Technology

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/File

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.

mohamed_hassan / Pixabay

Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan has joined a lawsuit challenging the Federal Communications Commission's rollback of so-called “net neutrality” regulations. 

Dr. Kyle Hagstrom, left, a psychiatrist at the Brattleboro Retreat, talks via computer with Dr. Jarred Zucker, who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. Zucker is the one of the Retreat's newest telepsychiatrists.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

Rural communities across the country face a shortage of doctors of all kinds, and Vermont is no different.

But as technology advances, and patients get more comfortable with video conferencing, health care officials say telemedicine might be one way to address the shortage.

In a unanimous decision, the Public Utility Commission found that Vermont can regulate Voice over Internet Protocol service under federal law.
Ingram Publishing / Thinkstock

One often-cited barrier that gets in the way of young professionals moving to Vermont is the lack of high-speed internet in many communities around the state. And where something doesn't exist, it is incumbent upon someone to create it.

Members of Vermont's congressional delegation strongly oppose plans by the Federal Communications Commission to roll back "net neutrality" regulations
Kynny / iStock

All three members of Vermont's congressional delegation are urging the Federal Communications Commission not to repeal internet policies known as "net neutrality."

House Speaker Mitzi Johnson, center, says Vermont lawmakers will consider numerous bills next year that would give Vermonters more recourse when their personal data is hacked.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

Vermont lawmakers say they’ll try to put new safeguards on residents’ personal data in the next session, after the massive security breach at Equifax earlier this year.

St. Michael's College students Sarah Hunzeker, Annie Ladue and Mia DelleBovi, left to right, are working on a project to convert toy cars into independent mobility devices for kids.
Melody Bodette / VPR

A 5-year-old girl from St. Albans has limited mobility due to muscular dystrophy, and during her school day that poses a big challenge. But now thanks to some professors and students at Saint Michael's College, she'll have a new way to get around: a battery-operated ride-on car.

Mike Stewart / AP

Millions of Americans were only vaguely aware of the credit bureau Equifax until earlier this month, when the company revealed that the personal data of more than 147 million people was exposed in a massive data hack.

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