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For our podcast topic this week, we discuss product innovation for the smart home and whether Amazon is overtaking Apple when it comes to creating category disruption. Of course, Apple has a long history of disrupting categories — from the personal computer with the Apple II and again with the iMac; to music with the iPod; to mobile with the iPhone; to the tablet with the iPad. But it looks like Amazon is well positioned to be a dominant player when it comes to the smart home, with their television, music, ecommerce, and other systems all driven by the Alexa voice UI. Amazon’s new hardware products, announced at the end of September, extend the Echo line in significant ways, with industrial design reminiscent of Apple’s groundbreaking work on the personal computer. Is designing hardware and software for a complex ecosystem like the home, fundamentally different from other kinds of consumer product design? Join us as we discuss.

Resources:
Amazon announced a bunch of new hardware products today — here’s a rundown
Amazon’s New Devices Take On Apple in the Fight to Run Our Homes


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On the podcast this week, we’ll discuss some of the areas where human intelligence may outperform AI and vice versa. AI is good at processing and discovering certain kinds of information — from data mining to predictive forecasting to optimization — while humans can add a layer of expertise, judgment, and insight. Join us as we talk about about how humans might work separately from as well as in conjunction with machines in an AI-driven future.

Resources:

Where human intelligence outperforms AI


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On the podcast this week, we conclude our multi-episode discussion about the evolution of software and the future of computing, looking at how a handful of advances will come together to transform software and hardware into something new, which we’re calling “Smartware”. Smartware are computing systems that require little active user input, integrate the digital and physical worlds, and are continually learning on their own.

This week we’ll look at five ways in which Smartware will manifest in the design and functionality of future computing: Machines will do more of the “mechanical” work, interfaces will become invisible, environments will become customized to the individual user, physical presence will be optional, and apps, while fewer in number, will create a greater, networked ecosystem

Resources:
Smartware: A Tribute to Dead Machines
Smartware: Transformative Technologies

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On the podcast this week, we continue our multi-episode discussion about the evolution of software and the future of computing, looking at how a handful of advances will come together to transform software and hardware into something new, which we’re calling “Smartware”. Smartware are computing systems that require little active user input, integrate the digital and physical worlds, and are continually learning on their own. Join us as we discuss the major advances in science and technology that are driving Smartware — from artificial intelligence (AI), neuroscience, and genomics to the Internet of Things (IoT) and additive fabrication / 3D printing.

Resources:
Smartware: A Tribute to Dead Machines


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On the podcast this week, we begin a multi-episode discussion about the evolution of software and the future of computing, looking at how a handful of advances — such as AI, the IoT, neuroscience, and additive fabrication — will come together to transform software and hardware into something new, which we’re calling “Smartware”. Smartware are computing systems that require little active user input, integrate the digital and physical worlds, and are continually learning on their own.

We’ll start our discussion with “a tribute to dead machines”. Technology and humanity are inseparable: It’s present in every facet of our civilization. We’ll take a look at the history of technology from the era of big machines to personal computing to mobile. And, we’ll discuss some early examples of Smartware including self-driving cars like Tesla’s automobiles and the AI-driven voice user interface of Amazon’s Echo.

Resources:
Tesla
Amazon Echo


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On the podcast this week, we discuss artificial intelligence and music with special guest Pierre Barreau, CEO of Aiva. Aiva (Artificial Intelligence Virtual Artist) is an AI composer. Aiva has created music used in the soundtracks for films, advertising, and games, and is the first virtual artist to be recognized by an author’s rights society. Join us as we explore how man and machine collaborate to create the future of music.

Resources:
Aiva
A New AI Can Write Music as Well as a Human Composer


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On the podcast this week, we discuss the dangers of hacking robots. As you might expect, the rise of robotics in manufacturing and other industrial activities also means a rise in possible attacks. Of course, with a successful hack of industrial robots comes the potential for some dire physical outcomes. Security researchers have demonstrated unpatched vulnerabilities in a variety of industrial robot models including collaborative robots, which are designed to work together with people, in environments such as manufacturing. These industrial robots can be compromised in ways that could cause humans bodily harm. Join us as we discuss.

Resources

Industrial Hack Can Turn Powerful Machines into Killer Robots
Exploiting Industrial Collaborative Robots


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For our podcast topic this week, we discuss the digital life, automation, and eliminating the human in our digital interactions. In an essay in MIT Technology Review, David Byrne of Talking Heads fame postulates that “part of making something 'frictionless' is getting the human part out of the way.” He goes on, in his essay to reflect upon how automation is eliminating the human in areas as varied as e-commerce, digital music, online education, and even social media. Does this elimination of the human element lead to less tolerance and understanding of our differences? If cooperation is what has made us successful as a species, how do we survive if we're only self-interested to the exclusion of others? And, is technology headed in this direction?

Resources:
Eliminating the Human


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On the podcast this week, we discuss advances in the digital life and in biological engineering that are fueling the human search for immortality. It seems like humans have always been obsessed with living forever. The path to immortality, however, has necessarily been more fantasy than reality. Even The Fountain of Youth, one of the most famous fables of immortality, was erroneously connected to the biography of the conquistador Juan Ponce de León, perhaps to give the legend more weight.

It’s a natural human desire is to try to extend our lives as much as possible. We’re getting better at fighting off diseases, although we’re encountering new ones all the time — obesity, various cancers, and even West Nile virus are all examples of relatively new threats. Digitally, we’re finding better and better ways of preserving our perspectives in 0s and 1s. And, there’s an interesting sociological thread that’s tightly connected with such technological advances: Who gets to live the longest, and most desirable life? Whose ideas are maintained and propagated? Join us on the podcast, as we discuss.

Resources:
What are the ethical consequences of immortality technology?


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On The Digital Life this week, we discuss the difficulties that early adopters can encounter when using new consumer technology. In many instances, the first version of a tech product is no better than a beta release. Initial consumer iterations are often test cases for unproven inventions that can barely survive QA. Today, with so many tech products being released on a regular basis, the role of the early adopter is akin to that of an innovation guinea pig. So, why be an early adopter?

Resources:
The Trials and Tribulations of the Early Adopter

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