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John Naughton

For John Naughton's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:

Apr 11, 2014

Could big-data hype be leading us astray?

Concepts of enduring utility rarely emerge from the market-research business, but the Gartner hype cycle is an exception that proves the rule. It is a graph that describes the life cycle of a technological innovation in five phases. First, there’s the “trigger” that kicks ...

Apr 4, 2014

Obama's promise to prevent NSA spying rings hollow

Last week in the Hague, Barack Obama seemed to have suddenly remembered the oath he swore on his inauguration as president — that stuff about preserving, protecting and defending the constitution of the United States. At any rate, he announced that the NSA would ...

Mar 27, 2014

Military-industrial warnings ring as true as ever

On Jan. 17, 1961, the outgoing U.S. President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, went on TV to deliver his valedictory address to the American people. Ike had been a relatively uncontroversial president. He had overseen a period of astonishing prosperity and economic growth. He had impeccable ...

Mar 20, 2014

Apathy over Internet snooping is a recipe for disaster

As someone who is supposed to know about these things, I’m sometimes asked to give talks about computing to non-technical audiences. The one thing I have learned from doing this is that if you want people to understand technological ideas then you have to ...

Feb 27, 2014

Don't be taken in by Amazon's friendly face

When corporate types gather to schmooze at expensive watering holes they talk about competition as an unalloyed public good. It’s seen in Darwinian terms: companies engaged in a ceaseless battle for survival, with only the fittest emerging triumphant. But generally the discussion is couched ...

Feb 20, 2014

Cracking the code of computer education

Last week, my inbox began to fill up with angry emails. Had I seen the dreadful/unbelievable/disgraceful/hilarious (delete as appropriate) “Newsnight” interview with Lottie Dexter? I hadn’t, and as I’d never heard of Ms. Dexter, I wasn’t unduly bothered. After all, life is too short ...

Feb 13, 2014

The trouble with books that change over time

A few weeks ago, I bought a copy of “The Second Machine Age” by two MIT researchers, Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, who are among the most insightful commentators currently writing about the likely impact on employment of advanced robotics, machine learning and big-data ...