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

Bull Session

It’s the End of the Web As We Know It (and We Feel Fine)

May 25, 2017          

Episode Summary

On The Digital Life this week we explore the variety of reasons we might be looking at the end of the Internet as we know it, at least as an open global phenomenon.
This one of the ten predictions for 2017 by Nesta, (formerly NESTA, National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) a UK innovation foundation that explores trends, social movements, and technological breakthroughs.

The push back against globalization, alongside nationalist movements and tense politics all over the globe, governments are increasingly subject to cyber attacks as well as a deluge of misleading information, fake news, and propaganda. According to Nesta, the results of this chaotic environment is making governments wary of the uncontrollable Internet and the possible dire consequences that come with such an open system — so much so that some are willing to consider a walled garden approach of cyber isolationism, cutting themselves off from the world and creating their own independent networks. Join us as we discuss the possibility of the end of the open, global Internet.

Resources:
The End of the Web
Nesta
10 Predictions for 2017

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