How to Build a Hard Tech Startup | CEO Jason Rosenthal deep-dives into the trials and tribulations surrounding the development of Lytro Cinema technology. [more inside]
Paul Maley maintains three highly comprehensive pages dedicated to space debris which has fallen back to earth. These are organized into chronological sections: 1960-1980, 1981-2003, and 2004-present.
What does it look like when a museum pulls a time-based media installation artwork from storage? MoMA Conservator Ben Fino-Radin tells the story of rescuing and exhibiting the 1994 interactive multimedia work Lovers, by Teiji Furuhashi. [more inside]
How To Write Better Harvard Business Review Articles: Have Cormac McCarthy Do Your Editing - "I really enjoyed this anecdote about the writing of W. Brian Arthur's classic article on increasing returns from 1996." (via) [more inside]
The Morning News asks a collection of editors, journalists, writers, and activists: what were the Most and Least important stories of the year?
How Pittsburgh became Uber's Kitty Hawk: Gov't emails reveal the promise, pitfalls of alliance — PennLive reports on the often chummy, sometimes adversarial relationship between Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and Uber senior executives, including co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick. [more inside]
The World's Largest Hedge Fund Is Building an Algorithmic Model of Its Founder's Brain - "Mr. Dalio has the highest stratum score at Bridgewater, and the firm has told employees he has one of the highest in the world. Likewise, Bridgewater's software judges Mr. Dalio the firm's most 'believable' employee in matters such as investing and leadership, which means his opinions carry more weight. Mr. Dalio is always in search of new data with which to measure his staff. He once raised the idea of using head bands to track people's brain waves, according to one former employee. The idea wasn't adopted." [more inside]
The Strange Roots Of Globalization (And Its Discontents) - "Today's global economy has its roots in the frivolity of spice."
Seeker.com: "Two Star Trek 'Tricorders' Have Made It to the Final Round of XPRIZE. This week, Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE officials announced that two teams of finalists have made it to the last round of the competition, having designed tricorder-style medical devices that are actually pretty space-age in look and function. Weighing in at less that five pounds each, the devices can diagnose and interpret 13 different health conditions within minutes, while continuously monitoring five different vital sign metrics." [more inside]
Inside the insectary - "These gene drives, they're able to copy themselves. So instead of half of the offspring inheriting the gene drive, almost all of them do. So what happens is that it spreads and it spreads and it spreads. And this is the fantastic thing. Because it allows that gene to be selfish in a population. And in a very short amount of time you can actually transform an entire wild population into a modified population. It's powerful." (previously: 1,2,3)
China has launched a high-tech revolution: Beijing has devised an industrial masterplan named "Made in China 2025" and is investing billions to turn China into one of the leading industrial countries by 2049. As the latest MERICS Paper on China shows, China's ambitious strategy is starting to bear fruit. Industrial countries like Germany and the United States have to be prepared for strong competition.
“Harassers are very clever. They take advantage of tools that are very innocuous and use them as vectors for abuse,” Ehmke told me. “If you’re creating products and not thinking about how it could be used for abuse, you are not doing your job.” - How Github is dealing with its troll problem.
Amazon has opened a corner store where customers can pick up their groceries and just walk out without having to queue up and pay at the checkout. [more inside]
Google has released an update to their Google Earth Timelapse feature that provides for a longer time horizon and a much greater level of detail than has been previously available. [more inside]
In one respect, today’s emotional politics is the inverse of the 1960s. Back then, people were coming to define themselves by their pleasures: their sexual desires, consumer preferences, lifestyle choices. Today, many are coming to define themselves by their pains: past traumas, mental illnesses and chronic health conditions ... One culprit always stands out in public discussion of these trends: digital technology.In The Age of Pain, New Statesman (15 November 2016), Will Davies (Goldsmith's, University of London) discusses the politics of pain and its intersection with digital technologies.
The Best Way to Predict the Future is to Issue a Press Release: Audrey Watters, a folklorist by training, examines the storytelling techniques of technology forecasting (especially ed-tech forecasting): If you repeat this fantasy, these predictions often enough, if you repeat it in front of powerful investors, university administrators, politicians, journalists, then the fantasy becomes factualized. (Not factual. Not true. But “truthy,” to borrow from Stephen Colbert’s notion of “truthiness.”) So you repeat the fantasy in order to direct and to control the future. Because this is key: the fantasy then becomes the basis for decision-making.
Stealth Cell Tower is a project by Julian Oliver that blends art, technology, and awareness using a disguised office printer.
High Tech Pumpkins - Wired brings you a entries from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory's pumpkin carving contest. Aaron Yazzie has posted more NASA pumpkin pics at Twitter.
"I didn't go online for a long time because of my fears it'd mostly be a bunch of 15-year old technoid geeks and social outcasts. ☯87DEC" Visit the early days of the Internet with @WWWTEXt which posts online conversations from 1980-94
“I think the whole selling point with dating apps is ‘Oh, it’s so easy to find someone,’ and now that I’ve tried it, I’ve realized that’s actually not the case at all"--The Rise of Dating App Fatigue
Howard Schneider was a doctor treating psychiatric patients in the ER when he decided to transform the grocery store experience. He set out to invent the self checkout machine (partial transcript here). Schneider's self-checkout kiosk was first deployed at a Price Chopper supermarket in Clifton Park, New York in 1992. [more inside]
A Bad Week for Samsung [The New York Times] “Samsung Electronics is killing its troubled Galaxy Note 7 [wiki] smartphone, a humbling about-face for the South Korean giant and its global brand. In an unprecedented move, the company will no longer produce or market the smartphones. The demise of the Galaxy Note 7 is a major setback for Samsung, the world’s largest maker of smartphones. The premium device — with a 5.7-inch screen, curved contours and comparatively high price — won praise from consumers and reviewers, and was the company’s most ambitious effort yet to take on Apple for the high-end market.” [more inside]
Freedom of speech in the digital age - "Speech that disseminates ideas is more valuable than speech whose purpose is to intimidate others." [more inside]
The hardest part of writing a show in the '80s isn't getting music clearance or convincing actors to get those haircuts -- it's finding the right tech (or at least, making it look right). [more inside]
ARTS MacArthur Foundation Announces 2016 ‘Genius’ Grant Winners [The New York Times] This year’s winners of the MacArthur fellowships, awarded for exceptional “originality, insight and potential,” and publicly announced on Thursday, include writers, visual artists, scientists, nonprofit organization leaders and others, who are chosen at a moment when the recognition and money — a no-strings-attached grant of $625,000 distributed over five years — will make a difference. [more inside]
Electric vehicles – It's not just about the car - "One of the key characteristics of complex systems, such as the world's energy and transport sectors, is that when they change it tends not to be a linear process. They flip from one state to another in a way strongly analogous to a phase change in material science... A second important characteristic of this type of economic phase change is that when one major sector flips, the results rip through the whole economy and can have impacts on the societal scale." (via) [more inside]
From deities to data - "For thousands of years humans believed that authority came from the gods. Then, during the modern era, humanism gradually shifted authority from deities to people... Now, a fresh shift is taking place. Just as divine authority was legitimised by religious mythologies, and human authority was legitimised by humanist ideologies, so high-tech gurus and Silicon Valley prophets are creating a new universal narrative that legitimises the authority of algorithms and Big Data." [more inside]
How big data increases inequality and threatens democracy - "A former academic mathematician and ex-hedge fund quant exposes flaws in how information is used to assess everything from creditworthiness to policing tactics, with results that cause damage both financially and to the fabric of society. Programmed biases and a lack of feedback are among the concerns behind the clever and apt title of Cathy O'Neil's book: Weapons of Math Destruction." [more inside]
Will the New Apple iPhone Have a Headphone Jack? Rumormongers Say It Won’t [The New York Times] “When the latest iPhone is unveiled here on Wednesday in a 7,000-seat auditorium, it probably will instead be more like Christmas for a sneaky 10-year-old who long ago peeked at his present. Thanks. That’s it? Anyone who cares enough about the iPhone to know that a new model is being released this month already knows what it is supposed to be like: a little thinner, a little faster and equipped with superior cameras on the Plus model. By far the most controversial feature, however, is the one that will be missing: a headphone jack. A standard element of technology that can be traced back to 1878 and the invention of the manual telephone exchange, the jack is apparently going the way of the floppy disk and the folding map. The future will be wireless.” [more inside]
Norman Rockwell, Walt Disney, Wernher von Braun, space habitats and moon landings - the improbable, bold history of space concept art.
Recently The Tor Project changed their mission statement and social contract, including language about explicitly supporting human rights. Virgil Griffith argues that this is dangerous for exactly those users whose human rights are threatened: “the ‘Human Rights Watch for Nerds’ branding gives decidedly-unfriendly-and-opportunistic-authorities full license to do as they please with Tor operators or anyone who uses Tor.” [more inside]
"Whatever [the ingredients] taste like together is not particularly relevant." Terry Gross interviews married culinary historians Jane Ziegelman and Andy Coe on the culinary history of the Great Depression and their new book 'A Square Meal' (37:00 audio, transcribed sections)
As Thailand is discovering, the smartphone — for all its indispensability as a tool of business and practicality — is also a bearer of values; it is not a culturally neutral device. And if digital imperialism is happening — if smartphones and other gadgets are bearing cultural freight as they cross borders — there is little doubt as to which nation’s values are hiding in the hold.
The Moral Machine: Welcome to the moral machine! - you are a self-driving car, unfortunately something has gone horribly wrong - who put that wall there? Regrettably, you are now about to crash and must choose the lesser of two evils. Do you kill your passengers or that old lady and her cute little doggy crossing the road? - A new MIT project provides a public exploration of the kinds of trolley problem style dilemma's that self-driving cars may have to face and allows us to compare our shared moral intuitions.
Engineers Create The First Dust-Sized Wireless Sensors That Can Be Implanted Into The Human Body. Relevant paper here.
BBC: "There are strong social divisions in how young people use digital technology, according to international research from the OECD. The economics think tank found that in many countries wealthy and poor pupils spent similar amounts of time online. But richer youngsters were much more likely to use the internet for learning rather than games. The study argues that even with equal access to technology a "digital divide" persists in how the internet is used.""
In the first quarter of 2016 according to the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, L.E.D.-lamp shipments in the U.S. were up three hundred and seventy-five per cent over last year, taking more than a quarter of the market for the first time in history. This would seem to be a good thing, but building bulbs to last turns out to pose a vexing problem: no one seems to have a sound business model for such a product.
interviewing.io is a platform where people can practice technical interviewing anonymously and find jobs based on their interview performance. Women historically haven’t performed as well as men—specifically, men were getting advanced to the next round 1.4 times more often than women, and had a 20% higher average technical score from interviewers. In an attempt to erase this difference, interviewing.io added voice modulation to their online interviews.
"Autism is seen like some sort of mental superpower where we can see math in the air. In my experience, this isn’t really the case." - Dispelling some myths about the autistic wunderkind programmer. Also: Why you might not want to get TOO excited about autism employment initiatives. Autism FAQ
This robot stingray is powered by genetically engineered rat heart cells. It has an elastomer body and a stiff gold skeleton. Rat heart cells are grown in a specific pattern on the underside, and are activated by pulses of light -- allowing the robot to be remote controlled as it navigates through a liquid with suspended nutrients that keep the cells alive. More details from Science. Even Popular Mechanics doesn't need to do much sensationalizing to this story.
Matthew Kirschenbaum talks to The Atlantic about his book on the history of word processing, what early word processing looked like, early adopter Len Deighton, and how writers of all kinds adapted to the new technology.
"How does an apparently intelligent person end up suggesting a solution that might, at best, constitute unethical medical experiments on prisoners? How does a well-meaning person suggest a remedy that likely constitutes torture?" -- Are the questions Ethan Zuckerman asks, triggered by a particularly dumb article on using Soylent Green and Oculus Rift in prison reform, using it as a kick off point to discuss the wider problem of techno optimism and the inevitable reaction it brings.
The Economic Lessons of Star Trek's Money-Free Society - "[Manu Saadia] points to technologies like GPS and the internet as models for how we can set ourselves on the path to a Star Trek future. 'If we decide as a society to make more of these crucial things available to all as public goods, we're probably going to be well on our way to improving the condition of everybody on Earth', he says. But he also warns that technology alone won't create a post-scarcity future... 'This is something that has to be dealt with on a political level, and we have to face that.' " (via) [more inside]
Vitalik Buterin invented the world's hottest new cryptocurrency and inspired a movement — before he'd turned 20 - "I think a large part of the consequence is necessarily going to be disempowering some of these centralized players to some extent because ultimately power is a zero sum game. And if you talk about empowering the little guy, as much as you want to couch it in flowery terminology that makes it sound fluffy and good, you are necessarily disempowering the big guy. And personally I say screw the big guy. They have enough money already." [more inside]
California-based Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has been central to the US missile and rocket development and operations for decades, and from the beginning that technology's success rested on a corps of expert mathematicians, people known as computers. And from the beginning they were all women, in a time when such opportunities were few and far between. You can find pictures of them, but names have not been well-recorded ... until now. Nathalia Holt found many of those women and wrote about their experiences in her book, Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars. [more inside]