- A good article (despite the clickbait-y title) on the trials and tribulations of printing metals on a large scale. While printing large structures is impractical for many reasons, there are specialized cases where the weight-savings can add up to enough cost savings to make the whole strange endeavor worthwhile. Just as the availability of structural steel changed the look and shape of cities forever, avant-garde practices like 3D printing will make their (likely much smaller) mark on our aesthetic surroundings.
- Automatic design solutions have been a perennial tech news story for many years now, and there's still little reason to believe they will fundamentally replace human designers any time soon. What this article notes correctly is that long before automation takes an industry or a profession, it speeds along the basics, replacing simpler human craft with decent work done by machines. This has two big impacts: reducing entry level positions, and reducing the nuanced lessons that come from doing a thing (even a small, simple task) in a hands-on, highly repeated way.
- Amazon has apparently been developing their own take on "smart" glasses. So far the e-commerce and web services giant has enjoyed big successes with their Alexa-laden products, but for the most part their history of hardware has been littered with little-loved commodity style products, designed to reduce the distance between you and an Amazon order. Smart glasses and wearable tech in general has been an incredibly tricky puzzle (for technological and cultural reasons) that few companies have managed to even begin to solve. We're not optimistic that Amazon will be able to deliver something that provides enough value with minimal creep factor to be a big success, but they have almost as much bet-making money as any company could want.
- Swiss power & robotics company ABB has bought up one of General Electric's business units, hoping to be more competitive with their French rival, Schneider Electric.
- A new program out of MIT is hoping to connect investors with companies that are working on technologies that have long and difficult routes of development, with R&D times far beyond what investors typically have the tolerance for.
Our Weird Future:
- Stray dogs in Thailand are being outfitted with camera vests that turn them into a roving surveillance system. The ways in which we instrument city spaces says a lot about our cultural values, fears, and philosophies of what it means to share space with strangers. What co-opting stray dogs as state snitches says about us... well, we're going to need to think on that for a bit.