Question of the Week

Question of the Week
Will “smart grid” efforts succeed?
The White House announced last week that is was planning to forge ahead with "smart grid" plans for the United States. By increasing controls technology and digital information, the effort would potentially update the American electrical transmission system to provide real-time information about the state of...
Question of the Week
If artificial intelligence outsmarts two live contestants, is that a bad sign for the humans?
This week's question addresses a robot and one of America's most well-known game shows. A supercomputer named Watson, designed by IBM and consisting of 90 IBM Power 750 Express servers, is set to face two human contestants on the US quiz show Jeopardy this...
Question of the Week
Is there another "Earth" out there, fit for life as we know it?
This week's question looks at an announcement from scientists operating NASA's Kepler satellite, who reported this week that they had identified 1,235 possible planets orbiting other stars, potentially three times the previously recorded number. Although no Earth-like planet has been...
Question of the Week
Do social networks make us less social?

This week's Question of the Week focuses on Web 2.0 interaction. A recent report from the University of Texas, Austin, says that networking sites like Facebook make users more sociable and "afford opportunities for new expressions of friendship, intimacy and community." A recent book by Sherry Turkle,...

Question of the Week
Will an optional phone-disabling service make the roads safer?

This week's Question focuses on a new service from T-Mobile that, for just 4.99 a month, automatically disables rings and messages, and sends calls to voicemail when the phone is in a moving car. The services being tested and deployed are voluntary and can be overridden if a driver...

Question of the Week
Will the Apple/Verizon partnership lead to widespread iPhone use in the enterprise?

This week's question addresses last week's news that Verizon will soon sell the iPhone 4. Although some analysts say the move may double Apple's market share, many enterprises and financial institutions have held back on the mobile device due to concerns of its...

Question of the Week
Should toys be kept out of a Happy Meal?

This week's Question of the Week concerns a new law in San Francisco, taking effect on Dec. 1 that bans restaurant toy giveaways unless the meals meet certain healthy standards for calories, sodium, and fat. Supporters say the move will offer better nutrition standards for children, while opponents say...

Question of the Week
Should Congress pass the Right to Repair Act?

This week's Question of the Week, a suggestion from INSIDER reader Glenn Barkley, concerns the Right to Repair Act, a bill that would require auto manufacturers to sell to non-dealer repair shops the complete repair information and diagnostic tools, currently only provided to dealer service centers....

Question of the Week
Will you drive this type of robotic car in your lifetime?

This week's Question of the Week addresses another technical development from Google. In early October, the search giant announced that it has been testing robotic cars on U.S. city streets. The vehicles, equipped with a complex array of sensors and cameras that allowed them to steer...

Question of the Week
Should there be a large-scale freeze on foreclosures?

This week's Question of the Week addresses home foreclosures. Several major home lenders, including JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America, have suspended foreclosures in parts or all of the country because of sloppy paperwork and improper oversight of the many loans that went bad. Some say,...

Question of the Week
Do you plan to buy the Google TV device?

This week's Question of the Week addresses Google TV. Engineers are putting the finishing touches on Google TV, a software platform that aims to bring the complete Internet experience to television sets. Expected in stores later this month, the Google TV device has a remote-control keyboard/pointing...

Question of the Week
Do you have faith in the news media to provide fair, reliable information?

This week's Question of the Week concerns a recent Gallup poll that revealed that a majority of Americans (57%) say they have little or no trust in the mass media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly. Sixty-three percent of respondents perceived bias.

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Question of the Week
Should Internet communication services be redesigned so that law enforcement can carry out legally authorized intercepts?

This week's Question of the Week focuses on the redesign of some Internet communication services. Law enforcement officials want Congress to require all services that enable communications — including encrypted e-mail...

Question of the Week
Should smartphones be used as learning tools in the classroom?

This week's Question of the Week focuses on smartphones in the classroom. Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty recently suggested students should be allowed to use smartphones in the classroom, saying that the devices have a variety of helpful educational tools -- calendars, planners, and...

Question of the Week
Will 3D catch on in the long run, and will TV fans and movie buffs demand the technology?

This week’s Question of the Week concerns 3D. The technology offers moviegoers and TV fans an enhanced viewing experience, and many recent 3D films, including Avatar and Alice in Wonderland, have had box office success. Several 3D movies, however, have...

Question of the Week
Should airplanes have families-only sections?

This week's Question of the Week concerns a poll from Skyscanner, a travel fare-comparison Web site. To reduce noise and keep children in one place, sixty percent of more than 2,000 surveyed travelers said it would be a good idea for airplanes to have families-only sections on flights.

What...

Question of the Week
Should the FDA approve genetically engineered salmon?

This week's Question of the Week concerns the issue of genetically engineered food. A firm in Waltham, MA, has developed a genetically modified salmon that grows during the winter as well as the summer, so it reaches an 8-pound market weight in 18 months instead of 36. Accomplished by...

Question of the Week
Should BP be permitted to continue to drill in the Gulf of Mexico?

This week's Question of the Week concerns the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. According to recent news reports, BP said they may drill a new well in the Macondo reservoir -- the source of one of the world's worst oil spills. Proponents believe that BP's earnings from drilling...

Question of the Week
With the prevalence of e-readers, will e-books eventually replace printed books?

This week's Question of the Week concerns the battle between digital volumes and their printed counterparts. From Amazon's Kindle and Apple's iPad to Sony's e-Reader and Barnes & Noble's Nook, digital reading is obviously here to stay. This is especially true...

Question of the Week
Is WikiLeaks a threat to national security?

This week's question concerns the recent story about the nearly 92,000 classified U.S. Military documents leaked by the Web site WikiLeaks.org. The organization's Web site claims, "We believe that transparency in government activities leads to reduced corruption, better government, and stronger...

Question of the Week
Should brain scans be admissible as legal evidence?

This week's question concerns brain scans and the legal system. In 2008 a judge in India convicted a woman of murdering her fiancee based partly on brain scan evidence that gauged her ability to remember details of the crime. And in the US, fMRI scans have already found their way into...

Question of the Week
Was the discovery of Russian spies still operating in the US surprising?

This week's question concerns the recent discovery of Russian spies still operating in the US. In June, authorities uncovered a Russian spy ring of 10 individuals operating in New York and Cambridge. Last week, the US and Russian governments completed a "spy swap" in...

Question of the Week
Will humans be extinct in 100 years?

This week's question concerns the world-renowned Australian scientist Professor Frank Fenner - who helped to wipe out smallpox - and his prediction that humans will probably be extinct within 100 years. His reasoning includes overpopulation, environmental destruction, and climate change. Fenner stated that...

Question of the Week
Does your online persona accurately reflect who you are in the real world?

This week's question concerns our online "personas". While social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook encourage members to use their real identities, a recent study on the usage habits on these sites has shown there's little correlation between how people act on...

Question of the Week
Should CO2 emissions be regulated?

This week’s question concerns the EPA’s regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. Last Thursday, the US Senate failed to pass legislation that would have prevented the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating CO2 emissions from large factories, electric power companies, and automobiles.

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Question of the Week
Should Google be liable for "bad" directions that lead to injury?

This week's question concerns a recent news item about how a Utah woman injured by a motorist while following a Google Maps route has filed a lawsuit claiming Google supplied unsafe directions (the motorist is also named in the lawsuit). The woman used her phone to download...

Question of the Week
Does synthetic biology cross an ethical line?

This week's question concerns synthetic biology research. A study published online by the journal "Science" details how scientists at the J. Craig Venter Institute recently developed the first viable cell controlled by a synthetic genome. According to the researchers, the cell is called synthetic...

Question of the Week
Is time travel possible?

This week's question concerns the concept of time travel. Usually the topic of science fiction books and movies, two of the world's most respected physicists, Stephen Hawking and Michio Kaku, assert that time travel could become a scientific reality. In a recent AOL Science article, both scientists cited Einstein's...

Question of the Week
Should the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico affect the President’s energy plan?

This week’s question concerns the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. After a rig leased by BP Plc exploded and sank last week in the Gulf, many have indicated that the President may experience a setback in his plan to expand offshore drilling. The plan is...

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