denounced Research Group as “glorified vigilantes.”

Fredriksson wouldn’t tell me much about the project, except that it would be similar to the Avpixlat story in focusing mainly on official misdeeds. He says Flashback users can rest assured that Research Group is not interested in exposing anyone’s medical issues. “If they posted in the sex or drugs or health sections, then it’s just not interesting to us,” he says. “If they post in other parts of Flashback, where they put up slander about other people? It’s interesting to look at that.”

Adrian Chen is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in New York, Wired, and the New York Times.

Credit: Photographs by Anders Lindén; Expressen.se; images 2 and 5 courtesy of Research Group; images 3 and 4 courtesy of DRG TV Strix

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  Section:  Articles - File Under:  Tech  |  
 
Paralyzed Again PDF Print E-mail

One night in 1982, John Mumford was working on an avalanche patrol on an icy Colorado mountain pass when the van carrying him and two other men slid off the road and plunged over a cliff. The other guys were able to walk away, but Mumford had broken his neck. The lower half of his body was paralyzed, and though he could bend his arms at the elbows, he could no longer grasp things in his hands.

Fifteen years later, however, he received a technological wonder that reactivated his left hand. It was known as the Freehand System. A surgeon placed a sensor on Mumford’s right shoulder, implanted a pacemaker-size device known as a stimulator just below the skin on his upper chest, and threaded wires into the muscles of his left arm. On the outside of Mumford’s body, a wire ran from the shoulder sensor to an external control unit; another wire ran from that control unit to a transmitting coil over the stimulator in his chest. Out of this kludge came something incredible: by maneuvering his right shoulder in certain ways, Mumford could send signals through the stimulator and down his left arm into the muscles of his hand. The device fell short of perfection—he wished he could throw darts with his buddies. But he could hold a key or a fork or a spoon or a glass. He could open the refrigerator, take out a sandwich, and eat it on his own. Mumford was so enthusiastic that he went to work for the manufacturer, a Cleveland-area company called NeuroControl, traveling the country to demonstrate the Freehand at assistive-technology trade shows.

Mumford was in Cleveland for a marketing meeting in 2001 when he got news that still baffles him: NeuroControl was getting out of the Freehand business. It would focus instead on a bigger potential market with a device that helped stroke victims. Before long, NeuroControl went out of business entirely, wiping out at least $26 million in investment. At first, Mumford remained an enthusiastic user of the Freehand, though one thing worried him: the wires running outside his body would sometimes fray or break after catching on clothing. Each time, he found someone who could reach into his supply of replacements and reconnect the system. But by 2010, the last wire was gone, and without the prospect of tech support from NeuroControl, the electrical equipment implanted in Mumford’s body went dormant. He lost the independence that had come from having regained extensive use of one hand. “To all of a sudden have that taken away—it’s incredibly frustrating,” he says. “There’s not a day where I don’t miss it.”

Mumford’s voice rises in astonishment as he tells the tale. “I have a device implanted in my body that was considered to be one of the best innovations or inventions of that century,” he says. “The last thing you think is that the company is going to go out of business, and not only is it going to go out of business, but you’re not even going to be able to buy parts for that. That seems insane!”

“It was all legal. Whether it was ethical or not is another question.”

Around 250 people are believed to have gotten the Freehand from NeuroControl, and Mumford was far from the only one heartbroken by the company’s failure. Their experience is a cautionary tale now for any implantable medical device that might serve “orphan markets”—relatively small groups of people. Although advances in brain-machine interfaces and electrical–stimulation devices are generating marvelous research results in people with paralysis—some are using their thoughts to control robotic arms, and others are taking tentative steps—it’s possible those breakthroughs won’t last long on the market, assuming they can be commercialized at all. Limp limbs can be reanimated by technology, but they can be quieted again by basic market economics.

The initial flourish

The technology in Mumford’s body began to be developed in the 1970s. The lead inventor, P. Hunter Peckham, a biomedical engineer at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, wanted to see whether electrical stimulation would reverse atrophy and ultimately restore function to paralyzed muscles. First in animals and then in people, Peckham and colleagues used hypodermic needles to inject tiny coils of wire into muscles, near nerves. They could then send mild pulses of electricity through these wires and stimulate the muscles, changing their very structure. Over time, by putting the wires in the right places and precisely tuning the bursts of electricity, the researchers could coördinate the muscles’ movements—re–creating, among other things, the normal grasp of a hand. Eventually the scientists figured out how to implant the technology into patients and let them operate it themselves, outside the lab, by means of a joystick-like unit mounted to the shoulder. The first version of what would become the Freehand system was installed in a patient in 1986. Peckham and five other investors founded NeuroControl seven years later with technologies licensed from Case Western.

When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the Freehand in 1997, it was a milestone. It was not the first commercial bionic device—pacemakers and cochlear implants already existed—but it was the first that helped paralyzed patients regain some use of the hands. In fact, it was the first one that used electrical stimulation to make joints move—and to this day it remains the only one ever released.

To see how it worked, watch this promotional video made by the company in the 1990s.

Here’s Mumford marveling at the system’s power:

Independent research showed that even at a cost of around $60,000 (for the device and the necessary surgery), the Freehand saved money in the long run by reducing a patient’s need for attendant care. But while the technology was impressive, the Freehand got stuck in a small niche.

Although there are 250,000 people with spinal-cord injuries in the United States alone, the Freehand worked only for people whose paralysis stemmed from an injury to a certain area—between the fifth and sixth vertebrae of their cervical spine. That’s because a break in that location left them with enough shoulder and elbow mobility to trigger the Freehand’s grasp-and-release function. Although NeuroControl estimated its potential market at more than 50,000 people in the United States, not all of them were willing or healthy enough to endure the major operation that was required to implant the device and all those wires.

Most important, the potential market was further narrowed by the fact that some private insurers and Medicare, the U.S. government insurance program for the elderly and the disabled, would not always cover the full cost. Rehabilitation clinics and hospitals were already likely to be conservative about recommending a novel implantable system to patients. But given that they might absorb any uncovered costs from the procedure, many medical centers were more reluctant to advocate the technology than NeuroControl had hoped.

Lacking momentum, NeuroControl stopped selling the product. “The investors had expected that it would penetrate a much larger volume of the overall spinal-injury population,” says Geoff Thrope, who was NeuroControl’s director of business development. “We were able to make dozens of implant sales per year. You need to be in the hundreds, if not thousands, to have it make sense.”

But the decision still rankles Peckham, who resigned from NeuroControl’s board as a result. With some more time, he says, NeuroControl might have seen its way through to a sustainable business. It had 19 patients enrolled in a clinical trial in England; one more would have given it the 20 necessary to allow the British national health-care system to move toward covering the cost of the Freehand. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs was likely to follow suit, he says. The problem was that other board members—primarily venture capitalists who “decided they were not seeing the return on the investment they had anticipated”—were impatient.

“It was all legal,” Peckham says. “Whether it was ethical or not is another question. Well, I guess it depends upon what your ethics are, right?”

Wires in the warehouse

You don’t have to dig into archival footage to see the Freehand in action. A few miles from where Mumford lives in the Denver suburbs, I met Scott Abram, an accountant for the U.S. Department of the Interior. Abram broke his neck in 1989, at age 17, when he dived into a shallow river on a high school field trip. He got the Freehand a decade later and still uses it for certain tasks. When we had lunch in a restaurant, he ordered a chicken sandwich. By activating the Freehand with shrugs of his left shoulder, he was able to manipulate his right hand in ways that helped him bring the sandwich to his mouth and down to the plate. All the while, a pager-like control unit on the left side of his wheelchair was still doing what it has done for 15 years: telling the stimulator in his chest which wires in his right arm needed jolts of electricity.

Abram knows full well what Mumford went through when the wires on the outside of his body needed to be replaced. It happens to him, too. There’s one key difference, though: several years ago, Abram managed to track down Kevin Kilgore, one of the researchers who developed the technology with Peckham in Cleveland. And Kilgore has been sending him wires over the years.

The situation mystifies and upsets Kilgore as much as anyone. When NeuroControl was in business, it supplied the Freehand to surgeons who installed it and served as the patients’ point of contact. From the perspective of patients like Mumford, the researchers who had originally invented the technology were not in the picture at all. When NeuroControl folded, nearly everything about it fell into a black hole. Not only did it fail to arrange technical support for its customers, but its website and phone number went out of service, leaving both the surgeons and the patients in the dark about what they might do next. Kilgore and Peckham say the company even refused to give them a list of patients who had gotten the implants. To this day the engineers say they don’t know exactly how many there were.

For Damion Cummins of Monroe, Louisiana, the company’s demise had a surreal aftermath. He had gotten the Freehand after being paralyzed in a high school football game. But it didn’t consistently work as well as he hoped, and he stopped using it after less than two years. Stopping was easy enough—he no longer asked someone to tape the awkward external wires to the device in his chest. But as the years went on, he wondered about that dormant electrical equipment, some of which you can feel right under his skin. “Is it going to disintegrate or break off?” he asked himself. “Should I worry about that?” He thought about going to see the surgeon in Shreveport who had implanted the Freehand, but the doctor had moved to California. Cummins says he spent a few years feeling uneasy about the electronics in his body before he finally tracked down the surgeon and called him. “Should I have it taken out?” Cummins asked. “No, as long as nothing’s bothering you,” the doctor said.

It’s painful for Kilgore to hear about the isolation that Cummins felt. About five years ago Kilgore got a $75,000 grant from Paralyzed Veterans of America, a nonprofit group, to follow patients with electrical-stimulation implants over an extended period. He spent much of the money buying up one of the few chunks of NeuroControl that hadn’t completely vanished: its inventory of wires, stimulator coils, controllers, batteries, and other Freehand parts, which another Ohio company had bought and was keeping in a warehouse. With that stockpile, Kilgore reached out to the Freehand patients he and his colleagues did know of—a few dozen people in Ohio—and set up an online users’ group in hopes of finding more.

Components installed inside Freehand patients fared better than the ones on the outside. The diagram above shows how wires ran from one shoulder to a control unit and from that unit to a transmitting coil.

In 2009, Kilgore and other researchers tracked down 65 Freehand recipients and determined that more than half were still using the device. Today he estimates that he has enough parts to keep such patients going for a few more years. But eventually, he says, “the ultimate fix” is for the patients to get something better. Nearly 30 years after the birth of the Freehand, the Case Western team has improved the technology significantly. Among other things, they have made the control unit small enough to be implanted in the body, eliminating the need for external wires that can snag and break. The device can also do more than restore grasping ability. It can be networked, as they put it, to send electrical stimuli to many more muscles—providing upper-body support, for example, or bowel and bladder control. The researchers have gotten some paralyzed people to stand and take halting steps with the help of a walker.

The essential economic dilemma remains, though: without a company to market this technology widely, the pool of potential recipients is limited to people who live in or can afford to travel to Cleveland. And if it’s not a commercial product, insurance companies won’t cover the cost of the device. That means the researchers have to rely on grant money to get these technologies into patients. “I can do five implants a year on grants,” Kilgore says. “But I get 100 phone calls a year.”

Even hundreds of patients a year might not make for a big enough market to entice private investors. But Kilgore and Peckham think they may have figured out a solution.

Deepening the pool

They are convinced that avoiding a repeat of the NeuroControl fiasco with many future implantable technologies will require a nonprofit/for-profit partnership. They’ve formed the nonprofit: the Institute for Functional Restoration at Case Western. Its mission is to usher technologies through regulatory approval; after that it could market the devices itself or license them to for-profit companies. Ideally, if such a company failed, the nonprofit—funded mainly by a private foundation—could keep supporting patients.

The first technology the institute will handle will be the networked device that is the descendant of the original Freehand. The organization has grants to begin a clinical trial and even to develop a manufacturing facility for the devices. It also has a waiting list of potential patients. But it has yet to sign up any companies as for-profit partners—companies that, as Peckham puts it, are “not trying to meet some venture expectations of how fast you return their investment.”

In theory, there could be many potential partners. As it happens, the neurostimulation business is enjoying a renaissance, especially in Cleveland, given the abundance of technologies to license from Case Western, the Cleveland Clinic, and other centers there. Several of the companies are staffed with alumni from NeuroControl, including Thrope, who now heads NDI, a firm that invests in neurotechnologies. Thrope says partnering with a nonprofit would be attractive to companies that don’t want to bear the risks inherent in taking a new technology through years of testing and regulatory approval. If the nonprofit can handle that part and then turn things over to a for-profit company, Kilgore and Peckham’s model “has some worthiness to it,” he says.

But even with that risk removed, Thrope is quick to add, not a lot of companies are interested in selling products that only a small group of people can use. Instead, he says, he and other investors are eager to find opportunities to address what doctors call multiple “indications,” meaning they can treat more than one condition. He mentions Second Sight, a publicly traded maker of a $140,000 retinal implant that can restore sight to people with a hereditary form of blindness. The potential market is quite big—perhaps 1.5 million people worldwide and 100,000 in the United States—but even so, Second Sight is already testing ways to deepen the pool of patients by treating other forms of blindness. Thrope says his firm, which he founded in 2002, rarely jumps in to invest in a neurotechnology until it has been developed beyond its initial stage and can treat a second or third indication. It’s “reversing the formula we used in NeuroControl,” Thrope says. “We’ve tried to avoid breakthrough technologies if possible.”

Avoiding breakthroughs: that seems to go against our tendency to imagine that technology will fix so many broken things, our bodies included. But consider the perspective of Damion Cummins. He says he endured multiple surgeries to get the Freehand because anything that could improve his daily life was worth a shot. He accepted the idea that it might not work. But when I asked him if he would have gotten the implant if he had realized there was a chance NeuroControl could fold, he replied: “If I had known that, then I definitely would not have.”

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Toolkits for the Mind PDF Print E-mail

When the Japanese computer scientist Yukihiro Matsumoto decided to create Ruby, a programming language that has helped build Twitter, Hulu, and much of the modern Web, he was chasing an idea from a 1966 science fiction novel called Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delany. At the book’s heart is an invented language of the same name that upgrades the minds of all those who speak it. “Babel-17 is such an exact analytical language, it almost assures you technical mastery of any situation you look at,” the protagonist says at one point. With Ruby, Matsumoto wanted the same thing: to reprogram and improve the way programmers think.

It sounds grandiose, but Matsumoto’s isn’t a fringe view. Software developers as a species tend to be convinced that programming languages have a grip on the mind strong enough to change the way you approach problems—even to change which problems you think to solve. It’s how they size up companies, products, their peers: “What language do you use?”

That can help outsiders understand the software companies that have become so powerful and valuable, and the products and services that infuse our lives. A decision that seems like the most inside kind of inside baseball—whether someone builds a new thing using, say, Ruby or PHP or C—can suddenly affect us all. If you want to know why Facebook looks and works the way it does and what kinds of things it can do for and to us next, you need to know something about PHP, the programming language Mark Zuckerberg built it with.

Among programmers, PHP is perhaps the least respected of all programming languages. A now canonical blog post on its flaws described it as “a fractal of bad design,” and those who willingly use it are seen as amateurs. “There’s this myth of the brilliant engineering that went into Facebook,” says Jeff Atwood, co-creator of the popular programming question–and-answer site Stack Overflow. “But they were building PHP code in Windows XP. They were hackers in almost the derogatory sense of the word.” In the space of 10 minutes, Atwood called PHP “a shambling monster,” “a pandemic,” and a haunted house whose residents have come to love the ghosts.

Things reviewed

Babel-17 By Samuel R. Delany
1966
Real World OCaml By Yaron Minsky et al.
O’Reilly, 2013 PHP Hack Scala

Most successful programming languages have an overall philosophy or set of guiding principles that organize their vocabulary and grammar—the set of possible instructions they make available to the programmer—into a logical whole. PHP doesn’t. Its creator, Rasmus Lerdorf, freely admits he just cobbled it together. “I don’t know how to stop it,” he said in a 2003 interview. “I have absolutely no idea how to write a programming language—I just kept adding the next logical step along the way.”

Programmers’ favorite example is a PHP function called “mysql_escape_string,” which rids a query of malicious input before sending it off to a database. (For an example of a malicious input, think of a form on a website that asks for your e-mail address; a hacker can enter code in that slot to force the site to cough up passwords.) When a bug was discovered in the function, a new version was added, called “mysql_real_escape_string,” but the original was not replaced. The result is a bit like having two similar-looking buttons right next to each other in an airline cockpit: one that puts the landing gear down and one that puts it down safely. It’s not just an affront to common sense—it’s a recipe for disaster.

Yet despite the widespread contempt for PHP, much of the Web was built on its back. PHP powers 39 percent of all domains, by one estimate. Facebook, Wikipedia, and the leading publishing platform WordPress are all PHP projects. That’s because PHP, for all its flaws, is perfect for getting started. The name originally stood for “personal home page.” It made it easy to add dynamic content like the date or a user’s name to static HTML pages. PHP allowed the leap from tinkering with a website to writing a Web application to be so small as to be imperceptible. You didn’t need to be a pro.

PHP’s get-going-ness was crucial to the success of Wikipedia, says Ori Livneh, a principal software engineer at the Wikimedia Foundation, which operates the project. “I’ve always loathed PHP,” he tells me. The project suffers from large-scale design flaws as a result of its reliance on the language. (They are partly why the foundation didn’t make Wikipedia pages available in a version adapted for mobile devices until 2008, and why the site didn’t get a user-friendly editing interface until 2013.) But PHP allowed people who weren’t—or were barely—software engineers to contribute new features. It’s how Wikipedia entries came to display hieroglyphics on Egyptology pages, for instance, and handle sheet music.

The programming language PHP ­created and sustains Facebook’s move-fast, hacker-oriented corporate culture.

You wouldn’t have built Google in PHP, because Google, to become Google, needed to do exactly one thing very well—it needed search to be spare and fast and meticulously well engineered. It was made with more refined and powerful languages, such as Java and C++. Facebook, by contrast, is a bazaar of small experiments, a smorgasbord of buttons, feeds, and gizmos trying to capture your attention. PHP is made for making—for cooking up features quickly.

You can almost imagine Zuckerberg in his Harvard dorm room on the fateful day that Facebook was born, doing the least he could to get his site online. The Web moves so fast, and users are so fickle, that the only way you’ll ever be able to capture the moment is by being first. It didn’t matter if he made a big ball of mud, or a plate of spaghetti, or a horrible hose cabinet (to borrow from programmers’ rich lexicon for describing messy code). He got the thing done. People could use it. He wasn’t thinking about beautiful code; he was thinking about his friends logging in to “Thefacebook” to look at pictures of girls they knew.

Today Facebook is worth more than $200 billion and there are signs all over the walls at its offices: “Done is better than perfect”; “Move fast and break things.” These bold messages are supposed to keep employees in tune with the company’s “hacker” culture. But these are precisely PHP’s values. Moving fast and breaking things is in fact so much the essence of PHP that anyone who “speaks” the language indelibly thinks that way. You might say that the language itself created and sustains Facebook’s culture.

The secret weapon

If you wanted to find the exact opposite of PHP, a kind of natural experiment to show you what the other extreme looked like, you couldn’t do much better than the self-serious Lower Manhattan headquarters of the financial trading firm Jane Street Capital. The 400-person company claims to be responsible for roughly 2 percent of daily equity trading volume in the United States.

When I meet Yaron Minsky, Jane Street’s head of technology, he’s sitting at a desk with a working Enigma machine beside him, one of only a few dozen of the World War II code devices left in the world. I would think it the clear winner of the contest for Coolest Secret Weapon in the Room if it weren’t for the way he keeps talking about an obscure programming language called OCaml. Minsky, a computer science PhD, convinced his employer 10 years ago to rewrite the company’s entire trading system in OCaml. Before that, almost nobody used the language for actual work; it was developed at a French research institute by academics trying to improve a computer system that automatically proves mathematical theorems. But Minsky thought OCaml, which he had gotten to know in grad school, could replace the complex Excel spreadsheets that powered Jane Street’s trading systems.

OCaml’s big selling point is its “type system,” which is something like Microsoft Word’s grammar checker, except that instead of just putting a squiggly green line underneath code it thinks is wrong, it won’t let you run it. Programs written with a type system tend to be far more reliable than those written without one—useful when a program might trade $30 billion on a big day.

Minsky says that by catching bugs, OCaml’s type system allows Jane Street’s coders to focus on loftier problems. One wonders if they have internalized the system’s constant nagging over time, so that OCaml has become a kind of Newspeak that makes it impossible to think bad thoughts.

The catch is that to get the full benefits of the type checker, the programmers have to add complex annotations to their code. It’s as if Word’s grammar checker required you to diagram all your sentences. Writing code with type constraints can be a nuisance, even demoralizing. To make it worse, OCaml, more than most other programming languages, traffics in a kind of deep abstract math far beyond most coders. The language’s rigor is like catnip to some people, though, giving Jane Street an unusual advantage in the tight hiring market for programmers. Software developers mostly join Facebook and Wikipedia in spite of PHP. Minsky says that OCaml—along with his book Real World OCaml—helps lure a steady supply of high-quality candidates. The attraction isn’t just the language but the kind of people who use it. Jane Street is a company where they play four-person chess in the break room. The culture of competitive intelligence and the use of a fancy programming language seem to go hand in hand.

Google appears to be trying to pull off a similar trick with Go, a high–performance programming language it developed. Intended to make the workings of the Web more elegant and efficient, it’s good for developing the kind of high-stakes software needed to run the collections of servers behind large Web services. It also acts as something like a dog whistle to coders interested in the new and the difficult.

Growing up

In late 2010, Facebook was having a crisis. PHP was not built for performance, but it was being asked to perform. The site was growing so fast it seemed that if something didn’t change fairly drastically, it would start falling over.

Switching languages altogether wasn’t an option. Facebook had millions of lines of PHP code, thousands of engineers expert in writing it, and more than half a billion users. Instead, a small team of senior engineers was assigned to a special project to invent a way for Facebook to keep functioning without giving up on its hacky mother tongue.

One part of the solution was to create a piece of software—a compiler—that would translate Facebook’s PHP code into much faster C++ code. The other was a feat of computer linguistic engineering that let Facebook’s programmers keep their PHP-ian culture but write more reliable code.

Startups can cleverly use the power of programming languages to manipulate their organizational psychology.

The rescue squad did it by inventing a dialect of PHP called Hack. Hack is PHP with an optional type system; that is, you can write plain old quick and dirty PHP—or, if you so choose, you can tie yourself to the mast, adding annotations to let the type system check the correctness of your code. That this type checker is written entirely in OCaml is no coincidence. Facebook wanted its coders to keep moving fast in the comfort of their native tongue, but it didn’t want them to have to break things as they did it. (Last year Zuckerberg announced a new engineering slogan: “Move fast with stable infra,” using the hacker shorthand for the infrastructure that keeps the site running.)

Around the same time, Twitter underwent a similar transformation. The service was originally built with Ruby on Rails—a popular Web programming framework created using Matsumoto’s Ruby and inspired in large part by PHP. Then came the deluge of users. When someone with hundreds of thousands of followers tweeted, hundreds of thousands of other people’s timelines had to be immediately updated. Big tweets like that would frequently overwhelm the system and force engineers to take the site down to allow it to catch up. They did it so often that the “fail whale” on the company’s maintenance page became famous in its own right. Twitter stopped the bleeding by replacing large pieces of the service’s plumbing with a language called Scala. It should not be surprising that Scala, like OCaml, was developed by academics, has a powerful type system, and prizes correctness and performance even at the expense of the individual programmers’ freedom and delight in their craft.

Much as startups “mature” by finally figuring out where their revenue will come from, they can cleverly use the power of programming languages to manipulate their organizational psychology. Programming–language designer Guido van Rossum, who spent seven years at Google and now works at Dropbox, says that once a software company gets to be a certain size, the only way to stave off chaos is to use a language that requires more from the programmer up front. “It feels like it’s slowing you down, because you have to say everything three times,” van Rossum says. That is why many startups wait as long as they can before making the switch. You lose some of the swaggering hackers who got you started, and the possibility that small teams can rush out new features. But a more exacting language helps people across the company understand one another’s code and gives your product the stability needed to be part of the furniture of daily life.

That software startups can perform such maneuvers might even help explain why they can be so powerful. The expanding reach of computers is part of it. But these companies also have a unique ability to remake themselves. As they change and grow, they can do more than just redraw the org chart. Because they are built in code, they can do something far more drastic. They can rewire themselves, their culture, the very way they think.

James Somers is a writer and ­programmer in New York. He works at Genius.com.

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Netflix News Roundup: Subscriber Numbers, Pricing Tiers, Net Neutrality Statement
Netflix has had a big news week, with various stories emerging from and about the streaming video company. This includes revenue and subscriber numbers, plans for new pricing tiers and an expansion into Europe, and a statement
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What The Net Neutrality Ruling Means For Online Video 18 January 2014, 22.47 4G Voice, Video, & Data
What The Net Neutrality Ruling Means For Online Video
A recent decision by an appeals court in Washington to chuck out net neutrality rules could have dire consequences for everyone using the Internet. Including those who both deliver and consume online video. Net Neutrality
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Vdio Is Dead | Rdio Shutters Video Service 28 December 2013, 22.35 4G Voice, Video, & Data
Vdio Is Dead | Rdio Shutters Video Service
Vdio is no more, with parent company Rdio deciding to shutter the online video service. The reasons for the closure remain unclear, but it seems that there just wasn’t room for Vdio in an already-crowded market. It didn’t
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YouTube’s Content ID Crackdown On Let’s Play Videos Draws Ire From Gamers & Developers
YouTube’s recent crackdown on Let’s Play videos, with an aggressive new Content ID update, has left a bad taste in the mouths of everyone involved. Except the companies making money from videos they really had no business
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Google Fights Back After YouTube Comments Spam Increased | Google+ Integration Staying
Google has finally addressed the issues affecting the new YouTube comments system, controversially rolled out earlier this month. Unfortunately, while small changes are being made to plaster over the cracks, the elephant in
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YouTube Changes Comments System To Google+, Even Jawed Karim Complains 10 November 2013, 00.35 4G Voice, Video, & Data
YouTube Changes Comments System To Google+, Even Jawed Karim Complains
Google has rolled out the new YouTube comments system, which is designed to stop the absurd levels of spam and trolling which have plagued the site in recent years. Unfortunately the new system requires Google+ integration,
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File contained a virus and was deleted 02 November 2013, 22.56 4G Voice, Video, & Data
File contained a virus and was deleted
I had a client that was recently getting this message.  If you are getting it, the cause can be a misconfiguration or worse. The result can sometimes be caused by faulty anti virus programs.  Or anti virus programs that were
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YouTube Launching Paid Spotify-Like Streaming Music Service Before End Of 2013
Google is set to launch a YouTube music streaming service before the end of 2013, at least if current persistent rumors are to be believed. This service will work the same way as Spotify, with a hefty catalog of music
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Is Online Streaming Availability To Blame For Movie Piracy? Research Suggests It Could Be
Do people pirate things because they’re cheap and want to get whatever they can for free? Or is the practice less sinister and more about getting hold of things that aren’t available in the format they favor? These are
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Netflix Originals Keeping Subscribers Happy | Original Content Strategy Already Working
Original content looks like being a small but significant part of the future of online television.. It’s certainly an area Netflix, amongst others, has explored, and one which, according to a new report, looks to be working
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YouTube Founders Unveil MixBit, A Vine & Instagram Competitor With Hidden Tricks
The mobile video space is becoming more crowded by the day. Following on from Vine and its six seconds of recording simplicity, and Instagram and its 15 seconds of recording simplicity, comes MixBit. Can this new startup
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YouTube Opening New Production Studio In New York | Original Content Ramped Up
YouTube is set to continue its efforts to evolve from the home of a disparate collection of funny animal videos into the home of truly talented individuals all creating professional-quality programming. In order to affect this
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Google Launches Chromecast, a $35 Dongle That Streams Content From Mobile To TV
Google recently unveiled Chromecast, a $35 dongle that is able to stream content from mobile devices to your television. This is Google’s latest attempt to grab a foothold in the TV industry, which it’s going to need to be
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Hulu Owners Decide Not To Sell After All | Fox, NBC, & Disney Reinvest Millions Instead
Hulu has been withdrawn from sale for the second time in its history, with the joint partners once again deciding against accepting the bids that were coming in, just as they did in 2011. Instead, the three partners are
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Video on Instagram Arrives To Compete With Vine | Facebook & Twitter Go Head-To-Head
Facebook and Twitter have been at war as competing social networks for a number of years. But the latest battleground between the two is mobile video, with Video on Instagram (owned by Facebook) arriving as a direct response
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PalmPad: HP Slate in Palm Clothing? 17 June 2013, 15.02 4G Voice, Video, & Data
PalmPad: HP Slate in Palm Clothing?
Dec. 21, 2010 - 12:39 PM PDT Dec. 21, 2010 - 12:39 PM PDT Summary: It’s being reporting today that HP/Palm is preparing to release the “PalmPad” next month. The story is accompanied by a diagram showing the PalmPad.
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Home Health Monitoring is Big Business 17 June 2013, 15.02 4G Voice, Video, & Data
Home Health Monitoring is Big Business
Dec. 21, 2010 - 7:55 AM PDT Dec. 21, 2010 - 7:55 AM PDTSummary: Remote health monitoring generated €7.6 billion globally in 2010, an amount destined to grow as this nascent area of healthcare is used more heavily in the
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Last Minute Geek’s Holiday Gift Guide 17 June 2013, 15.02 4G Voice, Video, & Data
Last Minute Geek’s Holiday Gift Guide
Dec. 20, 2010 - 11:36 AM PDT Dec. 20, 2010 - 11:36 AM PDT The geek in your life is hard enough to find appropriate gifts for the holidays, and this year, once again you waited until the last moment. Never fear, we have scoured
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Android This Week: Leveling Off; Fring Calling; LogMeIn 17 June 2013, 15.02 4G Voice, Video, & Data
Android This Week: Leveling Off; Fring Calling; LogMeIn
Dec. 18, 2010 - 6:00 AM PDT Dec. 18, 2010 - 6:00 AM PDTSummary: The growth of Android in the smartphone space has been phenomenal, but recent ad statistics show it may be leveling off. VoIP calling is hot on Android, however,
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MobileTechRoundup 226 17 June 2013, 15.02 4G Voice, Video, & Data
MobileTechRoundup 226
Dec. 17, 2010 - 8:00 AM PDT Dec. 17, 2010 - 8:00 AM PDT Summary: Join James, Matt and Kevin live for this week’s audio podcast where they’ll cover the week’s mobile technology news and share experiences with the
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Kindle for Android Gets Periodicals, In-App Store 17 June 2013, 15.02 4G Voice, Video, & Data
Kindle for Android Gets Periodicals, In-App Store
Dec. 17, 2010 - 7:08 AM PDT Dec. 17, 2010 - 7:08 AM PDTSummary: Amazon has rolled out a major new version of the Kindle app for Android that adds magazines and newspapers to the standard e-book fare. The app also adds shopping
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Samsung ATIV Smart PC 17 June 2013, 15.02 4G Voice, Video, & Data
Samsung ATIV Smart PC
The tablet market is going into hyperdrive.  The announcement of Microsoft’s foray into the tablet market utilization with Windows 8 architecture made a few ripples.  It will be really interesting to see how this plays
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Norton Hotspot VPN 17 June 2013, 15.02 4G Voice, Video, & Data
Norton Hotspot VPN
One of the thorniest issues is traveling and maintaining security.  Norton has come up with a nice little VPN package that allows for secure surfing while on open networks. If you have ever been in a hotel, most likely you
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FNN Home Technology
English (United Kingdom)
Tesla's sales model? It's simple: don't sell cars: If you are waiting with bated breath for electric vehicles to revolutionize the transportation sector, you are likely to pass out. If it happens, it will not be an overnight process. That...
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