• July 5, 2022

Netflix’s Plan to Auto-Cancel Subscriptions Is Radically Sane

The general imperative of any subscription service is to wring a monthly payment out of you from now until the apocalypse. That’s the whole game. It’s why there are entire services and advice columns devoted to helping you cancel. The business model gets an assist from human nature. Inertia is a monster; just ask the…

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Walmart Employees Are Out to Show Its Anti-Shoplifting AI Doesn’t Work

In January, my coworker received a peculiar email. The message, which she forwarded to me, was from a handful of corporate Walmart employees calling themselves the “Concerned Home Office Associates.” (Walmart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, is often referred to as the Home Office.) While it’s not unusual for journalists to receive anonymous tips, they don’t…

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How to Sync and Access Your Data Across Devices

The one caveat here is that you must save any files you create on your local device to the folder that’s being synced. This will bite you if you only sync your documents folder but your web browser downloads a file into the Downloads folder. You think the file has been synced, but it hasn’t…

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Black Hole Paradoxes Reveal a Link Between Energy and Entropy 

“Physicists like to probe the extreme,” said Garrett Goon, a physicist at Carnegie Mellon University. “The fact that you can’t go further, that something is changing, something is blocking you—something interesting is happening there.” For decades, black holes have played the headlining role in the thought experiments that physicists use to probe nature’s extremes. These…

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Deepfakes Aren’t Very Good. Nor Are the Tools to Detect Them

We’re lucky that deepfake videos aren’t a big problem yet. The best deepfake detector to emerge from a major Facebook-led effort to combat the altered videos would only catch about two-thirds of them. In September, as speculation about the danger of deepfakes grew, Facebook challenged artificial intelligence wizards to develop techniques for detecting deepfake videos.…

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If the Virus Slows This Summer, It May Be Time to Worry

The past few days have brought alarming news about the state of the pandemic in the US. Hospitalizations from Covid-19 reached new highs in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas, while case totals have been on the rise in recent weeks for more than half the country. But…

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The Future of Commerce Belongs to the Frictionless

For a minute there, at the start of the global lockdown, it seemed to be an open question: Would we all be able to get everything we needed delivered? Three months in, while nobody’s getting two-day deliveries anymore, it does seem as if Amazon alone might be able to provide almost all of us with…

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America’s Great—if Small—Return to Drive-In Theaters

Drive-ins don’t usually have Rite Aids. Or post offices. They certainly don’t open with a kid in a T-shirt reading a message off their phone advising everyone to “wear a mask when leaving your car.” This place, though, isn’t a typical drive-in. It’s the parking lot of the Bel Aire Diner in Astoria, Queens, converted…

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Colleges Gear Up for an Uncertain Fall Semester Online

For schools that are moving forward with a hybrid of online and in-person instruction, faculty will have to adapt to a new mode of teaching entirely. This is the case for Rob Elliott, senior lecturer of computer and informational technology at IUPUI, Indiana University, and Purdue University’s shared campus in Indianapolis. In a normal semester,…

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Prepare for Artificial Intelligence to Produce Less Wizardry

Thompson believes that, without clever new algorithms, the limits of deep learning could slow advances in multiple fields, affecting the rate at which computers replace human tasks. “The automation of jobs will probably happen more gradually than expected, since getting to human-level performance will be much more expensive than anticipated,” he says. “Slower automation might…

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