Home Technology Tackling our greatest issues | MIT Know-how Evaluate

Tackling our greatest issues | MIT Know-how Evaluate

Tackling our greatest issues | MIT Know-how Evaluate


We’ve got employed it to broadcast hateful rhetoric and divisive ideologies. We’ve got fine-tuned our machines to kill one another in ever higher numbers and with ever extra effectivity. It’s our expertise that took the carbon from out of the bottom and put it within the sky. Our expertise that poisoned the water and the air, that made deserts out of forests, and that wiped total species off the planet. 

Know-how is an engine for issues, for fixing them and for creating totally new ones—after which we perversely flip to even newer applied sciences to attempt to clear up these. On this subject, we step again from this cycle. We discover large questions and exhausting issues and ask: What position can—and may—expertise play going ahead?

Our cowl is impressed by Douglas Fundamental’s terrifying story on plastics. There’s an adage that claims every bit of plastic ever made nonetheless exists. Whereas that isn’t totally true, as Fundamental vividly describes, it’s fairly darn shut. We’re not decreasing how a lot is made—exactly the alternative. Reuse is negligible. Recycling isn’t working. In the meantime, plastic is completely all over the place, and in completely every thing, together with our personal our bodies. What are we going to do about it? 

AI epitomizes the typically fraught relationship we’ve got with expertise. It has the potential to massively profit society—and but it may trigger incalculable hurt if we get it flawed. As its growth races forward, Grace Huckins has written a robust, even poetic exploration of AI consciousness. What wouldn’t it take, and what wouldn’t it imply, for an AI to turn out to be aware? How would we all know? What would we owe it? 

David W. Brown takes on the problem of spacecraft design and the wrestle to make smaller, cheaper missions that may nonetheless inform us significant new issues concerning the photo voltaic system. If we’re going to benefit from the assets we commit to area exploration, we’ll should grapple with the exhausting limits of physics—and suppose exhausting about what we will, and need to, do.

A few of our hardest issues come right down to human nature, and our capability and typically outright need for battle. Social media and on-line communications are awful with trolling, disinformation, harassment, and hate speech. Katie Notopoulos argues that the answer for a lot of that is to finish our fixation with free companies and transfer to smaller, distributed platforms that put extra energy in customers’ arms. 

One exhausting downside most of us have doubtless confronted is the expertise of interacting with authorities companies on-line. A decade after the famously botched launch of Healthcare.gov, Tate Ryan-Mosley explores why it’s nonetheless so exhausting for the federal government to get tech proper. Her reporting takes us to New York Metropolis, which has had some method of success—partly by going with the bottom tech doable. 

And at last, we requested a few of the smartest minds on the market what they take into account the largest issues that aren’t getting sufficient consideration proper now. You’ll discover their responses, and plenty of extra on-line at techreview.com/hardproblems.



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