"Match 3 of AlphaGo vs. Lee Sedol" by Buster Benson is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (via Flickr)

Last week, Google’s AlphaGo program beat Ke Jie, the Go world champion. The victory is a significant one, due to the special difficulties of developing an algorithm that can tackle the ancient Chinese game. It differs significantly from the feat of DeepBlue, the computer that beat then-chess world champion Garry Kasparov in 1997, largely by brute force calculations of the possible moves on the 8×8 board. The possible moves in Go far eclipse those of chess, and for decades most researchers didn’t consider it possible for a computer to defeat a champion-level Go player, because designing a computer with such complexity would amount to such great leaps towards creative intuition on the computer’s part.

"Microsoft Keyboard" by Felipe Micaroni Lalli is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 (via Wikimedia Commons)

In a sting operation conducted by the FBI in 2015, over 8,000 IP addresses in 120 countries were collected in an effort to take down the website Playpen and its users. Playpen was a communal website that operates on the Dark Web through the Tor browser. Essentially, the site was used to collect images related to child pornography and extreme child abuse. At its peak, Playpen had a community of around 215,000 members and more than 117,000 posts, with 11,000 unique visitors a week.

"IBM Blue Gene P Supercomputer" by Argonne National Laboratory is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)

Twenty-one years ago (February 10, 1996), Deep Blue, an IBM Supercomputer, defeated Russian Grand Master Gary Kasparov in a game of chess. Kasparov ultimately won the overall match, but a rematch in May of 1997 went to Deep Blue. About six years ago (February 14-15, 2011), another IBM creation named Watson defeated Champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter in televised Jeopardy! matches.

The capabilities of computers continue to expand dramatically and surpass human intelligence in certain specific tasks, and it is possible that computing power may develop in the next several decades to match human capacities in areas of emotional intelligence, autonomous decision making and artistic imagination. When machines achieve cognitive capacities that make them resemble humans as thinking, feeling beings, ought we to accord them legal rights? What about moral rights?

"INside hte Google RoboCar" by Steve Juretson is licensed under CC BY 2.0 (via Flickr)

Picture yourself in a sterile cabin sitting atop four wheels. The only sound you hear is the soft hum of an electric engine. There is not much there except for four seats. The dashboard is bare, and it only has a large screen showing the remainder of your trip on a map — there is no steering wheel.  The tinted windows block out the sun; still, you are able to see outside. You can observe a swarm of cars moving in a peloton through a downtown area—at a frightening speed—breaking their even spacing to cross an intersection, where a pileup is avoided by only a few millimeters, as another swarm of cars crosses the intersection perpendicular to you.

"Healthcare Apps for Android Tablets" by Intel Free Press is licensed under CC BY 2.0 (via Flickr)

I am not going to shock anyone by stating that we live in a time where distrust of government is high, where people believe that they need to ‘take back’ whatever they feel needs taking back. This opinion runs especially strong in matters surrounding healthcare, where people question a range of issues, including: universal insurance, low cost pharmaceuticals, the efficacy of particular medical tests, and autonomy as regards end of life (and other medical) decisions.

iPhone 6 - Lightning Connector, Speakers and Headphone Jack" by William Hook is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (via Flickr)

Apple’s product design has always been known for a distinct minimalism. The oft-lauded aesthetic of the company’s products, guided by Chief Design Officer Jony Ive, has become a trademark of the company, birthing some of the world’s most recognizable tech products and influencing a generation of hardware design. The iPhone, a product defined by the clutter of features that its sleek design excludes, has often been the focal point of these efforts, representing Apple’s minimalistic aesthetic.

"Untitled" is licensed under CC0 (via Pexels)

When it comes to policing offensive content online, Facebook’s moderators often have their work cut out for them. With billions of users, filtering out offensive content ranging from pornographic images to videos promoting graphic violence and extremism is a never-ending task. And, for the most part, this job largely falls on teams of staffers who spend most of their days sifting through offensive content manually. The decisions of these staffers – which posts get deleted, which posts stay up – would be controversial in any case. Yet the politically charged context of content moderation in the digital age has left some users feeling censored over Facebook’s policies, sparking a debate on automated alternatives.

"Juno over Jupiter" by Kevin Gill is Licensed under CC-SA 2.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)

Late on July 4th, NASA tweeted that their space probe, Juno, successfully entered Jupiter’s orbit after five years and 1.7 billion miles of travel. Juno is the first spacecraft to reach Jupiter since Galileo in 1995. The probe broke multiple records during its journey, including fastest man-made object at 165,000 miles per hour, and farthest solar-powered spacecraft from Earth. Juno more than broke the 492-million-mile record held by the Rosetta mission.

"2016-06-14_20-03-47_ILCE-6300_DSC08367" by Miguel Discart is licensed by CC BY-SA 2.0 (via Flickr)

In the wake of the largest mass shooting in the United States to date, Facebook and other social media sites have been flooded with posts honoring the victims in Orlando. Many such posts include the faces of the victims, rainbow banners and “share if you’re praying for Orlando” posts. Although there is nothing particularly harmful about sharing encouraging thoughts through social media, opinions are surfacing that it might do more harm than good.