Technology

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A Study Suggests Online Activism Doesn’t Work, But The Truth is Probably More Complicated

Friday, April 18, 2014

A recent study seems to confirm what most of us already suspect - that Facebook activism isn’t likely, on its own, to lead to real world consequences. Researchers looked at the “Save Darfur” Facebook group and found that despite having 1.2 million members, the group only raised $100,000. That works out to a donation rate of 0.24 percent.

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On The Media

TLDR Update - Peeking Into The Brain of The Army's Recruitment Robot

Friday, April 18, 2014

In March, I did a story for TLDR about Sgt. Star, the Army website's virtual recruiter that answers questions from potential future soldiers. You can hear that story below.

In that story, we spoke to Dave Maass of the Electronic Frontier Foundation who had sent a FOIA request to the Army for more information on Sgt Star, but had not received any response. But now he has, and he wrote an impressive update on the EFF blog. Among other things, the EFF received every single answer that Sgt Star can give. I spoke to Maass about the things he learned about Sgt Star, like how he was born, his relationship to the CIA and the FBI, and even his astrological sign. Listen to the update below.

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On The Media

Our Universal Robots

Friday, April 18, 2014

The word 'robot' first appeared in 1920 in Karel Čapek's play, Rossum's Universal Robots. Since then, intelligent machines have starred countless times in novels and films. Brooke talks with professor Jay P. Telotte about the ways our fears and fascinations with robots are reflected in culture. 

Music: Calexico - Attack El Robot! Attack! Special thanks to @bartona104 (Julia Barton) for the suggestion on Twitter!

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On The Media

Engineering Intelligence

Friday, April 18, 2014

Despite the technological leaps made in the realm of artificial intelligence, people often object to the idea that the minds of machines can ever replicate the minds of humans. But for engineers, the proof is in the processing. Brooke talks with Stanford lecturer and entrepreneur Jerry Kaplan about how the people who make robots view the field of AI. 

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On The Media

Joking With Robots

Friday, April 18, 2014

Myq Kaplan is a comedian known for his "robotic" delivery of jokes. That made him the perfect candidate to compete with Manatee, a joke-telling robot. Brooke talks with Kaplan about how robots might someday co-opt his comedic style.

Music: Dan Magnan - Robots. Special thanks to @jonaswoost (Jonas Woost) for the suggestion on Twitter!

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On The Media

Robot Humor

Friday, April 18, 2014

We often think of robots as tools to make our lives easier. But what if they could also make our lives funnier?

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On The Media

ROBOTS! (and artificial intelligence)

Friday, April 18, 2014

A special theme hour - starring a computer competing against a comedian for laughs, the Army's recruitment chatbot, and Google crushing on robots. 

On The Media

The Army's Robot Recruiter

Friday, April 18, 2014

Sergeant Star is a chatbot designed to influence potential recruits to enlist. Alex Goldman of our podcast TLDR wasn't sure how he felt about that, so he talked to the Army and a reporter who's covered recruitment abuses to consider the pros and cons of deploying a Siri to guide our decision to go to war. 

This story originally appeared in a longer form on the TLDR Podcast. If you would like to hear a longer version of this story and Alex's update with Dave Maass of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, follow this link.

Music: Kraftwerk - Pocket Calculator. Special thanks to @M0X1 (Mo Xie) for the suggestion on Twitter!

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On The Media

Google's Robot Brigade

Friday, April 18, 2014

Google has recently scooped up more than a half dozen robot companies. Their specialties range from artificial limbs to 3D machine vision to scurrying insect-bots and humanoid soldiers. But Google has kept mum about why they're acquiring these technologies. Brooke talks with Henrik Christensen, a professor of robotics at Georgia Tech, about what Google might do with its new toys. 

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On The Media

Field Recordings From a Virtual World

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Triple A video game titles (meaning the ones that cost hundreds of millions of dollars and have huge launches) are always trying to push for greater and greater verisimilitude. This is one of the reasons that there is a new round of consoles every 7 years or so, and why sound design in games is ever evolving to better evoke a sense of place. These audio environments are now interesting enough that at least one person has decided to record these habitats for posterity.

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On The Media

A Google For The Dark Net

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The near-anonymous Tor browser is pretty convenient for buying illegal things online. Except there's no search function. Until now.

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On The Media

TLDR #21 - There Is No Such Thing As Silence

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Continuing our expose into the very hush-hush world of Silence, we look at an app that promises to deliver you four minutes and thirty-three seconds of silence. PJ talks to Larry Larson, who helped design the 4'33" app.

 

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On The Media

It's Not A Fun Week To Work at OpenSSL, The Mostly Volunteer Project Responsible for the Heartbleed Bug

Friday, April 11, 2014

Until earlier this week, it's likely that most internet users had never heard of OpenSSL. But thanks to the Heartbleed bug, which put all manner of usernames and passwords at risk, the OpenSSL project is coming under some serious scrutiny. To understand how the Heartbleed bug happened, it's important to understand how the OpenSSL project works.

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On The Media

Google Will Now Let You Buy Google Glass (for One Day Only)

Friday, April 11, 2014

Google announced today that they’ll let anybody buy Google Glass, but for one day only. Previously, only a limited number of people were allowed in to Google’s beta test. But next Tuesday, if you’d like, you can plunk down $1,500 for a pair of internet spectacles.

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On The Media

The Camera and the Color Line

Friday, April 11, 2014

As a kid, writer and photographer Syreeta McFadden was never satisfied with the way she looked in pictures. But it wasn't physical appearance that bothered her; it was the way the camera captured—or, failed to capture—her dark skin. Brooke talks to Syreeta about how racial bias lies within the chemistry of photography.

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On The Media

The Greatest Video Game You May Never Play

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Back in 2012, a small browser game came out that reminded us of the limitless possibilities of a video game, and no one knew about it. The game was called Frog Fractions, and it was made by the independent game development studio, Twinbeard, and its sole employee, Jim Crawford.

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On The Media

Hunting For YouTube's Saddest Comments

Friday, April 04, 2014

YouTube's infamous for having one of the worst comment sections on the internet. There's no reason to ever read them. Unless you’re writer & filmmaker Mark Slutsky.

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