When Numeracy Superseded Literacy—and Created the Modern World

The Renaissance's Embrace of Numbers Revolutionized Commerce, Science, and Art

In 1025, two learned monks, Radolph of Liége and Ragimbold of Cologne, exchanged several letters on mathematical topics they had encountered while reading a manuscript of the sixth-century Roman philosopher, Boethius, whose writings supplied one of the few mathematics sources in the Middle Ages. These monks were not mathematicians, but they were inquisitive and keen to further their learning. They pondered Boethius’ words. They struggled. In particular, they puzzled over the theorem that the interior angles of a triangle were equal to two right angles. “Interior angles” of a triangle? …

Forget Fake News. Social Media Is Making Democracy Less Democratic.

Hyperconnectivity Allows Demagogues to Micro-Target and Manipulate the Masses

Anxieties that new communications technologies and media formats would undermine democratic citizenship go back more than a century. In the late 19th century, critics worried about sensationalistic “yellow journalism”; a …

What Happens When Personal Information Gets Weaponized

The Government Needs Data to Protect Infrastructure, Without Imperiling Privacy

Michael Greenberger is a professor at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law and the founder and director of the University of Maryland Center for Health and Homeland Security. …

In California, Big Data Is Getting the Wrong People Arrested

Blame the Software—and a Lack of Incentives to Check for Errors

Managing information is central to the criminal justice system, and so it’s inevitable that mistakes happen. Names get confused, files lost. When these errors occur, the police can mistakenly arrest …