Technology

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This Saturday is the 48th annual Green Up Day, when volunteers across the state collect litter from roadsides and public spaces.

Burlington Code Academy founders (right to left) Alex Horner, Benny Boas and Alex Chaffee hope their company will attract tech workers to the state. Their course teaches computer programing and project management skills.
Liam Elder-Connors / VPR

In 12-weeks you’ll be a software developer. That’s the hope of a Burlington startup that aims to teach students computing coding skills.

Now after months of developing, networking and building their business, the trio behind Burlington's new coding boot camp is ready to welcome their first class in a matter of weeks.

Kids, parents and schools all are still figuring out how to deal with the increased connectivity offered by smartphones and social media.
milicad / iStock

Kids are growing up amidst the constant connectivity offered by smartphones and social media. We're talking about how parents, schools and young people themselves think about the technology in their lives and how they use it so that the benefits outweigh the risks.

Ijubaphoto / VPR

It's a new state agency that most people have never heard of and its primary job is to protect all of the state's computer systems and data from a cyber attack. Agency secretary John Quinn says it's an ongoing and relentless battle.

Social media images and tweets of "Ricky Vaugh" were revealed to be by Vermont-native and Middlebury grad Douglass Mackey.
Facebook/Twitter

Twitter user Ricky Vaughn has been called "Trump’s most influential white nationalist troll." The account drew attention during the 2016 presidential election for political (and often white nationalist and anti-Semitic) posts. Huffington Post reporter Luke O'Brien found the man behind the handle is Waterbury native and Middlebury graduate Douglass Mackey.

What's blockchain? The unqiue computer network is a new piece of financial technology that Vermont lawmakers believe offers big opportunities for the state.
MF3d / iStock

Bitcoin. Cryptocurrency. These and other buzzwords make headlines in the world of finance, but underlying it all is a new piece of financial technology called blockchain. And state lawmakers are betting this new technology could be Vermont's next moneymaker, much like the state's captive insurance market.

Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, arrives for a Capitol Hill Meeting with Sen. Bill Nelson on Monday. Later in the week, Zuckerberg will be testifying before members of Congress about how Facebook data was used in the 2016 election."
J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press

Sen. Patrick Leahy says Congress should demand that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg give a full accounting about why the company allowed a political consulting firm to obtain profiles of more than 87 million of its users during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Two metallic silhouettes of heads, one with a brain inside and one with computer imagery.
onurdongel / iStock

Vermont lawmakers are considering legislation to create an artificial intelligence task force. If the bill wins final approval, Vermont will be the first state in the country to take this step.

Milo Cress, a junior at Champlain Valley Union High School, went to the Vermont Statehouse this winter to testify in favor of this bill.

A blue-green illustration of a brain.
Jakarin2521 / iStock

As artificial intelligence continues to develop, concerns grow about its invasive nature and reach. How much are we willing to cede to the machines, and what effect will that have on our lives?

The Vermont House recently passed a bill that would create an AI commission to address these subjects.

Sen. Patrick Leahy wants to know why Facebook allowed a political consulting firm to obtain the personal information of over 50 million of its customers
Taylor Dobbs / VPR

Sen. Patrick Leahy says a decision by Facebook to allow a political consulting firm to obtain profiles of more than 50 million consumers during the 2016 presidential election constitutes a "major national security issue."

The recent revelations that personal data from about 50 million Facebook users were used by a data analytics firm working for the Trump campaign are making a lot of the social network's users uneasy.

Some are wondering if there's a better way to limit who can access their personal information.

Walk through the front door at Shawsheen Valley Technical High School in Billerica and the first thing you notice is security.

“Everyone who visits the building, when they come into this secure foyer, has to scan a driver’s license or another state-issued ID,” explains Superintendent Tim Broadrick. “It does kind of a high-level national background check.”

A stretch of road with a mini cell tower on a utility pole that a car is driving by.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

Vermont has been trying to get cell service into every corner of the state, and a few years ago, a new technology offered promise by mounting mini cell towers along utility poles.

But just last week the state learned that CoverageCo — the company that’s operating the cell system — is about to shut down after losing money on the experiment.

A screenshot from one of Professor Bongard's videos shows a robot "dreaming" about how to move.
courtesy of Josh Bongard

In order to be as useful as possible, robots need to be able to think and act for themselves. But with that autonomy can come serious concerns about human safety. We're talking about teaching machines how to be smart and independent, without kicking off a robot uprising.

The average smart phone is replaced roughly every 22 months, spurring calls across the country to protect customers' "right to repair" their electronics.
Bru-nO / Pexels

Have you ever tried fixing one of your electric gadgets? Even simply replacing the battery in your cell phone can require special skills or tools. You may not be allowed to do more advanced repairs without potentially voiding a warranty. That's led to demands across the country, including here in Vermont, for the "right to repair," the ability to perform basic repairs on items like smart phones, other electronics and more.

Stock image of fiber-optic cables.
kynny / iStock

At Town Meeting in March, 13 central Vermont communities will consider forming a communications union district, the sole purpose of which would be to bring fiber-optic internet service to the area.

Food scientists at UMass Amherst have come up with a technique they say could make it a lot easier to avoid food poisoning.

GPS systems and navigation apps sometimes face challenges navigating Vermont's roads.
Shannon McGee / flickr

A car that ended up in Lake Champlain made headlines after the out-of-town sightseers behind the wheel said they were steered out onto the ice by the Waze driving app.

We're talking about the challenges for navigation apps in a state like Vermont, with plenty of dirt roads and snowmobile trails, and a lower population of users. 

This file photo, taken on Dec. 13, 2016, shows the interior of an Uber car that is set to driverless mode on a San Francisco test drive.
Eric Risberg / Associated Press File

The Agency of Transportation says Vermont needs to get ready for the eventual arrival of self-driving vehicles.

XKCD, creative commons

Wikipedia, operated by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation, is arguably one of the first stops anyone makes in online research.

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