Bull Session

The Next Wave of Drone Technology

February 12, 2017          

Episode Summary

On this episode of The Digital Life, we discuss the next wave of drone technology. Most of the country saw the massive swarming drone light display that was part of Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl halftime show. The Intel Shooting Star drone system created effects not unlike sophisticated fireworks.

Have we entered the age of the drone? The possibilities seem endless: search-and-rescue missions to assist emergency crews after natural disasters, crop inspection and fertilizer / pesticide distribution for agricultural producers, delivering humanitarian supplies and medicine for NGOs, or even land surveys using heat-sensing cameras for scientists and archaeologists. Facebook is even preparing to deliver Internet to underserved areas using drones.

 
Resources:
Lady Gaga’s Halftime Show Drones Have a Bright Future
Facebook Takes Flight: Inside the test flight of Facebook’s first internet drone

Bull Session

AI Goes Mainstream

February 3, 2017          

Episode Summary

On this episode of The Digital Life, we discuss the high-powered Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society, an initiative whose founding members include Amazon, Facebook, Google, IBM, Microsoft and Apple. Apple was just recently added as a founding member.

The mission of the group is to educate the public about AI, study its potential impact on the world, and develop standards and ethics around its implementation. Interestingly, the group also includes organizations with expertise in economics, civil rights, economics, and research, who are concerned with the impacts of technology on modern society. These include: the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the MacArthur Foundation, OpenAI, the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, Arizona State University and University of California, Berkeley.

Will AI build upon our society’s biases and disparities and make them worse? Or does it have the potential to create something more egalitarian? Join us as we discuss all this and more.

 
Resources:
Apple joins Amazon, Facebook, Google, IBM and Microsoft in AI initiative
Partnership on AI
A massive AI partnership is tapping civil rights and economic experts to keep AI safe

Bull Session

Automate

January 26, 2017          

Episode Summary

On this episode of The Digital Life, we discuss workplace automation and the technologies that will make it happen — from robotics to artificial intelligence (AI) to machine learning. The McKinsey Global Institute released a new study on the topic this month, “A Future that Works: Automation, Employment and Productivity”, which contains some interesting insights.For instance, almost every occupation has the potential to be at least partially automated, and it’s likely that more occupations will be transformed than automated away. However, people will need to work in conjunction with machines as a part of their day-to-day activities, and in this new age of automation, learning new skills will be critical.Add to this the fact that working-age population is actually decreasing in many countries, and we can see how the story of automation is multi-faceted. The path to automating the workplace is a complex one that could raise productivity growth on a global scale.

 
Resources:
Report – McKinsey Global Institute: Harnessing automation for a future that works

Bull Session

The Future of Retail

January 21, 2017          

Episode Summary

On this episode of The Digital Life, we discuss Amazon Go and the future of retail. As e-commerce continues to rise in popularity, retail stores are taking a huge hit, losing billions of dollars in transactions which have migrated online. What should physical retail look like then, in the 21st century? Ironically, Amazon, the e-commerce giant, might have the answer.

Amazon Go, the company’s new retail offering being beta tested in Seattle, is a IoT-enabled grocery store which forgoes the checkout line. Customers can walk in, grab what they like from the shelves, and just walk out again — no waiting in line required. How does Amazon Go work? When customers walk in, they tap their mobile phones on a turnstile, which logs them into the store’s system. It connects them to their Amazon account via an app. Amazon Go uses machine learning, sensors, and AI to track the food items that a customer selects and adds them to the app’s virtual cart. If the customer picks up an item and puts it down again, the item is likewise removed from their cart.

Amazon Go is just one of a host of ideas for retail store formats that re-define that experience: product curation, showrooms (a la the Apple Store), immersive environments, etc. Join us as we discuss the evolution of the retail store.

 
Resources:
Amazon just opened a grocery store without a checkout line

Bull Session

Human Behavior Data as Asset

January 13, 2017          

Episode Summary

On this episode of The Digital Life, we discuss how data on human behavior has become an increasingly important asset in the 21st century. We start with an examination of Uber Movement, which offers access to the company’s data on traffic flow — meant for use by city planners and researchers looking for ways to improve urban mobility. This is a global data trove with information from cities all over the world, and it reflects the growing use of data assets by tech companies to influence local and national policy and law. Data on human behavior will be come an increasingly important asset in the years ahead. We can already see how Amazon, Netflix and Uber are using the data at their disposal as leverage. The big question is: what comes next?

 
Resources:
Uber Movement
Uber Debuts Movement, a New Website Offering Access to Its Traffic Data