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:
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…
- Opening a YouTube production studio in Mumbai just for content creators
- Releasing a thoughtfully-designed wireless router (the first time in history “thoughtful” and “wireless router” have appeared in the same sentence)
- Rebranding Hangouts because they just now realized that brands are a thing
- Beefing up their Google Photos service with a “Rediscover This Day“ feature (in the style of Timehop and Facebook’s “On this day”)
- Unveiling a new statue in honor of Android Marshmallow, which I’m pretty sure is one of the signs of the apocalypse.
TECH DEV IN THE PUBLIC SPHERE got some overdue press:
- The UK is testing roads that can charge electric cars – we reached out a few major oil companies for their response, and also the UK project team’s counter-response.
- Apparently someone is actually trying to build the Hyperloop – the vacuum-tube-powered transit system brainchild of Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk – who apparently has a thing for shooting people long distances at great speeds
- Even the FAA now realizes that texting is better than talking
- And a profile of “Surrey’s Siri for Cities,” which sounds like what would happen if Dr. Seuss was an editor for TechCrunch
- Oh, and IBM made a Pope App – not much more to say there
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.
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.
SOME HONORABLE MENTIONS:
- A badass golf app that tracks every swing and helps improve your game over time – just by using the fitness tracker on your wrist
- A great rundown on the market for “invisible apps”
- A multiple-choice trailer for the upcoming Mad Max game
- A fantastic #longread on the ethics of algorithmic decisionmaking
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!