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


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Generative AI systems could guide future pandemic decision-makers

Photo by Emin BAYCAN on Unsplash

OpenAI’s GPT-3 is the most powerful AI system I’ve ever used. Trained on billions of web pages and tens of thousands of books, the system can generate nearly any kind of text, from news articles to computer code to sea shanties.

The current version of GPT-3, however, was only trained…

Open Dialogue

Evan Selinger in conversation with Chris Gilliard

Illustration: Julia Moburg/Medium; Source: Getty Images

This is Open Dialogue, an interview series from OneZero about technology and ethics.

During the pandemic, educational technology companies experienced a 900% increase in business once schools started shutting down campuses and restricting visitors. These companies swooped in with A.I.-infused software designed to prevent students from cheating. These proctoring algorithms…

No One’s Driving

Automation and complex distribution software created a nightmare scenario we’re still unpacking

Healthcare worker wearing PPE.
Photo: skaman306/Getty Images

Welcome to No One’s Driving, a column by novelist and tech writer Tim Maughan about how to understand a world governed by systems and technologies that are spiraling out of control.

“The mask is the perfect prism with which to understand the world in 2021,” John tells me on a…

Maybe it’s time for them to move out of Silicon Valley

Photo: Jeff Kowalsky/Getty Images

The year 2020 has been a tougher year than usual for almost everyone and particularly for those who live in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to the extraordinarily high cost of living in the region, it was one of the first American hotspots for the coronavirus outbreak, and…

The coronavirus pandemic momentarily halved Clear’s revenue at some airports

The near-total shutdown of air travel during the coronavirus pandemic could have been an existential crisis for Clear, a company best known for ferrying travelers to the front of the airport security line.

But despite massive downturns in the number of people flying, the coronavirus pandemic only had a temporary…

Illustrations: Viktor Hachmang

‘You are your driver’s license, your credit card, your health care card, your building access card’

In March, the air travel industry ground to a halt.

The coronavirus pandemic was spreading, and both airlines and passengers were caught unprepared. Most of the world, including the United States, began turning away foreign visitors, not wanting to bring more of the virus past their borders. …

From here on out, security may involve a thermometer

A security guard holds a no-contact infrared thermometer at the entrance to a jewelry store in the Diamond District in New York City on June 24, 2020. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Last week, I dropped by my recently reopened gym to restart my lapsed membership. As soon as I walked in the door, a woman pointed an infrared thermometer at my forehead.

I was instantly anxious — not because I felt sick or thought I had a fever but because it…

And what everyone else can learn from it

Photo: Steve Parsons — PA Images/Getty Images

On June 18, the British government suddenly abandoned development of its contact tracing app, which was intended to tell people if they had come into close proximity with someone who tested positive for Covid-19. It worked 4% of the time.

That completely unacceptable result came from poor decisions based on…


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