The end of the year is always a good time for a bit of introspection and self-reflection. It also seems right to pause to celebrate some of the high points from a challenging year.

We asked our writers and editors to look back over all the stories we published in 2021 and tell us which ones really stood out. Which stories did their colleagues publish that made them proud to work for MIT Technology Review? (And no, they weren’t allowed to choose their own.)

An edited version of the list runs below, but there was one story that our team kept coming back to as a touchstone for the kind of coverage that we do: Karen Hao’s investigation into Facebook.

Abby Ivory-Ganja, our audience engagement editor, said it was “showstopping.” She added: “It’s easy to think of tech companies as monoliths and CEOs and not as groups of people. But Karen did such a great job explaining problems at Facebook through Joaquin Quiñonero Candela. This was one of TR’s most widely read stories of the year, and it’s no surprise why once you read it.”

Charlotte Jee, news editor, said: “This article was a bombshell when it came out in March. It revealed, in painstaking detail, the full extent to which Facebook knew its algorithms drove people towards harmful, hateful content—and chose not to do anything about it. Why? Because, as Karen so perfectly put it, ‘The reason is simple. Everything the company does and chooses not to do flows from a single motivation: [Mark] Zuckerberg’s relentless desire for growth.’ If you read it now, in the light of the Facebook Papers, it looks so prescient.”

How Facebook got addicted to spreading misinformation

The company’s AI algorithms gave it an insatiable habit for lies and hate speech. Now the man who built them can’t fix the problem.WINNI WINTERMEYER

See if you agree. And then once you’re done reading that one, see what else the rest of our team chose as their top hits of the year.

Have a happy new year!

Michael Reilly, executive editor

Inside the machine that saved Moore’s Law

A story about a giant, almost unbelievably complex machine that pushes engineering to the absolute max? Yes, please. Chip fabrication is not an easy subject to write about, but in Clive’s hands it’s a romp.

Meet Altos Labs, Silicon Valley’s latest wild bet on living forever

Funders of a deep-pocketed new “rejuvenation” startup are said to include Jeff Bezos and Yuri Milner.ALAMY, GETTY (BEZOS)

“It’s been said that young people dream of being rich, and rich people dream of being young.” Mix that sentiment together with a bit of exciting science and some investment from Jeff Bezos and other billionaires and you’ve got Antonio Regalado’s deep dive into the frothy world of longevity research.

Beauty filters are changing the way young girls see themselves

We know algorithms are out there always nudging our thinking on things like shopping decisions and political opinions. Even so, this piece from Tate Ryan-Mosley is a stunner, showing just how far the algorithmic “optimization” of everything has seeped into young girls’ view of their own physical appearance.  

Tanya Basu, senior reporter, humans and technology

First he held a superspreader event. Then he recommended fake cures

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By: The Editors
Title: Our favorite stories of 2021
Sourced From:
Published Date: Fri, 24 Dec 2021 10:00:00 +0000

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