Bull Session

Net Neutrality

March 8, 2018          

Episode Summary

This week on The Digital Life, we chat about net neutrality, the digital divide, and fast, cheap Internet for all with guest Brough Turner, Founder of netBlazr.

What is net neutrality and why is it important? And why should it matter to the average consumer? Often, access to the Internet is controlled by only a few providers in a given geographic area. Given this near monopoly in many regions of the country, the idea of net neutrality, or the idea that ISPs should enable access to all content regardless of source, without showing favor to or blocking particular sites, is rooted in an egalitarian view of online information and service distribution. Join us as we discuss.

Resources:
Network Engineers Speak Out for Net Neutrality

Internet Engineers Comments/FCC NN

netBlazr

Bull Session, Podcast

Designing Voice User Interfaces

March 2, 2018          

Episode Summary

On this episode of The Digital Life, we talk about designing voice user interfaces with engineer Claire Sun, who just returned from the Conversational Interaction Conference. Today, the voice UI market is primarily focused on performing tasks and controlling devices related to the smart home. Voice recognition technology isn’t robust enough yet to function smoothly in noisy environments or tell the difference between multiple speakers. Additionally, the software that powers VUIs is still at the early stages of being able to understand language in context, as opposed to more simple, transactional phrases. Join us as we discuss approaches to designing VUIs, and the difficulties that designers and engineers encounter in their quest to create software that’s both personal and conversational.

Bull Session

Digital Citizenship

February 23, 2018          

Episode Summary

On The Digital Life podcast this week, we chat about Estonia’s E-Residency program, which encourages entrepreneurs to become virtual residents of the country, so they can have a European company. It’s a really interesting and innovative way to think about citizenship, basically ignoring geography, but leveraging it at the same time. It’s not unusual for countries to sell their citizenship, including the US, but this is slightly different. If innovators and entrepreneurs can go anywhere they want in the world to find the best deal, best benefits, or the like, what does that mean for the future of nation states? Join us as we discuss.

Resources:
Republic of Estonia E-Residency

Countries where you can buy citizenship

Bull Session

Automation and Collaborative Robots

February 15, 2018          

Episode Summary

On The Digital Life podcast this week, we chat with guest Mary Ellen Sparrow, CEO of NextShift Robotics, about collaborative robotics and automation. NextShift focuses on developing robots that work in concert with people on the warehouse floor for e-commerce operations. Unlike other automation systems, the company’s technology works within a warehouse’s existing infrastructure, rather than requiring a massive overhaul and build out. Its robots are designed to work in complex and variable environments. For example, they can avoid obstacles, navigating around objects in their path. Join us as we discuss robotic automation, misconceptions people may have about the relationship between jobs, workers, and robots, and the potential of this technology to transform industry in the near future.

Resources:
NextShift Robotics

Bull Session

The Human Genome Project Write

February 9, 2018          

Episode Summary

On The Digital Life podcast this week, we chat about the Human Genome Project Write. Synthetic biologists are building the engineering blueprint for life: a human cell that contains all the DNA it needs to produce more human cells. Such a blueprint could be a significant step towards major medical breakthroughs, including wiping out genetic diseases.

Synthetic biologists build DNA using specialized bio-informatics design software to write the code. In the lab, this DNA code is then chemically synthesized. The software tools for this process, however, are still at their formative stages, and lack the necessary abstraction layer. Synthetic biologists must still work at the most basic level of DNA code—the A,C,G, and Ts—unlike, say computer coders who usually stay several layers above the 0s and 1s.

Some of the other challenges this project will face include creating a legal framework and policy to govern the technology, establishing rules around intellectual property, and even coming to a shared understanding of ethical boundaries and prohibitions across the genomic research community. Join us as we discuss.

Resources:
The Human Operating System Gets an Overhaul