- Amazon has had an uneven track record when it comes to developing hardware products but their voice enabled Echo products are turning out to be a big hit. A behind the scenes story of how it came to be.
- How instrument panels for spacecraft have changed over the years. Complex, mission critical equipment that requires high legibility, accessibility and durability in unknown contexts: it's one of the most demanding of user interface design tasks out there.
Roadmapping the Future:
- Worries about who will control the future superpowers of artificial intelligence as giant tech companies are pulling experts from academia into the commercial sphere. There's no clarity on how big, dangerous or helpful the next generation of AI products will be, but locking up the hypothetically huge techno-cognitive powers behind patent walls might not be the best of outcomes for humanity.
- The word of mouth multiplying effect in social media (among other factors) has helped to bring about an explosion of choice in consumer goods like packaged foods and clothing. A grocery store today carries about 50x as many products as 80 years ago. While a certain amount of choice and variety is good, we are mostly talking about a massive array of carefully branded commodities: products that are in essence the same, but presented differently. When society is filled with difficult and pressing problems to solve from tainted water supplies to damaged coral reefs, it seems an awful waste to be spending so much time, money and energy crafting artificial differences for inconsequential products. Building yet another athleisure brand doesn't help us get to a better future.
Humanity Intersecting Technology:
- There's been interest in using robots to care for the elderly for decades now. Japan, with an aging population facing a shortage of human caregivers has led the way in pushing the technology forward. A piece in The Atlantic takes a look at the current state of the art and raises some complicated questions about what it means when we let machines "care" for us.
- A heartbreaking story about David Vetter, who spent almost his entire short life in a sterile, contained environment due to a rare immune disorder. The article looks at the psychological toll of such isolation and the implications for a life lived out in space.