Guest Post: All the Tech News You Missed Last Week


by Jonathan

I do a lot of tech reading. Mostly on the toilet. Sometimes while driving.

So, in an effort to share the love with you, I’ve distilled everything noteworthy I came across last week into this summary. Aaaaaaaaand here we go:

THE NEW YORK TIMES released a blistering exposé of Amazon’s workplace culture, CEO Bezos Responded, then LOTS of people responded

This is a murky subject with a lot of opposing viewpoints, and as with all topics of this import, I turn to The Onion for their impeccable coverage of the issue.

SCIENTISTS AT IBM made an unholy abomination of 48 low-power chips, each with 1.4 billion artifical neurons, assembled into a “neural network” roughly equivalent to the processing power of a rodent brain.

This sort of computing power has many troubling implications for AI, but thankfully machines still can’t do anything REALLY scary, like running around on two legs or shutting down anti-government activists or describing paintings or becoming self-aware.

And the title of this totally innocuous, not-terrifying-at-all project? “TrueNorth.” Yeah, doesn’t help. Also their initial funding came from DARPA, but you already knew that. 

I have summarized my feelings on the topic here.

GOOGLE HAD ANOTHER BUSY WEEK since reorganizing their kingdom

TECH DEV IN THE PUBLIC SPHERE got some overdue press:

HBR CALLS OUT TECH GIANTS like Facebook and Uber for “increasingly soliciting their users to take political action on their behalf to defend controversial business models from regulation, support new programs, and promote their moral values in active political battles.” 

The bad news is that this is a terrible conflict of interest, given that you can get us to just about anything if you take advantage of our incredible mental laziness (also from HBR). 

The good news is that this is really close to the plot of Neuromancer, so we have that to look forward to. 

And to round out our contributions from HBR, this article about how to be “professionally personable on Facebook,” because nothing is sacred anymore. 

NINTENDEO GOT SOME PRESS for their not-yet-released game ”Super Mario Maker,” not so much for its gameplay but instead for its ingenious approach to teaching people how to design great levels. 

And Fast Company had a great article about an app that teaches kids math and physics, and how their main learning in development was just because the tech CAN automate something doesn’t mean it SHOULD. (Tell that to DARPA, I suppose.)

ANOTHER BIG WEEK FOR CHAT, as Vurb tries to replicate the WeChat model of messaging-as-platform in the US (with funding from WeChat owner tencent), and you can now officially text to sell stuff you don’t want. 

I’ll also throw in Api.ai making its conversational question-asking interface free for developers (so now any app can add siri-like functionality).   

SOME HONORABLE MENTIONS:

And that’s it! Everything you missed. Overall, it’s an exciting time in tech – unless of course you own stock.

See you next week!

JONATHAN OUT

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