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Episode Summary

On The Digital Life this week, we discuss 21st century storytelling in light of emerging technology, which has given us a wide variety of media possibilities.Technology and storytelling have always gone hand in hand. For instance, the novel has historical roots going back hundreds, maybe even a thousand years, the technology of paper and writing language underpining its evolution. And the motion picture began in the 1930s as a storytelling medium, although the technology itself was invented 40 years prior. In the 21st century, the media for telling tales, real and fictional, is ever expanding — from video games to chat fiction to virtual reality movies. And with the possibilities of emerging tech like brain-computer interfaces and the IoT, the potential for immersive stories seems vast. How can reality compete? Join us as we discuss.

Resources:

Wattpad takes ‘chat fiction’ beyond text with launch of Tap Originals
I just saw the first movie from Oculus, and it is the future

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Episode Summary

On The Digital Life this week, we discuss China’s push to dominate AI, the interplay of technology and politics, and the competitive stakes in the rising digital global order. The State Council of the People’s Republic of China country announced a development plan last week to build a domestic industry worth almost $150B and become the world leader in AI by 2030. The Chinese government will be investing heavily to ensure it moves to the front of the line when it comes to AI. Will China become the same kind of economic powerhouse in AI, as it has in manufacturing? With the US cutting back on science research, it seems possible, even likely. Regardless, the race for AI leadership is on.

Resources:
China Plans to Use Artificial Intelligence to Gain Global Economic Dominance by 2030
Chinese State Council Guidelines for Artificial Intelligence
In China, cutting-edge innovation often comes with orderly, numbers-heavy government mandates.
China’s Artificial-Intelligence Boom
Beijing Wants A.I. to Be Made in China by 2030

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Episode Summary

On The Digital Life this week, we discuss SoundCloud’s cashflow woes, the difficulties of making money with online audio, and the ongoing problem of finding business models for digitized content. Last week, SoundCloud announced layoffs of 173 employees — about half of its staff — as well as the closing of its offices in San Francisco and London, leading to speculation that the service would soon shut down. However, in a blog post entitled “SoundCloud is here to stay,” the company’s CEO stated, “we did this to ensure SoundCloud remains a strong, independent company.”

As a premiere online music and podcast streaming service that enables users to share tracks, SoundCloud gives unsigned artists and podcasters an easy to reach listeners. However, the streaming audio category is getting increasingly competitive: Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, and Pandora vie with SoundCloud for listeners’ ears. How will SoundCloud survive? Is there a new business model in the company’s future? Join us as we discuss.

Resources:
Music streamer SoundCloud has cash until fourth quarter after layoffs
SoundCloud says it’s ‘here to stay’ amid rumors it’s running out of cash

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Episode Summary

On The Digital Life this week, we discuss the race for the brain-computer interface. Voice and typing are imprecise: A link from our brain to the computer would be much more effective. While this sounds like it could be the realm of science fiction, major research efforts are already underway. For instance, social media giant Facebook is attempting to build a brain-computer interface to translate your thoughts directly to the computer screen. This effort is being led by Regina Dugan, who previously ran the U.S. military’s Defense Advanced Resarch Projects Agency (DARPA) and is now in charge of Facebook’s research lab, Building 8. At the same time, DARPA is investing $65 million in new funding to develop neural implants, allowing the human brain to interact directly with computers. And Elon Musk’s new company, Neuralink is embarking on a similar mission, to link the human mind to computers via brain implants.

Resources:

Facebook is developing a way to read your mind
DARPA awards $65 million to develop the perfect, tiny two-way brain-computer interface
With Neuralink, Elon Musk Promises Human-to-Human Telepathy. Don’t Believe It.
U.S. to Fund Advanced Brain-Computer Interfaces

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Episode Summary

On The Digital Life this week, we discuss the impact of the iPhone on its 10th anniversary. In 2007, the smartphone market was dominated by products like Blackberry and Palm, which brought basic services to the business user, like e-mail and task lists, but not much else. The iPhone served as the stimulus for mobile computing for a mass audience. While mobile phones were already popular, the iPhone was something vastly different. It brought us computing in context, anywhere and everywhere; introduced new services that we seemingly can’t live without today; and set the foundation for the disruption of multiple industries. From the touch screen user interface to the walled garden of the app store, the iPhone and the ecosystem around it brought about a mobile computing revolution. Join us as we discuss.

Resources
How Apple’s iPhone changed the world: 10 years in 10 charts
The iPhone Decade

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Episode Summary

On The Digital Life this week, we explore designing bioinspired products with special guest Nic Hogan, a computational designer focused on the creation of design and fabrication techniques that emulate or implement biological processes. Nic’s work includes projects with Harvard iLab and bioinspired technologies currently being developed at the Wyss Institute.

Resources
The Wyss Institute
Harvard iLab

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Episode Summary

On The Digital Life this week, we explore Amazon’s recent purchase of high-end grocery chain Whole Foods and how this transaction will impact the future of retail. For its $14 billion investment, Amazon gets, among other things, a strong real estate portfolio in areas of the US with wealthy, desirable demographics; sophisticated food industry logistics and warehousing; a host of purchasing relationships and agreements; and some potentially rich customer data.

It’s a little ironic that an e-commerce giant such Amazon now has an unique opportunity to redefine brick-and-mortar retail as well. But, the company has been experimenting in this space for a few years. Its Amazon Go offering, for instance, is a IoT-enabled grocery store which enables customers to forgo the checkout line. People can walk in, tap their mobile phones on a turnstile, grab what they like from the shelves, and just walk out again — no waiting in line required. We can imagine that Amazon’s retail technology might soon make an impact on its newly purchased grocery stores. Join us as we discuss the evolution of the retail and the consequences of the Amazon acquisition of Whole Foods.

Resources

Why Amazon Bought Whole Foods

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Episode Summary

On The Digital Life this week we explore sleep, sleep tech, and creativity.

Before technology ruled our nights, humans had a much different relationship with sleep. Our rhythms, creative and otherwise, were ruled by our internal clocks and the rising and setting of the sun. But with the advent of industrialization and electric lights, and the eventual influx of glowing screens into every aspect of our lives, sleep is something that we began seeking inconsistently and increasingly doing without.

For the modern day quantifiers and body optimizers, sleep is increasingly a new realm of interest. For instance, Apple recently acquired the Finnish sleep tech company Beddit, which makes a device for tracking heart rate, breathing, and sleep time.

And, sleep is, of course, vital to our health, our mood, and our productivity. For artists, designers, and creative people in general, the sleep cycle can be intricately entangled with their creative routines and output. Whether you’re an early riser, a segmented sleeper, or a night owl, the interaction of sleep and creativity can be very important. Join us as we discuss.

Resources

Broken Sleep
The Daily Routines of Famous Creative People
Apple just bought a sleep tech company
Beddit 3 Sleep Monitor


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Episode Summary

On The Digital Life this week we take a look at designing trust in human-robot relationships. More so than with other technologies, robots require a certain level of trust. Our comfort level with robots will dictate whether we’re willing to ride in driverless cars, work on the assembly line with a collaborative robot, or have a health robot caregiver. Designing human robot relationships will be key to overcoming barriers in the transition to a robot filled world. But how do we manage the wide variety of human emotional reactions? And what does this mean for the future of robot services?

Resources:

Most westerners distrust robots – but what if they free us for a better life?


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Episode Summary

On The Digital Life this week we explore trends in food tech and the variety of ways we can address the problem of feeding a growing global population. According to the UN report “World Population Prospects: The 2015 Revision” the current world population of 7.3 billion is expected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030. To feed such a population, we’ll need to change the way we eat. For starters, with such a large population, there will be a high demand for protein. However, there are significant environmental and nutritional limitations for our current animal and plant-based sources. Cultured meat — meat that’s grown in a lab rather than in an animal—is one option for producing protein to meet this demand. So far, however, it is expensive to produce, and as a result, has a long path to commercialization.

Other options include alternative protein sources like insects, such as grasshoppers. However, in Western societies, insect protein generally, is viewed with skepticism. To circumvent this aversion, grasshopper protein could be used in a powdered format as an additive for foods like protein shakes, energy bars, pasta sauces, and baked goods.

Lastly, we’ll need to manage our existing food supplies more proactively, so that surplus is not wasted. Food waste is an issue that costs the US $218B on a yearly basis. Software for managing the logistics of food surplus is another developing area of food tech.

Resources:
SuperMeat Wants You to Try Its Lab Grown Chicken Breast
Feeding the World with Grasshopper Protein
The Modern Agriculture Foundation
Spoiler Alert

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