Sue Halpern is a regular contributor to The New York Review and a Scholar-in-Residence at Middlebury. Her latest book is A Dog Walks into a Nursing Home.
 (September 2016)

IN THE REVIEW

US Cyber Weapons: Our ‘Demon Pinball’

The disguised speaker representing sources inside the NSA and CIA who spoke to Alex Gibney for his documentary film Zero Days

Zero Days

a documentary film directed by Alex Gibney
Ninety-four minutes into Zero Days, Alex Gibney’s documentary about the American government’s expanding and largely invisible embrace of offensive cyber weaponry, the image of retired general James Cartwright appears on the screen. From 2007 to 2011 Cartwright was vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a favorite of President …

‘Going Dark’

Cyberphobia: Identity, Trust, Security and the Internet

by Edward Lucas

The Future of Foreign Intelligence: Privacy and Surveillance in a Digital Age

by Laura K. Donohue
In mid-October 2014, about a year into his tenure as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, James Comey gave a speech at the Brookings Institution warning of the dangers ahead as tech companies increasingly encrypted their products. “What it means is this,” he said. “Those charged with protecting …

The Real Legacy of Steve Jobs

Apple founder Steve Jobs as ‘the son of a migrant from Syria’; mural by Banksy,at the ‘Jungle’ migrant camp in Calais, France, December 2015

Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine

a documentary film directed by Alex Gibney

Steve Jobs

a film directed by Danny Boyle
People are drawn to magic. Steve Jobs knew this, and it was one reason why he insisted on secrecy until the moment of unveiling. But Jobs’s obsession with secrecy went beyond his desire to preserve the “a-ha!” moment.

In the Depths of the Net

Ross Ulbricht, who was recently sentenced to life in prison for running the illegal dark-Net marketplace Silk Road

The Dark Net: Inside The Digital Underworld

by Jamie Bartlett
Early this year, a robot in Switzerland purchased ten tablets of the illegal drug MDMA, better known as “ecstasy,” from an online marketplace and had them delivered through the postal service to a gallery in St. Gallen where the robot was then set up. The drug buy was part of …

NYR DAILY

NSA Surveillance: What the Government Can’t See

In a July 2 report on the NSA’s warrantless surveillance of non-US citizens, the bipartisan Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board mostly found that the program is working as it was supposed to. But three days later, The Washington Post revealed the program is monitoring American citizens, and that the documents scooped up include baby pictures, love letters, messages between attorneys and their clients.

Over the High-Tech Rainbow

Apple's Senior Vice President of marketing Phil Schiller demonstrating features of Siri, Cuptertino, California, October 4, 2011 in Cupertino, California.

The day after the iPhone 4S was launched, Apple’s founder and resident seer, Steve Jobs, died. One of the most popular Jobs quotes circulating in the days after his death was one that he attributed to hockey great Wayne Gretzky: “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.” After three days of record iPhone 4S sales, there’s no better example of playing to where the puck is going to be than Siri. There are other “personal assistant” smart phone apps available. Indeed, before Apple removed it from its App Store, Siri was one of them. But who knew that consumers wanted Siri baked into their phone, and into Apple’s servers, which stores all previous “conversations,” so that Siri gets more and more familiar with its “boss” all the time? Steve Jobs, obviously. Playing to where the puck is going to be is, of course, a proxy for anticipating and then apprehending the future. At a conference at the MIT Media Lab last week sponsored by Technology Review, engineers, scientists, academics, entrepreneurs, investors, students, and corporate spokespeople were engaged in the journal’s annual attempt both to anticipate where the puck will land and, at the same time, push it there.

Reading in the Cloud

Steve Jobs talking about the iCloud at the Worldwide Developers Conference, San Francisco, Monday, June 6, 2011.

Last week, when Apple’s Steve Jobs took to the stage during the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference and grandly announced its new iCloud service, he was putting the Apple logo on something most internet users have relied on eclectically for years. Gmail, Dropbox, Netflix, Hotmail, Flickr, Box.net, and Spotify, to name a few popular services, all rely on cloud computing, where data—documents, music, photos, and movies—are stored on shared servers in large data centers, rather than on your puny, personal hard drive. The benefits of cloud computing are obvious: one is not limited by the size of that drive, nor restricted to viewing that material on a single device. Once it is in “the cloud,” the only thing standing between you and your stuff is a (fast) internet connection.

What the iPad Can’t Do

Inside cover of David Foster Wallace's annotated copy of Don DeLillo's Players

Not long after the iPad went on sale in early April, the Ilinois Institute of Technology announced that it would be providing each member of next fall’s freshman class with one of the new Apple devices. School officials said that the iPad would allow students to take notes, check email, and read books. Which books they had in mind is not precisely clear except for this: they are not likely to be textbooks.