Editor’s Note The World Wide Web turned 30 this week. It’s amazing to see the journey of accessible content now forming the basis of communication, broader platforms and business models that we don’t yet know, with some nostalgia to boot. On the plus side, there are another billion people soon to join this information superhighway — that’s another billion brains coming together. On the downside, Google knows more about you than you can even remember — and even more than your better half. There’s no hiding in this new world. And then, there are other problems that we have to face, like the weaponization of the Internet and asking ourselves why tech didn’t stop the New Zealand attack from going viral.
No-one expressly told me that they didn’t like the new format — and many of you loved it, so I am going to roll with this for a while… until you tell me otherwise.
Don’t miss the 300+ tech trends below. It’s excellent.
Have a great week!
Onward! — Rahim
1. The 10 worst technologies of the 21st century
What would make your list of the worst tech that was brought to market this century so far? It depends on what you mean by worst. For me, CRISPR babies are ethically untenable — and it does make the list. After all, technologies can be bad because they fail to achieve admirable aims, or because they succeed in wicked ones. The most useful technologies can also be the most harmful — think of cars, which are crucial to the modern world yet kill over 1.25 million people a year. And when well-intentioned technologies fail, is it because they are fundamentally flawed or just ahead of their time?” On the other end of the scale, you’ll find The Segway — which makes me cringe every time I see one. Don’t be that person. Link
2. Swedish Robot Interviewer
Robot interviewers scare me, not just because I’d actually be letting a non-person take control of my life, but because they’d miss the nuance of my non-standard career. But they’re inevitable and already with us. “Tengai is the brainchild of Furhat Robotics, an artificial intelligence (AI) and social robotics company born out of a research project at Stockholm’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology.The firm has spent the past four years building a human-like computer interface that mimics the way we speak, as well as our subtle facial expressions. The idea, according to chief scientist Gabriel Skantze, is that “it feels much less scary or strange compared to a more traditional robot”. Since October 2018, the start-up’s been collaborating with one of Sweden’s largest recruitment firms, TNG. The goal is to offer candidates job interviews that are free from any of the unconscious biases that managers and recruiters can often bring to the hiring process, while still making the experience “seem human”. “ I’m not sure how human it can be but at least there may be a chance to reduce unconscious bias, that is if you believe that the robot’s own AI was built without bias. AI ethics, eh? The determination of our species. Link
3. Luxury Shopping on WhatsApp
Threads Styling is a luxury WhatsApp designer shopping service. I’ve always wondered how to leverage WhatsApp as a legitimate channel and Threads Styling proves there is a market ready to engage at a luxury level “For its 344,000 Instagram followers, Threads Styling is a direct line to designer shopping. When the company posts a limited edition Dior saddle bag or an Erdem ballgown on its feed, customers simply tap to WhatsApp an adviser to make it their own.” Link
4. 300+ Tech Trends for 2019
Amy Webb released her annual list of science and technology trends that will influence business, government, education, media and society in the coming year. This is required reading for any and all of my readers. Don’t let the scale of the report perturb you. The report is accessible and covers trends you may not have realised, including injecting clouds with seawater to get them to amplify the sun, smart dust and drone surveillance. Download it now. And thank me later. Link
5. The Founder of Wish, the World’s Most Downloaded Ecommerce App
Wish is huge. It’s an endless stream of products all available on its app — and it doesn’t get the type of press that it deserves. This piece gets into the detail of Wish and Peter Szulczewski. The reason why it doesn’t get the profile, IMHO, is because it focuses on the lower to middle class and makes Chinese goods accessible to a mass market. One thing I love about them is their no-nonsense attitude to fake goods. “If Wish’s algorithms see that a merchant has listed counterfeit products or shipped an order with a fake tracking number, they’ll be “fined” $500. Shipping a package with no product spells a potential $10,000 fine. Wish collects around $3 million a month in fines, and it can do that by simply withholding payments from merchants, says Szulczewski. Merchants can also get kicked off the platform, he adds. On the flip side, good reviews can lead to faster payments or a higher ranking in search. “ Link
6. Russians Reversing Time is FAKE NEWS
In an amongst Brexit shenanigans, you might have seen the press about the Russians doing a Doc Brown (sand Deloreon) and going into the past with the help of IBM’s Watson. Unfortunately, this is not Back to the Future and we don’t need 1.21 gigawatts to get back to the present day. But while the reports talked of turning back time, the reality was something different. “So if they didn’t invent time travel, what did these scientists actually do? Think about pressing rewind on a video. That “reverses the flow of time”, in a way. If you’ve never seen it before, it’s kind of neat. It might let you see things — like steam flowing back into a tea kettle or Humpty Dumpty spontaneously assembling from a jumble of broken pieces — that appear to “reverse the arrow of time”. The paper in question describes a quantum-computing version of such a video running in reverse. A closer analogy is a lens, like one would find in a telescope, microscope, or eyeglasses. A lens can be used to focus light — “reversing” the dispersal of light that had gone out of focus. The authors of the paper, from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois, and ETH Zurich, say their technique might be useful for testing quantum programs. This is correct. But it’s a lot less interesting than a time machine.” Link
7. TikTok FOMO
“”Fear of missing out” is a common way to describe how social media can make people feel like everyone else is part of something — a concert, a secret beach, a brunch — that they’re not. A new wrinkle in this concept is that sometimes that “something” is a social media platform itself. Maybe you saw a photo of some friends on Instagram at a great party and wondered why you weren’t there. But then, next in your feed, you saw a weird video, watermarked with a vibrating TikTok logo, scored with a song you’d never heard, starring a person you’d never seen. Maybe you saw one of the staggering number of ads for TikTok plastered throughout other social networks, and the real world, and wondered why you weren’t at that party, either, and why it seemed so far away.” Why exactly is TikTok rewiring the world? Link
8. Would you wear an e-jacket?
How smart can your clothes actually get? Loomia is starting to set the bar for what e-clothes could be. “At the jacket’s heart is a thin, flexible, wire-free circuit board called the Loomia Electronic Layer (LEL). The LEL works as a plug-and-play component à la Gore-Tex or the YKK zipper, which clothing makers can integrate into their garments instead of having to build and test their own circuit board from scratch. The LEL is the brains that brings heating, lighting, touch-sensing and data-transmitting capabilities to clothes. With relatively small investment, a brand could use the LEL to create, for example, a vest that alerts factory workers if they are lifting improperly or running pants that light up.” Link
9. Uber’s Parisian Ghost Kitchens
Whether it’s flying taxis or changing business model, Uber is pushing the boundaries to generate cash positive new revenue lines. We’ve talked before about ghost kitchens, understanding demand and rolling out new or no brand propositions to cater for that demand. The business is one of operations and of logistics. Uber has apparently been leasing locations to trial the concept in Paris.(For those of you who are new to the concept ghost kitchens are kitchens set up with the primary aim of creating food for delivery, usually based upon demand data) “As more software, apps, sales channels, and companies enter the restaurant food delivery space, fulfilling the influx of orders remains an operational headache for most restaurants. Part of the problem is that restaurants treat delivery as an add-on business rather than the business. But delivery is projected to grow 12 percent per year for the next five years, and does create financial and operational issues for restaurants as they try and accommodate this growth. And lately, both established brands wanting to try new concepts and independent operators who lack the capital for a full-service restaurant are turning to ghost kitchens as a solution. If Uber were to operate its own ghost kitchens on a widespread basis, it could save many a restaurant some of the hassles.” Link
10. Chinese Video Boyfriends
This one is for the ladies: Imagine that four handsome, successful men are romantically pursuing you. There’s Li Zeyan, a strong but cold CEO; Zhou Qiluo, a sunny boy band-type; Xu Mo, a brilliant scientist; and Bai Qi, a special forces police officer who’s always at your beck and call. Oh, and he can also fly. Such is life in Love and Producer, a mobile game that has become a surprise hit in China, attracting millions of women looking for love. “The men in the game are more attractive than real boyfriends,” says one fan, who asked not to be named. “They’re very attentive. They’re generally more into feelings and emotions.”Link
Top of the News
Below is a selection of recommended reading that you can get by following Box of Amazing on Twitter.
I spent a week in a VR headset, here’s what happened Link
Hugging Your Kids Makes Them Smarter And Every Hug Matters, Says Science Link
An exposed database tracked whether 1.8 million Chinese women were “breed ready”Link
You will soon be able to pay your subway fare with your face in China Link
L’Oreal launches virtual makeup try-on service Link
The Hottest Chat App for Teens Is … Google Docs Link
Why Urban Millennials Love Uniqlo Link
Facebook Can Make VR Avatars Look — and Move — Exactly Like You Link
The 20 Best Examples Of Using Artificial Intelligence For Retail Experiences Link
Just Rent your Clothes Link