How Many Water Bottles Could a Filling Station Save?

How Many Water Bottles Could a Filling Station Save?

Filling a water bottle at a public fountain is a pain. It never fits, so you have to tilt your bottle sideways—which makes it even harder to get the water into the narrow mouth. But there are new fixtures that solve this problem; you might have seen them in office buildings or airports. Along with…

Conversational AI Can Propel Social Stereotypes

Conversational AI Can Propel Social Stereotypes

Alexa, Siri, Watson, and their talking AI siblings serve to make our lives easier, but they also reinforce gender stereotypes. Polite, subservient digital secretaries like Alexa and Siri are presented as female. Assertive, all-knowing Jeopardy! champion Watson is most often referred to as “he.” New generations of AI are coming that will make this problem…

Get Ready for More Phones With No Buttons

Get Ready for More Phones With No Buttons

First, they came for headphone jacks. Buttons are next.Last week at CES 2020, two companies showed off prototype smartphone designs with no physical buttons. Imagine it: a phone with no dedicated controls to change the volume or toggle the power. Yet if you tapped certain areas on the edges of the seamless screen, the phone…

The Mandalorian Is the Only Smart Soldier in the Star Wars Galaxy

The Mandalorian Is the Only Smart Soldier in the Star Wars Galaxy

After nine Star Wars movies, two Star Wars stories, and countless TV show episodes, The Mandalorian has finally given us something utterly priceless. No, not Baby Yoda—although, yes, I would die for that damn thing. I refer to the Mandalorian himself: a protagonist who finally understands military tactics.He’s an expert at cover and concealment. He…

Now It’s Really, Truly Time to Give Up Windows 7

Now It’s Really, Truly Time to Give Up Windows 7

Two days ago, I finally gave up Windows 7. I don’t dislike Windows 10, but there’s just always been something special about Windows 7. It was svelte. It actually ran faster and took up less hard drive space than its predecessor, the much-maligned Windows Vista. It looked great. We Windows users could finally hold our…

‘Uncanny Valley’ and the Meaninglessness of Writing About Tech

‘Uncanny Valley’ and the Meaninglessness of Writing About Tech

Throughout her career, Rebecca Solnit has been dogged by comparisons to Joan Didion. Never mind that the writers have peanuts in common beyond a geography—California—in which Didion didn’t even remain. As a woman writing semi-journalistic sentences of quality, Solnit is doomed to her Didion descent. (They all are. Virginia Heffernan, Anna Quindlen, Meghan Daum, Katie…