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Google CEO Sundar Pichai. Credit: © World Economic Forum / Manuel Lopez CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Google’s day of reckoning

Compared to other Silicon Valley titans, Google has long appeared to be a bit player in the controversies over misinformation, hate speech, and user privacy that have plagued the likes of Facebook and Twitter, especially in the wake of the 2016 US presidential election. That may change Tuesday as Google CEO Sundar Pichai takes part … Continued

1945-1998 Bulletin backfile available via Google Books

As of December 9, 2008, 53 years of Bulletin content is now available online for free at Google Books. This archive begins with the first issue of the magazine--originally published in December 1945--and includes every year thereafter until 1998.

Credit: Based on photo by King's College London.

Wargaming: how to turn vogue into science

In early March 2017, a US congressional committee called a hearing about Russian military capabilities in Europe. Ever since Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine in 2014, NATO countries have been on edge that a similar scenario could happen in the Baltic Republics of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The congressmen gathered in the hearing room were … Continued

Silicon Valley defense contracts will really hit ‘em where it hurts

Won't someone please think of the shareholders? The tech industry’s controversial defense contracts may soon cost them.
Choe Son-hui, the highest-ranking female official in the North Korean government.

Hanoi Summit: Where were the women?

Based on the pictures from the second Trump-Kim summit, it looks like the women who spent the most time in the room where the leaders met were the interpreters. This is a far cry from previous administrations that had women running or helping to run nuclear negotiations—Madeleine Albright, Condoleezza Rice, Wendy Sherman, and Rose Gottemoeller, … Continued

What would Russia nuke?

  Last week, Reuters reported that a Russian television broadcast had identified five targets in the United States that Moscow would strike if nuclear war broke out. Although a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin denied naming specific sites, the broadcast appeared on Russian state TV and included a video narrated by Dmitry Kiselyov, who … Continued
3D rendering of a quantum processor. Credit: Shutterstock

Approaching Y2Q and barely a peep (or tweet) from the government

Every time you exchange data online, whether you are purchasing an item with a credit card or providing personal information for an application, you enter a tacit agreement with the service provider about the protection of your information. However, you probably don’t think about what specific measures the provider will take to secure your data … Continued

A failure of governmental candor: The fire at the contaminated Santa Susana Field Laboratory

Nearly six weeks after the Woolsey Fire—and after numerous requests from the community, news media, and legislators—California regulators finally issued an “interim summary” report about the measurements that formed the basis for the claims that no contamination was released from the Santa Susana Field Laboratory site. But that report includes few actual measurements of smoke emitted by the fire, and the data that are in the report raise more concerns than they allay.

Trump orders some sort of vague action in the AI arms race

Through an executive order, President Donald Trump launched the American AI Initiative, further underscoring the importance of a group of technologies that are reshaping everything from medical diagnoses to war-fighting. The administration didn’t give many specifics in the order published Monday evening or details about funding for its various elements such as efforts to increase … Continued
Credit: Matt Field. Based in part on photo by Morio CC SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

China is rapidly developing its military AI capabilities

China may lag behind the US military on metrics like the number of aircraft carriers it has, but it may be able to seize a “leapfrog opportunity” and invest in newer, cheaper weapons that could make carriers obsolete. That’s one conclusion in a new report about China’s well-funded, ambitious goal of becoming a world leader … Continued
Credit: Matt Field. Based in part on photo by vergreen CC BY-SA 3.0.

The rise and demise of the Clinch River Breeder Reactor

This year marks the 36th anniversary of the termination of the Clinch River Breeder Reactor Project, a federally funded commercial demonstration effort. In the very early 1980s, it was the largest public-works project in the United States. Japan, South Korea, China, France, Russia, and the United States are now all again considering building similar plants. … Continued

Home After launch test

Read the 2019 Clock statement By Bulletin Science and Security Board | Doomsday Clock Overview of Doomsday Clock By Bulletin Staff | Doomsday Clock FAQs about the Clock By Kennette Benedict | Doomsday Clock Missed it? The 2019 Clock announcement, on video By Bulletin Staff | Doomsday Clock CNN OpEd, by Jerry Brown and William … Continued
During a visit to the Kennedy Space Center last month, Vice President Mike Pence said the administration is working with Congress to turn the US Space Command into a Space Force—the nation’s sixth branch of the armed forces. Credit: NASA/Twitter

Trump’s Space Force is a strategic mistake

In remarks last week announcing his vision for American missile defense, President Trump said “we will recognize that space is a new warfighting domain, with the Space Force leading the way.” Any strategic decision should be evaluated both by the ends it seeks to accomplish, and by the means by which it intends to accomplish them. The president’s … Continued
Biological researcher He Jiankui (right) attends the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing at the University of Hong Kong on November 28, 2018 in Hong Kong, China. Photo by Zhang Wei/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images.

Brave new world with Chinese characteristics

The story of the scientist He Jiankui and the world’s first genetically edited humans, born from fertilized eggs modified with CRISPR-cas9 technology, is one in which high-tech ambition meets capitalism with Chinese characteristics. And the poor village boy pursued both his ambition and the capital required to reach it with shrewdness and zest, apparently trampling ethical boundaries along the way in a system that allowed him to trample away.
Melting ice, BW

With climate change comes loss and “ecological grief”

A growing body of evidence demonstrates that climate change and its effects are linked to elevated rates of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, ideas of suicde, and a host of negative emotions. Researchers have dubbed these feelings “ecological grief.”
Tiananmen Square.

Censorship 101: China’s young censors first have to learn about forbidden topics 

Li Chengzhi, a young college graduate in Chengdu, China, shows up to each of his work shifts at a bright new office in “the heart of a high-tech” part of town. But Li’s job isn’t to harness the power of new technology to change the world–it’s to maintain the status quo. Li is one of … Continued
autonomous driverless vehicles road rage Tiananmen Square

Road rage against the self-driving machine

More and more self-driving cars are hitting American streets, disrupting life as we know it. Some people are getting angry and disrupting them right back.

Six words that defined 2018

A brief guide to some of the key terms found in the Bulletin's coverage of events this year, with a few suggestions for deeper dives.