Hexbyte  Tech News  Wired 10 Women in Science and Tech Who Should Be Household Names

Hexbyte Tech News Wired 10 Women in Science and Tech Who Should Be Household Names

Hexbyte Tech News Wired

It’s International Women’s Day, a time to celebrate the achievements of women around the world and throughout history. But the day is also about recognizing the hardships women face and the continued urgency of the fight for gender equality.

That is true of WIRED’s world too—the world of technology and science, of media and innovation. Though this magazine was cofounded by a woman, and women have been key figures in every part of scientific and technological progress, men’s narratives still dominate. Men still hold more STEM jobs. Men make more of the money. Men’s issues are treated with more respect and funded at higher rates. Men have more power. To be a woman in science and tech and even media is often to be outnumbered, overlooked, undervalued, or harassed.

Even International Women’s Day itself is evidence of a lack of equality. If women were equal members of society, would they need their own special day, or month? This day, even in its celebration, is proof of a problem. And yet, women rise.

Today, in honor of International Women’s Day, we want to highlight just a few of the incredible women WIRED has written about over the years, whose work breaks boundaries, makes new worlds possible, and sets the stage for the future. These women are fighters, they are visionaries, they are tireless advocates for change, for progress, for hope. And you should know their names.

Margaret Hamilton – Mother of Software

“It might surprise today’s software makers that one of the founding fathers of their boys’ club was, in fact, a mother,” WIRED wrote in a 2015 profile of Margaret Hamilton. Hamilton was working as a coder at MIT in 1960, planning to apply to graduate schools to get a PhD in math. But before she could pursue that dream, she wound up changing the world. The Apollo space program began, and Hamilton would lead the team at MIT in charge of onboard flight software on the Apollo computers. She did all this with only an undergraduate degree and while raising a toddler. Her work at the time was not only groundbreaking but radical in that it was coming from a woman. Hamilton was the ultimate outlier. Without her, the modern computing era would not be what it is today.

Fei-Fei Li – Artificial Intelligence Researcher

Artificial intelligence has a problem: The biases of its creators are getting hard-coded into its future. Fei-Fei Li has a plan to fix that—by rebooting the field she helped invent.

Christie Hemm Klok

Stanford computer science professor Fei-Fei Li works at the forefront of artificial intelligence. As codirector of the Stanford Human Centered AI Institute, she and her team are trying to imbue artificially intelligent algorithms with human sensitivity. This is the kind of technical work that has an invisible impact on almost all walks of life. Algorithms and other forms of AI are increasingly determining our world; they decide everything from who gets out of prison to what medication patients should take to who gets hired for which job to where your child goes to school. As such, algorithmic bias—that is, human bias that gets transferred, often unintentionally, into algorithmic systems—can undermine social progress and further stratify society. In a field with a documented lack of gender balance, Li is working to obliterate such bias, to ensure that when the computers are making decisions, they are being fair.

Jewel Burks – Entrepreneur

Jewel Burks works every day to try to make the tech industry more diverse and accessible, but first and foremost she’s an entrepreneur.

Michelle Groskopf

Jewel Burks works every day to try to make the tech industry more diverse and accessible to all people, of every gender, race, nationality, age, and socio-economic level. But Burks is a maker, first and foremost. WIRED featured her in our 25th anniversary issue as someone who will “shake up the next 25 years” of tech. She was nominated by Reddit and Initialized Capital cofounder Alexis Ohanian, who first met Burks when she launched a cutting-edge computer vision app called Partpic. Partpic lets you use a smartphone to snap a picture of a mechanical part you need to replace, and then it helps you order those parts. Though Burks had no background in computer vision, she recognized there was a need for such an app and taught herself how to build it. Partpic went on to raise more than $2 million in venture capital—especially notable given that women, and especially women of color, often face difficulty getting funded. Burks then sold the company to Amazon, where its technology is used to power replacement-part searches in Amazon’s shopping app. Burks now leads a team inside Amazon and advocates for racial and gender inclusion in her industry.

Donna Strickland – Physicist

Donna Strickland might just have the coolest job in the world. She plays with lasers for a living. Her specialty is getting lasers to pulse so brightly for a fraction of a second that they “contain more power than the entire US electricity grid,” according to WIRED’s profile of her work last year. Why were we profiling her in 2018? Oh yeah, because she won the Nobel Prize in Physics for her contributions to the field. She was the first woman to win the prize in physics in 55 years. “Obviously, we need to celebrate women physicists, because we’re out there,” Strickland said when she won.

Elizebeth Smith Friedman – Code Breaker

Elizebeth Friedman was one of the founders of modern cryptography, the information-security methodology that underpins everything from cybersecurity to digital surveillance. During World War II, she and her husband worked as code breakers, spying on the Nazis and helping the Allied forces win the war. Daily they intercepted and decoded messages about what the enemy was up to, arduous and technical work that resulted in the arrest of Nazi spies. For years, her husband was hailed as the sole creator of cryptanalysis, the field they pioneered together. Now she is finally getting her due, thanks in part to a 2017 biography by former WIRED writer Jason Fagone titled The Woman Who Smashed Codes. You can read an excerpt of that book here.

Cohl Furey – Mathematical Physicist

Cohl Furey, a mathematical physicist at the University of Cambridge, is finding links between the standard model of particle physics and octonions, numbers whose multiplication rules are encoded in a triangular diagram called the Fano plane.

Susannah Ireland/Quanta Magazine

Cohl Furey’s work is so complex it’s difficult to describe, but her research has implications for the very building blocks of reality. Furey is obsessed with figuring out the mathemat­ical laws of nature. Her discoveries challenge the standard model of particle physics, revealing how octonions—eight-dimensional numbers with special properties—could be at the heart of how atoms hold together. Furey’s work builds on decades of research and seems to confirm widely held suspicions in the field about the relationship between pure math and physics. Now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Cambridge, Furey could change our under­standing of how the world works.

Jennifer Doudna – Molecular Biologist

You’ve heard about gene editing and the magic “Swiss Army knife for genes” that is Crispr technology. Crispr ushered in a new era for biological sciences, driving a renewed interest in gene therapies for disease, raising the risk of “designer babies,” creating new ways to store information in DNA, and even making crazy-sounding notions like resurrecting the woolly mammoth to fight climate change maybe sort of possible. And it was cocreated by two women: UC Berkeley professor Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier, director of the Max Planck Institute in Berlin, who published their work on bacteria in 2012. (The question of who owns the patents to Crispr technology has been the subject of an intense legal battle with scientists at the Broad Institute, who six months later published work using the technique in human cells for the first time. Last fall, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled in favor of the Broad Institute.) Doudna, a WIRED 25 icon, has gone on to be a leading voice for caution in the field, urging scientists to think through the ethics of what Crispr enables before following the science wherever it could lead.

Bonus: Jiwoo Lee, a Stanford sophomore who’s studying not just the science of Crispr but also the social and ethical quandaries it raises. For WIRED’s 25th anniversary issue, Doudna highlighted Lee’s work, calling her a “Crispr wunderkind.”

Susan Fowler – Writer and Former Engineer

Susan Fowler’s most famous contribution to technology happened when she left the industry. She’d been working as a programmer at Uber, but after facing discrimination and sexual harassment, which the company dismissed, she quit her job and in 2017 published a blog post detailing her experience. That post sparked a national conversation about how women are treated in the tech industry. And it took guts. In the wake of her post, more women came forward with stories of harassment in the tech world. Uber hired former US attorney general Eric Holder to review its policies and culture; shortly after Holder’s recommendations were released, Uber’s CEO resigned. While many tech companies, including Uber, have updated their harassment policies, the changes come too late for some women. Fowler now works as a writer at The New York Times.

Betty Holberton, and the women who programmed the first true computer

The Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer didn’t look anything like computers of today. It weighed 27 tons and comprised 1,800 vacuum tubes and diodes. But ENIAC was the world’s first computer, and it was conceived as a way to help the war effort during World War II. Since most men were overseas fighting, a team of six women ran ENIAC: Betty Holberton, Kay Mauchley Antonelli, Marlyn Meltzer, Ruth Teitelbaum, Jean Bartik, and Frances Spence. They continued to work on it as the Cold War raged, using its computing power to help design a thermonuclear warhead. Holberton went on to codevelop one of the earliest programming languages, without which the internet and modern digital computing would not be possible. But the contributions of these six programmers went largely unrecognized for decades, until a Harvard student researching women in computing rediscovered them in 1986.

Holberton’s work, ENIAC, and other women whose contributions shaped the internet age are highlighted in the book Broad Band, whose author, Claire L. Evans, WIRED interviewed last year.


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Hexbyte  Tech News  Wired The Dutch Science Park Unlocking the Secrets of the Universe

Hexbyte Tech News Wired The Dutch Science Park Unlocking the Secrets of the Universe

Hexbyte Tech News Wired

Gazillions of invisible subatomic particles called neutrinos hurtle toward Earth each second. Most pass straight through, but some collide with water molecules, producing extremely faint blue light known as Cherenkov radiation.

To detect it, the Dutch National Institute for Subatomic Physics developed a 17-inch glass ball, which physicist Paul de Jong calls an “insect eye.”
It contains 31 photomultiplier tubes that amplify the signals of electrons released by photons, helping scientists reconstruct the direction of the original particle that produced the light—illuminating not only neutrinos, but also black holes, supernova, and other mysteries of space.

That’s the sort of thing that thoroughly excites science geek Jos Jansen, whose new book Universe: Facts in the Post-Truth Era documents the neutrino detectors, along with dozens other ambitious projects being carried out at Amsterdam Science Park in the Netherlands. Covering 175 acres on the Dutch capital’s northeast edge, the park hosts 15 research institutes and 150 companies, from Centrum Wiskunde and Informatic, the computer science institute that birthed Python, to AMOLF, which recently figured out how to turn sea urchins into semi-conductors.

Jansen’s book—which includes found imagery like data visualizations and computer simulations—takes you inside their labs, offering a fascinating glimpse of research into genetic engineering, cryptology, and particle physics that often hard to visualize.

“Scientific research is becoming more and more complex, and increasingly characterized by abstraction and scale,” Jansen says. “While working on my project, I realized that I was journeying from the very smallest elementary particles to immeasurably vast galaxies, and from algorithms in nature to algorithms performed by computers. Photographically, I could hardly imagine a bigger challenge.”


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Hexbyte  Tech News  Wired The Science of Growing a Perfect Christmas Tree

Hexbyte Tech News Wired The Science of Growing a Perfect Christmas Tree

Hexbyte Tech News Wired

Every winter, millions of Americans descend on farms and lots across the country with the express purpose of inspecting, and ultimately choosing from, their local selection of coniferous evergreen trees. I’m talking, of course, about Christmas tree shopping—the widely practiced pastime of publicly scrutinizing spruces, pines, and firs in search of the ideal yuletide centerpiece.

Many people are practiced at picking the perfect tree. They’ll judge on things like color, size, shape, needle quality, and bushiness. But behind the annual selection of a coniferous house guest—some 30 million of them a year, in the US—is a ton of science.

To Bert Cregg, identifying exactly what makes a tree perfect is more than a holiday tradition, it’s a major part of his job. He’s a forest researcher at Michigan State University and a renowned expert on Christmas tree production. His work covers two main areas: genetics and culture techniques. “Basically, how can we identify species and seed sources that are going to lead to better Christmas trees, and how can growers manage their farms to produce better trees,” he says.

The research Cregg and his colleagues are conducting today will likely influence what type of Christmas tree you buy from your local lot a decade from now.

Consider Cregg’s cold-hardiness experiments, one of which he’s currently performing inside a chest freezer in the basement of MSU’s Plant and Soil Sciences Building. “We collect a bunch of shoots from the trees we want to study, stick them in the freezer, and program it to decrease 3 degrees Celsius every hour,” Cregg says. Every 60 minutes, he and his team retrieve some shoots—at minus 3, minus 6, minus 9, minus 12—until the freezer reaches minus 45 degrees Celsius, which is as cold as it goes. Then they incubate the samples.

A week later, they inspect the shoots to see which ones have begun to brown—a sign of damage—and at what temperature. The thinking goes that the colder a given species of tree can get before browning, the more resilient it will be in frigid climates. And the more resilient a tree is, the more likely it is to endure multiple winters and still come out looking living-room ready. “So, if we’re thinking of selecting a new species or seed source, we can screen [that species] rapidly, rather than waiting for that 1-in-20 winter to determine if a tree is hardy enough for a given location,” Cregg says.

Hardiness is but one of many coniferous characteristics Cregg studies in pursuit of increasingly perfect Christmas trees. There’s also size and color, for starters. Farmers see to both by fertilizing often; regular mulches keep trees verdant and growing at a rate of roughly one foot per year. But historically, growers overdid it. Old guidelines prescribed around 300 pounds of nitrogen fertilizer per acre—way more than the trees needed. Microbes in the soil would convert the excess nitrogen into nitrate, which would work its way past the tree’s roots, deep into the soil, and infiltrate the ground water. Cregg’s lab showed that farmers could reduce their fertilizer requirements by two-thirds if they applied it on a per-tree basis, according to the size, species, and age of their trees. The result was greener trees, less nitrogen runoff, and more money in farmers’ pockets.

There’s also things like needle retention—literally, how many needles stay stuck to the branch, and how many rain down on the presents underneath? Cregg and his colleagues assess this by plucking sprigs from a variety of fir species and displaying them in rows at a horticultural farm on campus. Once a week, a researcher will swing through, give each sprig a gentle tug along its length, and tally how many needles fall off. “We simply go through, give a pull, and we have a rating scale based on how many needles drop,” Cregg says. “We can display a Fraser fir for six weeks, and it won’t drop any needles. Noble fir, same thing. And that’s one reason people in the Northwest like noble firs.”

And then there are issues like coning, and how to deal with it. Coning as in pinecones, which, in this context, are a bad thing. “Anybody on the outside looking in would probably say: Why’s that an issue?” Cregg says. “I get it. It’s a little out there. But cones are probably the single biggest problem our growers face here in the Midwest.”

Take Fraser firs, for example. It’s the tree of choice for farmers in Michigan and North Carolina, the country’s third- and second-biggest growers of Christmas trees, respectively, behind Oregon. In nature, most firs don’t produce cones until they’re 15 years old, but on farms—most of which harvest trees no later than their tenth season—they’ll appear after only a few years. They bud in the spring and develop through the summer, robbing the trees of resources. (From an evolutionary perspective, reproduction comes first, so the trees sink their energy into producing cones.) But the cones don’t stick around. Come fall they disintegrate, showering the tree in unsightly fragments.

So in the springtime, growers pick the cones. By hand. It’s not difficult, exactly; if you time it right, a bud the size of your little finger will pop right off, with a twist. But it takes forever: An individual tree can carry hundreds of cones. On a big one you might pluck a thousand. With millions of firs growing across the US, and most of them experiencing some kind of coning, we’re talking about billions of cones.

Cregg thinks plant growth regulators, which nerf the cone-promoting hormone in firs, could help curb the problem. For the past few years, he’s been working to identify the ideal regulator, and how best to apply it. His latest approach isn’t perfect, he says, but it can reduce coning by about half. It also has the desirable side effect of keeping trees nice and dense. The main hangup: Applying growth regulators doesn’t yet make financial sense. “Biologically it works, but it’s not quite to the point of being cost effective,” Cregg says.

Perhaps the most ambitious Christmas tree science happening today is a multi-institutional endeavor called CoFirGE. Short for Collaborative Fir Germplasm Evaluation Project, CoFirGE is a nationwide effort whose goals include identifying new species of fir for Christmas trees. There are between 30 and 40 species of firs worldwide, a small handful of which are currently grown for the North American Christmas tree market. Two of today’s most popular trees—the Fraser and noble fir—both struggle with a condition called root rot. Caused by the water-mold genus Phytophthora, a tree stricken with it can die in a matter of days. It’s currently a huge problem in America’s biggest tree-growing states, but in Turkey, fir trees are resistant to root rot. So today, through the CoFirGE project, there are species of Turkish fir growing in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, North Carolina, Washington, and Oregon, to see how adaptable they are to US climates.

All things to keep in mind, the next time you find yourself wandering the rows of evergreens at your local lot. Remember: Long before you arrived to judge the local stock on things like color, shape, and freshness, scientists like Cregg were stashing firs in freezers and pulling at pine needles, all in pursuit of a more perfect Christmas tree.


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Hexbyte  Tech News  Wired Science Fun With Thanksgiving Leftovers: Rubber Bones!

Hexbyte Tech News Wired Science Fun With Thanksgiving Leftovers: Rubber Bones!

Hexbyte Tech News Wired

What you’ll need

  • Bones–drumsticks and wishbones are perfect
  • A bowl or jar that has a lid and is large enough to hold the bones
  • Enough vinegar to cover the bones

What to do

  1. Make sure the bones are clean. No meat. Leave them out for a day or so to dry out.
  2. Put the bones in the bowl or jar and cover them with vinegar. Put the lid on.
  3. Wait three days. Eat some leftover turkey. Bake some gingerbread cookies in the shape of your favorite starships. For an extra challenge, make them to scale, crossing series and using Jeff Russell’s starship dimensions for reference. (Then send me pictures!)
  4. Take the bones out and rinse them off.

Presto–Rubber bones! You can even tie them in knots and leave them out to dry that way. If they’re not flexible enough yet, put them back in the vinegar for a few more days. Thick bones will take longer than thin ones. My daughter’s teacher tells me she’s even repeated the process, using the same bones many times with her classes.

What happened?

Bones are hard because of calcium. As a lot of us now-moms learned in the 80s, that’s why they tell us to drink milk. (It does a body good.) Vinegar is acidic. It dissolves the calcium and phosphorus in the bone, making it flexible enough to bend.

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Hexbyte  Tech News  Wired The Mad Science of Fermentation’s Funky Flavors

Hexbyte Tech News Wired The Mad Science of Fermentation’s Funky Flavors

Hexbyte Tech News Wired

Hexbyte  Tech News  Wired

Janelle Jones; Styling Priscilla Jeong

Hexbyte  Tech News  Wired

Janelle Jones; Styling Priscilla Jeong

While some parts of the world—particularly Asia—have rich histories of using fermentation, more people across the US are making their own kimchi and sauerkraut, brewing kombucha in their kitchens, and working fermentation into their everyday cooking. In the recently published book The Noma Guide to Fermentation, from the famous Copenhagen restaurant, chef René Redzepi and Noma’s fermentation lab director, David Zilber, have created an indispensable manual for home cooks and pro chefs interested in exploring this growing trend.

Fermentation is the art of controlling bacteria, nurturing conditions that discourage bad bugs (think rot or even poison) while encouraging specific good ones that produce heady flavors and textures. Fermented foods are products of a happy, scientific trial-­and-error process. So how does it happen? Take sauerkraut: With little more than salt, cabbage, time, and temperature control, you can create the ideal conditions where friendly microbes—specifically lactic acid bacteria—can flourish. As they proliferate, they consume the sugars in the plant matter and produce flavorsome compounds, along with acids that keep harmful bacteria at bay. This particular process is known as lacto-fermentation, and along with sauerkraut it produces yogurt, sourdough bread, kimchi, and sour pickles.

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Hexbyte  Tech News  Wired Camp Fire: The Terrifying Science Behind California’s Massive Blaze

Hexbyte Tech News Wired Camp Fire: The Terrifying Science Behind California’s Massive Blaze

Hexbyte Tech News Wired

Hexbyte  Tech News  Wired

It used to be that fires destroyed exurbs or scattered enclaves. Now they plow through cities.

JOSH EDELSON/Getty Images

Hexbyte  Tech News  Wired

It used to be that fires destroyed exurbs or scattered enclaves. Now they plow through cities.

JOSH EDELSON/Getty Images

Editor’s note: This is a developing story about California’s Camp Fire, Hill Fire, and Woolsey Fire. We will update it as more information becomes available.

At 6:30 Thursday morning, a wildfire of astounding proportions and speed broke out in Northern California. Dubbed the Camp Fire, it covered 11 miles in its first 11 hours of life. A mile an hour might not seem fast in human terms, but it’s an extreme rate of speed as far as fires are concerned. At one point it was burning 80 acres a minute.

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Hexbyte  Tech News  Wired The House Science Committee May Soon Become… Pro-Science

Hexbyte Tech News Wired The House Science Committee May Soon Become… Pro-Science

Hexbyte Tech News Wired

Hexbyte  Tech News  Wired

Rep. Bill Foster, an Illinois Democrat and particle physicist, hopes that the House will finally start taking environmental science seriously.

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images

Hexbyte  Tech News  Wired

Rep. Bill Foster, an Illinois Democrat and particle physicist, hopes that the House will finally start taking environmental science seriously.

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images

For the past eight years, climate science has been under a sort of spell in the House of Representatives. Instead of trying to understand it better or even acknowledging some of the field’s current uncertainties, House Science Committee Chairman Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) used his position to harass federal climate scientists with subpoenas while holding hearings on “Making the EPA Great Again” or whether “global warming theories are alarmist” and researchers are pursuing a “personal agenda.”

But Smith retired this year and Democrats won control of the House on Tuesday. Now some on Capitol Hill say that the anti-climate science spell may be broken.

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Hexbyte  Tech News  Wired To Shake up Science, the Breakthrough Prizes Need More Than Money

Hexbyte Tech News Wired To Shake up Science, the Breakthrough Prizes Need More Than Money

Hexbyte Tech News Wired

Hexbyte  Tech News  Wired

Jocelyn Bell Burnell, who won a Breakthrough Prize for her work in physics, called for more diversity in her field.

Steve Jennings/Getty Images

Hexbyte  Tech News  Wired

Jocelyn Bell Burnell, who won a Breakthrough Prize for her work in physics, called for more diversity in her field.

Steve Jennings/Getty Images

The Breakthrough Prizes are unlike anything else in science. Instead of the hum of lab equipment, there’s Orlando Bloom. Instead of donning lab coats, the scientists find themselves marching down a red carpet in their black-tie best. And rather than receiving grants from NASA or the National Science Foundation, the researchers in attendance have come to collect their slice of $22 million in gifts from Silicon Valley millionaires Sergey Brin, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, Ma Huateng (better known as Pony Ma), Yuri and Julia Milner, and Anne Wojcicki.

Starting in 2012, these very rich people have made a bet that adding a red carpet to the largest scientific monetary prize in the world will inspire more people to go into basic research. At $3 million, each award is worth more than double the amount that accompanies a Nobel Prize. “In the top 300 celebrities, there is not one scientist. That’s what I want to change,” Yuri Milner, a venture capitalist and physicist, told WIRED. He cites media coverage of the event as evidence that the huge investment in science glorification is beginning to pay off.

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Hexbyte  Tech News  Wired Why Science Fiction Is the Most Important Genre

Hexbyte Tech News Wired Why Science Fiction Is the Most Important Genre

Hexbyte Tech News Wired

Yuval Noah Harari, author of the best-selling books Sapiens and Homo Deus, is a big fan of science fiction, and includes an entire chapter about it in his new book 21 Lessons for the 21st Century.

“Today science fiction is the most important artistic genre,” Harari says in Episode 325 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “It shapes the understanding of the public on things like artificial intelligence and biotechnology, which are likely to change our lives and society more than anything else in the coming decades.”

Because science fiction plays such a key role in shaping public opinion, he would like to see more science fiction that grapples with realistic issues like AI creating a permanent ‘useless class’ of workers. “If you want to raise public awareness of such issues, a good science fiction movie could be worth not one, but a hundred articles in Science or Nature, or even a hundred articles in the New York Times,” he says.

But he thinks that too much science fiction tends to focus on scenarios that are fanciful or outlandish.

“In most science fiction books and movies about artificial intelligence, the main plot revolves around the moment when the computer or the robot gains consciousness and starts having feelings,” he says. “And I think that this diverts the attention of the public from the really important and realistic problems, to things that are unlikely to happen anytime soon.”

AI and biotechnology may be two of the most critical issues facing humanity, but Harari notes that they’re barely a blip on the political radar. He believes that science fiction authors and filmmakers need to do everything they can to change that.

“Technology is certainly not destiny,” he says. “We can still take action and we can still regulate these technologies to prevent the worst-case scenarios, and to use these technologies mainly for good.”

Listen to the complete interview with Yuval Noah Harari in Episode 325 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.

Yuval Noah Harari on automation:

“It’s questionable how many times a human being can reinvent himself or herself during your lifetime—and your lifetime is likely to be longer, and your working years are also likely to be longer. So would you be able to reinvent yourself four, five, six times during your life? The psychological stress is immense. So I would like to see a science fiction movie that explores the rather mundane issue of somebody having to reinvent themselves, then at the end of the movie—just as they settle down into this new job, after a difficult transition period—somebody comes and announces, ‘Oh sorry, your new job has just been automated, you have to start from square one and reinvent yourself again.’”

Yuval Noah Harari on dystopias:

“The only question left open after you finish reading 1984 is How do we avoid getting there? But with Brave New World, it’s much, much more difficult. Everybody is satisfied and happy and pleased with everything that happens. There are no rebellions, no revolutions, there is no secret police, there is just free sex and rock and roll and drugs and whatever. And nonetheless you have this very uneasy feeling that something is wrong here, and it’s very difficult to put your finger on what’s wrong with a society in which you’ve hacked people in such a way that they’re satisfied all the time. … When it was published, it was obvious to everybody that this was a frightening dystopia, but today, more and more people read Brave New World as a straight-faced utopia. I think this shift is very interesting, and says a lot about the changes in our worldview over the last century.”

Yuval Noah Harari on immortality:

“What kind of relations between parents and children would we have when the parents know that they are not going to die someday and leave their children behind? If you live to be 200, and, ‘Yes, when I was 30 I had this kid, and he’s now 170, but that was 170 years ago, this was such a small part of my life.’ What kind of parent-offspring relations do you have in such a society? I think this is another wonderful idea for a science fiction movie—without robot rebellions, without some big apocalypse, without a tyrannical government—just a simple movie about the relationship between a mother and a son when the mother is 200 years old and the son is 170 years old.”

Yuval Noah Harari on technology:

“You could have envisioned 50 years ago that we would develop a huge market for organ transplants, with developing countries having these huge body farms in which millions of people are being raised in order to harvest their organs and then sold to rich people in more developed countries. Such a market could be worth hundreds of billions of dollars, and technologically it is completely feasible—there is absolutely no technical impediment to creating such a market, with these huge body farms. … So there are many of these science fiction scenarios which never materialize because society can take action to protect itself and regulate the dangerous technologies. And this is very important to remember as we look to the future.”

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    Hexbyte  Tech News  Wired The Science Behind Social Science Gets Shaken Up—Again

    Hexbyte Tech News Wired The Science Behind Social Science Gets Shaken Up—Again

    Hexbyte Tech News Wired

    Taking a lice-grade comb to press coverage of Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign can feel a little like relitigating, but in light of recent news about President Donald Trump, consider this article: “It Really Doesn’t Matter if Hillary Clinton Is Dishonest.” Published in the Washington Post just before the Iowa caucuses, it was one of many stories that took as stipulated the idea that voters saw Clinton as untrustworthy.

    In hindsight, the press had the wrong candidate’s honesty under the heat lamps. This WaPo story, though, goes even further, suggesting that perhaps presidents don’t need to be super-honest. Honesty might be an obstacle to effectiveness, a couple of experts tell the writer. One of them, a psychologist named David Rand, then at Yale, hearkens to his own team’s research showing that people see emotional, impulsive people as inherently more honest.

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