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March 13th, 2019 by: Jillian Foley

Regulating Contested Reality: The Failure of US Encryption Regulations

Technology regulations, at their core, are based on an idea of what a technology does or what its uses are. Of course, these ideas and the resulting regulations are the product of negotiations, conflicts, and compromises between different people with different stakes. What happens to regulation when people can’t even agree on what the technology…

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March 13th, 2019 by: Annie Handmer

Wilderness or Open Space? Contextualising Environmental Concern in the Second Space Age

For millennia, anthropogenic creep has been slowly but surely transforming planet Earth from a living, breathing solar-system anomaly to a sort of mechanised, weaponised and plasticised cyborg. In this context the 500,000 trackable odds and ends that have been jettisoned, abandoned, detached, or lost by generations of space travellers are an orbital extension this process.[1]…

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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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