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The Digital Life

Bull Session

Techno-Utopia and Alphabet’s Smart City

October 27, 2017          

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Episode Summary

For our podcast topic this week, we discuss the design proposal by Sidewalk Labs—a smart city technologies firm, owned by Alphabet, Google parent’s company—for the City of Toronto. Sidewalk Labs will be partnering with the city to create a mixed-use community on Toronto’s waterfront. The aim of the pilot project is to build a smart city from the ground up, drawing on recent technological innovations in software analytics, the IoT, and self-driving cars, as well as improvements in methods of construction, waste disposal, and energy systems. Concerns about privacy abound, however. A recent Toronto Star editorial voiced some skepticism that promises of security and privacy protection would actually be built into the new infrastructure of the smart city. Join us as we discuss.

Resources:
Alphabet is Trying to Reinvent the City, Starting with Toronto
Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs to turn Toronto area into a model smart city
Don’t lose sight of personal privacy in futuristic city: Editorial


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Jon Follett
@jonfollett

Dirk Knemeyer
@dknemeyer

Bull Session

Tech Angels and Devils

October 19, 2017          

Episode Summary

For our podcast topic this week, we discuss the changing public perceptions of tech giants — Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon — and their power in and over our lives. Once seen as the facilitators of a potential techno-utopia, they’re now seen as … threats? Technology is no longer seen as neutral; It is, after all, created by people. And, the user is less and less seen as being in control; rather, we are being controlled. For instance, recently, Facebook’s tools have been used to undermine the US democratic process. But, where are we headed next? Join us as we discuss.

Resources:
Tech Giants, Once Seen as Saviors, Are Now Viewed as Threats

Bull Session

The Smart Home Face Off

October 12, 2017          

Episode Summary

For our podcast topic this week, we discuss product innovation for the smart home and whether Amazon is overtaking Apple when it comes to creating category disruption. Of course, Apple has a long history of disrupting categories — from the personal computer with the Apple II and again with the iMac; to music with the iPod; to mobile with the iPhone; to the tablet with the iPad. But it looks like Amazon is well positioned to be a dominant player when it comes to the smart home, with their television, music, ecommerce, and other systems all driven by the Alexa voice UI. Amazon’s new hardware products, announced at the end of September, extend the Echo line in significant ways, with industrial design reminiscent of Apple’s groundbreaking work on the personal computer. Is designing hardware and software for a complex ecosystem like the home, fundamentally different from other kinds of consumer product design? Join us as we discuss.

Resources:
Amazon announced a bunch of new hardware products today — here’s a rundown
Amazon’s New Devices Take On Apple in the Fight to Run Our Homes

Bull Session

Human Intelligence Vs. AI

October 5, 2017          

Episode Summary

On the podcast this week, we’ll discuss some of the areas where human intelligence may outperform AI and vice versa. AI is good at processing and discovering certain kinds of information — from data mining to predictive forecasting to optimization — while humans can add a layer of expertise, judgment, and insight. Join us as we talk about about how humans might work separately from as well as in conjunction with machines in an AI-driven future.

Resources:

Where human intelligence outperforms AI


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