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Episode Summary

On The Digital Life this week we look at how additive fabrication / 3D printing is increasingly being used for production applications in manufacturing. We may be on the verge of a new kind of product lifecycle, as we imagine a future with greater digital / physical integration,
where we can print more products locally than we ship from a warehouse far away, where we can creatnew things that can't be manufactured in a traditional way, and where everything can be customized.

According to the Financial Times, 60% of the $6.1B of additive manufacturing product and services is now related to production applications. This includes industries including aerospace, healthcare, consumer goods and others, for products ranging from sneakers to dental retainers to jet engines. For example, the McLaren Racing team is using 3D printers from Stratasys to create and modify parts on its Formula 1 race car. Reducing the time it takes to replace parts is a key competitive advantage since Formula 1 race cars need to be constantly maintained.

Of course, additive fabrication is still limited by the speed of 3D printing and the types of materials you can use for various applications. But, as quality and speed improve, there may come a time soon where this new product lifecycle is truly possible, if not probable.

Resources

A Formula 1 team is 3D printing race car parts

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Episode Summary

On The Digital Life this week we explore storytelling, creativity, and artificial intelligence. Our cultural evolution is reflected in our ability to communicate through stories, creating shared experiences and meaning. Recent research from the University of Vermont and the University of Adelaide used an AI to classify the emotional arcs for 1,327 stories from Project Gutenberg's fiction collection, identifying six types of narratives. Could these reverse-engineered storytelling components be used to build automated software tools for authors, or even to train machines to generate original works? Online streaming service Netflix already uses data generated from users' movie and television preferences to help choose its next shows. What might happen when computers not only pick the shows, but also write the scripts for them?

Resources

The Six Main Arcs in Storytelling, as Identified by an A.I.
The strange world of computer-generated novels
A Japanese AI program just wrote a short novel, and it almost won a literary prize

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Episode Summary

On this episode of The Digital Life, we discuss our vulnerable infrastructure, in light of the recent hacking attack on the Dallas emergency sirens. Our real world infrastructure — from power plants to airports to dams — is increasingly subject to both online and offline security breaches, which represents a significant problem in a world where the Internet of Things (IoT) is just beginning to take hold.

While the Dallas hack was accomplished via a radio or telephone signal — not an online breach — it nonetheless provides a prime example of how such attacks disrupt municipal emergency response. Over 4,000 calls flooded the city’s 911 system, forcing real emergencies to wait. Unfortunately, the spectrum of these attacks runs from malicious prank to terrorism and it’s hard to know what kind of attack is happening as it occurs.

Potential outcomes, including the difficulties brought on by service disruptions for electricity, water, transportation, etc., not to mention increased skepticism of emergency systems, could potentially be life threatening. What are the solutions for such hacks on critical infrastructure? And how should we view these types of events and react to them in a resilient fashion in the future?

Resources

Hacking Attack Woke Up Dallas With Emergency Sirens, Officials Say Sirens in Dallas, Texas Maybe Civil Defense Tests? Hackers? Culprit broadcast signal that triggered Dallas’ emergency sirens Friday night Someone hacked every tornado siren in Dallas. It was loud.



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Episode Summary

On this episode of The Digital Life, in light of Congress overturning online privacy rules created by the FCC, we discuss the potential consequences of corporations tracking people’s online activities and selling their data. Last week, House Republicans overturned privacy rules — slated to go into effect later this year — that required broadband providers to receive consumers’ permission before collecting data on their online activities. Because consumers often don’t have many options for high-speed internet providers, and because ISPs can monitor nearly everything about consumers’ digital lives — from the sites they visit to the applications they use — these rules were seen as a privacy backstop, giving people the power to prevent companies from profiting from their personal information.

Resources

Congress Moves to Overturn Obama-Era Online Privacy Rules

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Episode Summary

On The Digital Life this week, we celebrate our 200th episode with a look back at some of the themes and guests that shaped the show over the past 7 years, including those at the top of their game in design, science, and technology like Kelly Goto, Phillip Hunter, and George Church.

From episode 24, Kelly Goto talks about her pioneering research on emotional design. From episode 51, Phillip Hunter delves into “making things people want, not making people want things”. And from episode 169, geneticist and molecular engineer George Church discusses brain augmentation to fight cognitive decline.

Episode 24: Emotion and Design
Episode 51: Making Things People Want, Not Making People Want Things
Episode 169: Genomics and Life Extension
An Interview with George Church of the Personal Genome Project

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Episode Summary

On The Digital Life this week, we discuss ethics and bias in AI, with guest Tomer Perry, research associate at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University. What do we mean by bias when it comes to AI? And how do we avoid including biases we’re not even aware of?

If AI software for processing and analyzing data begins providing decision-making for core elements critical to our society we’ll need to address these issues.

For instance, risk assessments used in the correctional system have been shown to incorporate bias against minorities

When it comes to self-driving cars, people want to be protected, but also want the vehicle, in principle to “do the right thing” when encountering situations where the lives of both the driver and others, like pedestrians, are at risk. How we should deal with it? What are the ground rule sets for ethics and morality in AI, and where do they come from? Join us as we discuss.

Inside the Artificial Intelligence Revolution: A Special Report, Pt. 1
Atlas, The Next Generation
Stanford One Hundred Year Study on Artificial Intelligence (AI100)
Barack Obama, Neural Nets, Self-Driving Cars, and the Future of the World
How can we address real concerns over artificial intelligence?
Moral Machine

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Episode Summary

On The Digital Life this week, we discuss bioprinting, its various applications, from 3D printing bones to organs, and the implications for design and science. There are, of course, many uses for 3D printing in healthcare — for instance, the creation of prosthetic limbs. Bioprinting, in contrast, involves the construction of living tissue via the output of multiple layers of living cells. While bioprinting is still very much at its nascent stages, the various techniques for creating 3D organic objects have had some early triumphs, including the construction of functional blood vessels. While reproducing cells in the lab has been done for many years — skin tissue, blood vessels, etc — bioprinting, which leverages natural processes, offers the opportunity to create more complex tissue, and perhaps even complete organs. Join us as we discuss the future of bioprinting.

Synthetic Future: Revolutionary Center Will 3D-Print Human Tissues and Organs

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Episode Summary

On The Digital Life this week, we discuss deceptive software in light of the recent revelations that Uber used its Greyball application to evade and thwart municipal officials nationwide, who were looking to regulate or otherwise monitor the service. This has a similar flavor to the Volkswagen story from last year, in which the company installed special software in its diesel powered cars to specifically reduce emissions during testing by authorities. What are the ways in which consumers now need to be aware of these deceptive practices? And how should we navigate the marketplace?

How Uber Deceives the Authorities Worldwide

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Episode Summary

 On The Digital Life this week, we chat about biomimicry and nature-inspired design. As design and science intersect, biomimicry is becoming an increasingly important method for engineering new products. Recent examples include bullet train engineers imitating the beak of the Kingfisher bird to improve the aerodynamics of the train's nose; wind turbine designers creating fins inspired by the Humpback whale to reduced drag and improved lift; and automobile engineers at Ford developing a recycled paper honeycomb material to gives the cargo area of the new EcoSport exceptional strength. Scientists, engineers, and designers across many different industries are drawing inspiration from nature’s materials and seeking to understand and imitate them.

The Best of Biomimicry: Here's 7 Examples of Nature-Inspired Design

Ford Looks to AI, Biomimicry Solutions to Stay Ahead of the Curve

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Episode Summary

On The Digital Life this week, we chat about how open source design is being brought to bear on some of the most important problems of the 21st century, including creating new tools for urban agriculture, home building, and medicine. For instance, furniture retailer Ikea recently released open source designs for a garden sphere, an urban agriculture project that can feed a neighborhood. Open source design, the Maker movement and desktop / DIY manufacturing are converging in interesting ways. Join us as we discuss.

Ikea Lab Releases Free Designs for a Garden Sphere That Feeds a Neighborhood
Open Source Ecology
A Open Source Toolkit for Building Your Own Home
3D Design Contest for Medical Tools in Africa

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