Coding Is Not ‘Fun,’ It’s Technically And Ethically Complex

Programming computers is a piece of cake. Or so the world’s digital-skills gurus would have us believe. From the nonprofit Code.org’s promise that “Anybody can learn!” to Apple chief executive Tim Cook’s comment that writing code is “fun and interactive,” the art and science of making software is now as accessible as the alphabet.

Unfortunately, this rosy portrait bears no relation to reality. For starters, the profile of a programmer’s mind is pretty uncommon. As well as being highly analytical and creative, software developers need almost superhuman focus to manage the complexity of their tasks. Manic attention to detail is a must; slovenliness is verboten. Attaining this level of concentration requires a state of mind called being “in the flow,” a quasi-symbiotic relationship between human and machine that improves performance and motivation.

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What Is the Internet of Things?

If you have been following the tech news even a little bit over the last few years, you’ve heard of the Internet of Things. The IoT, we’re told, is supposed to revolutionize the way we interact with technology and will fundamentally change the way we live our lives.

As figures compiled by Statista show, the growth of the IoT has been growing for the last few years and is set to skyrocket within the next year or two, with both businesses and consumers adapting smart technology on a massive scale.

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Google Starts Tracking Offline Shopping — What You Buy At Stores In Person

Google already monitors online shopping — but now it’s also keeping an eye on what people buy in physical stores as it tries to sell more digital advertising.

The Internet giant said Tuesday that a new tool will track how much money people spend in merchants’ bricks-and-mortar stores after clicking on their digital ads.

The analysis will be done by matching the combined ad clicks of people who are logged into Google services with their collective purchases on credit and debit cards. Google says it won’t be able to examine the specific items bought or how much a specific individual spent.

But even aggregated data can sometimes be converted back to data that can identify individuals, said Larry Ponemon, chairman of the Ponemon Institute privacy research firm.

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Who Are the Shadow Brokers?

What is—and isn’t—known about the mysterious hackers leaking National Security Agency secrets

In 2013, a mysterious group of hackers that calls itself the Shadow Brokers stole a few disks full of National Security Agency secrets. Since last summer, they’ve been dumping these secrets on the internet. They have publicly embarrassed the NSA and damaged its intelligence-gathering capabilities, while at the same time have put sophisticated cyberweapons in the hands of anyone who wants them. They have exposed major vulnerabilities in Cisco routers, Microsoft Windows, and Linux mail servers, forcing those companies and their customers to scramble. And they gave the authors of the WannaCry ransomware the exploit they needed to infect hundreds of thousands of computer worldwide this month.

After the WannaCry outbreak, the Shadow Brokers threatened to release more NSA secrets every month, giving cybercriminals and other governments worldwide even more exploits and hacking tools.

Who are these guys? And how did they steal this information? The short answer is: We don’t know. But we can make some educated guesses based on the material they’ve published.

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Is America Really Ready for a Cyber War?

The United States faces new types of military threats that challenge traditional organization and strategy, including those emanating from the cyber domain. This challenge, however, can be made more solvable by using a well-known theory of warfare to provide a model upon which theorists of today can build an understanding of modern warfare. The most widespread framework with which cyber conflict is modeled is that of deterrence. As different as these two may seem, both are characterized by offense ascendancy and costly defense, providing the base for the borrowed theory. The theoretical and practical application of the deterrence model to cyberspace was included as a crucial component of the 2015 Department of Defense cyber manual, citing a key mission as contributing to “the development and implementation of a comprehensive cyber deterrence strategy to deter key state and non-state actors from conducting cyberattacks against U.S. interests.” While this way of thinking helps prepare for—and prevent—a large-scale cyber Pearl Harbor, it has significant limitations in regards to practical use. A better framework for this kind of activity is the irregular-conflict model.

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Why Bill Gates’ Robot Tax Is A Seductive, Yet Terrible, Idea

Implementing a robot tax would require adopting socialism, with all the perils that historically includes.

What effect will automation have on the future of work and employment? It’s a topic many have debated recently. Some people are optimistic, whereas others envision a “Terminator”­-style nightmare. They fear machines will take away jobs currently done by humans, causing widespread unemployment.

But to an extent, this is already happening. It’s wrong to think global trade is the key culprit for taking jobs away from Americans. The real issue is that robots are taking many human jobs, and those jobs aren’t going to come back.

In response to this dilemma, Bill Gates has suggested that we tax robots to ensure future prosperity. This is significant, given that Gates is the founder of Microsoft, a leader in the field of artificial intelligence. The idea is appealing: since machines are taking the jobs and producing the value, why not take the value from them and give it to humans? The utopian notion rises almost like a bubble in front of our eyes. But it bursts as soon as you take a second to think about what Gates is really suggesting.

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The Trillions of Reasons Why America Is Headed for a Debt Crisis

A fiscal storm has been brewing over America for years, and things are only getting worse.

Publicly held debt—the debt the U.S. is borrowing from credit markets (as opposed to debt owed to federal trust funds like Social Security)—is at its highest level as a percentage of gross domestic product since World War II.

To address the problem, Congress and the president must work together to enact a responsible, pro-growth budget that puts spending and taxes on a sustainable path to balance.

Budget cuts in President Donald Trump’s proposal to Congress this week are a key step on that path.

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