Bull Session204 podcasts

Bull Session

Alphabet

August 20, 2015          

Episode Summary

In this episode of The Digital Life, we explore Google’s corporate transformation to holding company Alphabet, what that means for unleashing innovation in the company, and how that effects the firm’s chief technology rivals, Amazon and Apple. So far, Wall Street has loved the move and the company has increased its worth by $20B.

Alphabet is well-positioned to be the dominant emerging tech company of the 21st century, with fingers in the IoT, wearables, self-driving cars, robotics, and genomics. But what does that dominance mean for our data, when innovation is reliant on advertising revenue for financial fuel?

Resources
G is for Google
Google confirms Life Sciences as the first new company under the umbrella of Alphabet

Bull Session

Future Crime

August 13, 2015          

Episode Summary

In the science fiction film “Minority Report”, a PreCrime police division hunts down potential criminals and arrests them before they commit their crimes. While we are far from being able to predict crimes before they happen, we are using risk assessments — statistical tools that aim to quantify whether or not a criminal will re-offend — in the American justice system, a solution that is particularly controversial, especially when it comes to sentencing.

Using big data and statistical analysis, risk assessments promise fewer incarcerations as individuals suitable for rehabilitation are steered in that direction, and less crime as truly dangerous criminals are kept off the streets. As states struggle with the burden of increased spending on their prison systems, this potential solution appeals to policymakers on both sides of the aisle: Conservatives see fewer tax dollars spent, while liberals see a fairer system, arbitrated by big data.

But for the individuals effected, many questions remain. Can statistical data analysis accurately assess how people might behave in the future, and give us insight into whether or not criminals might re-offend? And, is it fair to decide their fate, at least in part, based on that data? This week on The Digital Life, we’ll explore the design and use of risk assessments in our criminal justice system.

Resources
Minority Report
Should Prison Sentences Be Based On Crimes That Haven’t Been Committed Yet?

Bull Session

The Future of Food

August 6, 2015          

Episode Summary

This week on The Digital Life, we explore the future of food. There are few things more personal, more intimate, more important than what we put in our bodies every day. We’ll touch on a few areas at the intersections of food, science, and technology — from food as fuel where optimizing nutrition is key, to new food delivery technology like 3D printing, to the molecular gastronomy movement.

Resources
Soylent
truBrain
Impossible Foods
Foodini, the 3D food printer
The Bazaar by Jose Andres

Bull Session

Hacking Cars

July 30, 2015          

Episode Summary

In this episode of The Digital Life, we discuss the Jeep auto hack in which cybersecurity researchers were able to remotely take control of a car’s critical systems, the subsequent 1.4M vehicle recall by Chrysler, and the new bill introduced by Senators Ed Markey (Dem – Massachusetts) and Richard Blumenthal (Dem – Connecticut) to protect automobiles from cyberattacks. Are security and privacy the defining issues for the Internet of Things? Unfortunately, it seems like this incident may be the first of many examples of hacking the IoT and connected environments.

Resources

Hackers Remotely Kill a Jeep on the Highway—With Me in It
After Jeep Hack, Chrysler Recalls 1.4M Vehicles for Bug Fix
Senate Bill Seeks Standards For Cars’ Defenses From Hackers

Bull Session

Automating America

July 16, 2015          

Episode Summary

In this episode of The Digital Life we chat about about digital automation, innovation, and its effects on the economics of the American middle class.

Is the growing contractor economy, as typified by Uber, another signal that the middle class is in real trouble? As a part of her campaign rhetoric, Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential frontrunner, is making some hay of the topic. But the concern is very much a real one. The need for meaningful work is an essential one for humanity, and one that increasingly is falling prey to technological change.

Resources

Hillary Clinton vs. The Uber Economy

A Sneak Preview of Hillarynomics

Uber