A generation growing up in an addictive and attention-hungry world can thank a tech-enabled advertising industry, but believe it or not, the internet was once advertisement free. Both the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) and the National Science Foundation Network (NSFNET), early iterations of the modern internet, had policies that banned commercial use by companies on their networks.

However, with the advent of email, marketers found a way around the acceptable use policies and began sending what would later become known as “spam.” Not long after, in the 1990s, website owners began using display ads to generate the revenue…


The premise of the Black Mirror episode “Hang the DJ” is a walled-off society where people are required to be matched into romantic relationships by an unknown matchmaking algorithm. Given an arbitrary expiration date, each relationship supposedly provides the algorithm with the data to ultimately make the optimal match for the person. But – spoiler alert – in the end, this society is revealed to be a simulation contained within a Tinder-like app that provides people with compatibility scores in the real world. However, the question left unanswered by the episode is what exactly do the compatibility scores mean? How…


Every morning, my alarm goes off at 9:30 AM to tell me to get up, get dressed, and head over to Shiru café just two blocks down the street from my off-campus house. As is my habit, I skip my 9 AM to enjoy a free cup of coffee, usually a morbidly sweet caramel latte on account of my sweet tooth, while I read the daily news, catch up with friends, or start my work for the day. …


An apocalyptic global order where security breaches and a lack of accountability foster widespread fear is among the extreme, yet possible, futures for our world. Through a shared imagination, we envision impending possibilities that are inextricably linked to our severe dependence on technology — a dependence that has left us vulnerable to cybersecurity threats on a global scale. And yet among the countless types of threats that have arisen, none can match the extensive and often state-sanctioned theft of intellectual property (IP) in cost. …


From 2010 to 2017, a single bitcoin rose in value from mere pennies to nearly $20,000 on the CoinDesk Bitcoin Price Index (BPI). The cryptocurrency’s meteoric ascent introduced the modern world to the notion of blockchain (the technology upon which bitcoin relies) and soon, the term began to grip dialogue shared at family dinners and around office watercoolers. Bitcoin pundits lauded the e-currency, validated across a network of nodes rather than a central authority, as a kick in the face to the powers that be — a direct attack on the powerful financial institutions, like Visa and NASDAQ, that shape…


Editorially independent of the university, Brown Technology Review explores developments in technology and considers the economic, social, and political impacts. BTR pulls insight from both industry and academia, aiming to provide readers a holistic perspective. Ultimately, we are a community where Brown students, alumni, and faculty can provide coverage and opinions on tech events and ideas. Check out our content at www.brownreview.com

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This article was originally published on March 8, 2019

Mind control in its various forms — hypnosis, possession, brainwashing — has captured our imaginations for centuries in literature and in film. George Orwell’s 1984 famously conceptualizes means of ideological indoctrination that allow a government to brainwash its subjects, while Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange describes a fictional conditioning technique used to psychologically rehabilitate a serial criminal. Similarly, movies like those in the X-Men series construct storylines that affirm mental manipulation as the purest form of power. …


This article was originally published on February 8, 2019

The screen lights up with a new text message from Scott, a professor at the University of Texas: How many legs does a camel have?

Eugene types back: Something between 2 and 4. Maybe, three? :-))) By the way, I still don’t know your specialty.

His smiley face seems to suggest that like other 13-year-olds, he’s playful and maybe just a little bit childish. But in any case, it doesn’t seem like his response is a serious attempt to answer the question. …


This article was originally published on November 16, 2018

“These systems are simply mirrors for a biased society,” says Dr. Jerry Kaplan, a professor at Stanford University, speaking about deep learning models. A renowned expert in the field of artificial intelligence, having founded several AI startups and published three books on the subject matter, his voice quakes with intensity as we talk about the possibility of eliminating cognitive bias in our current artificial intelligence. …


I learned to enjoy the process. When my sea monkeys first hatched, I couldn’t wait for them to become full-grown sea monkeys, constantly googling “how long” until the next milestone in the aging process. But midway through the 6–8 weeks that the internet said it would take for them to become fully grown, as I pictured what they would look like in their final form, I was struck by a nostalgia for the present. All I could think about was how much I would miss witnessing my little guys (and girls) smiling back up at me each morning just a…

Griffin Kao

Brown ’20 — editor at BTR, author of Turning Silicon Into Gold, previously at The College Hill Independent, passionate about AI/ML, product, and economics

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