Ten Stories We Have Enjoyed This Week

19th October 2018

Amazon in the news a lot (again) this week. This from Real Life – ‘recent technologies have enabled the role of customer to be fused with the newer role of user, who inhabits an entire system rather than a specific transaction – Amazon’s mission is to make customer identity more primary than citizenship. And Jeff Bezos, defends Amazon taking defence contracts, even as Google and others shy away: ‘This is a great country and it does need to be defended’.

Nice piece on Voice Tech, from The Atlantic. ‘The voice revolution has only just begun. Today, Alexa is a humble servant. Very soon, she could be much more—a teacher, a therapist, a confidant, an informant. Alexa, Should We Trust You?

Stephen Hawking’s last book gives just two options for a positive future for humanity. ‘First, the exploration of space for alternative planets on which to live, and second, the positive use of artificial intelligence to improve our world…The real risk with AI isn’t malice but competence.’ Meanwhile, this piece from MIT suggests that (other) experts do not believe that super intelligent AI is a threat to humanity.

Bill Gates on Paul Allen.’Paul foresaw that computers would change the world. Even in high school, before any of us knew what a personal computer was, he was predicting that computer chips would get super-powerful and would eventually give rise to a whole new industry….In fact, Microsoft would never have happened without Paul.’

Interesting and highly pertinent  series on Radio 4 this week. Presented by Guardian journalist Oliver BurkemanWhy Are We So Angry? Mirroring this, is the observation that LEGO faces are becoming more miserable. (The) ‘study found that over time, happy faces became less common, making way for other many other emotions. Since the 1990s, anger is the fastest growing emotion.’

Netflix is Responsible for 15% of Global Internet Traffic. Youtube isn’t too far behind with 11.4 percent. Further back but still with a significant share, Amazon Prime Video is responsible for 3.7 percent.

‘Is this a dagger I see before me? No, wait! It’s a knight riding on a sea turtle!’ Mixed reality theatre: new ways to play with reality. NESTA explores the future of theatre.

This is a bit of a trip down memory lane, to my early days in the advertising industry. ‘When James Brown combined comedy, clubs, and football..into ‘Arena edited by Hunter S Thompson’, the lads’ mag was born – and went on to define an era of irreverence and excess. The birth of Loaded, the first lads’ mag, in 1994.’

Great, glad that this is resolved. ‘Professor Andrew Jarosz of Mississippi State University and colleagues served vodka-cranberry cocktails to 20 male subjects until their blood alcohol levels neared legal intoxication and then gave each a series of word association problems to solve. Not only did those who imbibed give more correct answers than a sober control group performing the same task, but they also arrived at solutions more quickly. The conclusion: drunk people are better at creative problem solving.

This from a few years back, but still a classic. ‘You are probably a bit of a blamer – most of us are. But why should we give it up? In this witty RSA Short, inspirational thinker Brené Brown considers why we blame others, how it sabotages our relationships, and why we desperately need to move beyond this toxic behaviour.