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March 12th, 2018 by: Kira Lussier

From the Intuitive Human to the Intuitive Computer

In an early scene of Her, Spike Jonze’s 2013 romantic science fiction film, the protagonist, Theodore, purchases a new operating system marketed as a revolution in personalized computing. After setting up the operating system, Theodore asks its surprisingly personable female voice (played by the unseen Scarlett Johansson): “what makes you work?” The operating system, who…

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March 12th, 2018 by: Colin Garvey

Broken Promises & Empty Threats: The Evolution of AI in the USA, 1956-1996

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is once again a promising technology. The last time this happened was in the 1980s, and before that, the late 1950s through the early 1960s. In between, commentators often described AI as having fallen into “Winter,” a period of decline, pessimism, and low funding. Understanding the field’s more than six decades of…

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December 4th, 2017 by: Marie Hicks

A Feature, Not a Bug

Until recently, the idea that Silicon Valley was a meritocracy seemed firmly enshrined in mainstream U.S. culture. Despite decades of research by sociologists, cultural anthropologists, and historians, popular press often focused on talent more than privilege to explain the successes of our new generation of Silicon Valley elites. Within the past year and a half,…

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December 4th, 2017 by: Kelly O'Donnell

“The whole idea might seem a little strange to you”: Selling the Menstrual Cup

In 1971, Carol Downer and Lorraine Rothman were handing out plastic specula for cervical self-exams and presenting their Del-Em menstrual extraction device as a radical menstrual alternative at the Feminist Women’s Health Center in Los Angeles.[1] Their story is often cited by historians as an example of women using new technological approaches and coming to…

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December 4th, 2017 by: Mario Bianchini

Women on the Right Track: Integrating Women into the Communist Technological Utopia

In 1950, the fledgling German Democratic Republic (GDR) held a small exhibition in Jena featuring a miniature town contained within a glass case, war torn Germany rebuilt in socialist splendor, train tracks its veins. So soon after the decimation of the war, this exhibition trumpeted the reconstruction of Germany under socialism. The miniature town attracted…

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