- Existing somewhere between net art and Etsy, the dank meme creators of 'weird Facebook' are finding ways to monetize their oddball memes through the old-fashioned method of culture signaling: wearable merch.
- For all the hype surrounding neural networks, with promises of ever-wiser AI taxonomists capable of churning through millions of images and 'understanding' them, such systems remain very gullible and easily led astray. A new study from researchers at Kyushu University in Japan demonstrates a single pixel technique that is quite effective at thwarting today's state of the art.
- TechCrunch talks about why Snap Inc's Spectacles product has seen poor continued engagement and slow sales. Some reasons we agree with: an uneven roll out, with a murky transition from vending machine exclusive to e-commerce, while other claims miss the smart design decisions of the product such as not offering a clear or prescription lens option, which we viewed as a very conscious choice to limit their indoor usage, negating much of the creepy privacy eroding feel that plagued Google Glass (which the same author pegged as such a potentially successful product that Facebook and Apple ought to team up to fight it off). Wearable technology is a particularly difficult category, with big problems to solve in both the technical and social aspects. 'Smart' glasses or other consumer technologies are always easier to understand the shortcomings of in hindsight, but it seems that Snap Spectacles shifted the conversation somewhat, even if it fell flat commercially.
The Engineered Earth:
- After decades of often looking the other way on mega-infrastructure projects and special economic zones, China's government is determined to clean up pollution, even if it means shuttering many thousands of factories. These sudden closures have led to ripples in the supply chain, but disrupting commerce to save health, and ultimately lives should be an easy trade to make. Additionally, the government has introduced a policy to curtail the production of petroleum powered cars, with a clear aim to eliminate them entirely down the line. These efforts taken together are in stark contrast to the current environmental policy shifts underway in the United States, where EPA regulations have been rolled back and international efforts like the Paris Agreement scrapped. While the late 20th century saw fears of the U.S. and European nations falling behind in manufacturing and economic power, the 21st may be where China steps into a leadership role on environmental policies.
Just A Game:
- The U.S. military is hoping to glean tactical advantage from understanding how thousands of soldiers in simulated combat would use weapons and reconnaissance technologies not yet in existence. Beyond predicting how future weapons would be used, there's speculation that such a program of play-testing prototype war machines in digital spaces could cut Department of Defense costs, by signaling which projects are unlikely to bear fruit and cut them off before the big checks get written.
- Roxane Gay on tiny homes, and what they say about the American Dream, our class aspirations, and our economic anxieties.