US Opinion and Commentary

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Stop Giving Digital Assistants Female Voices

Posted June 23rd, 2016 at 11:00 am (UTC-4)
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Why are digital assistants overwhelmingly female? Some say that people prefer women’s voices, while others note that in our culture, secretaries and administrative assistants are still usually women. Regardless, this much is certain: Consistently representing digital assistants as female matters a lot in real life: it hard-codes a connection between a woman’s voice and subservience.

The Thin Line Between Privacy and Security

Posted March 29th, 2016 at 3:21 pm (UTC-4)
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After the horrific and deadly terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California at a work holiday party, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) began its work: what drove the suspects – a Muslim couple with an infant – to kill 14 people? Were they acting at the behest of ISIS? Investigators found the iPhone of Syed Farook, but couldn’t get past the passcode to examine his contacts. Apple CEO Tim Cook refused an FBI order to create a coded “backdoor.” Critics called foul, accusing the FBI of looking for a case with which it could set a legal precedent. Cook held firm. Privacy protests erupted. This week, the FBI announced it used a third party to successfully hack the smartphone. Obvious questions were immediately raised: why did U.S. authorities try to legally compel Apple to create a backdoor? Who wins in such cases? Are we safer when officials can force digital companies to make hackable products? Or, must personal privacy always trump security?

In The Case Of Apple V. FBI, Congress Should Be The Judge

Posted March 1st, 2016 at 2:53 pm (UTC-4)
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The laws governing who has access to our personal, digital information and communications were written when a cloud was exclusively a white, puffy thing that formed familiar shapes. Technology has far outpaced the law, and now law enforcement, business, courts, and Congress are all grappling with the implications.

The Terrorist’s iPhone

Posted February 19th, 2016 at 2:25 pm (UTC-4)
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This is just the first round in a fight that could reshape the way surveillance and crime-solving are carried out in the information age, a battle that serves as a useful reminder that technology is no magic cure for longstanding trade-offs.

The Apple Fight Isn’t About Encryption

Posted February 17th, 2016 at 3:53 pm (UTC-4)
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Those who think encryption protects their personal data from the government — or, for that matter, from anyone determined enough to invest the effort in a brute force attack — are naive. Any encryption can be broken.

Steve Jobs, and the Perils of Being a Corporate Visionary

Posted September 10th, 2015 at 10:46 am (UTC-4)
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Four years after his death, the riddle of Steve Jobs still haunts us.

The Cost of Saying Yes to Convenience

Posted June 1st, 2015 at 11:00 am (UTC-4)
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I’m not buying an Apple Watch. It’s not because I’m cheap, or a Luddite or not fully initiated into the Cult of Steve. I’m not buying one because it would make my life too easy, too convenient.