Bull Session

Amazon Eats Whole Foods

June 22, 2017          

Episode Summary

On The Digital Life this week, we explore Amazon’s recent purchase of high-end grocery chain Whole Foods and how this transaction will impact the future of retail. For its $14 billion investment, Amazon gets, among other things, a strong real estate portfolio in areas of the US with wealthy, desirable demographics; sophisticated food industry logistics and warehousing; a host of purchasing relationships and agreements; and some potentially rich customer data.

It’s a little ironic that an e-commerce giant such Amazon now has an unique opportunity to redefine brick-and-mortar retail as well. But, the company has been experimenting in this space for a few years. Its Amazon Go offering, for instance, is a IoT-enabled grocery store which enables customers to forgo the checkout line. People can walk in, tap their mobile phones on a turnstile, grab what they like from the shelves, and just walk out again — no waiting in line required. We can imagine that Amazon’s retail technology might soon make an impact on its newly purchased grocery stores. Join us as we discuss the evolution of the retail and the consequences of the Amazon acquisition of Whole Foods.

Resources

Why Amazon Bought Whole Foods

Bull Session

Sleep and Creativity

June 15, 2017          

Episode Summary

On The Digital Life this week we explore sleep, sleep tech, and creativity.

Before technology ruled our nights, humans had a much different relationship with sleep. Our rhythms, creative and otherwise, were ruled by our internal clocks and the rising and setting of the sun. But with the advent of industrialization and electric lights, and the eventual influx of glowing screens into every aspect of our lives, sleep is something that we began seeking inconsistently and increasingly doing without.

For the modern day quantifiers and body optimizers, sleep is increasingly a new realm of interest. For instance, Apple recently acquired the Finnish sleep tech company Beddit, which makes a device for tracking heart rate, breathing, and sleep time.

And, sleep is, of course, vital to our health, our mood, and our productivity. For artists, designers, and creative people in general, the sleep cycle can be intricately entangled with their creative routines and output. Whether you’re an early riser, a segmented sleeper, or a night owl, the interaction of sleep and creativity can be very important. Join us as we discuss.

 

Resources

Broken Sleep
The Daily Routines of Famous Creative People
Apple just bought a sleep tech company
Beddit 3 Sleep Monitor

Bull Session

My Trusted Robots

June 8, 2017          

Episode Summary

On The Digital Life this week we take a look at designing trust in human-robot relationships. More so than with other technologies, robots require a certain level of trust. Our comfort level with robots will dictate whether we’re willing to ride in driverless cars, work on the assembly line with a collaborative robot, or have a health robot caregiver. Designing human robot relationships will be key to overcoming barriers in the transition to a robot filled world. But how do we manage the wide variety of human emotional reactions? And what does this mean for the future of robot services?

 

Resources:

Most westerners distrust robots – but what if they free us for a better life?

Bull Session

Food Tech

June 2, 2017          

Episode Summary

On The Digital Life this week we explore trends in food tech and the variety of ways we can address the problem of feeding a growing global population. According to the UN report “World Population Prospects: The 2015 Revision” the current world population of 7.3 billion is expected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030. To feed such a population, we’ll need to change the way we eat. For starters, with such a large population, there will be a high demand for protein. However, there are significant environmental and nutritional limitations for our current animal and plant-based sources. Cultured meat — meat that’s grown in a lab rather than in an animal—is one option for producing protein to meet this demand. So far, however, it is expensive to produce, and as a result, has a long path to commercialization.

Other options include alternative protein sources like insects, such as grasshoppers. However, in Western societies, insect protein generally, is viewed with skepticism. To circumvent this aversion, grasshopper protein could be used in a powdered format as an additive for foods like protein shakes, energy bars, pasta sauces, and baked goods.

Lastly, we’ll need to manage our existing food supplies more proactively, so that surplus is not wasted. Food waste is an issue that costs the US $218B on a yearly basis. Software for managing the logistics of food surplus is another developing area of food tech.

Resources:
SuperMeat Wants You to Try Its Lab Grown Chicken Breast
Feeding the World with Grasshopper Protein
The Modern Agriculture Foundation
Spoiler Alert