Budget-friendly cars offer high-tech aids

By: Jonathan Elfalan

Automakers have come a long way from safety features such as seat belts and air bags that are meant to prevent injuries in a crash. Today, manufacturers are adding “advanced driver aids” that can fend off an accident in the first place. And there’s a good chance that your next new car will have them. What’s an advanced driver aid? It’s kind of like an autonomous sidekick... READ MORE

How do seniors take to Alexa?

By: Carol Sorgen

Shirley Crowder lives by herself in Weinberg Place, a part of the CHAI (Comprehensive Housing Assistance, Inc.) community in Northwest Baltimore. Though her son and daughter live nearby and she sees them frequently, it’s not the same as having someone in the apartment with her. Welcome home, Alexa! Alexa is Amazon’s voice-activated digital “know it all.” Thanks to a pilot... READ MORE

Beacon Links & Apps – May 2018

By: Barbara Ruben

Leonard Bernstein centennial In celebration of the 100th anniversary of Leonard Bernstein’s birth, the Library of Congress has made available online for the first time musical manuscripts and scrapbooks from the legendary composer’s personal and professional archives housed in the library. The public can now access for free more than 3,700 items — including photos, writings,... READ MORE

Even silent smartphones drain our brains

By: Dr. Robert H. Shmerling

Imagine you were asked to complete a series of math problems, ones just hard enough to require your attention and focus, but nothing you couldn’t handle. Now, imagine you were intermittently interrupted from these math problems and asked to remember a random list of letters. This might be even tougher. It’s reasonable to assume your performance on these tasks might be impaired by... READ MORE

Not-so-artificial intelligence needs people

By: Ryan Nakashima

There’s a dirty little secret about artificial intelligence (AI): It’s powered by hundreds of thousands of real people. From makeup artists in Venezuela to women in conservative parts of India, people around the world are doing the digital equivalent of needlework — drawing boxes around cars in street photos, tagging images, and transcribing snatches of speech that computers... READ MORE

How websites and apps track you – and what you can do about it

By: Anick Jesdanun

Though Facebook gets the attention because of a recent privacy gaffe, the social network is far from alone in collecting massive amounts of data on you to help marketers sell you stuff. Google, for one, also does extensive tracking to power its advertising engines. And many other websites and apps run ads sold by Facebook and Google and exchange data with them. Beyond that, plenty of... READ MORE