600 Miles in a Coffin-Shaped Bus, Campaigning Against Death Itself
I said, “Do you mind me asking if you’ve had bad experiences with people cheating on you?”
“I have so far abstained from sex,” he said. “I have never had a girlfriend.”
“You’re saving yourself for the sexbots?”
He nodded slowly, shrewdly raising his eyebrows. You bet he was saving himself for the sexbots.
VR is an embodied medium: creators are taking that detached eye and reattaching it to someone’s face. VR reminds us of the nuances of experiences, what connects people with each other, with places, with things in the real world. And that to me is the key to really understanding what kind of storytelling could even exist in a VR space.
New technology does scare us now, just as it always has, but few films have articulated why. Video conferencing apps like Skype have provided a fresh twist on the mirror-scare cliché, but the true terror of modern technology is the isolation and stress of constant connection, which isn’t as easy to put in cinematic terms.
The next time I'd meet Luckey he'd be many, many millions of dollars richer, and Oculus would be a Facebook-owned company. But despite that very real marker of success, our topic of conversation each time we met remained the same: How are you going to convince people it's worth it? And isn't it going to be way too expensive?
We ultimately believe the pixels are the source of truth and being able to understand the truth at scale, unlocks new product experiences and business workflows.
what is the future of typography? And what does the web have in store for us? It’s easy to think of the latest trends in virtual and augmented reality, or drone typography, or to discuss how flat design might conquer the world. What I’m really interested in though are the technologies and ideas that are likely to stick around for the long term.
There was a hard, if old lesson in the fate of the web, namely, that to preserve anything public spirited takes more than good vibes – it requires some really hard-line institutional structure to maintain spaces that bring out the best in us.
This is why standards nerds argue so passionately. They’ve seen how long it takes to steer technology away from its roots, no matter what zippy startup culture can get away with on the surface. Choices we agree on now are going to stick around, and get baked into the foundational brick of our biggest, most critical systems. Be careful what you toss in there! Be careful what you assume!
according to a study by Ball State University, nearly nine in 10 jobs that disappeared since 2000 were lost to automation in the decades-long march to an information-driven economy, not to workers in other countries.
Even if those jobs returned, a high school diploma is simply no longer good enough to fill them. Yet rarely discussed in the political debate over lost jobs are the academic skills needed for today’s factory-floor positions, and the pathways through education that lead to them.
It’s not unusual to try to cram the previous generation’s content into the latest technological medium. It’s happened over and over throughout time, whether you’re talking about bringing the newspaper to radio, radio to cinema, or cinema to television. The shift from the web and apps to messaging or voice will follow a similar pattern until people start to experiment with, take risks on, and ultimately develop experiences that are inherent to and optimized for the messaging and voice contexts.
the success of Amazon’s Echo and the onslaught of connected devices has reinvigorated gadget manufacturers to give alternative interactions another go. The question is whether these companies can uncover something people like enough to change their behavior and keep the technology alive.
A new medium requires new technology and new design. Each time we encounter a new medium, we do what humans do, we retrofit our assumptions and needs from prior experiences. Bots are frontier technology — starting to deliver on a promise that computing has been making for decades — that we will be able to speak to computers, in our language, be it text or spoken word.
The problem with new technologies is that we’re really, really bad at predicting their futures. Our immediate frame of reference is so small, and our experience of time so fleeting, that any attempt to imagine how technologies will develop is bound to fail. We suffer from what Carolyn Marvin, in her book When Old Technologies Were New, calls “cognitive imperialism.” We can only imagine futures which are broad extensions of our own contexts and needs.
“I learned a lesson from watching other companies who held onto things too long. If you look at the history of companies that have succeeded and the ones that have failed, there’s a pretty clear pattern that the ones that have succeeded typically morph every couple of years into something new. And that change is fairly uncomfortable.”
The Bad Product Fallacy
Your personal use cases and opinion are a shitty predictor of a product’s future success.
Today, ten years after the iPhone launched, I have some of the same sense of early constraints and assumptions being abandoned and new models emerging. If in 2004 we had 'Web 2.0', now there's a lot of 'Mobile 2.0' around.
The end of Moore’s law does not mean that the computer revolution will stall. But it does mean that the coming decades will look very different from the preceding ones, for none of the alternatives is as reliable, or as repeatable, as the great shrinkage of the past half-century.
In Britain today, around a quarter of smartphone users get news alerts through their phones, according to Newman’s study. But in other nations, that figure is larger: 40% of Taiwanese users have news alerts on their phones, and 33% of US users do.
As the gadgets around us get more and more capable, they’ll need to get more polite, and more socially aware. The real design challenges will become less about screens and things, and more about scripts and cues. When technology gets laced into the fabric of everything, what we’re left with is etiquette.
being able to talk to computers abolishes the need for the abstraction of a “user interface” at all. Just as mobile phones were more than existing phones without wires, and cars were more than carriages without horses, so computers without screens and keyboards have the potential to be more useful, powerful and ubiquitous than people can imagine today.
“Hey Siri, predict the future of audio interfaces.” If she were smarter, she’d respond that 2017 will be the tipping point — the year we fell headfirst into our always-on, audio-enabled, ambient computing future.
We’ll have users asking our [digital assistant], “Are you male or female?” “Do you have a girlfriend?” “Would you want to be my girlfriend?” Friendship is one of the use cases we support, and it’s quite popular among the users.
The lack of secure identification and authentication inherent in the internet’s genetic code has also prevented easy transactions, thwarted financial inclusion, destroyed the business models of content creators, unleashed deluges of spam, and forced us to use passwords and two-factor authentication schemes that would have baffled Houdini.
A new form of information manipulation is unfolding in front of our eyes. It is political. It is global. And it is populist in nature. The news media is being played like a fiddle, while decentralized networks of people are leveraging the ever-evolving networked tools around them to hack the attention economy.
The world is not something we study neutrally, that we gather neutral knowledge about, on which we can act neutrally. Rather, we make the world by understanding it, and the way we understand it changes it.
Cuarón was, against all odds, confident that better days lie ahead. “I used to think that any solution would come from the paradigms that I know,” he says. “Now I think that the only thing is to think of the unimaginable. For the new generation, the unimaginable is not as unimaginable.”
Audiences are moving to more innovative, modern platforms created by tech companies in California like Google, Facebook and Snap. Meanwhile, media companies have been much too slow to shift to digital; they’ve clung to print and broadcast, even when it was clear audiences are moving elsewhere. This means the budgets for quality journalism are focused on the wrong places, creating a void that is filled by the cheapest possible content, often from questionable sources. The attention has moved, but the content-creation resources mostly haven’t.
This generation of chatbots has only been around for about eight months, but in that short time they are already starting to surpass the mobile web. In some cases they may even be approaching the quality of mobile apps, which have enjoyed an eight-year head start.
I strongly believe that, when voice exists on a computer with a screen, it will never be the primary interaction input with that screen. Take the screen away and things start to get really interesting.
Facebook’s plan for “fake news” is no doubt intended to curb certain types of misinformation. But it’s also a continuation of the company’s bigger and more consequential project — to capture the experiences of the web it wants and from which it can profit, but to insulate itself from the parts that it doesn’t and can’t. This may help solve a problem within the ecosystem of outside publishers — an ecosystem that, in the distribution machinery of Facebook, is becoming redundant, and perhaps even obsolete.
Our media feeds are echo chambers. And those echo chambers don’t just reflect our political beliefs; they reflect our feelings about human progress.
Bad news is a bubble too.
Identity Transfer is the appropriation of one’s identity (i.e., your face) into a different environment and thus elevating it beyond just two eyes and a mouth. Selfies are merely today’s expression of it.
I’m here to tell you that the obscurity of Snapchat’s design is not a bug, it’s a feature. Just like Tinder, it’s a design that’s made to engage people and encourage them to share their experiences with others. In fact, it is a key part of what has made Snapchat so successful.
platform changes have created entirely new businesses and business models. At its heart, it’s about the relationship between the reduction of friction and the resulting increase in data collection.
The percentage of older Americans with dementia has fallen by almost 25% since 2000. In other words, a million fewer people had dementia in 2012 than we’d have expected in 2000.
messaging and social browsers are so successful, we tend to only need three to discover, retrieve, and consume all the content we crave. No wonder Facebook, Google and many others are placing massive bets in this area. If you own the browser, you own the audience.
The Guardian publishes around 600 pieces of content every day, which often accounts for more than 24 hours of uninterrupted reading. Not only is it impossible to read them all, but with one-size-fits-all promotion channels (single homepage per edition, Facebook groups, Twitter feeds), it’s also impossible to promote them all. Readers end up missing out on a lot of niche content they would have been interested in.
The company began an aggressive promotional campaign in which it gave away codes for free rides, according to former employees. But the service had a bug that didn’t properly process the codes, meaning customers could use them over and over again. Some people on social media said they had taken more than 100 free rides.
Globalism has made it harder for some parts of the US economy to compete, which creates a climate where calls to “Make America Great Again” resonate, just the backlash against the Calico Madams resonated in the early 1700s. And at the same time, globalism has engendered the miracles of our technological revolutions, and the diversity and dynamism of 18th-century London or modern-day New York. Both things are true. Both things have been true for a long time.
The paradox of nostalgia is that it has a terrible memory – or rather, like senility, it has a terrible short-term memory and very vivid, utterly inaccurate, recall for the long-ago.
Amazon has been trying to achieve this perfect robotic workforce for years. Many of the people who work in its warehouses are seasonal hires, who don't get even the limited benefits and job security of the regular warehouse staff.
Amazon hires such workers through a subsidiary called Integrity. If you know anything about American business culture, you'll know that a company called "Integrity" can only be pure evil.
We should expect that every image ever taken can be searched or analyzed, and some kind of insight extracted, at massive scale. Every glossy magazine archive is now a structured data set, and so is every video feed. With that incentive (and that smarthone supply chain) far more images and video will be captured.
Cameras are going to be eyes through which our computers can see the world, and through which we can see each other’s worlds. When it’s clearer than ever that we need to do more to understand each other in deeper, better ways, seeing even ten seconds of someone else’s view might be important.
Arrival and a handful of other new movies releasing in the last quarter of the year offer a rebuke to this increasingly conventional wisdom: Movies aren’t just for superheroes and Minions. But no matter their quality, they reveal a lot about how compartmentalized and marginalized movies have become in the consciousness.
Contrary to popular sentiment in the US, Chinese readers don’t blindly trust the state-run media. Rather, they distrust it so much that they don’t trust any form of media, instead putting their faith in what their friends and family tell them. No institution is trusted enough to act as a definitive fact-checker, and so it’s easy for misinformation to proliferate unchecked.
A recent Pew study reported that 89 percent of cell phone owners used their phones during their most recent social gathering. We reduce our social connections to mere threads so that we can maintain as many of them as possible. This leaves us with signposts of familiarity that are frail remnants of the real thing.
In media business terms, it is now clear, the 2016 election could not have arrived at a more precarious moment, as industries defined by their futures struggled to handle what was happening in the present. A new business model had not replaced an old one — not yet. There was, for the duration of the campaign, effectively no model at all.
there is real harm that comes from the ability to address anyone anonymously, including the suppression of viewpoints by de facto vigilantism. But I increasingly despair about the opposite extreme: the construction of cocoons where speech that intrudes on one’s world view with facts is suppressed for fear of what it does to the bottom line, resulting in an inert people incapable of finding common ground with anyone else.
The most important question facing us is not whether Uber drivers should have employment rights (they should), but what to do in a world where automation begins to eradicate work. If we accept – as Oxford researchers Carl Frey and Michael Osborne stated in 2013 – that 47% of jobs are susceptible to automation, the most obvious problem is: how are people going to live?