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Why is it so hard to review the Johnson & Johnson vaccine? Data.

The future of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson covid vaccine remains in limbo after an advisory panel recommended taking a deeper look into reports of rare—and sometimes fatal—side effects. The US Centers for Disease Control and the Federal Drug Administration advised suspension of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Tuesday, after reports that six people who had received a dose...


WEDNESDAY 14. APRIL 2021


Podcast: What’s AI doing in your wallet?

Our entire financial system is built on trust. We can exchange otherwise worthless paper bills for fresh groceries, or swipe a piece of plastic for new clothes. But this trust—typically in a central-government-backed bank—is changing. As our financial lives are rapidly digitized, the resulting data turns into fodder for AI. Companies like Apple, Facebook, and…

The new lawsuit that shows facial recognition is officially a civil rights issue

On January 9, 2020, Detroit police drove to the suburb of Farmington Hill and arrested Robert Williams in his driveway while his wife and young daughters looked on. Williams, a Black man, was accused of stealing watches from a luxury store. He was held overnight in jail. During questioning, an officer showed Williams a picture of a suspect. His response, he told MIT Technology Review last year,...


TUESDAY 13. APRIL 2021


The US says not to give Johnson & Johnson vaccines after a woman died from a rare blood clot

The US took the dramatic step of recommending that health-care providers stop giving people the Johnson & Johnson vaccine against covid-19 after six women who received it developed serious blood clots and one died. The US Food and Drug Administration described its action as a temporary halt to give regulators time to understand the apparent side effect. “We are recommending a pause in the...


MONDAY 12. APRIL 2021


New business models, big opportunity: Retail

Now is a tough time to be a retailer. Even before the 2020 coronavirus pandemic brought rapid changes to the market, many traditional brick-and-mortar businesses were struggling. For example, from 2011 to 2020, the number of US department stores shrank from 8,600 to just over 6,000. The global crisis only amplified retail challenges. Since March 2020, at least 347 US companies cited the...

New business models, big opportunity: Tech/manufacturing

The 2020 coronavirus pandemic upended the way companies do business. Some are coping better than others—but largely, businesses are optimistic about 2021. That’s especially so for tech-forward organizations in two different industries—technology and manufacturing— that are planning major business initiatives to move beyond crisis response and thrive in a transformed corporate landscape....

US covid contract details are a “trade secret”—according to the contractors

As the US government pumps billions of dollars into projects aimed at curbing the pandemic, from vaccine development to genomic sequencing, officials claim they are being transparent about how money is being spent. But government contractors have a lot of leeway to hide things, as shown by a recent records request filed by MIT Technology Review. After reporting on the struggles of the US’s...

NASA’s next lunar rover will run open-source software

In 2023, NASA will launch VIPER (Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover), which that will trek across the surface of the moon and hunt for water ice that could one day be used to make rocket fuel. The rover will be armed with the best instruments and tools that NASA can come up with: wheels that can spin properly on lunar soil, a drill that’s able to dig into extraterrestrial...


FRIDAY 9. APRIL 2021


Facebook’s ad algorithms are still excluding women from seeing jobs

Facebook is withholding certain job ads from women because of their gender, according to the latest audit of its ad service. The audit, conducted by independent researchers at the University of Southern California (USC), reveals that Facebook’s ad-delivery system shows different job ads to women and men even though the jobs require the same qualifications. This is considered sex-based...

The NYPD used a controversial facial recognition tool. Here’s what you need to know.

It’s been a busy week for Clearview AI, the controversial facial recognition company that uses 3 billion photos scraped from the web to power a search engine for faces. On April 6, Buzzfeed News published a database of over 1,800 entities—including state and local police and other taxpayer-funded agencies such as healthcare systems and public schools—that it says have used the company’s...


THURSDAY 8. APRIL 2021


Forget Boston Dynamics. This robot taught itself to walk

A pair of robot legs called Cassie has been taught to walk using reinforcement learning, the training technique that teaches AIs complex behavior via trial and error. It’s the first time reinforcement learning has been used to teach a two-legged robot how to walk from scratch, including the ability to walk in a crouch and while carrying an unexpected load. But can it boogie?...

Preparing for AI-enabled cyberattacks

Cyberattacks continue to grow in prevalence and sophistication. With the ability to disrupt business operations, wipe out critical data, and cause reputational damage, they pose an existential threat to businesses, critical services, and infrastructure. Today’s new wave of attacks is outsmarting and outpacing humans, and even starting to incorporate artificial intelligence (AI). What’s known...

You don’t get an invite to these weddings unless you’re vaccinated or have a negative covid test

On March 20, Kyle Niemer and Mallory Raven-Ellen Backstrom had the wedding of their dreams: intimate (around 40 guests), in a spacious venue with a dance floor, great food — and PCR tests on demand to check unvaccinated guests, administered by a doctor and nurse in the bridal party. For two weeks, the couple was on edge. Niemer said he had “CNN dreams, where we were that wedding party with...


WEDNESDAY 7. APRIL 2021


What you need to know about the Facebook data leak

The news: The personal data of 533 million Facebook users in more than 106 countries was found to be freely available online last weekend. The data trove, uncovered by security researcher Alon Gal, includes phone numbers, email addresses, hometowns, full names, and birth dates. Initially, Facebook claimed that the data leak was previously reported on in 2019 and that it had patched the...


TUESDAY 6. APRIL 2021


The future of work is uniquely human

The disruptive shifts of 2020, including covid-19 shutdowns that led to millions of workers working remotely, forced organizations to radically rethink everything from worker well-being, business models and operations to investments in cloud-based collaboration and communication tools. Across every industry, last year’s best-laid plans were turned upside down. So it’s not surprising that...


MONDAY 5. APRIL 2021


The CDC’s $1.75 billion sequencing boom may be throwing money at the wrong problem

Shortly after President Biden was inaugurated, the man who was being given command of his coronavirus response had a message about what America needed to do. “We’re 43rd in the world in genomic sequencing,” said Jeff Zients at a press conference in January. “Totally unacceptable.” The answer, he suggested, was to “do the appropriate amount…


FRIDAY 2. APRIL 2021


How has the US pandemic response increased inequality? Look at New York’s nail salons.

Even when covid-19 forced nail salons in New York to close, Araceli continued to work. A nail technician for over a decade, she now found herself making house calls to clients, entering their homes to manicure their nails as the pandemic raged. It was spring of 2020: vaccines had not yet been approved, but she needed the income—even though she knew that without health insurance, the hospital...

Podcast: In the AI of the Beholder

Ideas about what constitutes “beauty” are complex, subjective, and by no means limited to physical appearances. Elusive though it is, everyone wants more of it. That means big business and increasingly, people harnessing algorithms to create their ideal selves in the digital and, sometimes, physical worlds. In this episode, we explore the popularity of beauty…


THURSDAY 1. APRIL 2021


Error-riddled data sets are warping our sense of how good AI really is

The 10 most cited AI data sets are riddled with label errors, according to a new study out of MIT, and it’s distorting our understanding of the field’s progress. Data backbone: Data sets are the backbone of AI research, but some are more critical than others. There are a core set of them that researchers use to evaluate machine-learning models as a way to track how AI capabilities are...