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The undercurrents of the future. A publication from Medium about technology and people.


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How Marc Andreessen’s criticism of governmental responses to Covid misses the mark

Last week, in an interview with Noah Smith, venture capitalist Marc Andreessen casually referred to the “chronic collapse of state capacity virtually everywhere in our time,” noting that the good news was that “the private sector can and does deliver even under considerable duress, and even when much of our…

Cash-strapped governments are turning to tech that converts cameras into automated license plate readers to penalize uninsured drivers

In March, the president of Rekor Systems Inc., Robert Berman, told investors that 2020 was a “transformative year.” The surveillance tech company’s platform, Rekor One, which converts regular cameras into automated license plate readers (ALPR), had proven alluring to cash-strapped state governments during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Oklahoma, which has seen… has rejected some legitimate claimants in addition to fraudsters

On January 25, California officials told the public that while the state had paid out $114 billion in unemployment benefits, auditors had found a problem. More than $11 billion of those payouts were fraudulent.

To address this, California officials hired, a 10-year-old startup, to ensure that every person who…

Government-mandated drone surveillance and location tracking apps could be here to stay

In early December, after finding 16 people had illegally crossed the border from Myanmar to Thailand and evaded the mandatory quarantine period, the Thai government said it would start patrolling the border with new surveillance equipment like drones and ultraviolet cameras.

In 2020, this kind of surveillance, justified by the…

Big Technology

The government is more likely to invest in the tech giants than break them up

In the months leading up to Wednesday’s tech giant hearing, the U.S. federal government was buying millions in tech giant debt. Through BlackRock, an intermediary, the Federal Reserve picked up $25 million in Apple bonds, another $4 million in Amazon, and about $18 million in Microsoft.

The buying spree took…

The Digital Service Academy would compete with Stanford and MIT

The U.S. government’s approach of letting Silicon Valley drive the country’s technological boom has left the government itself scrambling for tech talent.

Now, a federal commission led by ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt and former Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert O. …

Returning to the most successful Young Adult dystopia of the 21st Century in a time of unprecedented crisis

The fourth installment of the most influential Young Adult dystopia of the 21st century showed up right on time. The original Hunger Games trilogy, written by Suzanne Collins, has sold tens of millions of copies and spawned a blockbuster quadrology that grossed over $29.7 billion worldwide. …

General Intelligence

The most important A.I. developments of the week

It’s becoming less and less rare to see news about the U.S. federal government and artificial intelligence.

This week, two Democratic senators released a bill that would put a moratorium on facial recognition used by federal agencies until a commission creates guidelines on how it can be used safely and…

From Twitter’s spies to complete shutdowns, repressive regimes are using A.I. and VPN fingerprinting to silence their critics

When two former Twitter employees were charged with spying on behalf of Saudi Arabia in November 2019, the case spotlighted the new and inventive ways oppressive governments are using technology to stifle dissent. According to the U.S. Justice Department, the two men — a U.S. …

Cities across the United States are exploring online games as a way of engaging citizens. But being a citizen isn’t the same thing as being a gamer.

Trust in governments and regulators is in crisis. Only 17% of Americans say they trust the government, according to the Pew Research Center, down from nearly 80% in the 1960s. Given the current state of our politics and uncertainty in the global economy, this isn’t exactly surprising. …


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