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John Naughton

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

Digital May 16, 2014

Trying to be anonymous on the Internet can attract more attention

When searching for an adjective to describe our comprehensively surveilled networked world — the one bookmarked by the NSA at one end and by Google, Facebook, Yahoo and Co. at the other — "Orwellian" is the word that people generally reach for. But "Kafkaesque" seems ...

Digital May 9, 2014

The Twitter paradox: the pros and cons of being free

Life is so unfair. Consider the humble newt — which, in case you're wondering, is an aquatic amphibian of the family Salamandridae. He has had such a bad press over the years. When PG Wodehouse, for example, was looking for a way of signaling ...

Digital May 2, 2014

The robots are taking over, and it won't be pretty

Not often do you hear a "Newsnight" presenter using an arcane mathematical term, but last week was an exception. The culprit was David Grossman, who made an excellent film for "Newsnight" about the threat to employment from advanced robotics. In the course of this, ...

Digital Apr 25, 2014

Understanding Facebook and Google's pursuit of drone technology

Back in the bad old days of the Cold War, one of the most revered branches of the inexact sciences was Kremlinology. In the West, newspapers, think tanks and governments retained specialists whose job was to scrutinize every scrap of evidence, gossip and rumor ...

Digital Apr 18, 2014

Who's to blame for the Web's Heartbleed?

Were you a thriller writer seeking a name for an apocalyptic software security flaw that threatened the future of civilization as we know it, then "Heartbleed" would be hard to beat. Last week saw the discovery of such a flaw, and Heartbleed was the ...

Digital 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 off ...

Digital 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 ...

Digital 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 ...

Digital 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 ...