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Five Reads: Becoming an Obama

The Forrest Four-Cast: December 7, 2018

The Wonder of “Becoming”
Reading the entire book would be a fine use of free time over your holiday break, but meanwhile, check out Isabel Wilkerson’s essay on Michelle Obama’s new memoir “Becoming.” Wilkerson, former Chicago bureau chief of The New York Times, goes a long way to explaining why this is not just another celebrity account of public life. “She is taking the country by the hand on an intimate tour of everyday African-American life and ambition, while recounting her rise from modest origins to the closest this country has to nobility. She’s meditating on the tensions women face in a world that speaks of gender equality but in which women still bear the greater burdens of balancing career and family, even with a forward-thinking husband like Barack Obama.”

Learn more about the genius of the Obamas from key advisor Valerie Jarrett, who will be a featured speaker of the Cities, Government and Politics track at SXSW 2019.

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Why Trump Hates CNN
In a lengthy interview recapping an podcast with David Axelrod, CNN president Jeff Zucker explains there are several reasons that the network has become such a frequent target of President Trump’s viciously tweeting digits. The network’s influence on independent voters is one, Zucker and Trump’s tangled personal relationship is another — Zucker takes responsibility for approving “The Apprentice,” and he and Trump were friendly for many years. But despite their history, CNN, Zucker says, is fully committed to the truth, which doesn’t often align with Trump’s plans.

Zucker, who says he may be interested in a political future himself, will be a featured speaker at the SXSW 2019 Media and Journalism track.

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Catching a Driverless Ride
Waymo has launched the first self-driving taxi in Arizona, and for Verge, Andrew J. Hawkins, describes taking a ride. The autonomous Chrysler Pacifica minivans now roaming four Phoenix neighborhoods represent a significant step forward for the self-driving project. There are still human drivers in the cars but, as Hawkins reports, he hasn’t experienced one needing to take over yet. This is still a very small project but the message is clear: Driverless cars are coming.

Speakers at SXSW 2019 will explore other avenues for autonomous vehicles, with one discussion focusing on why self-driving trucks may make more sense than passenger vehicles. Learn more from the Tech Industry and Enterprise track.

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Could Facebook Fail?
News on Facebook continues to roil the company. The Washington Post reported on yet-another corporate bombshell: This time the host of documents and emails released by a British lawmaker indicating that Facebook offered to give advertisers prime access to users’ data and behavior.

Facebook has denied the claims but, as BuzzFeed News reports, internal tensions at the company may have reached a boiling point. Some current employees told BuzzFeed News, “Now, people now have burner phones to talk shit about the company — not even to reporters, just to other employees.”

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Can Quantum Computing Secure Data?
If you’re not concerned about data security, you’re not paying attention. As the New York Times reports, leading tech companies around the world are focusing on building the first super-powerful quantum computer, which sounds exciting, but such technology could be able to break through any encryption. The solution: develop quantum security to stop it. If you need a brush-up on exactly how quantum computing works, the article is a great place to start.

The Intelligent Future track at SXSW 2019 will explore the ways in which all sorts of burgeoning technologies may impact our lives.

Hugh Forrest serves as Chief Programming Officer at SXSW, the world’s most unique gathering of creative professionals. He also tries to write at least four paragraphs per day on Medium. These posts often cover tech-related trends; other times they focus on books, pop culture, sports and other current events.

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Celebrating creativity at SXSW. Also, reading reading reading, the Boston Red Sox, good food, exercise when possible and sleep sleep sleep.

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