Bull Session130 podcasts

Bull Session

Cyber-threats and Government

May 18, 2017          

Episode Summary

On The Digital Life this week we look at cybersecurity in the wake of the WannaCry ransomeware attack that affected hundreds of thousands of computers in 150 countries on Friday and over the weekend. WannaCry is malicious software that’s transmitted via e-mail. It encrypts files, locking users out of their computers and threatening to destroy their data if they don’t pay a ransom to the hackers. Last weekend, the malware spread across Europe and Asia, attacking hospital systems, universities, and companies. NHS, the National Health Service of Britain was particularly affected by the attack, causing emergency rooms to turn away patients, and medical appointments and surgery to be rescheduled. The malware behind WannaCry was stolen from the NSA, which raises the question, what is the role and responsibility of government when it comes to cybersecurity?

Resources:
Hackers Hit Dozens of Countries Exploiting Stolen N.S.A. Tool
Hacking Attack Has Security Experts Scrambling to Contain Fallout
Ransomware’s Aftershocks Feared as U.S. Warns of Complexity

Bull Session

Automating Scientific Discovery

May 11, 2017          

Episode Summary

On The Digital Life this week we’ll look at automating knowledge work, and scientific discovery, in particular. There’s no doubt that knowledge work will change significantly in the coming decades due to massive computing power coupled with AI. It’s fascinating to consider the aspects of science, technology, and design that might be easily automated. AI and deep learning are rapidly changing areas of activity that were previously thought to be the exclusive arena of human cognition. For instance, in the pharmaceutical industry, AI might automate aspects of drug discovery and development, by helping to characterize drug candidates according to likely efficacy and safety. Additionally, the number of scientific papers published each year far exceeds any scientist’s ability to read and analyze them. It’s reasonable to assume that AI and deep learning could assist scientists in navigating this data.

Resources:
Science has outgrown the human mind and its limited capacities
The BGRF is helping develop AI to accelerate drug discovery for aging and age-associated diseases

Bull Session

Why Mars?

May 4, 2017          

Episode Summary

On The Digital Life this week we look at the mission to Mars. For over 40 years, NASA has sent spacecraft and rovers to study the red planet. Now, the space agency is developing the capabilities required to send astronauts, planned for the 2030s. So, why should humanity go to Mars? Luminaries from Buzz Aldrin to Elon Musk have cited a variety of reasons, which include: exploring our universe, searching for life beyond Earth, and even expanding the human presence in the solar system.

NASA has outlined three stages in its plan: Earth Reliant, Proving Ground, and Earth Independent. The first stage has already begun with the International Space Station, which has served as a proving ground for technologies and a way of advancing understanding of how the human body is effected by an extended time in space. However, in mid-April of this year, NASA announced that it will likely delay the second stage — human spaceflight beyond Earth’s orbit — due to budget and software validation concerns. Join us as we discuss the mission to Mars.

Resources:
NASA’s Journey to Mars
NASA’s ‘Journey to Mars’ missions face delays due to budget challenges
Buzz Aldrin: Mission to Mars
Elon Musk Unveils Mars Colony Master Plan

Bull Session

3D Printing and The New Product Lifecycle

April 27, 2017          

Episode Summary

On The Digital Life this week we look at how additive fabrication / 3D printing is increasingly being used for production applications in manufacturing. We may be on the verge of a new kind of product lifecycle, as we imagine a future with greater digital / physical integration,
where we can print more products locally than we ship from a warehouse far away, where we can create new things that can’t be manufactured in a traditional way, and where everything can be customized.

According to the Financial Times, 60% of the $6.1B of additive manufacturing product and services is now related to production applications. This includes industries including aerospace, healthcare, consumer goods and others, for products ranging from sneakers to dental retainers to jet engines. For example, the McLaren Racing team is using 3D printers from Stratasys to create and modify parts on its Formula 1 race car. Reducing the time it takes to replace parts is a key competitive advantage since Formula 1 race cars need to be constantly maintained.

Of course, additive fabrication is still limited by the speed of 3D printing and the types of materials you can use for various applications. But, as quality and speed improve, there may come a time soon where this new product lifecycle is truly possible, if not probable.

Resources:
A Formula 1 team is 3D printing race car parts

Bull Session

Storytelling and AI

April 20, 2017          

Episode Summary

On The Digital Life this week we explore storytelling, creativity, and artificial intelligence. Our cultural evolution is reflected in our ability to communicate through stories, creating shared experiences and meaning. Recent research from the University of Vermont and the University of Adelaide used an AI to classify the emotional arcs for 1,327 stories from Project Gutenberg’s fiction collection, identifying six types of narratives. Could these reverse-engineered storytelling components be used to build automated software tools for authors, or even to train machines to generate original works? Online streaming service Netflix already uses data generated from users’ movie and television preferences to help choose its next shows. What might happen when computers not only pick the shows, but also write the scripts for them?

Resources:
The Six Main Arcs in Storytelling, as Identified by an A.I.
The strange world of computer-generated novels
A Japanese AI program just wrote a short novel, and it almost won a literary prize