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Why blanket travel bans won’t work to stop omicron

Countries are slamming their borders shut again. Since the omicron variant was discovered in southern Africa and reported to the World Health Organization last week, more than 50 countries have imposed border controls, mostly targeting South Africa and Botswana, which reported the first cases, but also neighbouring countries in the region.  The aim was to stop omicron spreading, but these...


THURSDAY 2. DECEMBER 2021


The US crackdown on Chinese economic espionage is a mess. We have the data to show it.

A visiting researcher at UCLA accused of hiding his connection to China’s People’s Liberation Army. A hacker indicted for breaking into video game company servers in his spare time. A Harvard professor accused of lying to investigators about funding from China. And a man sentenced for organizing a turtle-smuggling ring between New York and Hong…

We built a database to understand the China Initiative. Then the government changed its records.

Since the US government launched the China Initiative in 2018, the main source of information about it has been press releases on the Department of Justice’s China Initiative webpage announcing arrests, charges, and indictments.  But the record is incomplete. Civil rights groups that have been concerned about the initiative from the start—especially its potential for…


WEDNESDAY 1. DECEMBER 2021


Renewables are set to soar

Construction of solar farms, wind turbines, and other sources of renewable power will soar over the next five years as nations set stricter climate policies and more ambitious emissions targets. New renewable electricity capacity will set another record this year, at 290 gigawatts, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency. That’s roughly equivalent to building nearly 300...

We won’t know how bad omicron is for another month

The discovery of the omicron variant of covid-19 in southern Africa shows how sequencing the genes of a virus can give an early alert to dangerous-looking changes in its genome. Omicron has more than 30 mutations, some of which have previously been seen in other variants and are thought to make viral transmission faster. Others are alarming because researchers have no idea what they mean. The...

The FDA has narrowly backed Merck’s covid pill—but it’s not that effective

The news: A US Food and Drug Administration panel has voted by 13 to 10 to recommend that the government authorize Merck’s antiviral pill for high-risk covid-19 patients. The drug, called molnupiravir, has been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death, although by less than previously thought. Initial results in October found it cut the risk of hospitalization or death by 50% when...


MONDAY 29. NOVEMBER 2021


We still don’t know enough about the omicron variant to panic

The news: Just five days ago, South African scientists informed the World Health Organization that they’d identified a new covid-19 variant. The situation has escalated rapidly since then. The variant, known as B.1.1.529, has already been found in many countries across the world. On Friday it was designated a variant of “concern” by the WHO, which opted to name it “omicron,” the 15th...


FRIDAY 26. NOVEMBER 2021


Can Afghanistan’s underground “sneakernet” survive the Taliban?

When Afghanistan fell to the Taliban in August, Mohammad Yasin had to make some difficult decisions very quickly. As the country reeled from the shock of the insurgent takeover, the 21-year-old—whose name has been changed to protect his safety—snuck into his small place of business and got to work.  He began erasing some of the sensitive data on his computer and moving the rest onto...


THURSDAY 25. NOVEMBER 2021



WEDNESDAY 24. NOVEMBER 2021


Machine learning improves Arabic speech transcription capabilities

Thanks to advancements in speech and natural language processing, there is hope that one day you may be able to ask your virtual assistant what the best salad ingredients are. Currently, it is possible to ask your home gadget to play music, or open on voice command, which is a feature already found in some many devices. If you speak Moroccan, Algerian, Egyptian, Sudanese, or any of the other...

How a new global carbon market could exaggerate climate progress

Nations are poised to begin building an international carbon market, after finally adopting the relevant rules at the UN climate conference in Glasgow earlier this month. Under the COP26 agreement, countries should soon be able to buy and sell UN-certified carbon credits from one another, and use them as a way to achieve greenhouse gas reduction pledges under the Paris climate agreement. But...


TUESDAY 23. NOVEMBER 2021


NSO was about to sell hacking tools to France. Now it’s in crisis.

In July, accusations emerged that spyware from NSO Group had targeted French president Emmanuel Macron, causing a major controversy. The company denied the claims—part of a string of allegations about use of the Israeli hacking group’s Pegasus software. Israel’s military officials, meanwhile, rushed to end a diplomatic crisis by meeting with their French counterparts and promising to...


MONDAY 22. NOVEMBER 2021



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FRIDAY 19. NOVEMBER 2021



THURSDAY 18. NOVEMBER 2021


Engineering the future of mobility

From cars to planes, the future of transportation is already here—and is changing rapidly. Software engineering is increasingly central to both the development and maintenance of all kinds of vehicles. That means more people need to start thinking like systems engineers. Dale Tutt, vice president of aerospace and defense industry for Siemens Software, says this…


WEDNESDAY 17. NOVEMBER 2021


The 35 Innovators Under 35 competition for 2022 is now open for nominations

Our 35 Innovators Under 35 competition for 2022 is now open for nominations. You can nominate great candidates from now until 10 p.m. EST on January 24, 2022. We’ve been publishing a list of young innovators for more than two decades now. The list always includes fascinating stories of young people working to employ technology to make the world a better place, but beyond that it’s a way for...

This new startup has built a record-breaking 256-qubit quantum computer

At long last, physicists from Harvard and MIT have found the killer application for quantum computing: a Mario Bros. GIF made from qubits. The qubits (quantum bits) can also be arranged in a Space Invaders design, or Tetris, or any other shape—your geometrical wish is the qubits’ command. The GIFs are from QuEra Computing, a Boston startup emerging from stealth, to show off the...


TUESDAY 16. NOVEMBER 2021


The Department of Defense is issuing AI ethics guidelines for tech contractors

In 2018, when Google employees found out about their company’s involvement in Project Maven, a controversial US military effort to develop AI to analyze surveillance video, they weren’t happy. Thousands protested. “We believe that Google should not be in the business of war,” they wrote in a letter to the company’s leadership. Around a dozen employees resigned. Google did not renew the...

The metaverse is the next venue for body dysmorphia online

In Facebook’s vision of the metaverse, we will all interact in a mashup of the digital and physical worlds. Digital representations of ourselves will eat, talk, date, shop, and more. That’s the picture Mark Zuckerberg painted as he rebranded his company Meta a couple of weeks ago. The Facebook founder’s typically awkward presentation used a cartoon avatar of himself doing things like...


MONDAY 15. NOVEMBER 2021


What Europe’s new covid surge means—and what it doesn’t

Germany’s coronavirus cases have reached their highest levels since the early days of the pandemic, with warnings that covid is “spreading dramatically” and requires a “quick and unified response”. At the same time, the Netherlands is imposing partial restrictions to control rising cases, including an 8pm curfew on stores and restaurants, and empty stadiums for professional sports....

Capitalizing on the data economy

Data is growing at a meteoric rate. In fact, the total amount of data generated by 2025 is set to accelerate exponentially to 175 zettabytes.1 And over the next two years, enterprise data is expected to increase at a 42% annual growth rate.  Hidden within these vast volumes of data are insights into consumer behavior, emerging market trends, even predictors of the future. For...