Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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The viability of Transcendence: the science behind the film

In the trailer of Transcendence, an authoritative professor embodied by Johnny Depp says that “the path to building superintelligence requires us to unlock the most fundamental secrets of the universe.” It’s difficult to wrap our minds around the possibility of artificial intelligence and how it will affect society. 

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An interview with Brian Hughes, digital strategist

This week is National Library Week in the United States. Oxford University Press is celebrating the contributions of these institutions to communities around the world in a variety of ways, including granting free access to online products in the United States and Canada.

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A conversation with Alberto Gallace

From Facebook’s purchase of Oculus VR Inc. to the latest medical developments, technology is driving new explorations of the perception, reality, and neuroscience. How do we perceive reality through the sense of touch? Alberto Gallace is a researcher in touch and multisensory integration at the University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy, and co-author of In touch with the future: The sense of touch from cognitive neuroscience to virtual reality. We spoke to him about touch, personal boundaries and being human.

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Is there a “cyber war” between Ukraine and Russia?

By Marco Roscini
Alarming headlines have recently started to appear in the media (see, for example, the CNN’s “Cyberwar hits Ukraine”). This, however, is sensationalism. What has actually happened so far is limited disruption of mobile communications through Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.

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Dopamine, Twitter, and the bilingual brain

Before I wrote my last blog entry, I got a Twitter account to start tracking reactions to that entry. I was surprised to see that people that I had never met favorited my post. Some even retweeted it.

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An interview with I. Glenn Cohen on law and bioscience

There are huge changes taking place in the world of biosciences, and whether it’s new discoveries in stem cell research, new reproductive technologies, or genetics being used to make predictions about health and behavior, there are legal ramifications for everything. Journal of Law and the Biosciences is a new journal published by Oxford University Press in association Duke University, Harvard University Law School, and Stanford University, focused on the legal implications of the scientific revolutions in the biosciences.

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Something to like about bitcoin

By Richard S. Grossman
Within months of being introduced in 2009, enthusiasts were hailing bitcoin, the digital currency and peer-to-peer payment system, as the successor to the dollar, euro, and yen as the world’s most important currency. The collapse of the Mt. Gox bitcoin exchange last month has dulled some of the enthusiasm for the online currency.

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Peak shopping and the decline of traditional retail

By David M. Levinson
Shopping trips now comprise fewer than 9% of all trips, down from 12.5% in 2000, according to our analysis of the Twin Cities Travel Behavior Inventories. This is consistent with other results from the American Time Use Survey. They are down by about one-third in a decade.

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How electronic publishing is changing academia for the better

By Hannah Skoda
When I started in my current post, one of my students, off to a nightclub, very cheekily asked me whether when I was young, they were still called discos. The same sorts of feelings are coming to characterize attitudes towards books – our students find it hard to imagine a time when nothing was available electronically.

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The genesis of computer science

By Subrata Dasgupta
Politically, socially, and culturally, the 1960s were tumultuous times. But tucked away amidst the folds of the Cold War, civil rights activism, anti-war demonstrations, the feminist movement, revolts of students and workers, flower power, sit-ins, Marxist and Maoist revolutions – almost unnoticed — a new science was born in university campuses across North America, Britain, Europe and even, albeit tentatively, certain non-Western parts of the world.

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Facebook turns ten: teenager or (grand)parent?

By José van Dijck
Last November, technology reporter Jenna Wortham of the New York Times observed: “Just a few years ago, most of my online social activity revolved around Facebook … But lately, my formerly hyperactive Facebook life has slowed to a crawl. … I rarely add photographs or post updates about what I’ve been doing… Is it just me, or is Facebook fading?”

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Revisiting reasons to ‘unfriend’ on Facebook’s 10th anniversary

On 4 February 2004, a website named Facebook was launched. Since then it has grown to become a global force affecting many aspects of our lives. Five years ago, Oxford Dictionaries selected ‘unfriend’ as Word of the Year. At the time, we also shared reasons why people unfriend someone on Facebook. On this occasion, we asked once again, why you would — or should — unfriend.

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Locating in a ‘Silicon Valley’ does not guarantee success for tech firms

By Harald Bathelt and Peng-Fei Li
In China and Canada, Shenzhen and Waterloo share the same nickname. Both are frequently viewed as their country’s “Silicon Valley”. Despite this shared name, there are fundamental differences between the two, which can be illustrated by the development of their leading firms. Let’s use the local weather of the two cities as a metaphor to describe the current situation.

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Rethinking European data protection law

By Dr Christopher Kuner
On the occasion of international Data Protection Day on the 28th of January, I would like to explore how European data protection law can become more efficient and effective, and better tailored to the needs of individuals.

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Protecting children from hardcore adult content online

By Julia Hӧrnle
In the offline world the distribution of pornography has been strictly controlled. Age-verification and rating stems ensure that minors cannot access hardcore pornography. The British Board of Film Classification rates cinema and DVD content; content rated as R18 can only be shown in specialised cinemas with strict age-verification standards and certain pornographic content will not be rated for cinema or DVD distribution.

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