Steven Levy
Steven Levy
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The Tenuous Promise of the Substack Dream

The Tenuous Promise of the Substack Dream

there ever been a worse year than 2020? Even crazier, with a month to go, everybody knows the worst is yet to come. The Plain ViewI used to write a column for Macworld magazine. People trying to butter me up would tell me they bought the magazine just to read my modest contribution. I didn’t believe them, but it got me thinking. It was the mid-’90s, the early days of the web, and pioneers were starting their own sites. What if I “went internet”—sold just my column and charged a buck for each edition? Cheaper than the magazine! If I were paid by only a fraction of Macworld’s several hundred...

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Steven Levy
Nov 20
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Huawei, 5G, and the Man Who Conquered Noise

Huawei, 5G, and the Man Who Conquered Noise

Shenzhen in July. The weather is hot, the trees brimming with life … ” So begins the baritone voice-over in a video shot in the summer of 2018 by the Chinese telecommunications giant and posted to YouTube. It chronicles a corporate event in the slightly corny style of a 1960s educational film, starting with aerial drone footage of Huawei's campus—an island of lush greenery surrounded by the high-rise buildings of the city known as China's Silicon Valley. A spirited orchestral version of Beethoven's “Turkish March” plays as a town car wends its way through the campus, pulling up to a stately...

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Steven Levy
Nov 16
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Bill Gates on Covid: Most US Tests Are ‘Completely Garbage’

Bill Gates on Covid: Most US Tests Are ‘Completely Garbage’

has been easing out of the roles that made him rich and famous—CEO, chief software architect, and chair of Microsoft—and devoting his brainpower and passion to the , abandoning earnings calls and antitrust hearings for the metrics of disease eradication and carbon reduction. This year, after he , one would have thought he would have relished shedding the spotlight directed at the four CEOs of big tech companies .But as with many of us, 2020 had different plans for Gates. An early Cassandra who of our lack of preparedness for a global pandemic, he became one of the most credible figures as...

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Steven Levy
Aug 7
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Stephen Wolfram Invites You to Solve Physics

Stephen Wolfram Invites You to Solve Physics

has derailed everyday existence for all of us, forcing us to make difficult choices. But a few weeks ago, Stephen Wolfram’s dilemma was unique. What should you do, he wondered, if, right in the middle of a pandemic, you were ready to announce that you had made historical progress—at least as you saw it—toward solving a fundamental physics question? If you felt you had figured out the path to the Holy Grail of Physics: a unified theory, making it possible for the first time to discover the underlying rule of our entire universe, one that intertwines relativity, gravity, and quantum mechanics...

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Steven Levy
Apr 14
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The Doctor Who Helped Defeat Smallpox Explains What's Coming

The Doctor Who Helped Defeat Smallpox Explains What's Coming

Epidemiologist Larry Brilliant, who warned of pandemic in 2006, says we can beat the novel coronavirus—but first, we need lots more testing. Larry Brilliant says he doesn’t have a crystal ball. But 14 years ago, Brilliant, the epidemiologist who helped eradicate smallpox, spoke to a TED audience and described what the next pandemic would look like. At the time, it sounded almost too horrible to take seriously. “A billion people would get sick," he said. “As many as 165 million people would die. There would be a global recession and depression, and the cost to our economy of $1 to $3...

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Steven Levy
Mar 19
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