Several readers have written asking me to comment on recent news reports that companies continue to be concerned about their Y2K preparations, along with the Central Intelligence Agency's recent appearance before the Senate Y2K committee. Here's the reply: Starting with the CIA, the performance by Lawrence K. Gershwin, national intelligence officer for science and technology at the CIA, was predictably subdued. Face it, folks, the CIA is not particularly clued about things - it's a political tool, not the international equivalent of the Census Bureau. So, while the Agency has some information about Y2K, it is probably no more qualified to comment on the situation in many parts of the world than you or me. Of course, I comment on the global situation all the time, so the CIA's certainly entitled to, as well, and to be listened to. The CIA maintains that, "Where effective prevention action has been taken in advance of 1 January, disruptions will likely be random, temporary, and of … [Read more...] about The spooks and the news
Russian auto accidents
On May 25, 1961, three weeks after the U.S. sent its first astronaut, Alan Shepard, on a successful suborbital flight, President Kennedy urged the nation and Congress to get behind his challenge of putting a man on the moon and successfully returning him to Earth by the end of the decade. At the time, the U.S. was lagging behind the Russian space program and deeply embroiled in the Cold War. The rest is history. In light of Kennedy's proposal, we invite you to take this challenge in his words (1962), "not because it's easy but because it is hard." We've also added a couple of questions about today's space race. Instructions: Click on your answer and then see how many others agree with you. Then click to see the answer and the next question. [poll id="226"] The correct answer is... » 1. Apollo 11's biggest scare on its decent to the lunar surface was the 1201 and 1202 alarms for the Guidance System computer that kept going off. What did this mean? A. The computer was … [Read more...] about Quiz: Landing on the moon
This is the question that keeps me up at night after seeing the news of Russian influence through social media, and the rapid rise of road deaths due to smartphone use. I wonder if the executives in these firms understand not only that dead customers don't generate revenue, but also that some of the victims could end up being their own kids, spouses or parents.I'm also convinced that they haven't grasped the fact that hostile foreign influence or distracted drivers could shorten their own life expectancies dramatically. The likelihood that these problems soon could pose an existential risk to humanity is what I'd like to explore this week.I'll close with my product of the week: the just released Xbox One X, the game console to rule them all. When I first saw the iPhone, I was appalled and, frankly, frightened. Until then, screen phones hadn't been popular at all. They were more difficult to type on than phones with keyboards, and that had kept most users from picking them up.My … [Read more...] about OPINION Why Are Tech Companies Trying to Kill Us?
Did you hear? Britney Spears had a fatal run-in with a pretzel, a guy named Homosexual ran in the Olympic 100-meter dash, and President Obama attended a Muslim academy.What--You missed that news? Well, that might be because all those stories are untrue. But that didn't stop them from appearing on the Web, and in some cases, on reputable and popular sites.Nobody's perfect, of course. But on the Web, imperfection can come at a high price: false news reports can torpedo a stock, harm someone's reputation, or reduce fans of a supposedly dead celebrity to tears. As news publishing systems become more automated, they're easy prey for hackers, hoaxers, and half-assed algorithms. Or they can be done in by human error, magnified a million times by the viral nature of the Net."Once something is online and people start finding it, it's just a matter of time before it starts spreading through links, blogs, Twitter, e-mail, or IM," says Craig Silverman, editor of Regret The Error, which tracks … [Read more...] about Britney Spears Killed By Pretzel? What Happens When the Web Gets it Wrong?