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Reddit’s /R/Technology Censorship Fiasco

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redditThis morning I went on Reddit to look for some breaking tech news. I was on a public computer, so I didn’t sign in — I just went to select “technology” from the default list of subreddits, but it wasn’t there. Sure, I could search for the subreddit, but at over 5,000,000 subscribers, why was the subreddit missing from the usual scroll? Then I learned about the controversy surrounding Reddit’s technology sub, which has resulted in its disappearance from the default subreddit list, as well as raising serious questions about Reddit’s credibility and policies.

It turns out that the technology subreddit has been heavily censored for months. An observant redditor figured this out by searching for terms that one would expect to find in the subreddit, such as “NSA” and “bitcoin.” There were no instances of those terms, which is impossible. Thus, the user, creq, developed a list of other words that were suspiciously absent. The list is mind-boggling — how could one expect to discuss technology without using terms such as “spying” or “net neutrality” or “FCC”?

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New Bionic Limbs Allow Patients To Feel

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bionic hand
Bionic limbs aren’t new. Neither are prosthetics and virtual limbs so advanced that patients can control them with their minds, even when the patient is a monkey. Scientists have now developed a bionic hand that not only gives an amputee the movement and functionality of a real appendage, but also allows the user to actually.

A team of researchers from Germany, Switzerland, and Italy published their research in Science Translational Medicine. The project focused largely around a single amputee—a Danish man named Dennis Aabo, who ten years ago lost his left hand in a fireworks accident. The team attached the bionic hand to Aabo’s arm, connecting four electrodes to the nerves in his upper arm. They weren’t really testing the hand itself, but rather, the software and mechanisms that facilitate communication with the brain and allow for sensory feedback.

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The Most Amazing Science Stories Of 2013

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genome_editing

Writing a round-up of best science stories of the year is a tall order—it’s kind of like writing a piece about the best and brightest stars in the sky. There are countless stories to choose from, and so many that are inarguably awesome. That in itself says something—if my biggest dilemma as a science writer is sifting through the innovations to find the biggest nuggets of gold, then that’s a pretty great problem.

I’m going to cheat a little. I’m allowed, right? I’ve narrowed it down to categories, with a few stories in each.

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iPotty Wins TOADY For Worst Toy Of The Year

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iPottyA well-intentioned organization called the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) is on a mission to “support parents’ efforts to raise healthy families by limiting commercial access to children and ending the exploitive practice of child-targeted marketing.” The CCFC strives to keep childhood and parenthood free (as much as possible) from corporate interests. While that’s a laudable goal, I’m not particularly interested in discussing its merits. Rather, I want to talk about the CCFC’s annual “TOADY” award — a direct response to the Toy Industry Associations Toy of the Year award. Members of the CCFC vote to give the TOADY (Toys Oppressive and Destructive to Young Children) to what they consider to be the worst toy of the year in light of their mission. This year’s winner is a toy I never would have known existed — the iPotty.

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PiePal May Revolutionize Your Late Night Pizza Order

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PiePalIn Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, pizza delivery folks (along with drug manufacturers and computer geniuses) have a rare position of esteem. That’s because their job is important—they even go to school to learn the ins and outs of timely pizza delivery. Every pie gets to the person who ordered it within 30 minutes—it’s the guarantee on which the entire industry revolves. I can totally imagine PiePal being implemented in that world, and it’s not hard to imagine it in ours, either, given how high pizza lands on the hierarchy of human needs.

PiePal, made by iStrategyLabs, a Washington DC-based digital agency that has built a reputation by crafting what they call social machines, or devices that work with Foursquare, Twitter, and other social media to prompt real-world, real-time actions. Much like in Snow Crash, they demonstrate the tangible relationship between what happens online and what occurs in our actual world. But with PiePal, they’ve simplified the system. There’s no social media necessary—all you do is push a button and wait for a pizza to arrive.

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Smartphones Used For Bullet Time And Brainwave-Led Video Recording

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smartphoneBack in my day, the only smart phones were the toy ones that could say the numbers as you pressed them. (I also had one that could predict the future, but no one ever believed me, especially the cops.) But now they’re being used to do nearly anything the imagination can come up with, not the least of which is beating 500 levels of Candy Crush instead of going grocery shopping. Here we’ll be focusing on smartphones being used to create a workable facsimile of The Matrix‘s “bullet time,” as well as a video camera that only records what your brain is actually interested in. It seems like there would have to be a strict interview process to see who gets to qualify for the latter.

But first, let’s talk about the awesomeness that is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Booth, a 540° spiral rig set up in Venice, California and New York City to show off the impressive capabilities of its Snapdragon 600 processors. Volunteers of all kinds took part in creating the videos you’ll see below, including skateboarders, breakdancers, Frisbee-loving dogs and, of course, a fire breather. Unfortunately, no one who qualified as “The One” entered the ringed booth to take on an army of Hugo Weavings, but it is all pretty damned cool nonetheless. And if you want loads more examples of people doing crazy things from all angles, just head over to the Snapdragon Booth website to see a slew of GIFs.

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