Technological Disruptors and not Tech Singularity will force companies to accelerate or die – Next Big Future

Technological disruptors like Elon Musk, Google and Amazon will force industries and companies to accelerate or die. Companies will have to accelerate innovation and move to bolder innovation and attempt to shift to technological leapfrogging and shoot for far more aggressive productivity gains.

Toyota is reacting to the Tesla Electric cars with a plan to leapfrog batteries to solid state batteries in 2022 with triple the energy density of current batteries and lower costs and faster charging times.

Compute power increased by a trillion times over the last fifty years but the adoption of IT was generally manageable for most companies and industries. Bill Gates was more aggressive than his competitors in driving the PC age. Steve Jobs combined technologies and design to produce the smartphone and tablet.

It is the combination of technological capabilities (artificial intelligence, cloud computing, sensors, robotics etc) and aggressive and well capitalized bold business innovators that will force a shift to moonshot innovation as a mainstream part of business.

Amazon will use Whole Foods to go after market share and worry about profit later. They will use a low price halo on key products. Whole Foods will also be par to of Amazons distribution chain and the reward program will be Amazon Prime.

Walmart is teaming up with Google and Google Express to compete.

Amazon has announced plans to have a huge impact on global logistics (shipping, trucking).

Amazon will force competition and adaptation in more areas of retail and logistics.

Elon Musk has the lowest priced space launch services with Spacex. Soon with the Falcon Heavy Spacex will have the largest cargo capacity into space. Mastering reusability and higher launch rate will crush most of the space launch competition. Competitors will need massive national government support in order to get back into the game. This will be similar to the support that received in order to become a competitor to Boeing in the commercial jet business.

The rocket technologies that Elon Musk is leveraging have mostly existed since the 1970s. There is some additional computer capabilities and improved materials as well, but much of the reusability of rockets was already envisioned for the Space Shuttle. The cheap reusability that was envisioned for the Space Shuttle was killed with compromises to bureaucracy and politics.

Elon and Googles plan for a large high speed internet satellite network will bring competition to mobile and cable internet providers around the world. Mobile companies will try to respond with 5G for higher speed but the rate of innovation has been one generation every ten years and cable has made very little improvement over the last 20 years.

For electric cars and batteries and solar, Elon Musk has talked about making factories ten times better every ten years by reinventing the factory every two years.

Chinas competitive capabilities rest more with the innovation in Shenzhens smartphone technology hub and with new economy leaders like Alibaba and Tencent than with overall industry and market size. China has a section of its economy with aggressive technological leadership and innovation.

Singapore is using rapid legislative change (weeks instead of years) and targeted policy like the Smart Nation initiative to be the first to achieve smart driving cars and buses at city scale.

Chinas government supports transforming city scale and larger regions into massive factory zones.

Big bold bets on disruptive innovation at scale will transform industries to a new era of hypercompetition.

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Technological Disruptors and not Tech Singularity will force companies to accelerate or die – Next Big Future

The Evolution Of Smart Speakers – Seeking Alpha

For a relatively nascent product category, smart speakers like Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) Echo and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Home are already seeing a huge influx of attention from both consumers and potential competitors eager to enter the market. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has announced the HomePod and numerous other vendors have either unveiled or are heavily rumored to be working on versions of their own.

Harman Kardon (in conjunction with Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT)), GE Lighting and Lenovo (OTCPK:LNVGY) have announced products in the US, while Alibaba (NYSE:BABA), Xiaomi (Private:XI) and JD.com (NASDAQ:JD), among others, have said they will be bringing products out in China. In addition, Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is rumored to be building a screen-equipped smart speaker called Gizmo.

One obvious question after hearing about all the new entrants is, how can they all survive? The short answer, of course, is they won’t. Nevertheless, expect to see a lot of jockeying, marketing and positioning over the next year or two because it’s still very early days in the world of AI-powered and personal assistant-driven smart speakers.

Yes, Amazon has built an impressive and commanding presence with the Echo line, but there are many limitations to Echos and all current smart speakers that frustrate existing users. Thankfully, technology improvements are coming that will enable competitors to differentiate themselves from others in ways which reduce the frustration and increase the satisfaction that consumers have with smart speakers.

Part of the work involves the overall architecture of the devices and how they interact with cloud-based services. For example, one of the critical capabilities that many users want is the ability to accurately recognize different individuals that speak to the device, so that responses can be customized for different members of a household. To achieve this as quickly and accurately as possible, it doesn’t make sense to try and send the audio signal to the cloud and then wait for the response. Even with superfast network connections, the inevitable delays make interactions with the device feel somewhat awkward.

The same problem exists when you try to move beyond the simple single query requests that most people are making to their smart speakers today. (Alexa, play music by horn bands, or Alexa, what is the capital of Iceland?) In order to have naturally flowing, multi-question or multi-statement conversations, the delays (or latency) have to be dramatically reduced.

The obvious answer to the problem is to do more of the recognition and response work locally on the device and not rely on a cloud-based network connection to do so. In fact, this is a great example of the larger trend of edge computing, where we are seeing devices or applications that use to rely solely on big data centers in the cloud start to do more of the computational work on their own.

That’s part of the reason you’re starting to see companies like Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) and Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), among others, develop chips that are designed to enable more powerful local computing work on devices like smart speakers. The ability to learn and then recognize different individuals, for example, is something that the DSP (digital signal processor) component of new chips from these vendors can do.

Another technological challenge facing current generation products is recognition accuracy. Everyone who has used a smart speaker or digital assistant on another device has had the experience of not being understood. Sometimes that’s due to how the question or command is phrased, but it’s often due to background noises, accents, intonation or other factors that essentially end up providing an imperfect audio signal to the cloud-based recognition engine. Again, more local audio signal processing can often improve the audio signal to be sent, thereby enhancing overall recognition.

Going further, most of the AI-based learning algorithms used to recognize and accurately respond to speech will likely need to be run in very large, compute-intensive cloud data centers. However, the idea of being able to start do pattern recognition of common phrases (a form of inferencing-the second key aspect of machine learning and AI) locally with the right kind of computing engines and hardware architectures is becoming increasingly possible. It may be a long time before all that kind of work can be done within smart speakers and other edge devices, but even doing some speech recognition on the device should enable higher accuracy and longer conversations. In short, a much better user experience.

As new entrants try to differentiate their products in an increasingly crowded space, the ability to offer some key tech-based improvements is going to be essential. Clearly there’s a great deal of momentum behind the smart speaker phenomenon, but it’s going to take these kind performance improvements to move them beyond idle curiosities and into truly useful, everyday kinds of tools.

Disclaimer: Some of the author’s clients are vendors in the tech industry.

Disclosure: None.

Editor’s Note: This article discusses one or more securities that do not trade on a major U.S. exchange. Please be aware of the risks associated with these stocks.

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The Evolution Of Smart Speakers – Seeking Alpha

Seattle: the city of never-ending change – Crosscut

Sound Transit’s Pioneer Square Station (2015) Credit: Brook Ward

Four decades living in Seattle have made this city home that, even though I was born elsewhere, I can surely claim it as my own. I can even lay claim to a family history in the Northwest that extends back to the 1890s when my great-grandparents helped establish a commune in the Skagit Valley that went by the name of Equality Colony. They and their friends and families created what we might call today a self-sufficient, intentional community; perhaps my life-long interest in communities actually had genetic roots.

My wife is one of those increasingly rare people who was actually born here. As I write this, however, it is less than 72 hours until our flight takes off for Rome and retirement in a small Italian town, a plan that has been four years in the making.

Yet, over almost exactly 40 years, I adopted Seattle as my community and stayed with it through lots of ups and downs. During that time, Ive written for a number of local publications, including The Seattle Times and, for somefive years, Crosscut. David Brewster, Crosscuts founder, gave me a boost into part-time writing years ago with the Seattle Weekly back when it was the citys bold experiment in journalism. So, I have some parting thoughts about the city.

Seattle is a great city in spite of itself. We often get in our own way, taking steps forward then retrenching. The Seattle Commons and the Monorail debacles are prime examples.

On the other hand, the region has been transformed by big bond issues that were approved by voters, some of which have been largely forgotten as the changes they brought are almost taken for granted. From Forward Thrust in the 1960s to the Pike Place Market, Farmlands Preservation, Sound Transit and repeated Seattle parks and housing levies, we have collectively constructed the framework that many other cities failed to develop.

The private sector played its own striking role. Boeing changed how we travel. Microsoft changed how we work. And Amazon changed how we shop. All were homegrown businesses that started small, literally in garages, and expanded into companies with global impact.

When I first arrived here, Seattle was still pretty much a lackluster, bush-league provincial city, seemingly at the edge of the continental frontier. So little was known about the place that, as I recall, Time Magazine once datelined an article with Seattle, Oregon.

I think we are on the map now.

What I personally found here was a place that honored individual initiative. One could champion a project and have a lot of help from others. Architect Victor Steinbrueck, who I once had the pleasure of working with, organized a grassroots citizens initiative to save Pike Place Market from a planned demolition. Jim Ellis led the cleaning up of the bay, the formation of Metro and the preservation of vast forest lands. Currently, Gene Duvernoy is one of the successors to this great legacy of activism, with the irrepressible and effective organization Forterra. All are examples of the Power of One.

Just as effective are the many non-profit housing developers who have built many thousands of places to live for low and moderate income people including El Centro de la Raza to CHHP to Bellwether. And, of course, a multitude of arts organizations large and small have added the passion, creativity, and advocacy to make this urban region what it is. Finally, Seattle and its surrounding cities are becoming a rich stew pot of races, ethnicities, cultures, and languages that did not exist only a few decades ago.

So with these great legacies and social and cultural bones, what might be in store for Seattle over the next, say 10 to 15 years?

We already know that we will see a central waterfront transformed into an elegant and accessible esplanade connecting the beloved Market to the shoreline. In this massive change, I hope there will still be a place for the scores of squid giggers who now line the edge of Piers 62/63 with their eerie lights and flashing poles. We also have to ensure locations for small, homegrown enterprises whether shops, cafes, services or sources of food.

We will see a sea change in how people travel once the Sound Transit 3 work is completed. Already, we have seen shifts to commuter rail and light rail and, in recent weeks, the very promising free-ranging bike share system. The geography of this region constrains an expansion of the highway system thankfully. The area, in all likelihood, will see the repurposing of some roads and streets into shared public spaces, with a severe limitation on the use of private vehicles.

The Seattle region will, without doubt, see another huge disruption of the economy, likely within three years. The nation and the region are already overdue for a recession. But I believe there will also be a life-altering discovery or development here that will affect millions of people very likely in the intersection of life sciences with computer technology. This will add to Seattles cachet as a progressive, global urban center.

The Citys housing stock will change, as politically painful as that will be. Large sections of the city that are now exclusively detached houses will be replaced with attached homes, alley houses and cottages. More towers will be built in and around the city center, which will extend from the Ship Canal to Safeco Field.

Lots of folks will find these changes uncomfortable or less affordable and they will likely leave, as it has been the case throughout the history of cities. They will be rapidly replaced by new people eager to find opportunity here.

And, somewhat fatalistically, I do have to think there will be one great, tragic disaster perhaps human-caused but more likely a natural one. The area is, after all, due for an earthquake. The city will recover. But it will be significantly altered, just as the great fire of 1889 resulted in a massive reinvention of Seattle.

But hey, you dont have to take my word for any of it. Im outta here.

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Seattle: the city of never-ending change – Crosscut

Aerospace | Definition of Aerospace by Merriam-Webster

Lockheed had climbed 15 percent this year through Monday, while a Standard & Poors index of aerospace and defense companies advanced 19 percent.

Chung confessed that at least $35,000 of his donations to the Clinton campaign and the DNC had come from a Chinese aerospace executive a lieutenant colonel in the Chinese military.

Liz Swearingin, who has worked in the steel and aerospace industry but also served as county manager in Lewis County, New York.

The missteps are complicating Arconics nascent strategy to remake itself by focusing on selling high-value products for the aerospace and automotive industries, while Alcoa sticks with the slow-growing aluminum business.

Coon recently graduated from Michigan with a degree in aerospace engineering and now has signed up for classes to begin his masters of engineering and space engineering.

Rather, a closer examination of the Alabama choice reveals that Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos, whose business acumen pushed Amazon to the top, has brought the same shrewdness to the aerospace industry.

Her father is a software manager responsible for radar systems at Telephonics, a technology provider for the aerospace and military industry in Farmingdale, N.Y.

Airbus, the European aerospace giant best known for the A320 short-haul airliner and A380 superjumbo, has made solving the airborne urban-mobility problem one of the first major tests for its new technology accelerator, A3.

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Aerospace | Definition of Aerospace by Merriam-Webster

The Evolution Of Smart Speakers – Seeking Alpha

For a relatively nascent product category, smart speakers like Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) Echo and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Home are already seeing a huge influx of attention from both consumers and potential competitors eager to enter the market. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has announced the HomePod and numerous other vendors have either unveiled or are heavily rumored to be working on versions of their own.

Harman Kardon (in conjunction with Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT)), GE Lighting and Lenovo (OTCPK:LNVGY) have announced products in the US, while Alibaba (NYSE:BABA), Xiaomi (Private:XI) and JD.com (NASDAQ:JD), among others, have said they will be bringing products out in China. In addition, Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is rumored to be building a screen-equipped smart speaker called Gizmo.

One obvious question after hearing about all the new entrants is, how can they all survive? The short answer, of course, is they won’t. Nevertheless, expect to see a lot of jockeying, marketing and positioning over the next year or two because it’s still very early days in the world of AI-powered and personal assistant-driven smart speakers.

Yes, Amazon has built an impressive and commanding presence with the Echo line, but there are many limitations to Echos and all current smart speakers that frustrate existing users. Thankfully, technology improvements are coming that will enable competitors to differentiate themselves from others in ways which reduce the frustration and increase the satisfaction that consumers have with smart speakers.

Part of the work involves the overall architecture of the devices and how they interact with cloud-based services. For example, one of the critical capabilities that many users want is the ability to accurately recognize different individuals that speak to the device, so that responses can be customized for different members of a household. To achieve this as quickly and accurately as possible, it doesn’t make sense to try and send the audio signal to the cloud and then wait for the response. Even with superfast network connections, the inevitable delays make interactions with the device feel somewhat awkward.

The same problem exists when you try to move beyond the simple single query requests that most people are making to their smart speakers today. (Alexa, play music by horn bands, or Alexa, what is the capital of Iceland?) In order to have naturally flowing, multi-question or multi-statement conversations, the delays (or latency) have to be dramatically reduced.

The obvious answer to the problem is to do more of the recognition and response work locally on the device and not rely on a cloud-based network connection to do so. In fact, this is a great example of the larger trend of edge computing, where we are seeing devices or applications that use to rely solely on big data centers in the cloud start to do more of the computational work on their own.

That’s part of the reason you’re starting to see companies like Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) and Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), among others, develop chips that are designed to enable more powerful local computing work on devices like smart speakers. The ability to learn and then recognize different individuals, for example, is something that the DSP (digital signal processor) component of new chips from these vendors can do.

Another technological challenge facing current generation products is recognition accuracy. Everyone who has used a smart speaker or digital assistant on another device has had the experience of not being understood. Sometimes that’s due to how the question or command is phrased, but it’s often due to background noises, accents, intonation or other factors that essentially end up providing an imperfect audio signal to the cloud-based recognition engine. Again, more local audio signal processing can often improve the audio signal to be sent, thereby enhancing overall recognition.

Going further, most of the AI-based learning algorithms used to recognize and accurately respond to speech will likely need to be run in very large, compute-intensive cloud data centers. However, the idea of being able to start do pattern recognition of common phrases (a form of inferencing-the second key aspect of machine learning and AI) locally with the right kind of computing engines and hardware architectures is becoming increasingly possible. It may be a long time before all that kind of work can be done within smart speakers and other edge devices, but even doing some speech recognition on the device should enable higher accuracy and longer conversations. In short, a much better user experience.

As new entrants try to differentiate their products in an increasingly crowded space, the ability to offer some key tech-based improvements is going to be essential. Clearly there’s a great deal of momentum behind the smart speaker phenomenon, but it’s going to take these kind performance improvements to move them beyond idle curiosities and into truly useful, everyday kinds of tools.

Disclaimer: Some of the author’s clients are vendors in the tech industry.

Disclosure: None.

Editor’s Note: This article discusses one or more securities that do not trade on a major U.S. exchange. Please be aware of the risks associated with these stocks.

Read more here:

The Evolution Of Smart Speakers – Seeking Alpha

Which of These Emerging Technologies Will Be the Next Big Thing? – Singularity Hub

We tend to think of tech visionaries as inventors with a brilliant idea that no one understands. Because the world isnt quite ready, they have to pitch their invention to anyone wholl listen.

Their ideas are either crazy or geniusno ones sure because theyre so novel.

Theres another kind of tech visionary. This person has to sort the genius from the crazy, and then quite literally put their money where their mouth is. These people are investors. And no great invention or idea gets to the next level without the support to go bigger.

At Singularity Universitys Global Summit this week, Sequoia Capitals Roelof Botha sat down with Peter Diamandis for a conversation about the venture capital view of technology. Botha is a partner at Sequoia and was previously CFO of PayPal. Over the decades, Sequoia has helped launch the likes of Apple, Google, Oracle, PayPal, YouTube, Instagram, and WhatsApp.

Botha said theyve been in early on and followed the biggest trends in tech over the decades. In the 1980s, it was semiconductors. In the 1990s, the internet hit its stride with companies like Google and Yahoo. Since then, of course, mobile has been a big theme. So, whats next?

Id say right now were at a very interesting time because its not obvious what the next platform is, Botha said. The phrase weve come up with is interregnum.

Interregnum is the time a throne is vacant in between reigns, he explained. The formidable five of Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook are dominant and hoovering up resources. So, Sequoia is looking for pockets of opportunity that unfairly favor the startup.

Space is an interesting one[and] there are some interesting things around genomics, epigenetics, CRISPR and gene editing, cryptocurrencies, augmented reality, and virtual reality, Botha said. There are a bunch of emerging areas, and were exploring all of those. Even quantum computing these days looks like it might finally be something to our life.

Interest and even investment in a particular area or technology is no guarantee theyll succeed. He said typically only three or four companies drive the returns of a fund with 35 or 40 companies in it. Making sure you find those three or four companies is both art and science.

Well, the key question we always ask is why now? If a company cant answer that question, theres usually a reason not to invest. But sometimes something hasnt worked for 20 years for a reason, and now truly is the time where it does make sense.

Forecasting the cycles of hope and hype in technology is still incredibly difficult, and no one gets it just right. Some exciting technologies seem to be just around the corner, only to die out or hit unexpected roadblocks and get kicked ever further down the road.

Still, we live in a pretty amazing time in history, and over the decades, some emerging technologies will rise up and affect our lives profoundly. What is Botha most excited about in the next few years? What strikes his heart as Diamandis put it?

Id love to see us innovate in augmented reality, Botha said.

Im sure most of the audience has seen the movie Her. This idea of having an invisible user interface, which is voice-based, and having a different way of interacting with technology. If you look at people at lunch breaks, its kind of strange that weve evolved where were all sitting there hunched over these very small screens, all developing neck strains. Its hard for me to imagine thats the end state.

Image Credit:Stock Media provided by Pumidol Leelerdsakulvong / Pond5

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Which of These Emerging Technologies Will Be the Next Big Thing? – Singularity Hub

Top 15 Ways to Achieve Spiritual Enlightenment

The Basics of Spiritual Enlightenment

Spiritual Enlightenment transcends religion. It transcends thought. It transcends mind and its senses. And it conveys a level of wisdom and knowledge about life and the universe that is unparalleled. The concept of enlightenment implies complete understanding of life and the universe, which usually is accompanied by a detachment of all things impermanent and a complete awareness of everything that is, at the moment that it is.

Pretty cool, huh? Yeah. Its what gave the Buddha his mojo, what gave Muhammad his immense understanding, and what gave Jesus (and Thomas) the power to heal people and perform other miracles (dont forget Peter walked on water too). If you want to understand more about spiritual enlightenment, please read the article I posted that explains more about spiritual enlightenment here. This article is going to talk about the disciplines used world-wide to attain spiritual enlightenment.

I passed through the portal of the enlightenment experience about 12 years ago. I call it the enlightenment experience, because thats what it was an experience. It was an experience of my regular senses shutting down, to be replaced with amazing visions, sounds, realizations, epiphanies, and a melding with an intelligence and love so overwhelming it literally changed my life and granted me a wisdom of which I was not worthy beforehand. It was brought on by a deep focused meditation after a short prayer. If you would like to hear more about my enlightenment experience, watch the video (or read the transcript) I made about the first time I encountered it.

So how does one become enlightened? Well theres not a set process. It just sorta happens. That said, it rarely happens to someone if theyre not looking for it. So intention is a good ingredient. But beyond that, there are quite a few commonalities among enlightenment stories globally and parallels within spiritual disciplines designed to bring on enlightenment that suggest we can make a few educated guesses on how to more easily get you there. Lets first discuss my pet theory, then we can review how the worlds disciplines to achieve enlightenment support it.

My theory on how to attain spiritual enlightenment is simple: Stop all conscious thought in your mind, and the experience of enlightenment will occur. I suppose I could have made it sound much more mystical by saying cease the noise that exists within your mind, and you will hear the truth that lies just beyond but I think you get the gist. In fact, from a scientific perspective, I believe that enlightenment is caused by certain chemicals that get released within the body during waking conscious hours when brain activity in certain areas of the brain is reduced below a presently non-defined threshold. Well discuss some evidence later in this article that supports this pretty strongly. For now, lets take alook at the disciplines that typically lead to spiritual enlightenment, and then see how they individually stack up to this basic hypothesis. The different disciplines / methods include:

Meditation (various forms discussed below) Prayer Chanting Yoga Martial Arts Fasting Sweat Lodges / Physical Distress Dancing / Quaking / Shaking Pilgrimages Sensory Depravation Near Death Experience Depression / Despair Self Flagellation Psychedelics Spontaneous Enlightenment / Ego Death

There are a number of different types of meditation. Even some of the different disciplines in this very article can be considered forms of physical meditation. But regardless of the flavor of meditation, all types of meditation are connected with calming the mind and bringing conscious attention into oneself so as to reduce the focus on stuff going on outside of you. How does that fit our hypothesis? If you shut down external distractions, it becomes easier to reduce internal distractions, which is of course a baby step to ceasing all thought and attaining enlightenment. Here are the different types of meditation:

I. Mindfulness Meditation, is the popular term for a form of meditation called Vipassana (vih-PAH-sah-nah), and it comes from the Buddhist tradition. It is probably the most popular form of meditation taught in the West, although it is usually not directly tied to Buddhism when it is taught. Vipassana focuses on being present wherever you are, letting your mind run freely, and simply observing whatever thoughts arise without judgement, and with full acceptance. Fans of Eckhart Tolle are familiar with this type of meditation. Its about 2500 years old if not much, much older. The practice of observing ones thoughts lets that person not be controlled by those thoughts, which then results in a detachment or separation of those same thoughts. Eventually, the process of not having your conscious attention drive new thought threads based on the spurious thoughts that fly through your mind (now doing so unmolested in meditation) allows the mind to eventually calm and quiet itself. Having the mind be calm and quiet is one step from having all conscious thought cease. Regardless of you ever being able to get to the point where conscious thought ceases, Vipassana has been shown through multiple studies to have dramatic positive effects on body and emotional health.

II. Sitting Meditation,called Zazen among Zen practitioners, is also very popular, although it is not always performed under the Zen umbrella. Zen, of course, is a form of practical Buddhism designed to lead directly to enlightenment through a conscious ceasing of all thought in the mind (sound familiar?). Zen koans are riddles that are designed not to have mindful answers to them, so that meditating on them may cause the mind to hiccup and stop thinking altogether. Good example: What is the sound of one hand clapping? How could you think your way into a solution to that riddle? Zazen is your opportunity to practice that process.

Zazen is often referred to as just sitting, because the intention is that is all you do you just sit you dont think. It is a minimalistic meditation, done for long periods of time, with focus on posture (sitting with the spine in alignment). It is the most difficult of all meditations, thanks to the pain associated with sitting motionless in perfect posture for potentially hours on end, but it has led thousands of people to enlightenment.

III. Walking Meditation

Walking meditation is a form of meditation in action.In walking meditation one uses the experience of walking as the focus. The practitioner becomes mindful of their experience while walking, trying to keep the awareness involved with the experience of walking. Walking meditation can be done anywhere, even between the parking lot and the grocery store. Often, it is done is out in nature, on a designated walking path, or around a space specifically designed for walking meditation, such as a labyrinth.

One of the biggest differences is that its easier, for most people, to be more intensely and more easily aware of their bodies while doing walking meditation, compared to sitting forms of practice. When your body is in motion, it is generally easier to be aware of it compared to when you are sitting still. When were sitting still in meditation the sensations that arise in the body are much more subtle and harder to pay attention to than those that arise while were walking, This can make walking meditation an intense experience. You can experience your body very intensely, and you can also find intense enjoyment from this practice. Walking meditation also fits within our thought reduction hypothesis, as that focus is reduced to sensations and awareness within the body.

IV. Transcendental Meditationis based in the traditions associated with Vedanta. Vedanta is the meditative practice within Hinduism. In TM, you sit in a comfortable position, while clearing the mind and focusing on a sacred mantra often assigned by a guru. Sometimes the mantra is chanted, sometimes not. Some newer forms of TM do not require a mantra.

In contrast to Zazen, a more relaxed sitting posture is recommended rather than a rigid one. Experienced TMers or yoga practitioners often sit in Full Lotus or Half Lotus when meditating.

Reducing mindful focus to repeating just one thing creates a space where the mind is just one step away from thinking of nothing the cessation of conscious thought. Repetition of the mantra makes it a mindless practice. MIND-LESS which hopefully then opens the door to the enlightenment experience.

While practicing TM, focus is given to separating from all things impermanent (emotions, thoughts, life situations, material posessions, etc.). TMers see their practice as a more dedicated and effective method of meditation, as that there is a progression of practice variations within its ranks. Ultimately, the goal is to achieve out of body experiences which are oftenthe precursor to a full blown enlightenment experience.

V. Kundaliniis also a practice that arises from the Vedantic traditions. Kundaliniliterally means coiled. The belief associated with Kundalini is that within the practice ofyoga, a life energyan unconscious, instinctive orlibidinalforce, also called Shaktilies coiled at the base of the spine. Kundalini awakenings come from deep yogic meditation, which oftentimes result in enlightenment and bliss. In practical terms, one of the most commonly reported Kundalini experiences is the feeling of an electric current running along the spine. This can also be experienced as a heat coming from within the spine.

The practice of Kundalini attempts to help the coiled energy rise along the spine through energy centers called chakras. Breath control and proper posture help the energy rise through the top of the head to the Crown Chakra which is the point where the enlightenment experience is then catalyzed.

Kundalini is described as a sleeping, dormant potential force in the human organism.It is one of the components of an esoteric description of the subtle body, which consists of nadis(energy channels), chakras(psychic centres), prana(subtle energy), and bindu(drops of essence). Kundalini meditation is also one that focuses on the body, bringing external distractions and thought to a minimum, thereby reducing the noise in the mind.

VI. Qigongis actually gets its roots from the martial art of Tai Chi, so it fits into both the meditation and martial arts categories, but from the meditation perspective, it is a form of Taoist meditation thatpractice to cultivate and balanceqi(chi), what is commonly translated as intrinsic life energy. Qigong is literally translated as life energy cultivation.

The history of qigong dates back more than 4,000 years into ancient China. A wide variety of qigong forms are still used in Chinese culture, such as withintraditional Chinese medicine,inChinese martial artsto enhance fighting abilities, andinTaoismandBuddhismas part of meditative practice. From a practical perspective, qigong can be considered a very effective and relaxing standing or moving meditation.

VII. Guided Meditationis a form ofmeditationwhere an individual is verbally guided into an alteredstate of consciousnesseither by a persons live voice or by a recording of a voice. This process and practice of meditation requires an individual to follow verbal instructions that teach the individual how to relax the entire body, clear the mind, concentrate on breathing, and focus ones awareness and attention.

Sometimes the guide may help the meditator build a virtual environment to explore. Sometimes the guide may provide an imagined scene to help the meditator relax and enter a more thoughtless state. Focus is often targeted on observation, and non-judgement of the environment being imagined.

What one chooses to explore when meditating all depends on the individuals intentions, needs, and level of interest and passion.

Prayer as it exists today in popular religious faith organizations is not really how prayer is supposed to be performed. As it is performed at the highest levels of almost any religious order, prayer is a silent contemplative listening for God, not an appeal for help, an internal conversation voiced to God, or a rote recitation of a practiced orison.

Contemplative prayer requires a silent mind. A listening mind. A peaceful and patient mind. A mind willing to wait for God to connect and commune and communicate with thewisdom and intelligence that can only be described with the word Grace. When it happens, this silent grace manifests itself as enlightenment.But even in the contemporary form of prayer, where the internal or external voice is used to communicate to God, the design of prayer is also enlightenment.

The religious beads used to aid in counting the repetitive recitation of the same prayer over and over is designed to reduce thought in the mind to only the prayer being performed. The Catholic practice of assigning multiple recitations of the same prayers for penance is designed to reduce the minds thoughts to just performing the one same prayer, which not only calms the mind, but the focus on just the one thing is only one step away from the mind being focused on no thing. The entire designated intent of repeating the same prayer over and over until it becomes a mindless automated activity is that it reduces the minds focus to one thing which again is one step away from the focus being on no thing, or no thought, which then triggers enlightenment ( a direct communion with God).

I believe it was for this very reason that Jesus reduced his disciples prayer options to but one prayer; the Lords Prayer. Again, focus on one thing is only one step from focus on no thing, which then flings the internal doors to the Kingdom of Heaven open wide.

Chantingis therhythmicspeaking orsingingofwordsorsounds, often used for the purpose of aligning internal spiritual energy with the divine. Chants may range from a simplemelodyinvolving a limited set ofnotesto highly complex musical structures, often including a great deal ofrepetitionof musical subphrases, such as Great Responsories andOffertoriesofGregorian chant.Chanting (includingmantras,sacred text, thename of God/Spirit, etc.) is a commonly used spiritual practice. Likeprayer, chant may be a component of either personal or group practice. Diverse spiritual traditions consider chant a route tospiritual development.

Chanting as spiritual practice is used inAfrican,Hawaiian, andNative Americancultures,Gregorian chant,Vedic chant,Quran reading,Bahaichants, variousBuddhist chants, variousmantras, and the chanting ofpsalmsand prayers especially inRoman Catholic,Eastern Orthodox,LutheranandAnglicanchurches.

Chant practices vary.Tibetan Buddhistchant involvesthroat singing, where multiple pitches are produced by each performer. The concept of chantingmantrasis of particular significance in manyHindutraditions and other closely relatedDharmic Religions. For example, theHare Krishnamovement is based especially on the chanting ofSanskritNames of Godin theVaishnavatradition. JapaneseShigin(), or chanted poetry, mirrorsZenBuddhistprinciples and is sung from theDan tien(or lower abdomen) the locus of power inEastern traditions.

Chanting is designed to be a repetitive activity that then reduces the minds focus to the one action. Being focused on the one activity is one step away from being focused on no activity, or no thought.

There are countless styles of yoga that exist, almost all of which are birthed from Hindu tradition. One of the most detailed and thorough expositions on the subject comes from the Hindu tradition, theYoga Stras of Patajali, which defines yoga as the stilling of the changing states of the mind.Yoga has also been popularly defined as union with the divine in other contexts and traditions.Various traditions of yoga are found inBuddhism,Hinduism,JainismandSikhism.Western versions of yoga are now being separated from its eastern philosophical roots, but one primary foundation of yoga that cannot be removed is that it is a discipline designed to bring the mind and actions into focus on the body.

As the mind is trained to focus on the body, and the body is trained to work more efficiently and be more healthy, the combination of the activity of the minds focus and the bodys exhaustion while practicing creates a prime environment for enlightenment to occur within the practitioner. In addition, the repetitive nature of the yogic movements provide the mind an opportunity not to think about what youre doing. Physical stress on the body can assist with with the cessation of conscious thought so as to catalyze the release of the chemicals in the brain that cause the enlightenment experience.

The parallels between practicing martial arts andpracticing yoga are pretty clear. Both are a strenuous physical practice of repetitive motions that demand a high amount of mental discipline.

Contrary to the contrived connection between enlightenment with popular martial arts such as Karate, Tae Kwon Do, or Jiu Jitsu, commonly identified as external or physical arts, there also exists a number of internal or mind focused arts such as Qigong, Tai Chi, and Budo.

The repetitive nature of martial arts movements allows for the mind to quiet and be focused into the body, thereby reducing conscious thought. In a way you could say that martial arts and enlightenment have nothing to do with each other. On the other hand, you could say that martial arts have as much to do with enlightenment, and that enlightenment is the entire purpose of all the martial arts. The possibility of enlightenment is of course always present. Nonetheless, particularly because of the association of Zen and Budo, we must assume there is a connection with some arts. O-Sensei, the Founder of Aikido, was enlightened.

Most spiritual religions and traditions practice some sort of fasting, a practice that generally means going without food for a certain period of time. According to the Bible, Jesus fasted for 40 days. As did Siddartha Gautama, the first recorded Buddha. The Islamic holy period of Ramadan requires fasting, as does Judaism during Yom Kippur. But why is a food fast so important to spirituality? Its quite simple and logical, really. Because food is a necessity for life, it is a habit that we MUST indulge in, several times a day. Thus, it becomes a sort of a God to us. By depriving yourself of this food God for a specified period of time, you become closer to the one true God. You begin to rely on the spiritual sustenance of God rather than the physical sustenance of food.

To meditate, pray and/or read spiritual books frequently during fasting has sometimes helped practitioners to initiate enlightenment experiences. Schedule as much spiritual contemplation as possible during a fasting period; after all, from a traditional perspective (although there are health benefits to fasting from food), spiritual enlightenment is the reason for your fast. Many people have reported spiritual breakthroughs during prolonged fasting periods.

Sweat lodges have recently gotten some bad press, thanks to a supposed spiritual teacher who moved to strip the sacred traditions out of the Native American foundations of the sweat lodge experience and hold part of a retreat in a contemporary tent not designed for the ancient ritual. People died. Others went to the hospital with extreme dehydration. But the ritual of sweat lodges, when performed to the guidelines set forth by the Lakota Nation and other Native American groups who practice the spiritual discipline, can be exceptionally effective at triggering an enlightenment experience in a spiritual seeker.

When the body falls into a deep form of distress (including that caused by the high heat and profuse water loss caused by a sweat lodge), the brain (as part of the body) also falls into distress. As the brain falls into distress, thought in the brain decreases and becomes less patterned, bringing the mind into a much more focused state. Even level 2 and 3 hypothermia includes not having control of your conscious thought. And this natural phenomenon can assist in the process of spiritual discovery. Thus in a sweat lodge, the mind is actually brought to a stop for some people through physical intervention of its proper operation, triggering enlightenment.

Just like physical distress can cease conscious thought, physical exhaustion can do the same. Subsequently, dancing to excess (such as within ritualistic ceremony), and similar activities such as quaking and shaking can initiate the cessation of conscious thought that catalyzes the enlightenment experience.

The founder of the Quaker Religion, George Fox was an enlightened master. The Lord showed me, so that I did see clearly, that he did not dwell in these temples which men had commanded and set up, but in peoples hearts his people were his temple, and he dwelt in them. Quakers got their name from the physical movements their bodies made for extended periods during attempted communion with God (attempts to achieve enlightenment). Similarly,the Shaker religion, also birthed from the Society of Friends groups that provided Quakerism its roots (not to mention the first religion in America to espouse equality of the sexes), focuses on allowing their bodies to shake so as to be taken by the Spirit.

This is the only activity that does not directly point to the cessation of conscious thought as a result of the activity, however, it does fall in line with reducing one of the largest factors that can inhibit enlightenment, that factor being the ego.Ego is the minds sense of self. And often it is our sense of self that inhibits us from discovering our deeper sense of self uncovered through the enlightenment process (and which replaces our original sense of self.

Oftentimes our familiar surroundings help support our existing sense of self, and remind us of the illusion of who we think we are. So in our quest of discovering the deeper truth of who we are, it makes sense that getting out of our familiar surroundings is a great step in removing our grasp on our existing sense of self. And so enters the option of making a pilgrimage.

Pilgrimages are designed to remove us from our familiar surroundings and take us to a place that we perceive as more holy, or more targeted to bring about a greater sense of meaning and purpose than our familiar surroundings do. Many people travel to Jerusalem in this effort to find a more holy place. Some people visit Mecca during the Hajj, which Islam requires to be done at least once in a Muslims lifetime. Many Buddhists climb great mountains to sit in small humble but sacred temples. Oftentimes a pilgrimage can take the form of visiting a spiritual retreat.

In the grand scheme, it doesnt necessarily remove conscious thought from your mind, but it does remove a large sense of you from your mind, replacing it with unfamiliar surroundings, and more ideas of a spiritual nature that you might not have in your regular environment. And those babysteps can be super helpful when trying to replace what you know with what you want to know when you tap into the sacred knowledge and wisdom that comes with passing through the enlightenment experience.

Sensory depravation tanks are a favorite place for me to relax. They are a completely dark and quiet place of respite from the world and how it reacts on our five senses. Inside an SDT, about 12 inches of body temperature salt water allow you to float effortlessly, experiencing a feeling of weightlessness in your own body. In addition, no light enters the tank, so your sight is neutralized. In the best environments, no sounds should be able to be heard. Oxygen and nitrogen levels in the air are maintained so as to provide no smells that can be detected, and even if they are, olfactory senses naturally zero out after 10 minutes anyway. So an SDT becomes the perfect place to reduce your outside sensory distractions so as to be able to enter a deep meditative state.

When you reduce the noise in your head, it becomes easier to reduce the noise in your head even more. I have spoken to a number of people who have experienced psychedelic enlightenment experiences in an SDT thanks to its capability to assist in clearing the mind and focusing attention on what is going on within you, reducing your conscious thought to the lowest level possible.

Rental SDTs exist and are becoming more popular in spas across America and elsewhere. If you can find one, I highly suggest getting a package of 5 10 sessions (one or two just wont do), so as to experience the removal of your regular senses, so as to open up the other senses you didnt even know you had.

When you almost die then come back, during that process the brain shuts down and conscious thought ceases. This section really deserves its own post, and hundreds of scientific books have been written on the near death experience and its association with spiritual topics and mystical awakenings. But regarding our active search for spiritual enlightenment, please dont attempt a near death experience in your search for awakening. You might not awaken, period. There are many easier and less risky ways to seek enlightenment.

When psychological pain becomes too much to bare, and suffering piles up so much and becomes so large that you cant even think about anything else but the psychological pain and agony you are experiencing the simple truth of the fact is that you are but one step away from thinking of nothing.

Explained very frequently as the dark night of the soul, psychological pain is a very common catalyst of initiating the enlightenment experience. From a more profound or spiritual perspective, it could be said that God reveals Himself to those who who need Him most. And who might need God more than someone being ground up in the sharp bottom gravel of lifes downcycles? I could think of no one who might need God more than a person so down that they may wish life to end before it goes on.

Although I believe this is the most common catalyst out of which unexpected enlightenment experiences blossom,I wouldnt suggest throwing yourself into a deep dark despair before reaching out to God for answers and meaning. There are numerous other ways to attain enlightenment that are much more enjoyable. Although, that said, I expect this accidental method of spiraling into the pits of agony, which then focus the mind on nothing but the pain, to be a rather common (though unpopular) way of attaining enlightenment for centuries to come.

Also called self flagellation, self infliction of pain through intentional damage of the human body works on the same functional path that psychological pain and suffering works through. When the pain becomes all you can focus on, you are but one baby step away from the mind shutting down completely, causing the experience of bliss that accompanies spiritual awakening (potentially also then augmented by a dopamine release). But there are other theories about why mortification is practiced in global spiritual circles.

In the same way that people who change their appearance through painful means will sacrifice and deny themselves pleasure in order to attain some physical or material goals, some people voluntarily perform self-inflicted sacrifices in order to receive spiritual or intangible goals, e.g. union with God, a higher place inheaven, expiation for other peoples sins, self-realization, or the conversion of sinners.

The Rev. Michael Geisler, a priest of theOpus DeiPrelature in St. Louis, wrote two articles explaining the theological purpose behind corporal mortification. Self-denial helps a person overcome both psychological and physical weakness, gives him energy, helps him grow in virtue and ultimately leads to salvation. It conquers the insidious demons of softness, pessimism and lukewarm faith that dominate the lives of so many today (Crisis magazineJuly/August 2005).

Members of the modern Church of Body Modification (CBM) believe that by enduring pain they make a connection to their spirit. Some indigenous cultures shamans believe that endurance of pain or denial of appetites serves to increase spiritual power.

Some theologians explain that the redemptive value of pain makes pain lovable in its effects, even though by itself it is not. Pain is temporal and limited, thus to undergo it is worthwhile to gain the real benefits. For those with this viewpoint, pain is seen as a means to an end. Thus, a modernCatholicsaint, Josemaria Escriva said, while consoling a dying woman who was suffering in a hospital, Blessed be pain! Glorified be pain! Sanctified be pain!

One thing remains constant, however: Pain is created within the mind. If the mind is overcome, union with God can be attained.

If you listen to the propaganda, it would be easy to be convinced (as I was for decades) that psychedelic drugs are dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. Unfortunately, the science simply doesnt support these conclusions. The simple facts are that psychedelics are almost impossible to overdose on, they are exponentially safer than legal drugs such as caffeine and alcohol, which kill tens of thousands of people yearly, and most of them help convey a very profound experience akin to that of full blown spiritual enlightenment. Lets discuss a number of the most popular and potent external catalysts to spiritual / mystical experience (and by the way, all of these under brain scan are shown to reduce activity in the conscious thinking centers in the brain):

I. The All Natural Psychedelic That Is Actually the Cause of Enlightenment

The scientific/physiological explanation of the spiritual enlightenment experience is that enlightenment is the result of the consciousness expansion that occurs when endogenous DMT (di-methyl-tryptamine) is released into the blood stream during waking consciousness. DMT is a natural chemical generated by numerous organs your body, including your lungs, your liver, and your brain. In fact, DMT is so common within your body, it is released every night during your REM sleep cycle. Coincidentally, it is also the most potent psychedelic substance known to mankind (by a large margin).

II. Manufactured DMT

If you cant get your body to release your own DMT through meditative or other practices, theres always the option of going somewhere to get some manufactured DMT and select a method of getting it into your body that way. The options include smoking it, taking it intravenously, and potentially taking it orally through a potent tea drink called Ayahuasca (detailed in the next section). Please note that DMT is a Schedule I controlled substance in the US, and thus highly illegal to possess unless you are a member of the UDV church, which has Supreme Court clearance to consume Ayahuasca as part of their religious ceremonies.

Taking exogenous (outside the body) DMT will deliver the same type of experience you would get if you urged your body into an endogenous (internal to the body) DMT flush sourced from the pineal gland in the brain, and although Ive never tried it, I would assume the enlightenment experience is similar in either case. The chance of overdose on DMT is almost impossible, the effect of the drug kicks in immediately (within 30 seconds), peaks at 5-10 minutes, and is completely metabolized by the body within 20-30 minutes (at which point you are completely unaffected again). You can find a number of videos on YouTube where consciousness expanders have actually recorded their DMT sessions and put them up for review.

III.Ayahuasca (orally administered brewed DMT)

Ayahuascais a brew of variouspsychoactiveinfusionsprepared with theBanisteriopsis caapivine. It is usually mixed with the leaves ofdimethyltryptamine(DMT)-containing species of shrubs from the genusPsychotria. The caapi vine acts as a naturalmonoamine oxidase inhibitor(MAOI) which allows the DMT to become orally active. DMT would normally be digested and neutralized by gastric juices on contact after reaching the stomach. The tea, first described academically in the early 1950s byHarvardethnobotanistRichard Evans Schultes, who found it employed for divinatory and healing purposes by the native peoples ofAmazonianPeru, is known by a number of different names, including la purga (the purge) because of its extreme purgatory physical effects (people often vomit afterward, and/or experience diarrhea it is an extremely effective treatment for intestinal parasites that sometimes are found in the jungles of the Amazon).

It has been reported that some mind expanding effects can be had from consuming the caapi vine alone, but that DMT-containing plants (such asPsychotria) remain inactive when drunk as a brew without a source ofmonoamine oxidase inhibitor(MAOI) such asB. caapi. How indigenous peoples discovered the synergistic properties of the plants used in the ayahuasca brew remains a mystery. Many shamans (the keepers of the practice) say the plant spirits themselves told them how to make ayahuasca.

If you want enlightenment in a cup, this is it. You WILL pay a price physically for consuming it, but almost everyone who I have met who experienced ayahuasca say it is well worth the trip to Peru, the vomiting, and the diarrhea to experience the mystical / spiritual experience that the magic mixture conveys. In addition, almost everyone I meet who has drunk ayahuasca plans to drink it a second or multiple additional times, calling it the most profound experience of their entire lives.

IV. Psilocin / Psilocybin (Mushrooms)

Psilocybinis a naturally occurringpsychedeliccompound produced by more than200 speciesofmushrooms, collectively known aspsilocybin mushrooms. The most potent are members of the genusPsilocybe, such asP.azurescens,P.semilanceata, andP.cyanescens, but psilocybin has also been isolated from about a dozen othergenera. As aprodrug, psilocybin is quickly converted by the body topsilocin, which has mind-altering effects similar to those ofLSDandmescaline. The effects generally includeeuphoria, visual and mentalhallucinations, changes inperception, a distortedsense of time, and in addition spiritual enlightenment experiences. With psilocybin adverse reactions are also possible such asnausea(which can accompany the good effects) and alsopanic attacks (set and setting are critical when taking psychedelics).

Imagery found on prehistoricmuralsandrock paintingsof modern-day Spain and Algeria suggest that human usage of psilocybin mushrooms dates back thousands of years. InMesoamerica, the mushrooms had long been consumed inspiritualanddivinatoryceremonies before Spanish chroniclers first documented their use in the 16th century. In a 1957Lifemagazine article, American banker andethnomycologistR. Gordon Wassondescribed his experiences ingesting psilocybin-containing mushrooms during a traditional ceremony in Mexico, introducing the drug to popular culture. Shortly afterward, the Swiss chemistAlbert Hofmannisolated the active principle psilocybin from the mushroomPsilocybe mexicana. Hofmanns employerSandozmarketed and sold pure psilocybin to physicians and clinicians worldwide for use inpsychedelic psychotherapy. Although increasingly restrictive drug laws of the late 1960s curbed scientific research into the effects of psilocybin and other hallucinogens, its popularity as anentheogen(spirituality-enhancing agent) grew in the next decade, largely owing to the increased availability of information on how to cultivate psilocybin mushrooms.

Recent studies by Johns Hopkin University on high dose psilocybin experiments showed long lasting positive psychological effects in a high percentage of study subjects. In fact,78 percent of the volunteers were reporting one of the top five most spiritually significant happenings of their lives. Enlightenment in a veggie. Again, these mushrooms are a Schedule I controlled substance, so take caution in attempting to attain any.

Continued here:

Top 15 Ways to Achieve Spiritual Enlightenment

Aerospace | Definition of Aerospace by Merriam-Webster

Lockheed had climbed 15 percent this year through Monday, while a Standard & Poors index of aerospace and defense companies advanced 19 percent.

Chung confessed that at least $35,000 of his donations to the Clinton campaign and the DNC had come from a Chinese aerospace executive a lieutenant colonel in the Chinese military.

Liz Swearingin, who has worked in the steel and aerospace industry but also served as county manager in Lewis County, New York.

The missteps are complicating Arconics nascent strategy to remake itself by focusing on selling high-value products for the aerospace and automotive industries, while Alcoa sticks with the slow-growing aluminum business.

Coon recently graduated from Michigan with a degree in aerospace engineering and now has signed up for classes to begin his masters of engineering and space engineering.

Rather, a closer examination of the Alabama choice reveals that Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos, whose business acumen pushed Amazon to the top, has brought the same shrewdness to the aerospace industry.

Her father is a software manager responsible for radar systems at Telephonics, a technology provider for the aerospace and military industry in Farmingdale, N.Y.

Airbus, the European aerospace giant best known for the A320 short-haul airliner and A380 superjumbo, has made solving the airborne urban-mobility problem one of the first major tests for its new technology accelerator, A3.

Originally posted here:

Aerospace | Definition of Aerospace by Merriam-Webster

Will cities adapt when automation reshapes the job market? – Curbed

Watch out, Rust Belt: The robots are coming. And theyre after one of the more precious resources in these beleaguered U.S. manufacturing hubs: jobs.

That, at least, is the implication of a new analysis by the Brookings Institute, Where the robots are, that suggests the rise of robotics and automation will clobber the same areas hit by manufacturings decline, as technology radically changes how things get made (and how many workers are necessary to make them).

Since industrial robots work best where theres industry, its no surprise theyre currently clustered in the Midwest and upper South, according to the article, key areas in auto manufacturing. Michigan alone accounts for 28,000 of the nations industrial robots, 12 percent of the total, and metro Detroit boasts 8.5 industrial robots per 1,000 workers.

The Rust Belt, as some have said, is becoming the Robot Belt, knocking another serious blow to the region, where cities, like Pittsburgh, have only in the last decade or so really bounced back with advanced manufacturing, innovation hubs, and attempts to diversify their economy. As Mark Munro, Senior Fellow and Policy Director at Brookings, puts it, anxiety about robotslike their physical distributionwill also likely have its own geography.

The Brookings study joins a chorus of stories predicting a new type of robot apocalypse, different than the one we see in science fiction. Its man versus machine, with manufacturing, and many other parts of the economy at stake. The takes differ considerably, especially when it comes to which industries and sectors are most at risk, and how much were actually at risk: Some believe the real hits will come in transportation, storage, and retail, where more than 40 percent of jobs in these sectors will be replaceable due to this new wave of technology. Some reports even believe that these changes will result in economic growth and new job opportunities.

What all these predictions share, however, is a belief that we arent prepared for this shift toward automation. Automation has become a stand-in for economic anxiety, especially in areas that have already been hit by technological shifts, globalization, and increasing inequality. For city and local leaders, however, it should become a proxy for coming economic shifts, and challenge policymakers and corporate leaders to find the will to adjust. Like it or not, automation is making an impact and will only become more pronounced.

With the Trump administration more focused on changing trade policies as a means to improve employment and the economyTreasury secretary Steven Mnuchin has said this kind of technological displacement is not even on [the administrations] radar screenother levels of government need to step up.

Numerous other industries will likely be reshaped by automation, too, not just manufacturing. Telemarketers, insurance underwriters and appraisers, tax preparers, and cashiers may also be at risk, according to an Oxford University study. Many expect the retail industry, already clobbered by Amazon, to continue to shed jobs, according to a study by the Cornerstone Capital Group; up to 47 percent of the 16 million Americans currently working in retail could be made redundant.

Whats most distressing about these predictions is how automations impact is expected to move down the wage ladder; after hurting manufacturing employment, which often offered more stable and significant wages, now robots are coming after lower-wage jobs in the service sector. Thatll hurt some of the least well-off Americans, and based on the way certain industries have clustered, will mean some metro areas will feel the greatest effects, according to an analysis from the Institute for Spatial Economic Analysis.

In Las Vegas and Riverside-San Bernardino in California, for example, each of which relies heavily on many of these industries, 65 and 63 percent of total jobs are at stake. Other vulnerable cities include El Paso, Texas; Orlando, Florida; and Louisville, Kentucky.

We felt it was really stunning, since we are underestimating the probability of automation, said Johannes Moenius, the director of the Institute for Spatial Economic Analysis at the University of Redlands, told The Atlantic, about the extent of potential losses.

So many communities are still coping with early waves of technological shifts, manufacturing moves, and economic changes. How can cities recover while readying themselves for something perhaps more swift and unpredictable?

Many cities are trying to get ahead of the shift by pursuing and promoting new manufacturing and training initiatives to help prepare for the next generation of job shifts. Creating partnerships with regional educational leaders and corporate leaders to create new training and educational programs, and encouraging initiatives that focus on skills for new manufacturing can help build new job opportunities and new businesses.

As Voxs Ezra Klein, who is skeptical that AI will lead to massive unemployment, wrote in a story this week, as technology drives people out of the most necessary jobs, we invent less necessary jobs that we nevertheless imbue with profound meaning and even economic value. Automation may create the conditions for new types of jobs; in that case, education and training become even more necessary to help weather and even take advantage of the transition.

The manufacturing industry is changing and favoring small companies and the maker movement; in 2014, more than 350,000 manufacturing concerns consisted of a single owner/employee, a 17 percent boost from a decade ago. Small businesses can and are growing in this sector (and, ironically, can operate in part because of the efficiencies brought about by automation).

Programs that help promote these firms have been seen as pathways to jobs that pay well: New York City has set aside $64 million in its Industrial Developer Fund to make manufacturing centers and floorspace more affordable. And the citys Tech Talent Pipeline is helping to shape education in the region and create pipelines to funnel talent in regional businesses.

The Equitable Innovation Economies Initiative, a project of the Pratt Center for Community Development, has also promoted efforts in multiple cities to increase the pool of tech talent and incubate a more diverse range of firms, like the Local Initiatives Support Corporation in Indianapolis, which has turned an abandoned industrial district into a new tech corridor.

Experts say say with a period of even more rapid adjustment and shifting employment coming, changes at the federal level that build a more flexible and robust safety net would cushion the coming blows. The U.S. government could put more money toward retraining and educational readjustment programs for workers, including the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program, which was set up to retrain and reskill workers.

No programs exist, and no funding is directly channeled, to those who have been economically displaced due to automation, and our total funding for these efforts lags far behind our peers: The U.S. currently spends about 0.1 percent of its GDP on programs to help workers adjust to workplace shifts; France spends nearly 10 times more (as measured in percent of their GDP).

With economic changes coming more rapidly than ever, improved vocational education and skills training are paramount to creating sustainable development and education. According to Preparing New York for the Next Wave of Automation, a report released by the Center for an Urban Future, with such a wide-range of urban jobs needing to evolve as automation reshapes industries, education needs to be fundamentally reformed. Industry and academia need to team up to create new ways to retrain workers faster, and with the latest technologies and job skills.

One example the new Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) education modelwhich teaches high school students core subjects and provides an Associates degree in an applied science, engineering, or a computer-related fieldhas been promoted as a way to teach immediately applicable skills early and often. City leaders need to take the initiative to build development programs and educational systems that reflect that new reality.

Read more from the original source:

Will cities adapt when automation reshapes the job market? – Curbed

Donald Trump’s 57 most outrageous quotes from his Arizona speech – CNN

I went through the transcript of Trump’s speech — all 77 minutes — and picked out his 57 most outrageous lines, in chronological order. They’re below.

1. “And just so you know from the Secret Service, there aren’t too many people outside protesting, OK. That I can tell you.”

2. “A lot of people in here, a lot of people pouring right now. They can get them in. Whatever you can do, fire marshals, we’ll appreciate it.”

So many people love me — it’s hard to fit them all in the building! But, try!

3. “You know I’d love it if the cameras could show this crowd, because it is rather incredible. It is incredible.”

For the record: The cameras always show the crowd. Have for months and years.

4. “We went to center stage almost from day one in the debates. We love those debates.”

The election ended 287 days ago, as of last night.

5. “Our movement is a movement built on love.”

6. “We all share the same home, the same dreams and the same hopes for a better future. A wound inflicted upon one member of our community is a wound inflicted upon us all.”

7. “I see all those red hats and white hats. It’s all happening very fast. It’s called: ‘Make America Great Again.'”

Trump conflates a call to unity and an end to divisiveness with supporting him. The country is coming together because lots of people at a campaign rally have “MAGA” hats on!

8. “Just like (the media doesn’t) want to report that I spoke out forcefully against hatred, bigotry and violence and strongly condemned the neo-Nazis, the White Supremacists, and the KKK.”

9. “So here is my first statement when I heard about Charlottesville — and I have a home in Charlottesville, a lot of people don’t know.”

Follow this logic: The media says I didn’t condemn the white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville. I did — because I have a house there, which many people don’t know.

10. “So here’s what I said, really fast, here’s what I said on Saturday: ‘We’re closely following the terrible events unfolding in Charlottesville, Virginia’ — this is me speaking. ‘We condemn in the strongest, possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence.’ That’s me speaking on Saturday.”

This is what he actually said (italics/bolding mine): “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides. It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. This has been going on for a long, long time.”

Which is not the same thing. At all.

11. “I think I can’t do much better, right?”

No, you could have done much, much better. Just ask your own party — the vast majority of which condemned your Charlottesville comments. Also, Trump is always doing great!

12. “I hope they’re showing how many people are in this room, but they won’t”

[narrator voice]: They were.

13. “I call them anarchists. Because, believe me, we have plenty of anarchists. They don’t want to talk about the anarchists.”

Believe me, I know anarchists. The best anarchists. Bigly.

14. “If you’re reading a story about somebody, you don’t know. You assume it’s honest, because it’s like the failing New York Times, which is like so bad. It’s so bad.”

I have no idea what Trump’s point is here. But MAN, the New York Times is failing, right?!?!?

15. “Or the Washington Post, which I call a lobbying tool for Amazon, OK, that’s a lobbying tool for Amazon.”

Amazon doesn’t own the Washington Post. Jeff Bezos does.

16. “Or CNN, which is so bad and so pathetic, and their ratings are going down.”

17. “I mean, CNN is really bad, but ABC this morning — I don’t watch it much, but I’m watching in the morning, and they have little George Stephanopoulos talking to Nikki Haley, right? Little George.”

A few things: 1. Trump watches TV constantly. 2. “Little George”: Trump as bully-in-chief.

18. “I didn’t say I love you because you’re black, or I love you because you’re white, or I love you because you’re from Japan, or you’re from China, or you’re from Kenya, or you’re from Scotland or Sweden. I love all the people of our country.”

19. “How about — how about all week they’re talking about the massive crowds that are going to be outside. Where are they? Well, it’s hot out. It is hot. I think it’s too warm.”

It was warm! (105 or so.) But, again, multiple media reports — including CNN’s — show that there were thousands of protesters.

20. “You know, they show up in the helmets and the black masks, and they’ve got clubs and they’ve got everything — Antifa!”

21. “Then I said, racism is evil. Do they report that I said that racism is evil?”

22. “Now they only choose, you know, like a half a sentence here or there and then they just go on this long rampage, or they put on these real lightweights all around a table that nobody ever heard of, and they all say what a bad guy I am.”

“Racism is evil — and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans,” Trump said in response to the attacks in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend.

23. “But, I mean do you ever see anything — and then you wonder why CNN is doing relatively poorly in the ratings”

See #16.

24. “But with me, they wanted me to say it, and I said it. And I said it very clearly, but they refused to put it on.”

The issue was that Trump said — on Saturday, August 12, and then again on Tuesday, August 15 — that the violence and hate on display in Charlottesville was “on many sides” and then that “both sides” were responsible for it. And, the news media didn’t condemn Trump for that; it was his own party who did that.

25. “I hit him with neo-Nazi. I hit them with everything. I got the white supremacists, the neo-Nazi. I got them all in there, let’s say. KKK, we have KKK. I got them all.”

This is revealing in a way Trump doesn’t mean it to be. He views the naming of the KKK and the neo-Nazis who were responsible for this violence as a box-checking exercise. I said their names — so what’s the problem?! (Of course,Trump didn’t call out these groups in his initial statement on Saturday, which was the problem.)

26. “So then the last one, on Tuesday — Tuesday I did another one: ‘We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence. It has no place in America.’

27. “So that was my words.”

Over 2,000 of them in fact. All dedicated to rewriting what he actually said about Charlottesville.

28. “Now, you know, I was a good student. I always hear about the elite. You know, the elite. They’re elite? I went to better schools than they did. I was a better student than they were. I live in a bigger, more beautiful apartment, and I live in the White House, too, which is really great.”

29. “The words were perfect. They only take out anything they can think of, and for the most part, all they do is complain. But they don’t put on those words. And they don’t put on me saying those words.”

Trump is not sorry. Not ever. He has convinced himself that what he said initially about Charlottesville was “perfect.” And, I realize this may be getting repetitive, but the media reported every word Trump said about Charlottesville. Period. The end.

30. “And yes, by the way — and yes, by the way, they are trying to take away our history and our heritage. You see that.”

This is demagogic language from Trump about the media. “They” are trying to rob us of “our history and our heritage.” You don’t have to look very hard to see racial and ethnic coding in that language.

31. “I really think they don’t like our country. I really believe that.”

Trump’s claim that the media doesn’t “like” America is hugely offensive. Offensive and dangerous. Imagine ANY other president saying anything close to this — and what the reaction would be.

32. “Look back there, the live red lights. They’re turning those suckers off fast out there. They’re turning those lights off fast.”

33. “CNN does not want its falling viewership to watch what I’m saying tonight, I can tell you.”

See #16.

34. “If I don’t have social media, I probably would not be standing.”

Same.

35. “They’ll say, ‘Donald Trump is in a Twitter-storm.’ These are sick people.”

Your guess is as good as mine.

36. “You would think — you would think they’d want to make our country great again, and I honestly believe they don’t. I honestly believe it.” The media, in Trump’s telling, is rooting against the country. Let me say again: Rhetoric like this is offensive, dishonest and dangerous.

37. “The New York Times essentially apologized after I won the election, because their coverage was so bad, and it was so wrong, and they were losing so many subscribers that they practically apologized.”

38. “I must tell you, Fox has treated me fairly. Fox treated me fairly.”

39. “How good is Hannity? How good is Hannity? And he’s a great guy, and he’s an honest guy. And ‘Fox and Friends in the Morning’ is the best show, and it’s the absolute, most honest show, and it’s the show I watch.”

40. “Oh, those cameras are going off. Wow. That’s the one thing, they’re very nervous to have me on live television.”

41. “I’m a person that wants to tell the truth. I’m an honest person, and what I’m saying, you know is exactly right.”

42. “You’ve got people outside, but not very many.”

He is obsessed with crowd size. Obsessed.

43. “So, was Sheriff Joe convicted for doing his job?”

44. “He should have had a jury, but you know what? I’ll make a prediction. I think he’s going to be just fine, OK?”

The “pardon” tease! Make sure to stay tuned for next week’s episode!

45. “It was like 115 degrees. I’m out signing autographs for an hour. I was there. That was a hot day.”

It was hot. But I am still very popular. Extremely popular. Believe me.

(And for what it’s worth, CNN White House reporter Kevin Liptak emails: “It was 106 degrees and he spent no more than 25 minutes shaking hands.”)

46. “But believe me, if we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall.”

47. “‘Extreme vetting’ — I came up with that term.”

…he says proudly.

48. “And we have to speak to Mitch and we have to speak to everybody.”

49. “But, you know, they all said, Mr. President, your speech was so good last night, please, please, Mr. President don’t mention any names. So I won’t. I won’t. No I won’t vote — one vote away, I will not mention any names. Very presidential, isn’t’ it? Very presidential.”

This is Trump taking a shot at John McCain, who is currently battling brain cancer, for voting against the repeal and replace health care legislation. It’s also Trump showing how closely he reads press coverage and how he likes to openly flout suggestions of being more “presidential.”

50. “And nobody wants me to talk about your other senator, who’s weak on borders, weak on crime, so I won’t talk about him. Nobody wants me to talk about him. Nobody knows who the hell he is.”

Jeff Flake is a sitting Republican senator. Trump is running him down in his home state at a campaign rally less than a week removed from touting one of his primary challengers on Twitter.

51. “Did you see Gruber got fired yesterday? He got fired because he defrauded somebody or something. Something very bad happened. Check it out. Something happened.”

52. “One vote — speak to your senator, please. Speak to your senator.”

53. “I think we’ve gotten more than anybody, including Harry Truman, who was number one, but they will tell you we’ve got none.”

54. “But Kim Jong Un, I respect the fact that I believe he is starting to respect us. I respect that fact very much. Respect that fact.”

Respect. That. Fact.

55. “I don’t believe that any president has accomplished as much as this president in the first six or seven months. I really don’t believe it.” Trump believes that by saying things, he wills them into existence and truth.

He doesn’t.

56. “They’re trying to take away our culture. They are trying to take away our history.”

[dog whistle]

57. “So I think we’ll end up probably terminating NAFTA at some point, OK? Probably.” Way to throw a major policy pronouncement into the end of a speech while negotiations are ongoing!

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Donald Trump’s 57 most outrageous quotes from his Arizona speech – CNN

Travel – Wikipedia

Travel is the movement of people between relatively distant geographical locations, and can involve travel by foot, bicycle, automobile, train, boat, bus, airplane, or other means, with or without luggage, and can be one way or round trip.[1][2] Travel can also include relatively short stays between successive movements.

The origin of the word “travel” is most likely lost to history. The term “travel” may originate from the Old French word travail, which means ‘work’.[3] According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, the first known use of the word travel was in the 14th century. It also states that the word comes from Middle English travailen, travelen (which means to torment, labor, strive, journey) and earlier from Old French travailler (which means to work strenuously, toil). In English we still occasionally use the words “travail”, which means struggle. According to Simon Winchester in his book The Best Travelers’ Tales (2004), the words “travel” and “travail” both share an even more ancient root: a Roman instrument of torture called the tripalium (in Latin it means “three stakes”, as in to impale). This link may reflect the extreme difficulty of travel in ancient times. Today, travel may or may not be much easier depending upon the destination you choose (e.g. Mt. Everest, the Amazon rainforest), how you plan to get there (tour bus, cruise ship, or oxcart), and whether you decide to “rough it” (see extreme tourism and adventure travel). “There’s a big difference between simply being a tourist and being a true world traveler”, notes travel writer Michael Kasum. This is, however, a contested distinction as academic work on the cultures and sociology of travel has noted.[4]

Reasons for traveling include recreation,[5]tourism[5] or vacationing,[5]research travel[5] the gathering of information, visiting people, volunteer travel for charity, migration to begin life somewhere else, religious pilgrimages[5] and mission trips, business travel,[5]trade,[5]commuting, and other reasons, such as to obtain health care[5] or waging or fleeing war or for the enjoyment of traveling. Travellers may use human-powered transport such as walking or bicycling; or vehicles, such as public transport, automobiles, trains and airplanes.

Motives for travel include:

Travel may be local, regional, national (domestic) or international. In some countries, non-local internal travel may require an internal passport, while international travel typically requires a passport and visa. A trip may also be part of a round-trip, which is a particular type of travel whereby a person moves from one location to another and returns.[7]

While early travel tended to be slower, more dangerous, and more dominated by trade and migration, cultural and technological advances over many years have tended to mean that travel has become easier and more accessible.[8] The evolution of technology in such diverse fields as horse tack and bullet trains has contributed to this trend.

While travel in the Middle Ages offered hardships and challenges, it was important to the economy and to society. The wholesale sector depended (for example) on merchants dealing with/through caravan or sea-voyagers, end-user retailing often demanded the services of many itinerant peddlers wandering from village to hamlet, gyrovagues and wandering friars brought theology and pastoral support to neglected areas, travelling minstrels practised the never-ending tour, and armies ranged far and wide[9] in various crusades[10] and in sundry other wars.[11]

Pilgrimages involved streams of travellers both locally (Canterbury Tales-style) and internationally.[12]

Travel by water often provided more comfort and speed than land-travel, at least until the advent of a network of railways in the 19th century. Airships and airplanes took over much of the role of long-distance surface travel in the 20th century.

Authorities emphasize the importance of taking precautions to ensure travel safety.[13] When traveling abroad, the odds favor a safe and incident-free trip, however, travelers can be subject to difficulties, crime and violence.[14] Some safety considerations include being aware of one’s surroundings,[13] avoiding being the target of a crime,[13] leaving copies of one’s passport and itinerary information with trusted people,[13] obtaining medical insurance valid in the country being visited[13] and registering with one’s national embassy when arriving in a foreign country.[13] Many countries do not recognize drivers’ licenses from other countries; however most countries accept international driving permits.[15]Automobile insurance policies issued in one’s own country are often invalid in foreign countries, and it is often a requirement to obtain temporary auto insurance valid in the country being visited.[15] It is also advisable to become oriented with the driving-rules and -regulations of destination countries.[15] Wearing a seat belt is highly advisable for safety reasons; many countries have penalties for violating seatbelt laws.[15]

There are three main statistics which may be used to compare the safety of various forms of travel (based on a DETR survey in October 2000):[16]

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Travel – Wikipedia

3 Ways Companies Are Building a Business Around AI – Harvard Business Review

There is no argument about whether artificial intelligence (AI) is coming. It is here, in automobiles, smartphones, aircraft, and much else. Not least in the online search abilities, speech and translation features, and image recognition technology of my employer, Alphabet.

The question now moves to how broadly AI will be employed in industry and society, and by what means. Many other companies, including Microsoft and Amazon, also already offerAI tools which, like Google Cloud, where I work, will be sold online as cloud computing services. There are numerous otherAI products available to business, like IBMs Watson, or software from emerging vendors.

Whatever hype businesspeople read aroundAI and there is a great deal the intentions and actions of so many players should alert them to the fundamental importance of this new technology.

This is no simple matter, as AIis both familiar and strange. At heart, the algorithms and computation are dedicated to unearthing novel patterns, which is what science, technology, markets, and the humanistic arts have done throughout the story of humankind.

The strange part is how todaysAI works, building subroutines of patterns, and loops of patterns about other patterns, training itself through multiple layers that are only possible with very large amounts of computation. For perhaps the first time, we have invented a machine that cannot readily explain itself.

In the face of such technical progress, paralysis is rarely a good strategy. The question then becomes: How should a company that isnt involved in buildingAI think about using it? Even in these early days, practices of successful early adopters offer several useful lessons:

CAMP3 is a 26-person company, headquartered in Alpharetta, Georgia, that deploys and manages wireless sensor networks for agriculture. The company also sells Googles G Suite email and collaboration products on a commission basis.

Founder and chief executive Craig Ganssle was an early user of Google Glass. Glass failed as a consumer product, but the experience of wearing a camera and collecting images in the field inspired Ganssle to think about ways farmers could useAI to spot plant diseases and pests early on.

AI typically works by crunching very large amounts of data to figure out telltale patterns, then testing provisional patterns against similar data it hasnt yet processed. Once validated, the pattern-finding methodology is strengthened by feeding it more data.

CAMP3s initial challenge was securing enough visual data to train itsAI product. Not only were there relatively few pictures of diseased crops and crop pests, but they were scattered across numerous institutions, often without proper identification.

Finding enough images of northern corn leaf blight [NCLB] took 10 months, said Ganssle. There were lots of pictures in big agricultural universities, but no one had the information well-tagged. Seed companies had pictures too, but no one had pictures of healthy corn, corn with early NCLB, corn with advanced NCLB.

They collected whatever they could from every private, educational, and government source they could, and then took a lot of pictures themselves. Training the data, in this case, may have been easier than getting the data in the first place.

That visual training data is a scarce commodity, and a defensible business asset. Initial training for things like NCLB, cucumber downy mildew, or sweet corn worm initially required tens of thousands of images, he said. With a system trained, he added, it now requires far fewer images to train for a disease.

CAMP3 trains the images on TensorFlow, anAI software framework first developed by Googleand then open sourced. For computing, he relied on Amazon Web Services and Google Compute Engine. Now we can take the machine from kindergarten to PhD-style analysis in a few hours, Ganssle said.

The painful process of acquiring and correctly tagging the data, including time and location information for new pictures the company and customers take, gave CAMP3 what Ganssle considers a key strategic asset. Capture something other people dont have, and organize it with a plan for other uses down the road, he said.

WithAI, you never know what problem you will need to tackle next. This could be used for thinking about soils, or changing water needs. When we look at new stuff, or start to do predictive modeling, this will be data that falls off the truck, that we pick up and use.

TalkIQ is a company that monitors sales and customer service phone calls, turns the talk into text, and then scans the words in real time for keywords and patterns that predict whether a company is headed for a good outcome a new sale, a happy customer.

The company got its start after Jack Abraham, a former eBay executive and entrepreneur, founded ZenReach, a Phoenix company that connects online and offline commerce, in part through extensive call centers.

I kept thinking that if I could listen to everything our customers were asking for, I would capture the giant brain of the company, said Abraham. Why does one rep close 50% of his calls, while the other gets 25%?

The data from those calls could improve performance at ZenReach, he realized, but could also be the training set for a new business that served other companies. TalkIQ,based in San Francisco, took two years to build. Data scientists examined half a million conversations preserved in the companys computer-based ZenReach phone system.

As withCAMP3, part of the challenge was correctly mapping information in this case, conversations in crowded rooms, sometimes over bad phone connections and tagging things like product names, features, and competitors. TalkIQ uses automated voice recognition and algorithms that understand natural language, among other tools.

Since products and human interactions change even faster than biology, the training corpus for TalkIQ needs to train almost continuously to predict well, said Dan OConnell, the companys chief executive. Every prediction depends on accurate information, he said. At the same time, you have to be careful of overfitting, or building a model so complex that the noise is contributing to results as much as good data.

Built as an adjacency to ZenReach, TalkIQ must also tweak for individual customer and vertical industry needs. The product went into commercial release in January, and according to Abraham now has 27 companies paying for the service. If were right, this is how every company will run in the future.

Last March the Denver-based company Blinker launched a mobile app for buying and selling cars in the state of Colorado. Customers are asked to photograph the back of their vehicle, and within moments of uploading the image the cars year, make and model, and resale value are identified. From there it is a relatively simple matter to offer the car, or seek refinancing and insurance.

TheAI that identifies the car so readily seems like magic. In fact, the process is done using TensorFlow, along with the Google Vision API, to identify the vehicle. Blinker has agreements with third-party providers of motor vehicle data, and once it identifies the plate number, it can get the other information from the files (where possible, the machine also checks available image data.)

Blinker has filed for patents on a number of the things it does, but the companys founder and chief executive thinks his real edge is his 44 years in the business of car dealerships.

Whatever you do, you are still selling cars, said Rod Buscher. People forget that the way it feels, and the pain points of buying a car, are still there.

He noted that Beepi, an earlier peer-to-peer attempt to sell cars online, raised $150 million, with a great concept and smart guys. They still lost it all. The key to our success is domain knowledge: I have a team of experts from the auto selling business.

That means taking out the intrusive ads and multi-click processes usually associated with selling cars online and giving customers a sense of fast, responsive action. If the car is on sale, the license number is covered with a Blinker logo, offering the seller a sense of privacy (and Blinker some free advertising.)

Blinker, which hopes to go national over the next few years, does haveAI specialists, who have trained a system with over 70,000 images of cars. Even these had the human touch the results were verified on Amazons Mechanical Turk, a service where humans perform inexpensive tasks online.

While theAI work goes on, Buscher spent over a year bringing in focus groups to see what worked, and then watched how buyers and sellers interacted (frequently, they did their sales away from Blinker, something else the company had to fix).

Ive never been in tech, but Im learning that on the go, he said. You still have to know what a good and bad customer experience is like.

No single tool, even one as powerful asAI, determines the fate of a business. As much as the world changes, deep truths around unearthing customer knowledge, capturing scarce goods, and finding profitable adjacencies will matter greatly. As ever, the technology works to the extent that its owners know what it can do, and know their market.

See the article here:

3 Ways Companies Are Building a Business Around AI – Harvard Business Review

Posted in Ai

AI Wants to Be Your Personal Stylist – PCMag

Artificial intelligence is helping people find their style on their phones, in stores, and even in their very own closets.

A smart stylist is like a good therapist: it takes a keen observer of the human condition to do the job right, and the results can be life-changing. But stylists are expensivewhich is where artificial intelligence comes in.

Fashion AI is subtle enough that shoppers are likely to bump into a dressed-up algorithm without knowing it. Sometimes it’s a soft sell on an e-commerce site, other times it’s trying to suss out how shoppers feel about items using in-store facial recognition. Amazon is even deploying Alexa to customers’ closets via the Look camera, which will critique your outfit choices.

Technology has long been chipping away at the rarefied, exclusive fashion industry, from bloggers replacing fashion editors in front rows and social media stars getting backstage access at shows to street-style stars outshining supermodels and earning hefty incomes on Instagram.

Now the industry needs all the help it can get, as shoppers ditch department store credit cards for Amazon Prime memberships. Here’s how AI might help you experience fashion online, at home, on your phone, and in stores.

Since consumers are rarely without their mobile phones, you would think business would be booming for online fashion retailers. But as The Washington Post reports, it can be difficult to compete for shoppers’ eyeballs.

Despite some setbacks, subscription-box services saw a 3,000 percent increase in site visits from 2013 to 2016. Stitch Fix, for example, calls itself “your online personal stylist”; customers fill out a style questionnaire so that its stylists can build a wardrobe for shoppers. The Ask an Expert Stylist feature also delivers fast responses to style dilemmas.

The information customers send to Stitch Fix, howeverincluding personal notesfirst gets dissected by AI. A team of people then use the data to select items, Harvard Business Review reports. The AI learns from the choices made by stylists, but it also monitors the stylists themselves, judging whether their recommendations are well-received by customers and figuring out what information and how much is needed for stylists to make quick and effective style choices. One measure of Stitch Fix’s success will be its closely watched steps toward an IPO.

Similarly, Propulse works to identify the qualities shoppers are drawn to as they browse items on fashion retailer sites like Frank and Oak. The company was founded by Eric Brassard, who formerly worked in database marketing at Saks, and his platform adapts results to the cut, colors, and patterns that customers prefer.

“If you have history because you shop that shop, assuming that it’s a real store and you bought a few things, we create a personalized page with products you’ve never seen that match the taste of what you browsed and what you bought,” Brassard says.

For sales associates who are new to the field or a store, Propulse has an in-store component that lets them input customer preferences and matches those with products.

A hovering salesperson might not be the only one monitoring your in-store activity. Cloverleaf’s AI system, dubbed shelfPoint, scans customers via sensors that assess the age, gender, ethnicity, and emotional response of shoppers and then communicates targeted sales messages at them through an LCD.

ShelfPoint is found mostly in grocery stores, but Cloverleaf CEO Gordon Davidson says the company has had discussions with retailers that sell groceries and apparel in their stores. It’s also a good way to collect data without requiring shoppers to download an app, take a survey, or otherwise interact with a gadget, Davidson says.

The future of shelfPoint partly lies in turning the information it gathers into recommendations for shoppers. “Now what we’re looking at is, how do we start providing more benefit to the shopper? It knows that I’m picking up blue jeans as an example and it may come up and say, ‘Hey, have you considered a new brown belt?'” Davidson suggests.

Davidson isn’t ready to give up on physical stores. “In reality, when you look at the research Gartner came up with earlier this year, 80 percent of sales still happen in brick-and-mortar, especially in the fashion side of things,” he said. “Brick-and-mortar are still going to be around some time.”

It’s one thing to get advice when you’re shopping online or browsing in a store. But when you wake up, get dressed, and face that mood where nothing looks right, there’s nothing like a second opinion to set you straight so you can walk out the door. The Amazon Echo Look is just that. The camera-centric version of the Echo’s main feature is Style Check. It uses AI and stylists to choose between two outfits based on trends and what it finds flattering on you.

Amazon will not divulge what information goes into the algorithm behind Style Check but the artificial intelligence doesn’t work solo. Style Check also uses fashion specialists on its own staff who have backgrounds in fashion, retail, editorial, and styling. An Amazon spokesperson said they focus on fit, color, styling, and current trends. Though Style Check customers can expect a response in about a minute, every verdict includes input from a human stylist. But there are some tasks that the Echo Look handles without a human co-worker.

The Echo Look goes above and beyond what an in-store stylist would do for you and goes full celebrity stylist in two ways: it creates a lookbook of what you’ve worn and it takes flattering full-length photos that are super shareable. This means that not only is technology coming for the job of stylists, but Instagram husbands better watch out, too.

Chandra is senior features writer at PCMag.com. She got her tech journalism start at CMP/United Business Media, beginning at Electronic Buyers’ News, then making her way over to TechWeb and VARBusiness.com. Chandra’s happy to make a living writing, something she didn’t think she could do and why she chose to major in political science at Barnard College. For her tech tweets, it’s ChanSteele. More

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AI Wants to Be Your Personal Stylist – PCMag

Posted in Ai

A song that speaks to you – The Hindu

Give a young girl with a mind of her own, a guitar, and see what she can do. When such an opportunity came to 14-year-old Bengaluru girl Mia Aliyah Makhija, with a honeyed voice, she chose to help less privileged children.

Mia recently released her debut single Speak Your Mind, a song written, composed and sung by her. The proceeds from the songs downloads go to two schools in Bengaluru.

Having started learning music at eight with her vocal coach Ragini, she later discovered Jazz. I loved it, and started learning, mostly by ear. My parents always listened to a lot of Jazz, Rock and The Blues. My parents love music. I’ve otherwise learnt music from the Internet. I listen and interpret songs my way.”

Mia’s inspiration for the single Speak Your Mind came from an interaction with a teacher at her school – Mallya Aditi International School. Mia says she was chosen for a role in a play based on the way I look and speak. But when I was given that role, I didn’t feel complete and satisfied. I was disappointed. I went back home and thought about it. I cleared my conscience, went up to my teacher the next day and discussed it in a respectable way. My teacher also responded the same way. Thats when I felt we all have thoughts and ideas we should express.

She hopes to reach out to children across the world and encourage them to speak up. Mia believes that most children dont have a voice. But as future adults, Mia believes they must be heard out. I wanted to speak my mind and encourage others to do so too. And who better to encourage than those who are unable to…, says Mia.

Mia has been doing covers and uploading them on YouTube since September 2016 (you can find her on #miasings). Her music meanders into genres of jazz, R&B, soul, indie and pop. She has also performed live at open mics at various music venues in Bengaluru like Blue Frog, Humming Tree, Take 5, The Alliance Francaise, BFlat. “I believe imitation is the best form of flattery. As someone who appreciates and loves music, these originals teach me a lot. I feel the emotion when the artist sang the song and it keeps me on my toes,” says Mia on the logic of doing covers. Mia says her musical influences range from Chantae Cann, Hindi Zahra, Cyrille Aimee, Lalah Hathaway, Corinne Bailey Rae, Esperanza Spalding, Manhattan Transfer, Susheela Raman, Diana Krall, Steely Dan, JJ Cale and AR Rahman. In fact renowned Soul and Jazz singer Chantae even wrote back to her on social media appreciating Mia’s rendition of one of her songs and posted Mias version of her song on the artistes official facebook page. Her parents have set up a small studio for her at home where she does her recordings.

Mia also felt she should do something good with her music, so she took her school’s help to tie up with two government-run schools to ensure all proceeds from the sale/download of her debut single ‘Speak Your Mind’ on all social media, go directly to the schools. Her song is available on Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, CD Baby and other platforms.

Srirampura Higher Secondary is a government run school up to Grade 8, with 180 students and 4 teachers. “The school is in dire need of a library and reading material alongwith a reading room. The funding will help painting the room, fixing lights and fans, placing durries on the floor, fixing shelves and procuring books for the space,” says Mia.

Pragathi School, a school for the children of construction workers has 40 students. “The funds required are to help shift the school into new premises…these kids come to school for that one free meal a day.”

Mia hopes to make a career of her music and has set her eyes on music studies in the future.

Excerpt from:

A song that speaks to you – The Hindu

Will cities adapt when automation reshapes the job market? – Curbed

Watch out, Rust Belt: The robots are coming. And theyre after one of the more precious resources in these beleaguered U.S. manufacturing hubs: jobs.

That, at least, is the implication of a new analysis by the Brookings Institute, Where the robots are, that suggests the rise of robotics and automation will clobber the same areas hit by manufacturings decline, as technology radically changes how things get made (and how many workers are necessary to make them).

Since industrial robots work best where theres industry, its no surprise theyre currently clustered in the Midwest and upper South, according to the article, key areas in auto manufacturing. Michigan alone accounts for 28,000 of the nations industrial robots, 12 percent of the total, and metro Detroit boasts 8.5 industrial robots per 1,000 workers.

The Rust Belt, as some have said, is becoming the Robot Belt, knocking another serious blow to the region, where cities, like Pittsburgh, have only in the last decade or so really bounced back with advanced manufacturing, innovation hubs, and attempts to diversify their economy. As Mark Munro, Senior Fellow and Policy Director at Brookings, puts it, anxiety about robotslike their physical distributionwill also likely have its own geography.

The Brookings study joins a chorus of stories predicting a new type of robot apocalypse, different than the one we see in science fiction. Its man versus machine, with manufacturing, and many other parts of the economy at stake. The takes differ considerably, especially when it comes to which industries and sectors are most at risk, and how much were actually at risk: Some believe the real hits will come in transportation, storage, and retail, where more than 40 percent of jobs in these sectors will be replaceable due to this new wave of technology. Some reports even believe that these changes will result in economic growth and new job opportunities.

What all these predictions share, however, is a belief that we arent prepared for this shift toward automation. Automation has become a stand-in for economic anxiety, especially in areas that have already been hit by technological shifts, globalization, and increasing inequality. For city and local leaders, however, it should become a proxy for coming economic shifts, and challenge policymakers and corporate leaders to find the will to adjust. Like it or not, automation is making an impact and will only become more pronounced.

With the Trump administration more focused on changing trade policies as a means to improve employment and the economyTreasury secretary Steven Mnuchin has said this kind of technological displacement is not even on [the administrations] radar screenother levels of government need to step up.

Numerous other industries will likely be reshaped by automation, too, not just manufacturing. Telemarketers, insurance underwriters and appraisers, tax preparers, and cashiers may also be at risk, according to an Oxford University study. Many expect the retail industry, already clobbered by Amazon, to continue to shed jobs, according to a study by the Cornerstone Capital Group; up to 47 percent of the 16 million Americans currently working in retail could be made redundant.

Whats most distressing about these predictions is how automations impact is expected to move down the wage ladder; after hurting manufacturing employment, which often offered more stable and significant wages, now robots are coming after lower-wage jobs in the service sector. Thatll hurt some of the least well-off Americans, and based on the way certain industries have clustered, will mean some metro areas will feel the greatest effects, according to an analysis from the Institute for Spatial Economic Analysis.

In Las Vegas and Riverside-San Bernardino in California, for example, each of which relies heavily on many of these industries, 65 and 63 percent of total jobs are at stake. Other vulnerable cities include El Paso, Texas; Orlando, Florida; and Louisville, Kentucky.

We felt it was really stunning, since we are underestimating the probability of automation, said Johannes Moenius, the director of the Institute for Spatial Economic Analysis at the University of Redlands, told The Atlantic, about the extent of potential losses.

So many communities are still coping with early waves of technological shifts, manufacturing moves, and economic changes. How can cities recover while readying themselves for something perhaps more swift and unpredictable?

Many cities are trying to get ahead of the shift by pursuing and promoting new manufacturing and training initiatives to help prepare for the next generation of job shifts. Creating partnerships with regional educational leaders and corporate leaders to create new training and educational programs, and encouraging initiatives that focus on skills for new manufacturing can help build new job opportunities and new businesses.

As Voxs Ezra Klein, who is skeptical that AI will lead to massive unemployment, wrote in a story this week, as technology drives people out of the most necessary jobs, we invent less necessary jobs that we nevertheless imbue with profound meaning and even economic value. Automation may create the conditions for new types of jobs; in that case, education and training become even more necessary to help weather and even take advantage of the transition.

The manufacturing industry is changing and favoring small companies and the maker movement; in 2014, more than 350,000 manufacturing concerns consisted of a single owner/employee, a 17 percent boost from a decade ago. Small businesses can and are growing in this sector (and, ironically, can operate in part because of the efficiencies brought about by automation).

Programs that help promote these firms have been seen as pathways to jobs that pay well: New York City has set aside $64 million in its Industrial Developer Fund to make manufacturing centers and floorspace more affordable. And the citys Tech Talent Pipeline is helping to shape education in the region and create pipelines to funnel talent in regional businesses.

The Equitable Innovation Economies Initiative, a project of the Pratt Center for Community Development, has also promoted efforts in multiple cities to increase the pool of tech talent and incubate a more diverse range of firms, like the Local Initiatives Support Corporation in Indianapolis, which has turned an abandoned industrial district into a new tech corridor.

Experts say say with a period of even more rapid adjustment and shifting employment coming, changes at the federal level that build a more flexible and robust safety net would cushion the coming blows. The U.S. government could put more money toward retraining and educational readjustment programs for workers, including the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program, which was set up to retrain and reskill workers.

No programs exist, and no funding is directly channeled, to those who have been economically displaced due to automation, and our total funding for these efforts lags far behind our peers: The U.S. currently spends about 0.1 percent of its GDP on programs to help workers adjust to workplace shifts; France spends nearly 10 times more (as measured in percent of their GDP).

With economic changes coming more rapidly than ever, improved vocational education and skills training are paramount to creating sustainable development and education. According to Preparing New York for the Next Wave of Automation, a report released by the Center for an Urban Future, with such a wide-range of urban jobs needing to evolve as automation reshapes industries, education needs to be fundamentally reformed. Industry and academia need to team up to create new ways to retrain workers faster, and with the latest technologies and job skills.

One example the new Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) education modelwhich teaches high school students core subjects and provides an Associates degree in an applied science, engineering, or a computer-related fieldhas been promoted as a way to teach immediately applicable skills early and often. City leaders need to take the initiative to build development programs and educational systems that reflect that new reality.

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Will cities adapt when automation reshapes the job market? – Curbed

Travel – Wikipedia

Travel is the movement of people between relatively distant geographical locations, and can involve travel by foot, bicycle, automobile, train, boat, bus, airplane, or other means, with or without luggage, and can be one way or round trip.[1][2] Travel can also include relatively short stays between successive movements.

The origin of the word “travel” is most likely lost to history. The term “travel” may originate from the Old French word travail, which means ‘work’.[3] According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, the first known use of the word travel was in the 14th century. It also states that the word comes from Middle English travailen, travelen (which means to torment, labor, strive, journey) and earlier from Old French travailler (which means to work strenuously, toil). In English we still occasionally use the words “travail”, which means struggle. According to Simon Winchester in his book The Best Travelers’ Tales (2004), the words “travel” and “travail” both share an even more ancient root: a Roman instrument of torture called the tripalium (in Latin it means “three stakes”, as in to impale). This link may reflect the extreme difficulty of travel in ancient times. Today, travel may or may not be much easier depending upon the destination you choose (e.g. Mt. Everest, the Amazon rainforest), how you plan to get there (tour bus, cruise ship, or oxcart), and whether you decide to “rough it” (see extreme tourism and adventure travel). “There’s a big difference between simply being a tourist and being a true world traveler”, notes travel writer Michael Kasum. This is, however, a contested distinction as academic work on the cultures and sociology of travel has noted.[4]

Reasons for traveling include recreation,[5]tourism[5] or vacationing,[5]research travel[5] the gathering of information, visiting people, volunteer travel for charity, migration to begin life somewhere else, religious pilgrimages[5] and mission trips, business travel,[5]trade,[5]commuting, and other reasons, such as to obtain health care[5] or waging or fleeing war or for the enjoyment of traveling. Travellers may use human-powered transport such as walking or bicycling; or vehicles, such as public transport, automobiles, trains and airplanes.

Motives for travel include:

Travel may be local, regional, national (domestic) or international. In some countries, non-local internal travel may require an internal passport, while international travel typically requires a passport and visa. A trip may also be part of a round-trip, which is a particular type of travel whereby a person moves from one location to another and returns.[7]

While early travel tended to be slower, more dangerous, and more dominated by trade and migration, cultural and technological advances over many years have tended to mean that travel has become easier and more accessible.[8] The evolution of technology in such diverse fields as horse tack and bullet trains has contributed to this trend.

While travel in the Middle Ages offered hardships and challenges, it was important to the economy and to society. The wholesale sector depended (for example) on merchants dealing with/through caravan or sea-voyagers, end-user retailing often demanded the services of many itinerant peddlers wandering from village to hamlet, gyrovagues and wandering friars brought theology and pastoral support to neglected areas, travelling minstrels practised the never-ending tour, and armies ranged far and wide[9] in various crusades[10] and in sundry other wars.[11]

Pilgrimages involved streams of travellers both locally (Canterbury Tales-style) and internationally.[12]

Travel by water often provided more comfort and speed than land-travel, at least until the advent of a network of railways in the 19th century. Airships and airplanes took over much of the role of long-distance surface travel in the 20th century.

Authorities emphasize the importance of taking precautions to ensure travel safety.[13] When traveling abroad, the odds favor a safe and incident-free trip, however, travelers can be subject to difficulties, crime and violence.[14] Some safety considerations include being aware of one’s surroundings,[13] avoiding being the target of a crime,[13] leaving copies of one’s passport and itinerary information with trusted people,[13] obtaining medical insurance valid in the country being visited[13] and registering with one’s national embassy when arriving in a foreign country.[13] Many countries do not recognize drivers’ licenses from other countries; however most countries accept international driving permits.[15]Automobile insurance policies issued in one’s own country are often invalid in foreign countries, and it is often a requirement to obtain temporary auto insurance valid in the country being visited.[15] It is also advisable to become oriented with the driving-rules and -regulations of destination countries.[15] Wearing a seat belt is highly advisable for safety reasons; many countries have penalties for violating seatbelt laws.[15]

There are three main statistics which may be used to compare the safety of various forms of travel (based on a DETR survey in October 2000):[16]

Continued here:

Travel – Wikipedia

Report: 16 of the World’s Richest People Investing in Space Exploration – Breitbart News

The Associated Press

by Charlie Nash21 Aug 20170

The list includes obvious entries, such as Tesla CEO Elon Musk (who is also the CEO of SpaceX), Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos (who invests in aerospace manufacturer and space service company Blue Origin), and Virgin Founder Richard Branson (who owns Virgin Galactic), but also features 13 others from among the wealthiest people in the world.

Microsoft Co-Founder Bill Gates invests in satellite communications company Kymeta, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg invests in the Search for Extraterrestrial Information (SETI) project, and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff invests in agriculture technology company Taranis.

Googles Eric Schmidt and Larry Page invest in asteroid mining company Planetary Resources, while Googles Sergey Brin has investments in Elon Musks SpaceX.

The list also includes Li Ka-Shing (Windward), Ma Huateng (Moon Express), Sheldon Adelson (SpaceIL), Ricardo Salinas (OneWeb), Lynn Schusterman (SpaceIL), and Yuri Milner (Planet).

All told, they have a net worth of $513 billion. Good thing, because space ventures such as rocket launches can involve stratospheric expenses, reported Bloomberg Technology. The last decade has seen a boom in space startups, and not only by billionaires. They were spurred in part by Musks Space Exploration Technologies Corp. Its first commercial launch in 2009 encouraged an ecosystem of space companies that were previously hindered by the cost of getting to orbit.

Charlie Nash is a reporterforBreitbart Tech. You can follow himon Twitter@MrNashingtonand Gab@Nash, orlike his page at Facebook.

Breitbart California, Science, Tech, Billionaires, Blue Origin, Elon Musk, Eric Schmidt, Jeff Bezos, Larry Page, Marc Benioff, Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson, Sergey Brin, Space, SpaceX, Tesla, Virgin Galactic

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Report: 16 of the World’s Richest People Investing in Space Exploration – Breitbart News

Data Sheet: Uber CEO, Ellen Pao Speaks, Netflix Cash, Robotics Weapon Ban – Fortune

Jeff Immelt: Uber CEO? The GE chairman has reportedly emerged as the front-runner to lead the controversial ride-hailing company.

Ellen Pao has a new book. The former Kleiner Perkins investor shares details of her time at the venture firm and argues that gender discrimination lawsuits are far from over.

Teens love Apple’s iMessage.Why? Because they own iPhones, iMessage is already there, and third-party app support has breathed new life into the platform , argues one executive.

Netflix is still spendinga lot. The media company will spend $7 billion on content next year, up from $6 billion this year.

Can Electronic Arts cultivate a casual eSports customer base? With the National Football League.Madden NFL 18,and a new tournament, perhapswith sponsorships, ticket sales, merchandising, and broadcast rights to follow.

Ford’s Argo AI. The Pittsburgh company has $1 billion in backing from the Detroit automaker andnow finds itself fighting with the competition to recruit roboticists and machine learning experts.

Parts suppliers succumb to the Amazon effect. Plumbers, electricians, and contractors feel the pressure of the retailing giant .

Elon Musk calls for a robotics weapon ban. Along with 115 other experts, Musk called for strict oversightof autonomous weapons , a.k.a. “killer robots.”

Is this the new Nest thermostat? A well-known leaker of such things believes so.

Former 23andMe president joins Livongo. Andy Page, who left 23andMe earlier this year, joins a startup focused on chronic disease management .

Paul Allen makes a historic discovery.The USS Indianapolis, lost for 72 years, is found 18,000 feet below the surface of the Philippine Sea.

“After years of sitting too comfortably on the sidelines, here, at an important moment in history, [technology companies] appear to be stepping up against unquestionably evil ideologies. And because companies like Google or Facebook constitute a kind of modern infrastructure for social relations and how we get media, it can, as an observer, feel good to see them help cut off oxygen to the pernicious and insidious viewpoints now so plainly and terrifyingly in view.”

Navneet Alang, writing in The Week

Should Uber pay congestion charges? Nexar CEO Eran Shir makes an interesting argument for such a thing in The Information . He believes that “surge pricing” could be applied to a multimodal transportation network, citing as an example New York City, which remains without such things despite several attempts over the last decade. Looking out the windows of Fortune HQ to the fairly empty street belowand remembering the packed subway car I rode here earlier this morningI’m wondering if we’re thinking about this all wrong.

This edition of Data Sheet was curatedby Andew Nusca . Find past issues, and sign up for otherFortune newsletters .

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Data Sheet: Uber CEO, Ellen Pao Speaks, Netflix Cash, Robotics Weapon Ban – Fortune

Engadget is testing all the major AI assistants – Engadget

Hardly a day goes by that we don’t cover virtual assistants. If it’s not news about Siri, there’s some new development with Alexa, or Cortana or Google Assistant. Perhaps a new player, like Samsung, is wading into the space. Even Android creator Andy Rubin is considering building an assistant of his own. And his company probably isn’t the only one that thinks there’s room for another AI helper.

With virtual assistants becoming such an integral part of our lives (or at least our tech-news diets), we felt it was time to stop and take stock of everything that’s happening here. For one week, we asked five Engadget reporters to live with one of the major assistants: Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, the Google Assistant, Microsoft’s Cortana and Samsung’s Bixby. What you’ll see on Engadget throughout the week aren’t reviews, per se, nor did we endeavor to crown the “best” digital assistant. Not only is that a subjective question but, as it turns out, none of the assistants are as smart or reliable as we’d like.

In the absence of a winner, then, what we have is a state of the union: a picture of where AI helpers stand and where they’re headed. Follow our series here. And, at the rate each of these assistants is maturing, don’t be surprised if we revisit them sooner than later.

This week Engadget is examining each of the five major virtual assistants, taking stock of how far they’ve come and how far they still have to go. Find all our coverage here.

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Engadget is testing all the major AI assistants – Engadget

Posted in Ai

China’s ‘sharing economy’ pulls in a flood of investment – The … – Washington Post

BEIJING Sometimes, when considering the orgy of spending that is Chinas start-up scene, its fun to imagine the pitch meetings.

Its like Uber, but for beds.

Bed sharing?

I know it sounds funny but

Take my cash.

That exact exchange did not happen. But it may not be far off. Chinese authorities recently shuttered a service that let people pay to sleep in windowless pods. There were questions about hygiene, according to local reports.

Perhaps there should be more questions. Flush with cash and buoyed by a billion-dollar boom in bike sharing, Chinas venture capitalists have gone sharing mad, funding companies that allow users to share items including washing machines, basketballs and umbrellas.

In some ways, the enthusiasm makes sense. Chinas vibrant but tightly regulated tech sector has been booming, with sharing leading the way. Chinese ride-hailing (and -sharing) giant Didi bought out Uber China. Airbnb is fighting Chinese rivals to win a piece of the home-share market.

The countrys top leaders know they must shift from manufacturing and resource extraction to a service-based economy powered, in part, by the Web.

To help things along, the state has thrown money into the start-up scene and nurtured homegrown tech companies, in part by keeping others out. (Sorry, Google.) It has also used its vast propaganda apparatus to cheerlead for local start-ups, waxing poetic about umbrella sharing, for example.

In April, a commentary in the Peoples Daily, a Communist Party-controlled newspaper, calleda Chinese umbrella sharing start-up a sign of progress in public service and a show of human care, releasing the warmth of the city. The company later made headlines when nearly all of its 300,000 umbrellas went missing.

At a 2016 tech conference, Robin Li, chief executive of the search engine Baidu, suggestedthat the sharing economy is in tune with Chinas socialist ethos. Both, he said, focus on distribution according to need.

The new, government-run Sharing Economy Research Centerestimates that the sector grew 103 percent in 2016, with deals close to $500 billion. The researchers predicted an annual growth rate of 40 percent in the years ahead. By 2020, the sharing economy will account for 10 percent of the countrys gross domestic product, the center said.

And yet, nobody seems sure what sharing economy means.

Gao Shen, a partner at Phoenix Tree Capital Partners, said there are two things going on.

Companies such as Didi and Tujia, a Chinese house-sharing firm, took existing resources cars, homes and made them available to others for a fee. Many of the new, self-described sharing start-ups do not useidle resources, he said.

If a company orders a bunch of new bikes or umbrellas and lets people rent them with their phone, is that sharing? Or is it renting with your phone?

A Chinese government newswire recently covered the launch of a shared washing machine service. Theres also a shared drying service. Anywhere else, they would be called laundromats. Or, perhaps, laundromats where you pay with your phone.

Along the same lines, is a phone-activated, two-person karaoke booth in a mall a karaoke share, or just a smaller and louder version of the status quo, plus phone?

Whats more, not everyone seems to understand the meaning of rent.

Like the umbrella company, Chinese bike-sharing start-ups have struggled to keep up with theft and vandalism, with one company, Wukong, reportedly losing 90 percent of its bikes in about six months.

In some cases, companies are launching products that seem like less convenient versions of things that already exist a fact that does not seem to stop the funding.

Andy Xie, an independent economist in Shanghai, said the rush of investment feels a lot like a bubble. In the past four, five years, every year there is something different to speculate on, he said.

Beijing, a city with free workout machines in public parks, now has shared gyms, a.k.a, outhouse-size workout pods activated by your phone. Investors are betting that people will pay for the chance to sweat and jiggle in a small glass box on the street.

A recent Peoples Daily write-up described the opening of the worlds first shared bookstore. Again, you can imagine the pitch.

Shared bookstore? … That sounds a lot like a library.

Better, its a library where you pay with

Sold.

Yang Liu and Shirley Feng reported from Beijing.

Read more:

Why Didi Chuxing is buying Uber in China

A Chinese umbrella-sharing start-up just lost nearly all of its 300,000 umbrellas

Apple, Amazon help China curb the use of anti-censorship tools

Todays coverage from Post correspondents around the world

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China’s ‘sharing economy’ pulls in a flood of investment – The … – Washington Post