2016, The Year in Review

At The Technoskeptic, we bring you an in-depth look at particular issues with a new article or podcast every Wednesday. Necessarily, that leaves out a lot of daily news—something that’s about to change with a News Briefs feed coming to the site very soon. In the meantime, here’s a look back at 2016 and some of the stories we thought were important in a year of rapid technological change.

Lumosity Reaches a $2M Settlement Over Deceptive Advertising
Called on its unproven brain-training claims, Lumosity has to fork over cash and change its ads.

FBI Demands Apple Break Its Own Encryption
The iPhone of a San Bernardino terrorist becomes a powerful symbol in the struggle between surveillance and privacy, with the victory ultimately going to government-paid hackers.

Google’s Go-Playing Computer Defeats Champion
AlphaGo beats Lee Sedol in a game so complex that it has more positions than atoms in the universe.

Hulk Hogan Awarded $115 Million in Gawker Suit
In what seemed to be a referendum on clickbait, Gawker was strongly punished for publishing a sex tape of the former wrestling star. They would later file for bankruptcy and it would be revealed that famed Silicon Valley venture capitalist Peter Thiel had bankrolled the lawsuit.

World’s First Baby Born with Three Genetic Parents
The controversial technique called mitochondrial donation, approved in Britain to prevent a genetic disease, paid off for a Jordanian family.

Nielsen: Vinyl Sells the Most Since 1988
Records continue a surprising resurgence, selling nearly 12 times as many units as 2007 in the US, and outperforming all the free streaming services in revenue.

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First Reported Death by Autonomous Vehicle
A driver in Florida dies when his Tesla in autopilot mode crashes into a truck.

Russian Operatives Hack the DNC
Leaked emails from the Democratic National Committee brought down chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz and affected races up and down the ballot, including, perhaps, the presidency.

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Augmented Becomes a Reality
Pokémon Go flooded the actual streets with gamers viewing an altered version of the world, creating attention deficits, obnoxious behavior, injuries, and privacy violations along the way.

Unarmed Man’s Shooting Death Live-Streamed
In one of the more disturbing technology moments of the year (for a variety of reasons), Philando Castile, an unarmed black man, is seen in the aftermath of a police shooting, broadcast in real time via the new Facebook Live app.

Assassin Killed by Robot
A Dallas sniper who was shooting police officers is killed remotely by a bomb-weilding robot.

A Half a Billion Yahoo User Accounts Breached
One of the largest data breaches in history is revealed right before a proposed merger with Verizon.

FDA Bans Antibacterial Soap
The Food and Drug Administration finally clamped down on these unnecessary products that have been flooding our bodies and food supply with Triclosan and other questionable chemicals.

Internet of Things Hacked, Shutting Down Major Websites
A denial-of-service attack on DNS provider Dyn perpetrated via the Internet of Things brought down major sites like Twitter and Spotify, revealing the vulnerability of the Internet.

The UK Passes Draconian Surveillance Law
The law, since challenged by the EU, would require keeping a year-long log of everyone’s Internet habits, among other Orwellian measures.

14-Year-Old Wins Right to Be Cryogenically Frozen
A British girl dying of cancer was granted her wish to be posthumously frozen, in the hopes of being revived in the future, over the objection of her estranged father.

Fake News Prods Gunman to Threaten Pizzeria
The restaurant Comet Ping Pong in Washington DC received a visit from an armed man who believed he was investigating a child-sex ring run by Hillary Clinton, encapsulating the very real dangers of very fake news.

Amazon Makes First Drone Delivery
After years of hype, the first commercial delivery by drone was made by Amazon in rural England. It took 13 minutes, and included popcorn.