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The Ubiquity of Cyber-Espionage

2:28 PM ET Don’t worry about dorm-room hackers, crime rings, or the mafia, said two cyber-security experts Thursday at the Washington Ideas Forum. Worry about the government. Or, rather, the governments, plural. “These attacks are happening all the time,” said Dmitri Alperovitch, CTO and co-founder at Crowdstrike, of attacks on American corporate and ...

Megan Smith Thinks Every Child Should Be Able to Code

October 29, 2014 Speaking at the Washington Ideas Forum Wednesday, U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith kept coming back to one idea: talent. On the Department of Defense's role as a research-and-development powerhouse: “What I want to do is unlock talent.” On the security of government servers: “We have a great team working ...

A New Tool in Humanitarian Relief: Texting

October 27, 2014 Pandemics, like war, have a higher cost than their death toll. On top of the 5,000 lives that Ebola has claimed, there are other sorts of victims in the six West African countries the virus has reached. The emergency erodes trust and infrastructures, threatening local economics and livelihoods. One infrastructure ...

When Everything Works Like Your Cell Phone

September 29, 2014 Everyone understands what it means to own a plunger. Go to a store, buy the tool, take the physical object home, use it. No contract is required. If you give it away, all its plunging capabilities go with it. If it is stolen, it is lost. If you don't know ...

Pics or It Didn't Happen: The New Crisis of Connected Cameras

September 12, 2014 In days or weeks, when the United States again drops bombs on the Islamic State, it will commence its first war shaped and driven by networked photography—the twinned phenomena of ubiquitous, Internet-connected cameras to take pictures and screens to view them. The gruesome video of ISIS militants executing U.S. journalists ...

What Does the Chief Technology Officer of a Country Do?

September 5, 2014 On Thursday, President Barack Obama appointed Megan Smith the new U.S. Chief Technology Officer. Previously a vice president at Google, Smith ran the company’s secretive skunkworks and led business development—helping to acquire the products that would become Picasa, Google Earth, and Google Maps. Obama also appointed Alex Macgillivray, Twitter’s former ...

Anti-Surveillance Camouflage for Your Face

July 24, 2014 The NSA made me slather my face in make-up. Or, it didn’t make me, exactly. But last spring, I found myself wandering around D.C., wearing dazzle camouflage for the first time. It was a sunny Saturday, the capital swamp neither frigid nor muggy-oppressive—perfect for walking. It took me 45 minutes ...

NASA's Zombie Spacecraft Learns to Fire Its Engines

July 8, 2014 The quest to save the ISEE-3—a long-lost NASA probe launched in the disco era and abandoned in the dot-com boom—might just succeed. Late last week, the amateur scientists and engineers working to salvage the probe hit a major milestone: They coaxed the craft into firing its rotational thrusters. The achievement ...

Everything We Know About Facebook's Secret Mood Manipulation Experiment

June 30, 2014 Facebook’s News Feed—the main list of status updates, messages, and photos you see when you open Facebook on your computer or phone—is not a perfect mirror of the world. But few users expect that Facebook would change their News Feed in order to manipulate their emotional state. We now know ...

NASA Is Building a Tiny Mothership to Explore Distant Lunar Oceans

June 19, 2014 Suppose you’re a planetary scientist. You operate an unmanned spacecraft, surveying a distant moon in our solar system. Years of funding, engineering work, and long-distance space travel have all come together, and at last this machine—to which you have devoted so much of your life—is in place. And it’s just ...