Bull Session

Business Model Innovation in Unusual Places

September 23, 2016          

Episode Summary

On this episode of The Digital Life, we discuss business model innovation in places you might not expect. Bill Taylor, the founder of Fast Company magazine, spoke at the Business Innovation Factory Summit last week about his new book "Simply Brilliant". We use his examples of companies experimenting and succeeding with unique business models and practices — from Lincoln Electric to Megabus — as a jumping off point for our discussion about progressive firms.

 
Resources:
Business Innovation Factory Summit
Simply Brilliant by Bill Taylor

Bull Session

Labor and the Gig Economy

September 15, 2016          

Episode Summary

On The Digital Life this week, we discuss the gig economy and labor disputes. What are the new labor disputes? In many ways, they're the same as the old ones — unemployment insurance, workers comp, minimum wage, snf the right to organize — but for a new kind of worker. If the future of many kinds of work is found in their Uber-ization, what does this mean for fair labor practices? Does distributed, just-in-time work, mean that the protections for workers are gone forever? Or are there new models that we could use to fairly compensate people? We discuss regulation and the design of new labor policy in the age of Uber.

 
Resources:
App Based Services Spark a New Age of Labor Disputes

Bull Session

Quantum Computing

September 9, 2016          

Episode Summary

This week on The Digital Life, we discuss the strange and exciting world of quantum computing. Quantum computers operate on an atomic level, harnessing the power of quantum mechanics to perform processing tasks much more rapidly than computers designed using classical physics. They have the potential to perform calculations much, much faster than any of our silicon-based super computers today — up to 100 million times faster, in fact.

Research in quantum computing has up until recently, been largely theoretical, with the practical technology needed to achieve it beyond reach. But now both Google and D-Wave, a Canadian company, have made some significant progress. Will there be a coming revolution in computing power? Will quantum computers one day replace our silicon chip based computing devices?

 
Resources:
Google's Quantum Dream Machine
Revealed: Google's plan for quantum computer supremacy

Bull Session

Embeddables

September 1, 2016          

Episode Summary

This week on The Digital Life, we discuss the quickly progressing evolutionary cycle from wearable devices to electronic clothing to embeddables. We're in a time of design experimentation combined with rapid technological advancement. A great example of this experimentation comes from design student Lucie Davis, who embedded the RFID chip for a subway pass into her high tech nails for a university project.

Technology, like attachable computers from Cambridge, Massachusetts company MC10, will provide computing power that can be placed almost anywhere on the body, in the form of small, rectangular stickers. And the MIT Media Lab working with Microsoft Research has created DuoSkin, a smart tattoo that can act like a smart device or connected interface.

 
Resources:
Student embeds subway card in her fingernails
MIT and Microsoft Research creates DuoSkin smart tattoo that turns skin into touchpad

Bull Session

Chimeras and Bioethics

August 25, 2016          

Episode Summary

This week on The Digital Life, we discuss human-animal chimeras and bioethics. If you know your Greek mythology, you might be familiar with the chimera — a monstrous fire-breathing hybrid creature, part lion, part goat, with a tail that ends in a snake’s head. Today, the term chimera is used in embryology to describe a hybrid organism that has tissues from multiple species. And there’s interest in producing chimeras for studying disease pathology, testing drugs, and eventually organ transplantation.

Last year, however, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) said it wouldn’t support this research and banned funding for it, due to bioethical and animal welfare concerns. Now, the NIH is requesting public comment on a proposal to amend sections of their guidelines for human stem cell research on the proposed scope of certain human-animal chimera research.

 
Resources:
You Can Soon Grow Human-Animal Hybrids, But You Can’t Breed ‘Em
Strange Beasts: Why Human-Animal Chimeras Might Be Coming
NIH consideration of certain research proposals involving human-animal chimera models