shift 2020 Brain Food Newsletter #3

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Welcome to the third weekly shift 2020 Brain Food newsletter including links and insights on the technological changes impacting business and society. This week highlights include stories on 3D Printing, Robotics, AI, Future Transport, Mobile and Apps, Blockchain and Education.

How do I choose the topics for each newsletter?
It’s basically a best of collection of what I read during the week. I tend not to focus on the hype technology news; there are many other channels for that. For this newsletter, I select the most interesting and valuable articles for you to read and digest at your own rhythm. Mostly in-depth articles from what may look – at first sight – very different sectors, but they are all somehow related. If not now, they’ll be soon in the future. As long as the robots cannot create a better selection and curation than myself, there’s value in a human filter, isn’t it?

Look at what music services like Spotify and Apple are doing: they hire humans to do the curation job. Personally this is one of my biggest disappointments of technology – on top, having worked a decade ago with Strands: the recommendation algorithms in music can do great stuff but they still don’t have the creative wires we humans have to keep playlists or radio shows original, fresh and exciting.

BTW did you know that Apple acquired Strands patent portfolio in Music Recommendation algorithms in 2011 and some thirty-two other patents and/or patent applications covering such matters as playlists, music kiosks as well as finance, fitness and shopping apps? You can read all about that here.

And why all those different topics?
There is not one industry that is being disrupted, connected to, or enhanced by technology. The biggest areas of innovation lie in the bridging fields, just look at the Food-, Fashion- or FinTech examples. And what about the Blockchain technology? Still quite early stage as of now but this technology may become THE technology where lots of new business might be building upon. I have always loved to work at the intersections of innovation, the edges is where the action happens!

So, here we go for another round. Enjoy!

Let me know if you enjoyed reading this newsletter and which sections you like the most by simply replying to this email or to send me your feedback, tips & links to add, or simply start a conversation.

You can also check my FacebookLinkedIn or Twitter feeds for more daily links & updates.

3D PRINTNG

Dutch startup plans first 3D printed steel bridge to span Amsterdam canal
MX3D has unveiled plans to use robotic printers to weld the structure drop-by-drop in the first large-scale test of the technology. Using robotic printers that can ‘draw’ steel structures in 3D; the startup will print a (pedestrian) bridge over water in the centre of Amsterdam.

The Dutch have a tremendous innovative culture using 3D printing technology. Additionally, you can also view my presentation “3D Printing and its Impact on Real Estate” I recently did for the Ohio State Center for Real Estate at the University of Ohio.

ROBOTICS

Will your self-driving car be programmed to kill you if it means saving more strangers?
Reminds me of a discussion I had over year ago with Tony Fish, co-founder of FabLab, London on writing ethical code and the decision-making process for car companies to define situations where two cars arrive at the same time to cross a narrow bridge and who will decide who comes first…

“Imagine you are in charge of the switch on a trolley track. The express is due any minute; but as you glance down the line you see a school bus, filled with children, stalled at the level crossing. No problem; that’s why you have this switch. But on the alternate track there’s more trouble: Your child, who has come to work with you, has fallen down on the rails and can’t get up. That switch can save your child or a bus-full of others, but not both. What do you do?”

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI) / FUTURE OF WORK

Who Will Own the Robots? By David Rotman.
Definitely one of the best reads of this week. We’re in the midst of a jobs crisis, and rapid advances in AI and other technologies may be one culprit. How can we get better at sharing the wealth that technology creates?

Note: This is the third in a series of articles about the effects of software and automation on the economy. You can read the other stories here and here.

FUTURE TRANSPORT

SpaceX Is Building Elon Musk’s Hyperloop
Elon Musk’s fantastical, futuristic transport tube capable of moving people and freight at speeds of 760 miles per hour.

The company is building a one- to three-mile-long Hyperloop test track outside its Hawthorne, California headquarters with plans to test the technology within a year, according to documents obtained by Motherboard. It’s the first time that Musk, who conceived of the Hyperloop, has been involved with any concrete plans to actually build it.

Flying Car Crashes During Test Flight
I included this in one of my talks at Critical Communications World last month but forgot to include it here. Innovating at this level requires a lot of courage and mental strength:

“A flying car crashed during a test flight in Slovakia on Friday, May 8. The Aeromobil car was piloted by Stefan Klein, a co-founder of the company. Klein was able to deploy a parachute for the vehicle, which is said to have helped ease the severity of the impact. Witnesses near the Nitra Janíkovce airport described seeing the flying car go into a tailspin before the parachute was deployed. Klein was taken to the hospital and released without any serious injuries. However, the flying car wasn’t so lucky. Judging by the photos taken at the scene, the vehicle sustained fairly serious damage.”

MOBILE / APPS

A great article and terrific read by John Pavlus on the Apple and Google Race to See Who Can Kill the App First
“Mobile experiences are going to get much more “frictionless,” to use a hot buzzword. They’re also going to become a lot more homogeneous, with more points of contact but fewer options for control. App creators may face new challenges to gaining adoption, and the “platform wars” between iOS and Android could become a tangible pain point for users instead of a vague abstraction debated by tech pundits. But don’t worry, you may not even mind—and what we once knew as apps may, in retrospect, end up looking like a strangely primitive generation in the evolution of mobile computing.”

What Silicon Valley Can Learn From Seoul
“While Silicon Valley is the largest and most enduring locus of tech innovation, a number of cities around the planet are nipping at its heels: Tel Aviv, Berlin, Bangalore. But Seoul, the capital of South Korea, is in a sense the Valley’s closest rival. American investors are beginning to catch on, and venture capital is starting to flow west, across the Pacific. An early-stage American venture firm called 500 Startups recently spun off a small fund called 500 Kimchi, which focuses exclusively on South Korea. Last fall, Goldman Sachs led a round of investment in Woowa Brothers and its delivery service. In May, Google opened a campus in Seoul, its first in Asia. The office is in the trendy district of Gangnam — yes, that Gangnam — which is already home to a growing cluster of mobile start-ups and a handful of technology incubators to mentor them.”

BLOCKCHAIN

The Revolution will (not) be decentralised: Blockchains by Rachel O’Dwyer (via Yuri van Geest)
Excellent read if you want to learn more about the Blockchain.

“Decentralised topologies and non-discriminatory protocols have been all but replaced by a recentralisation of infrastructure, as powerful corporations now gatekeep our networks. Everything might be accessible, but this access is mediated by a centralised entity. Whoever controls the data centre exercises political and economic control over communications. It’s difficult to see how we can counteract these recentralising tendencies in order to build a common core infrastructure. There are significant barriers in place. This includes the age-old problem of scaling distributed forms of organisation beyond the local. But it also includes barriers in terms of access and control of network resources. There are political and economic constraints governing the ownership and distribution of computational power, servers, bandwidth and energy. While we can access any range of software applications for free, the core network is always substantiated in property and provisioned on a scale that blocks access to all but the most powerful actors.

These centralising tendencies have also reared their head in cryptocurrencies. If Bitcoin was hailed as financially disruptive in much the way that VoIP and mesh networks were thought to be disruptive to cellular, powerful mining pools now control much of the infrastructure and rent-seeking individuals control a lion’s share of Bitcoin’s value. But we don’t need to throw the baby out with the bathwater. While Bitcoin in and of itself may be problematic as an alterative currency, the underlying architecture has potentials not only for the future of money, but also for the future of networked cooperation.”

EDUCATION

Making the Impossible Possible – Syrians Refugee Teens Building Their own Futures
The Syrian conflict has created the worst humanitarian crisis of our lifetime. Yet in the midst of despair and destruction there is hope for a brighter future. Follow this chronicle of one organization’s determination to bring hope and healing to Syrian refugees through innovative education.

Highly trained, respected and free: why Finland’s teachers are different
Welcome to a country where teaching is a highly prized profession. Finland’s teachers have kept the nation near the top of the influential Pisa performance rankings since they were first published in 2001, leading to an influx of educational tourists as other teachers have endeavoured to learn from the Finnish experience. Extensive training is the basis for giving teachers the autonomy to work the way they want.

Green Spaces Make Kids Smarter 
A new study out Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that green spaces can actually boost cognitive outcomes in children—in part by protecting their brains from air pollutants.

Sarah Obama Library Goes Digital With Worldreader 
Sarah Onyango Obama, known as Granny Sarah or Mama Sarah, has spent years helping orphans and poverty-stricken families in Kenya to become more educated. In April 2015, Granny Sarah also went digital and partnered with Worldreader to deliver over 7,000 life-changing e-books to the rural town of Kogelo and the Sarah Obama Community Library.

HEALTH

How Google will make billions from your blood pressure
“Data is money. Alone, yours is virtually worthless, but pool all those fractions of a cent together and someone’s going to make a whole load of cash. And one of the biggest someones in that business is Google.

Facebook, Google, even Apple now too – they give us wonderful services and platforms that are now so ubiquitous that we virtually feel we depend on them, and they charge us nothing at all. The agreement, though, is that these companies can largely use any details we upload to their servers in any way they wish – as per those terms of service we agree to at the skim of scroll bar and the check of a box.”

BOOKS I READ

The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism by Jeremy Rifkin.
The capitalist era is passing – not quickly, but inevitably. Rising in its wake is a new global collaborative Commons that will fundamentally transform our way of life. Ironically, capitalism’s demise is not coming at the hands of hostile external forces. Rather, The Zero Marginal Cost Society argues, capitalism is a victim of its own success. Intense competition across sectors of the economy is forcing the introduction of ever newer technologies. Bestselling author Jeremy Rifkin explains that this competition is boosting productivity to its optimal point where the marginal cost of producing additional units is nearly zero, which makes the product essentially free. In turn, profits are drying up, property ownership is becoming meaningless, and an economy based on scarcity is giving way to an economy of abundance, changing the very nature of society.

Blockchain – Blueprint for a New Economy by Melanie Swan.
Bitcoin is starting to come into its own as a digital currency, but the blockchain technology behind it could prove to be much more significant. This book takes you beyond the currency (“Blockchain 1.0”) and smart contracts (“Blockchain 2.0”) to demonstrate how the blockchain is in position to become the fifth disruptive computing paradigm after mainframes, PCs, the Internet, and mobile/social networking.

More Human: Designing a World Where People Come First by Steve Hilton.
Government, business, the lives we lead, the food we eat, the way our children are brought up, the way we relate to the natural world around us – it’s all become too big and distant and industrialised. Inhuman. It’s time to do something about it. It’s time to put people first. It’s time to make the world more human.

Steve Hilton, visiting professor at Stanford University and former senior adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron, believes that the frustrations people have with government, politics, their economic circumstances and their daily lives are caused by deep structural problems in the systems that dominate our modern world – systems that are broken because they’ve grown too far from the human scale. He shows us how change is possible, offering the latest research, compelling stories and case studies from all over the world across industry, politics, education, design and social action to show us what can happen when we make our world more human. This book is a manifesto and call to action for a more local, more accountable and more human way of living that will make us more productive, more fulfilled and ultimately happier.

That’s it for this week. Feel free to pass this newsletter around to your friends and colleagues interested. You can subscribe (or unsubscribe) here.

Read previous editions of this newsletter here: #1 & #2.

Be kind to yourself and your loved ones.

Have a great weekend and rest of the week!

Rudy

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