Tech

News about computers, smartphones, gadgets, apps, the Internet and the tech industry.

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Silicon Valley is a politically liberal place — and that is reflected in where people are sending their money this election season. Ninety-five percent of contributions from tech employees to the presidential campaigns have gone to Hillary Clinton, according to Crowdpac, a group that tracks political donations.

But one well-known outlier has caused a lot of friction in the Valley.

Voice recognition surrounds tech-loving Americans, from Siri to Google Assistant to Amazon Echo. Its omnipresence can make it easy to forget that making this technology has been really, really hard.

Understanding human speech is one of the most difficult frontiers in machine learning, and the biggest names in technology have devoted much time and money to conquering it. But their products still work for only a handful of languages.

Less prominent languages are still indecipherable to computers — even for text translations, let alone voice recognition.

In the small town of Sunderland, Mass., is a 300-year-old, family-run plot of land that fuses fine art and farming.

Mike Wissemann's 8-acre cornfield maze is a feat of ingenuity, with carefully planned and executed stalk-formed replicas of notables such as the Mona Lisa, Albert Einstein and Salvador Dalí.

In an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all practical perception escapes, and in its place arises a fantastical world that teasingly mirrors the reality we call our own.

It's called virtual reality, or VR, and it's this technology that game developer Jonathan Schenker has a passion for. Schenker and his colleague Aaron Stanton created the VR game QuiVr — and, as he tells NPR's Rachel Martin, he was alarmed to discover a female user had been harassed while playing it.

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