Today you can hardly tell when something is remade, because so often it is remade by code. When you press your foot down on your car’s accelerator, for instance, you’re no longer controlling anything directly; there’s no mechanical link from the pedal to the throttle. Instead, you’re issuing a command to a piece of software that decides how much air to give the engine. The car is a computer you can sit inside of. The steering wheel and pedals might as well be keyboard keys.

Machine learning will change not only how the world analyzes data but how it builds software ... software engineering is moving from handcrafted code based on logic to machine learning models based on probability and uncertainty ... all the physicists pushing into the realm of the Silicon Valley engineer is a sign of a much bigger change to come. Soon, all the Silicon Valley engineers will push into the realm of the physicist.

it’s important to understand that almost all software is built on top of other software ... Loading your own app might require a certain set of packages ... but those packages may require their own sets of packages, and so on. That’s one reason npm has become so popular, helping to manage those dependencies by maintaining all of the packages in one, reliable place. Reliable, that is, until one of the packages goes missing.

while computers create jobs in some occupations, they also reduce employment in others. The total effect on unemployment depends on which tendency is stronger. Some ... research shows that the net effect, across the economy, is a wash: Computers create about as many jobs as they eliminate. In other words, automation is not causing persistent unemployment. That could change ... as new generations of software powered by artificial intelligence becomes ever more capable of advanced tasks.

There have been countless attempts to make software easier to write, promising that you could code in plain English, or manipulate a set of icons, or make a list of rules—software development so simple that a bright senior executive or an average child could do it. Decades of efforts have gone into helping civilians write code as they might use a calculator or write an e-mail. Nothing yet has done away with developers, developers, developers, developers.

hundreds of precious valuables have been smuggled out of the country to be sold on the international art market ... "The number one funding for Isis is oil, and after that, kidnapping and ransom demands. When they don't have access to those, they look for something else" ... "Once a looted object is reported to us, it goes onto the database ... We've got teams of people checking eBay, Amazon, other sale venues. We're also a very sophisticated searchable database with visual recognition software"

from the moment students begin to answer the practice questions ... ALEKS’ machine-learning algorithms are analyzing their responses to figure out which concepts they understand and which they don’t. A few wrong answers to a given type of question, and the program may prompt them to read some background materials ... if they’re breezing through ... ALEKS will ask if they’re ready to take a test. Pass, and they’re on to ... a different topic ... which topic comes next is up to them.

It’s time to address one of the most urgent if overlooked tech transparency issues—secret code in the criminal justice system. Today, closed, proprietary software can put you in prison or even on death row. And in most U.S. jurisdictions you still wouldn’t have the right to inspect it ... By refusing to publish the source code for software, companies make it impossible for third parties to inspect, even when that code has enormous effects on society and policy