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You're Using Neural Networks Every Day Online—Here's How They Work

If you use Google’s new Photos app, Microsoft’s Cortana, or Skype’s new translation function, you’re using a form of AI on a daily basis. AI was first dreamed up in the 1950s, but has only recently become a practical reality — all thanks to software systems called neural networks. This is how they work. » 7/13/15 2:00pm 7/13/15 2:00pm

Will the Confederate Flag Ever Truly Go Away?

Before he shot nine black Americans at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, 21-year-old Dylann Roof posed for photos holding a symbol of racial hatred. The same symbol that’s worn on t-shirts, wrapped around beer coozies, intertwined with American pop culture. Even if the flag is removed from South Carolina’s… » 6/22/15 4:45pm 6/22/15 4:45pm

The De-Extincting Science in Jurassic World Is Right Around the Corner

Twenty five years ago, Michael Crichton captured our imaginations with the crazy idea that scientists might one day resurrect dinosaurs. But on the eve of Jurassic World’s release a quarter century later, the prospect of bringing back extinct creatures is looking a lot less science fictional. » 6/10/15 3:20pm 6/10/15 3:20pm

How to Take Better Photos Using Your Camera's Mode Dial

Switching your camera out of Auto mode can be daunting, but it’s the only path toward taking control of how your photos look. Of course, it helps to know what things like f-stop and shutter speed do, but just as important are the various modes that appear on almost every camera’s dial. We made this handy video… » 5/29/15 10:40am 5/29/15 10:40am

The Latest Big Cable Consolidation Will Screw Consumers and Startups

America woke up to some frustrating news today. Charter, the fourth-largest cable company in America, wants to buy Time Warner Cable, the second-largest, as well as Bright House, the tenth-largest. If the deal goes through it’s going to affect come 23 million internet customers directly. Not in a good way.
» 5/26/15 4:30pm 5/26/15 4:30pm

What Happens Behind the Scenes When You Buy Things with Your Phone

You’ve decided to buy a new pair of shoes, and you’re going to pay for them by tapping your smartphone against the checkout stand. It’s just like using your credit card — except that it isn’t. Here’s what’s really happening to the money on your phone, when you spend it and when you are just carrying it around. » 5/20/15 4:45pm 5/20/15 4:45pm

How Viruses Hide Inside Your Eyeballs, Even When You're No Longer Sick

Last week brought the horrifying news that the Ebola virus can live in the eyeballs of survivors, even after it’s been eliminated from the rest of the body. It shouldn’t have been a surprise, though. Viruses have always hidden in parts of our bodies you’d never expect. In fact, we’re all walking virus reservoirs.
» 5/13/15 11:26am 5/13/15 11:26am

How to Use Robots.txt to Hide Your Dumb Blog

Completely deleting something from the internet is like corralling drunk, feral geese after setting them loose: Damn near impossible. But there are ways to conceal the web content you don’t want anyone to lay eyes on. You can hide all sorts of webpages with what’s essentially a “Keep Out” sign for search engines: a… » 4/29/15 12:30pm 4/29/15 12:30pm

What's the Blockchain, and Why Does Bitcoin Depend On It?

It’s going to unshackle us from the oppressive dungeon of fiat currency! But also criminals and rogue cops use it to do nefarious drug stuff! Digital currency is often defined by its volatile hype cycle. And yet its most promising feature is incredibly mundane-sounding: a bookkeeping system called “the blockchain.” » 4/15/15 4:44pm 4/15/15 4:44pm