Telecom's Turbocharged Next Act

2 min read

It's got to be every researcher's fantasy: have a brilliant, truly revolutionary idea and watch it ignite a firestorm of controversy and disbelief. Then sit back as you are slowly but surely proved right, hailed as a genius, and remunerated handsomely for your mental leap.

It happened to Claude Berrou and Alain Glavieux, electrical engineering professors at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Télécommunications de Bretagne, in Brest, France, who went from relative obscurity to the engineering equivalent of pop stardom in 10 short years for their invention of la technologie turbo code . This digital coding scheme provides error-free communications at data rates and transmitting-power efficiencies that come very close to the theoretical limit first calculated by the Albert Einstein of communications theory, Claude Shannon. Your next cellphone may very well depend on turbo codes.

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How Police Exploited the Capitol Riot’s Digital Records

Forensic technology is powerful, but is it worth the privacy trade-offs?

11 min read
 Illustration of the silhouette of a person with upraised arm holding a cellphone in front of the U.S. Capitol building. Superimposed on the head is a green matrix, which represents data points used for facial recognition
Gabriel Zimmer

The group of well-dressed young men who gathered on the outskirts of Baltimore on the night of 5 January 2021 hardly looked like extremists. But the next day, prosecutors allege, they would all breach the United States Capitol during the deadly insurrection. Several would loot and destroy media equipment, and one would assault a policeman.

No strangers to protest, the men, members of the America First movement, diligently donned masks to obscure their faces. None boasted of their exploits on social media, and none of their friends or family would come forward to denounce them. But on 5 January, they made one piping hot, family-size mistake: They shared a pizza.

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