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In this episode of The Digital Life, we discuss the myriad products launched at Google I/O 2016.

To begin with, this summer the latest and greatest version of Android, the master platform for much of the Google software ecosystem, will make its debut. No longer just a mobile device OS, Android supports wearables (Android Wear 2.0), virtual reality (Daydream), and even automobile interfaces. In addition to the many flavors of Android, Google also showcased Allo, its AI-powered messaging app; Duo, its FaceTime competitor; as well as Google Home, its voice-activated product for the smart home.

 

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On this episode of The Digital Life, we discuss the war for the smart home. When it comes to the ongoing battle for consumer IoT dominance, there are many big players involved like Apple, Samsung, Google, and Amazon; connectivity providers including AT&T and Verizon; and innumerable device manufacturers such as Withings, D-Link, and a host of others.

On the consumer side Amazon has some unexpected market leadership with its Echo product and rivals are beginning to take notice. For instance, Google recently open sourced its networking protocol for IoT devices, OpenThread — which is used by Nest — in the hopes that other companies will get on board.

Companies are approaching the smart home from multiple vantage points — HVAC, lighting, television (entertainment) — but Amazon seems to have the upper hand so far with Echo and its voice UI, Alexa, as the interface for the IoT goes beyond the screen.

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On this episode of The Digital Life, we discuss designing embeddables in light of the news last week that the U.S. Patent Office approved Google’s patent for electronic lens technology, which is implantable directly in the eye.

Of course, the company has already developed cutting edge tech related to the eye, including smart contact lenses for detecting diabetes and Google Glass. However, unlike either of these previous efforts, once equipped with these embedded cyborg lenses, in theory you would never need glasses or contacts again. These mechanical eyes could also give you superhuman abilities — to see at great distance or view microscopic material, and document it all by capturing photos or video.

However, privacy and security would, no doubt become major issues as the transmissions from your electronic eyes could be hacked or even used by law enforcement for tracking. Social acceptability will be another issue as well. As we saw with Google Glass, the always on nature of the digital recording and transmission can be a problem, breaking current social norms related to privacy.
 
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On this episode of The Digital Life podcast we discuss how bio-inspired technology is beginning to intersect with information technology in big ways. With the exponential increase of digital data, we face an ongoing problem of information storage. Today most digital information is stored on media that will expire relatively quickly, lasting a few decades at most. Because of this, we require new methods for long-term data storage, and biotech might just have the answer. DNA could be the storage media of the future: It can last thousands, even potentially tens of thousands of years. And the tech industry has taken notice. For instance, last month Microsoft agreed to purchase millions of strands of synthetic DNA, from San Francisco based Twist Bioscience to encode digital data. Of course we may be years away from a commercial DNA storage product, but the potential for a revolutionary, even disaster proof media is there.

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Twist Biosciences
DNA Storage at Microsoft Resarch
Microsoft experiments with DNA storage: 1,000,000,000 TB in a gram

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On this episode of The Digital Life we discuss Google's Sidewalk Labs and its radical plans to design a smart city from scratch. Sidewalk Labs wants to work with cities to build applications that solve big urban problems and accelerate innovation around the world. However, in their pursuit of these solutions, the company is seeking autonomy from many city regulations, so it can build free of the many constraints that come with the design of streets, parking, and utilities.

Sidewalk Labs already has two solutions in progress: Flow, a transportation coordination platform in partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation; and LinkNYC, kiosks with gigabit fiber connections delivering WiFi, USB charging, free voice calls, and a tablet for access to the Internet.

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On The Digital Life podcast this week, we chat about the ever changing world of eSports and how it's evolving.

Esports are becoming increasingly important and varied. For instance, at the collegiate level, the Big 10 Network is broadcasting the League of Legends invitational event at PAX East, the major gaming conference.

And new, virtual sport platforms are gaining in prominence as well. ESPN recently signed a multi-year deal with the International Drone Racing Association (IDRA to bring races to a mainstream audience, beginning with the US National Drone Racing Championships in New York City. In drone races, operators see a first-person view of the action, via goggles streaming video from a camera positioned on the front of the drone.

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Big Ten Enters Esports: Spartans Buckeyes Set to Clash in BTN Invitational
Drone Races Are Coming to ESPN Thanks to "Unprecedented" Popularity

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Can an AI create art? This week on The Digital Life we chat about the brand new "Rembrandt", which was 3D-printed by an artificial intelligence algorithm, trained by analyzing the artist's catalog of 346 paintings. The Next Rembrandt project, recently unveiled in Amsterdam, is, of course, not exactly the work of the Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn, but rather a portrait that replicates both the subject matter and the style of the artist with eerie accuracy. If art is an expression of humanity, a reaction to the world and the events around us, what does this latest AI advancement mean? We discuss all this and more.

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The Next Rembrandt
A New Rembrandt: Can a machine capture an artist's essential style?

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On The Digital Life this week, we chat about the intersection of computer science / engineering and synthetic biology and Cello, a programming language for living cells.

At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Boston University (BU) synthetic biologists have created software that automates the design of DNA circuits for living cells. This software, called Cello, has the potential to help people, who are not necessarily skilled biologists, to quickly begin designing useful, working biological systems. Using Cello, oil companies, for example, could develop smart bacteria that could clean up oil spills. Cello, which is open source, can be downloaded from the online repository GitHub or accessed via a Web interface.

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A Programming Language for Living Cells

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On The Digital Life this week, we chat about the evolution of artificial intelligence in light of recent public failure and success by tech giants in the AI space. First, Microsoft had to terminate Tay, its teenage chatbot, after the bot started tweeting neo-Nazi propaganda and other abusive language at people. Meanwhile, Google's DeepMind has created an AI capable of beating some of the very best human players in the world at Go, the Asian strategy board game.

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Microsoft Terminates Its Tay AI Chatbot after She Turns into a Nazi
In a Huge Breakthrough Google AI Beats a Top Player at the Game of Go

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On The Digital Life this week, we discuss efforts to clone animal species to save them from extinction. In Seoul, Korea, a controversial lab plans to clone endangered animals using a technique called Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT), in which you extract the nucleus of skin cells from the animal you wish to clone, and then insert them into an egg with its nucleus removed. The lab has successfully used SCNT in their current business, cloning favorite pets who are recently deceased for a high price tag.

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Inside the Cloning Factory that Creates 500 New Animals a Day

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