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British scientist Michael Faraday addresses the Royal Institution in London in 1855, in a painting by Alexander Blaikley. Photo: Rischgitz/Getty
For centuries, science was a multilingual affair, powered by French, German, English and other tongues. But since the early 1970s, English has become the undisputed lingua franca of scientific papers, conferences, and discourse.
Background: Speaking English isn’t optional for scientists, especially leading-edge computer science researchers.
The dominance of English gives native speakers a huge advantage, says Michael Gordin, a Princeton professor who specializes in the role of language in technological advance.
Countries that build up English proficiency can benefit from the advantages the language brings.
The big picture: An increasingly independent academic environment in China means non-Chinese speakers are missing out on important information.
What’s next: Machine translation is improving quickly. Though its work is still riddled with errors, Google Translate has been boosted by AI; meanwhile, researchers are taking early stabs at real-time translation, an extremely difficult task for humans and computers both.
Corporate America's political allegiances are largely predictable: Big Tech leans way left, and Big Oil way right.
Axios' Harry Stevens reports: But Amazon is unlike the rest of tech giants, per an analysis of PAC and employee donations from Fortune 500 firms.
The bottom line: Of the $180 million that big firms donated this cycle, 52% went to GOP candidates and 48% to Democrats. Alphabet was the single largest donor.
Go deeper: Explore the graphic
At Coney Island. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty
On Tuesday, we wrote about the great family exodus from American cities — how high costs of living and underfunded public schools are driving new parents to the exurbs.
A number of Future readers wrote with other thoughts:
"Hasn’t this been true of cities at least since the end of WWII? For all of my life it seems middle class adults have moved out of cities to the suburbs or farther when they started raising children. That’s what led to the growth of suburbs and the decline of inner cities."— Tim Lahey
"[Y]ou left out strict zoning laws as one of the main culprits for real estate price inflation. The cities you mentioned in the article San Francisco, New York City and Boston are some of the worst offenders. There would be no reason for tech companies and capital intensive industries to price out families and young people if there were enough housing units created to keep prices down."— Robert Sosa
Photo: Castaneda Luis/AGF/UIG/Getty
An Uber driver. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty
In an intensifying perks war among the world's biggest companies, Uber is the latest firm to introduce a shiny new benefit — free college tuition for drivers.
Erica writes: Corporate America is facing dual pressures — a battle to find enough workers amid a 3.7% jobless rate, and growing scrutiny from labor, regulators and consumers reckoning with business' impact on society. As we reported yesterday, companies are trying to appear responsive, in part by debuting social benefits for employees.
Driving the news: The ride-hailing company announced today that it is teaming up with Arizona State University to offer tuition-free on-line education to its drivers. Starbucks has also been offering free tuition at ASU — since 2014, 2,000 employees of the coffeehouse have gotten ASU degrees, the Arizona Republic reports.
The details: The Uber-ASU partnership will allow top drivers — those who have completed at least 3,000 rides with high ratings — to take online classes toward degrees. Family members are also eligible.