Non-fungible tokens provide a way to invest in and own digital imagery. But is it just another crypto fad—or the future of intangible art? It started with CryptoKitties. In December 2017, the dopey-looking cartoon cats, created by Canadian company Dapper Labs, debuted as tradable collectibles, like Pokémon cards for the bitcoin era. Each image was
Month: February 2021
The tech giant hired 150 game developers for Stadia Games and Entertainment, only to lay them all off. Sources say it never gave the studios a chance. In March 2019, Google CEO Sundar Pichai took the stage at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco to tell gamers what he owed them. He wasn’t a
Plus: The Ford heir, presidential briefings, and a sad day for gadget lovers. Hey, everyone. As we creep into a year of lockdown, I am buoyed by the vaccine and terrified by the variants. Triple masks, anyone? The Plain View “Where should we go next?” asked Steve Jobs. It was almost exactly 10 years ago,
A judge ruled earlier this week on the law, which has faced challenges from lobbyists representing internet providers as well as the Trump administration. California can start enforcing the net neutrality law it enacted over two years ago, a federal judge ruled Tuesday in a loss for internet service providers. The broadband-industry lobby groups’ motion
A wave of startups, features, and tools has sprung up around the popular audio app. And some are looking to cash in. About a month ago, Marcin Brukiewicz scored an invite to Clubhouse and started spending hours on the audio app. Brukiewicz, a Polish physician, joined rooms discussing the future of healthcare and medical technology,
Welcome to Megan’s weekly advice column for surviving our work-from-home existence. Dear OOO: Is everyone judging my background on Zoom? All of my coworkers have these lovely setups with stark white bookcases and hanging plants, but I’m lucky if I can sweep the laundry off the bed behind me in time for my morning meeting.
Drivers for Uber, Lyft, and other firms are building apps to compare their mileage with pay slips. One group is selling the data to government agencies. Armin Samii had been biking for UberEats for a few weeks last July when he accepted a delivery he estimated would take 20 minutes, tops. But the app led
A Boeing 777 shed huge chunks of metal over a Denver suburb over the weekend—but wasn’t in danger of going down itself. It feels like a nightmare scenario for airplane passengers: You take a look out the window in between mini-pretzel bites to see an engine cloaked in flames, shedding pieces of metal mid-flight from
A group of meme-spinning pranksters attached a paintball gun to the dynamic robot to make a point about the automated future. In Spot’s Rampage, the robot roams an art gallery with a paintball gun. Boston Dynamics has racked up hundreds of millions of YouTube views with viral clips of its futuristic, legged robots dancing together,
Margaret Mitchell was the co-leader of a group investigating ethics in AI, alongside Timnit Gebru, who said she was fired in December. For the second time in three months, a prominent researcher on ethics in artificial intelligence says Google fired her. On Friday, researcher Margaret Mitchell said she had been fired from the company’s AI
The country’s highest court ruled that the 25 drivers who filed a lawsuit should be considered workers and entitled to minimum wage and vacations. For four years, the employment status of Uber drivers in the United Kingdom has been like a colorful beach ball: insubstantial, batted from court to court, appearing different depending on where
Plus: Google’s ad software, the future of space travel, and the Texas governor’s weird tune. Hi everyone. This week, I’ve resisted temptation and written about Australia without a single mention of kangaroos, shrimp on the barbie, or Naomi Watts. (Even though she once appeared in a TV movie version of one of my books.) G’day!
An IBM researcher found his name on two papers with which he had no connection. A different paper listed a fictitious author by the name of “Bill Franks.” David Cox, the co-director of a prestigious artificial intelligence lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was scanning an online computer science bibliography in December when he noticed something odd—his
Google, Facebook, and others promise more flexibility to work from home. But they’re charging ahead with plans for more offices. Kim Walesh has lived steps from downtown San Jose for two decades, and she readily admits that her neighborhood is not what you’d expect for the so-called “capital” of Silicon Valley—“small” and “undeveloped” are her
Videofeeds sometimes fail, defense attorneys can’t confer with clients, and witnesses have a hard time reviewing documents. Last August, one of the world’s most infamous sex criminals— Harvey Weinstein—was due to appear virtually in a New York courtroom on a request to extradite him to California to face charges there. Reporters, due to Covid-19, mostly
A chess program that learns from human error might be better at working with people or negotiating with them. It took about 50 years for computers to eviscerate humans in the venerable game of chess. A standard smartphone can now play the kind of moves that make a grandmaster’s head spin. But one artificial intelligence
Plus: The Obama campaign’s data wiz, the limits of content moderation, and a video filter gone awry. Hi, everyone. Another week without Donald Trump’s tweets and Facebook posts. At least we have clips of his “perfect” speeches replayed in the Senate trial. Good times. This is a special free edition of Plaintext. To read future
Drivers, often unfamiliar with a neighborhood, leave cars running while dropping off food. Opportunistic thieves lie in wait. A DoorDash driver named Jeffrey Fang was returning to his minivan in San Francisco after completing a delivery last week when he noticed a stranger in his car. After a struggle, he told a local news outlet,
In a 2018 paper, researchers said they found evidence of an elusive theorized particle. A closer look now suggests otherwise. In March 2018, Dutch physicist and Microsoft employee Leo Kouwenhoven published headline-grabbing new evidence that he had observed an elusive particle called a Majorana fermion. Microsoft hoped to harness Majorana particles to build a quantum
The autonomous vehicle startup purchased Uber’s struggling self-driving technology division in December. Autonomous driving startup Aurora announced on Tuesday that it has scored a partnership with Toyota to build self-driving taxis based on the Toyota Sienna minivan. Aurora says it’s aiming to have a fleet of Sienna prototypes ready for testing on public roads by the
The audio app hosted discussions on sensitive topics such as Taiwan and Uighurs before it was removed from the App Store. Some users have found workarounds. China blocked the audio app Clubhouse on Monday after a remarkable few days in which it brought together people from both sides of the Great Firewall. Quickly, some Chinese
Covid-19 has upended churchgoing in the US. Like so much else with the pandemic, the impacts are not felt equally. For Clay Scroggins, preaching on Zoom was never part of the plan. As lead pastor at Buckhead Church in Atlanta, he was accustomed to services in a 3,000-seat auditorium, with live music and a jumbotron
The maker of electric vehicles said it had invested $1.5 billion in bitcoin and plans to accept the cryptocurrency as payment for its cars. For a brief moment on Sunday, before Tesla said it had invested $1.5 billion in bitcoin and planned to let people use the cryptocurrency to pay for its cars, bitcoin’s price
A warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, could become the first Amazon union in the US. But it won’t happen overnight. It might be the most tracked shipment in Amazon history: 5,800 mail ballots are being sent out to the union-eligible workers at Amazon’s Bessemer, Alabama, fulfillment center on Monday. In the coming weeks they’ll be used
Car companies have had to reduce output, pause production, and even idle shifts and entire factories. You may have noticed that it’s difficult to get ahold of new high-end graphics cards and game consoles these days. In large part, that’s due to an ongoing global shortage affecting semiconductor foundries. As it turns out, the problem
A new bill directly targets the most egregious excesses of online platform immunity. By the end of last year, there were few better symbols of bad-faith politics than Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the law that gives online platforms legal immunity for user-generated content. After a fairly sleepy existence since its passage in
Plus: The shelf life of a tech executive, innovation in the Covid era, and a green new emailer. Hi, folks. On Tuesday, the groundhog streamed some video and decided to sell his life rights for a flick about his annual habit. Should we tell him there’s already been two movies and a show about this?
Security cameras. License plate readers. Smartphone trackers. Drones. We’re being watched 24/7. What happens when all those data streams fuse into one? One afternoon in the fall of 2019, in a grand old office building near the Arc de Triomphe, I was buzzed through an unmarked door into a showroom for the future of surveillance.
A study finds that algorithms learn to associate words with other words. “Democracy” can equal “stability”—or “chaos.” Artificial intelligence is hardly confined by international borders, as businesses, universities, and governments tap a global pool of ideas, algorithms, and talent. Yet the AI programs that result from this global gold rush can still reflect deep cultural
It started as a way to restrict autocompletes on Shutterstock. Now it grooms search suggestions on Slack and influences Google’s artificial intelligence research. Comedian George Carlin had a list of Seven Words You Can’t Say on TV. Parts of the internet have a list of 402 banned words, plus one emoji, 🖕. Slack uses the