Wikileaks has officially lost the moral high ground
By Emma Grey Ellis
WikiLeaks is always going to be releasing information some people don’t like. That is the point of them. But lately the timing of and tone surrounding their leaks have felt a little off, and in cases like the DNC leak, more than a little biased.
Your Smart Robot Is Coming in Five Years, But It Might Get Hacked and Kill You
By Nafeez Ahmed
A new report commissioned by the Department of Homeland Security forecasts that autonomous artificially intelligent robots are just five to 10 years away from hitting the mainstream—but there’s a catch. The new breed of smart robots will be eminently hackable. To the point that they might be re-programmed to kill you.
Building a Better Human With Science? The Public Says, No Thanks
By Gina Kolata
The New York Times
Americans aren’t very enthusiastic about using science to enhance the human species. Instead, many find it rather creepy. A new survey by the Pew Research Center shows a profound distrust of scientists, a suspicion about claims of progress and a real discomfort with the idea of meddling with human abilities. The survey also opens a window into the public’s views on what it means to be a human being and what values are important.
SUSTAINABILITY & ENVIRONMENT
A new report rated countries on ‘sustainable development.’ The US did horribly
By Chris Mooney
The Washington Post
The UN Sustainable Development goals comprise no less than 17 separate items and 169 “targets” within them. And this isn’t just an airy exercise — the targets are quite specific (“By 2030, progressively achieve and sustain income growth of the bottom 40 per cent of the population at a rate higher than the national average”). That means that at least in many cases, countries can actually be measured on how they’re faring in meeting these goals, based on a large range of sociological, economic and other indicators. The United States, in contrast, ranked 25th out 139 countries, with a score of 72.7. It fared considerably worse than a comparable neighbor, Canada, which ranked 13th, with a score of 76.8.
How Chicago Turned an Industrial Waste Site Into a Nature Lovers' and Cyclists' Paradise
By Ben Schulman
Big Marsh sits on land that is both a former industrial dumping ground as well as an ecological linchpin in the greater Calumet region. For nearly 50 years, the site acted as an informal repository for slag, the metallic waste material left after the smelting of ore. “The whole Calumet is a mecca of biodiversity,” says Lauren Umek, project manager for the Chicago Park District’s Department of Cultural and Natural Resources. “There’s hardwood forest to the east, tallgrass prairies to the west, and an amazing network of physical and geologic structures that are host to biodiversity of global significance.”
6 Human Activities That Pose The Biggest Threat To The World’s Drinking Water
By Natasha Geiling
Clean, drinkable water is more than a precious resource — it’s crucial to human life. Unfortunately, population growth and pollution are threatening to seriously undermine the availability of clean drinking water in many of the world’s major cities. According to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, water treatment costs have risen by 50 percent in a third of large cities around the world.
LABOR, TRADE, & ECONOMY
The Geography of the World's Billionaires
By Richard Florida
A new report that Richard Florida co-authored with his Martin Prosperity Institute colleague Charlotta Mellander sets out to map this global geography of the super-rich. To do so, they used detailed data from Forbes on the more than 1,800 billionaires across the globe, whose combined wealth exceeded $7 trillion in 2015.
The American Dream Is on the Ropes
By Steve Glickman and John Lettieri
The Daily Beast
The United States has long been characterized as a land of opportunity—a place where hard work and ingenuity allow a person to rise, a place where merit trumps birth status. But Americans are increasingly skeptical that life will be better for the next generation—and with good reason. Recent research suggests the US is a country in which destiny is too often determined by zip code. For example, research by Harvard economist Raj Chetty shows that in many areas of the Midwest and South, less than 5 percent of children will move from the bottom to the top of the socioeconomic ladder.
How Exhaustion Became a Status Symbol
By Hannah Rosefield
The New Republic
Exhaustion is a vague and forgiving concept. Celebrities say they’re suffering from it when they go to rehab and don’t want to admit to depression or addiction. You can attribute your low mood or your short temper to exhaustion, and it can mean anything from “had a couple of bad nights’ sleep” to “about to have a nervous breakdown.” It also seems like a peculiarly modern affliction. Relentless email, chattering social media, never-ending images of violence and suffering in the news, the lingering effects of the financial crisis, and looming environmental catastrophe: Who’s going to blame you if you confess to having had enough of it all?
GLOBAL CONFLICT & DEVELOPMENT
There’s No Business Like The Arms Business
By William Hartung
The Huffington Post
When American firms dominate a global market worth more than $70 billion a year, you’d expect to hear about it. Not so with the global arms trade. It’s good for one or two stories a year in the mainstream media, usually when the annual statistics on the state of the business come out. It’s not that no one writes about aspects of the arms trade. There are occasional pieces that, for example, take note of the impact of US weapons transfers, including cluster bombs, to Saudi Arabia, or of the disastrous dispensation of weaponry to US allies in Syria, or of foreign sales of the costly, controversial F-35 combat aircraft. And once in a while, if a foreign leader meets with the president, U.S. arms sales to his or her country might generate an article or two. But the sheer size of the American arms trade, the politics that drive it, the companies that profit from it, and its devastating global impacts are rarely discussed, much less analyzed in any depth.
From killing machines to agents of hope: the future of drones in Africa
By Zoe Flood
Some are killing machines. Others are pesky passions of the weekend hobbyist. As such, drones have not always been welcomed in our skies. Across Africa, however, projects are being launched that could revolutionize medical supply chains and commercial deliveries, combat poaching and provide other solutions for an overburdened, underdeveloped continent. In Rwanda, as in many other African countries, the rainy season makes already difficult roads between smaller towns and villages all but impassable. Battered trucks struggle through the mud, and in some cases even more agile motorbikes and foot traffic are unable get through. Enter Zipline, a California-based robotics company which has designed a fixed-wing drone to deliver medical essentials to rural health facilities. The “zip” – with a two-metre wingspan – releases a small, parachute-equipped payload that drifts down into a dropzone without the zip having to land.
Confronting corruption: can Guadalajara become a model for transparency?
By Duncan Tucker
Having grown all too accustomed to paying the price for corruption, residents of Guadalajara, Mexico’s second biggest metropolis, have begun to push back against this pervasive culture, with political newcomers, civil society and even local technology firms putting forward fresh ideas to create a more transparently run city.
Why Democrats and Republicans Need to Talk About Affordable Housing
By Kriston Capps
Affordable housing may not get much more play at the Democratic National Convention, which opened Monday in Philadelphia, than it did in Cleveland at the Republican National Convention. No doubt, US Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro would have made housing a big deal, but the White House banned members of the cabinet from addressing the DNC. So, no dice. Certainly, Senator Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton’s pick for vice president, could talk about his time as an attorney for Housing Opportunities Made Equal, where he represented African-American renters who were discriminated against based on their race.
Freddie Gray died in Baltimore police custody. The justice system will punish no one for it.
By German Lopez
More than a year ago, Baltimore police officers arrested Freddie Gray, put him in a van while he was cuffed but without a seat belt, and let him thrash around the back of the vehicle until he broke his spine — an injury that would later kill him. On Wednesday, it became clear that the criminal justice system will punish no one for Gray’s death: Prosecutors announced that they will drop all remaining charges against the six police officers involved, after three of the officers were acquitted of all charges in court.
Teachers say virtual reality would boost engagement
By Laura Devaney
A large majority of K-12 teachers said they would like to integrate virtual reality in their classrooms, but just 2 percent of teachers have actually done so, according to a survey. Sixty percent of surveyed teachers said they would like virtual reality to become a part of their students’ learning experience, according to the study from Samsung Electronics America, Inc. and GfK. The study was released at ISTE 2016 in late June.