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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 22nd September 2017 > ALEXA, PLEASE SAVE THE WORLD


Speech recognition is going to change the way we compute and how we think


KIDS TODAY will grow up thinking a keyboard is some antediluvian tool like an abacus or butter churn, which they might encounter only because it’s nailed to a wall of a TGI Fridays.

Voice is taking over as the way we interact with technology and input words. Actually, it was supposed to have taken over a long time ago. Back in 1998, I wrote a column for USA Today saying that “speech-recognition technology looks ready to change the world,” though I also noted that when I tried to say “two turntables and a microphone” into the latest and greatest speech-recognition software, it thought I said something like “two torn labels and an ice cream cone.” Turns out that was about 20 years too soon.

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WHO'S KILLING AMERICA'S SPERM? Hagai Levine doesn't scare easily. The Hebrew University Public Health researcher is the former chief epidemiologist for the Israel Defense Forces, which means he’s acquainted with danger and risk in a way most of his academic counter-parts aren’t. So when he raises doubts about the future of the human race, it’s worth listening. Together with Shanna Swan, a professor of environmental medicine and public health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Levine authored a major new analysis that tracked male sperm levels over the past few decades, and what he found frightened him. “Reproduction may be the most important function of any species,” says Levine. “Something is very wrong with men.”