They also hoover up valuable data from users through the use of tools like reCAPTCHA, which ask visitors to solve problems that are easy for humans but hard for AIs, such as deciphering text from books that machines are unable to parse.
John Hoffecker, an archaeologist at the University of Colorado at Boulder, drew attention to a study of an archaeological site called Bluefish Caves.
Finance and EconomicsWe are all digital labourers, helping make possible the fortunes generated by firms like Google and Facebook, the authors argue.
Science and TechnologyThat paradox may be close to resolution. Recent digs have pushed the physical evidence of America’s settlement back in time. Meanwhile, as the meeting heard from Mark Sicoli, a linguist at the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville, a different model of linguistic evolution brings the common ancestor of Native-American tongues forward. Apply a few error bars to the results and the two estimates touch—at about 25,000 years ago.
Similarly, long-run returns provide support for the grand theory of inequality set out in 2013 by Thomas Piketty, a French economist, who suggested (based in part on his own data-gathering) that the rate of return on capital was typically higher than the growth rate of the economy.
But low rates of return also mean that government-debt burdens may prove easier to manage than thought—and perhaps that government borrowing could be used more aggressively in times of economic weakness to make up for central-bank impotence.
Theirs is the first such data set to gather all of that information for so many countries over so long a period.