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What Hath EE Wrought? Texting at 55 MPH

The texting-surfing-facebooking-tweeting-while-driving problem is getting worse, not better.

1 min read
What Hath EE Wrought? Texting at 55 MPH
Image: State Farm

Nowadays, when you see a driver ahead edging out of his lane, your first thought is: Get off your phone. Just in time for Thanksgiving, one of the biggest driving holidays on the U.S. calendar, a new State Farm Insurance survey confirms just how widespread the automotive use and abuse of social media is.

Almost half of 18-to-29-year-olds admit to accessing the Internet on a cell phone while they’re behind the wheel—49 percent 'fessed up to scrolling while driving, up from 29 percent in 2009. E-mail is still the biggest Internet-based distraction—43 percent of young drivers said they mix inbox and gearbox. But social media are coming up in the passing lane: 36 percent of first-decade-drivers check Twitter and Facebook status from the driver’s seat, and 30 percent say they update their status while driving. (“My status is…distracted moron.”)

Drivers in older age groups have nothing to be smug about, though the percentage of people who report Internetting-while-driving does decline with age (doesn’t everything?). Overall, 21 percent of all drivers have tried to stay connected while staying in motion—that’s one-and-a-half times 2009's rate. Fifteen percent check social media, and, golly, 13 percent update their social networks while supposedly in control of a ton of hurtling metal, glass, volatile hydrocarbons, and fine Corinthian leather.

Among those surveyed, 72 percent supported laws to prohibit texting and e-mailing while driving, and 45 percent thought that there should be technological barriers to prevent texting-while-driving. If comparing those numbers to the percentages of people who are doing that very thing redlines your cognitive dissonance meter, you won't be surprised by a recent paper that suggests Facebook can become a central feature in some patients’ psychotic delusions,

Image: State Farm

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Deep Learning Could Bring the Concert Experience Home

The century-old quest for truly realistic sound production is finally paying off

12 min read
Image containing multiple aspects such as instruments and left and right open hands.
Stuart Bradford

Now that recorded sound has become ubiquitous, we hardly think about it. From our smartphones, smart speakers, TVs, radios, disc players, and car sound systems, it’s an enduring and enjoyable presence in our lives. In 2017, a survey by the polling firm Nielsen suggested that some 90 percent of the U.S. population listens to music regularly and that, on average, they do so 32 hours per week.

Behind this free-flowing pleasure are enormous industries applying technology to the long-standing goal of reproducing sound with the greatest possible realism. From Edison’s phonograph and the horn speakers of the 1880s, successive generations of engineers in pursuit of this ideal invented and exploited countless technologies: triode vacuum tubes, dynamic loudspeakers, magnetic phonograph cartridges, solid-state amplifier circuits in scores of different topologies, electrostatic speakers, optical discs, stereo, and surround sound. And over the past five decades, digital technologies, like audio compression and streaming, have transformed the music industry.

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