Architectural commissions that once might have seemed benign look more and more like matters of conscience. We know, for instance, that greenfield development destroys wildlife habitats even as species extinctions are occurring at a catastrophic rate. We know that projects in the United Arab Emirates are being built with slave labor. We know that luxury housing in New York and other cities has become a vehicle for international money laundering.
"Cryptographers think that a new kind of computer based on quantum physics could make public-key cryptography insecure. Bits in a normal computer are either 0 or 1. Quantum physics allows bits to be in a superposition of 0 and 1, in the same way that Schrödinger’s cat can be in a superposition of alive and dead states. This sometimes lets quantum computers explore possibilities more quickly than normal computers. While no one has yet built a quantum computer capable of solving problems of nontrivial size (unless they kept it secret), over the past 20 years, researchers have started figuring out how to write programs for such computers and predict that, once built, quantum computers will quickly solve ‘hidden subgroup problems’. Since all public-key systems currently rely on variations of these problems, they could, in theory, be broken by a quantum computer."
“The fact that internships are so prevalent in the creative industries is concerning, because the creative workforce lacks ethnic and socioeconomic diversity, particularly at entry level. If internships without measures to ensure equal access are common, there is a risk that the diversity of the sector will suffer.”
Confabulation does seem to be innate: consider the stuff that people imagine they've done when they have brain damage, and that children come up with while the prefrontal cortex is developing. Neurologist Jules Montague writes about the phenomenon and the "doubt tags" people use to keep it in check - and how they can be induced to miss those tags and develop false memories.
Today, our most famous purveyors of ideas sell themselves to the wealthy much like the courtiers of the Middle Ages. Daniel Drezner notes that these ideas are therefore shaped by the “aversion” that plutocrats share toward addressing the problems we face. Inequality? Global warming? Populist nihilism? An explosion of global refugees? From a Silicon Valley perspective, Drezner notes, such things are not a failure of our system but rather “a piece of faulty code that need[s] to be hacked.” Examining data from a survey of Silicon Valley corporate founders, Drezner notes their shared belief that “there’s no inherent conflict between major groups in society (workers vs. corporations, citizens vs. government, or America vs. other nations).”
"The sounds frequently referred to as elevator music are, at least officially, no more; over five years ago the company folded in a deal with its new owner, Mood Music. Muzak often amounted to the sonic equivalent of a Pan-Am smile, inspiring the listener to a bland, blinkered contentedness. In part, its reputation has obscured much of what made the company viable, and the extent to which its style fed others in its wake."
"While older utopias often were predicated on returning to the virtues of an imagined past, a key figure behind this utopia of the new was Norman Bel Geddes, a theatre designer turned industrial designer. Bel Geddes is best known for designing the General Motors Futurama exhibit at the 1939 New York World’s Fair, a huge and hugely celebrated vision of the world of 1960, full of towering modernist skyscrapers in new cities and lots and lots of cars."
"If history was any guide, the director Terry George figured, there'd be weirdness around his new film, The Promise, about the Armenian genocide. Sure enough, he was right" - there was a concerted pile-on at IMDb, and the unanticipated release of a competing film on strangely similar material, The Ottoman Lieutenant. Cara Buckley lays out the strange circumstances around the two titles.
"Somewhere at Google there is a database containing 25 million books and nobody is allowed to read them." James Somers runs down the history of the massive book-scanning project and of Authors Guild v. Google - and how "perhaps the most adventuresome class action settlement ever attempted" was taken apart despite the best interests of all the parties.