March 10th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Toys in the Hood

We’re all constantly calibrating our views and re-thinking exactly where we draw the line between the security offered by surveillance and the last hints of privacy to which we cling. The discussion often boils down to law enforcement vs personal privacy. But technology doesn’t care who’s using it. And the same tools used by first responders often filter down to the general public. Bloomberg’s Robert Kolker looks at one privacy-invading tool that could be moving in next door: “Maybe it doesn’t faze you that your local police have a $400,000 device that listens in on cell phones. How will you feel when your neighbor has a $1,500 version?” What Happens When the Surveillance State Becomes an Affordable Gadget? (I’ve been preparing for this day. And my neighbors are about to get the show of a lifetime.)


Sugar Smacks

We know we eat too much sugar and we know that related diseases are on the rise. And now UCLA has put some numbers to that story. And those numbers are pretty scary: Researchers “determined that 55% of California adults have either diabetes or pre-diabetes.” As one expert explains: “Our genes and our environment are kind of on a collision course.”

+ Where’s all that sugar coming from? Hint: More than half of what Americans eat is ultra-processed.


The Playbook

“There’s a playbook in Washington that presidents are supposed to follow, and the playbook prescribes responses to different events, and these responses tend to be militarized responses … In the midst of an international challenge like Syria, you are judged harshly if you don’t follow the playbook, even if there are good reasons.” The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg talks to President Obama about the most controversial aspect of his tenure: His take on America’s role in the world. The Obama Doctrine, or how the phrase don’t do stupid shit, for better or worse, defined an era.


Do Not Pass Go

Grandmaster Lee Sedol has already lost his first two games of Go to Google’s DeepMind machine powered by artificial intelligence. As DeepMind’s co-founder explains, this breakthrough is just the beginning. The ultimate goal is to “solve intelligence.” (No word on how to solve for a lack of it.) From The Verge: How AI will shape the future.

+ “We may be on the verge of creating a new life form, one that could mark not only an evolutionary breakthrough, but a potential threat to our survival as a species.” Rolling Stone has a two part series that takes you inside the artificial intelligence revolution.

+ Quartz: A short list of game computers still can’t win. (Sadly, I don’t see kill all the humans on the list.)

+ MIT Tech Review: The AI Doctor Will Hear You Now.


You Again?

Debate is the show Americans can’t stop bingeing on. They keep airing episodes and we keep watching. The latest throwdown was Bernie v Hillary, and Digg has collected all the video and outtakes you need.

+ WaPo with an interesting (and I think accurate) assessment of the decision that wrecked Marco Rubio’s campaign.


Popcorn Not Included

A new startup backed by Sean Parker wants to bring movies to your living room on the same day they’re released in theaters. But the industry won’t make it easy. “Screening Room would charge about $150 for access to the set-top box that transmits the movies and charge $50 per view.” So the guy who brought us Napster and let us get music for free now wants to give us a movie for fifty bucks. Don’t you love progress?


What Comes Around

“I’m an Australian, and in Australia we have gone roundabout crazy!. Where I live now in California there are literally no roundabouts, so I set out to find if this was just a California thing or was it more widespread in the U.S.?” CityLab crunches the data and is left with a question: Why Does America Hate Roundabouts?



“On a jetliner, it’s enormous. It’s a factor of 10. It’s colossal. It’s like taking your car from 20 miles per gallon to 200.” So what’s the secret? Let Bloomberg explain: NASA’s Bug Repellent Aims to Save Airlines Millions in Fuel Cost.


The In Crowd

“I said, ‘Let’s keep it a secret and see if some other people would want to join you. Then let’s unleash all of these fundings in one crazy flash mob to create the most unforgettable school day for a lot of teachers.’ And that’s kind of what happened.” One day, $14 million in funding for school projects across America. Good work by several philanthropists, and another awesome day at the office for Charles Best, the crowdfunding pioneer who always seems to live up to his name.


Bottom of the News

Kim Kardashian’s latest selfie caused quite a stir in the Internet. But scroll below the image to the caption and you’ll see another trend at work. Megan Garber explains how LOL became a punctuation mark.

+ Wired: Want safer passwords? Don’t change them so often.

+ Quartz: How a Nigerian hyper-realist painter became a social media phenomenon. Wow.

+ Update: Steph Curry, still not human.

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