The Freqonomics podcast explores “the hidden side of everything.” This particular episode does a masterful job of charting the Internet’s trajectory from its inception (and before) to the present. Without being overly technical, it outlines some key trends that may threaten the original vision of the net as an open communication platform for everybody—and may also have profound impact on our greater society.
The robots are coming, and they’re coming fast. In this fascinating Fresh Air interview, tech writer John Markoff talks about several ways that intelligent machines are likely to profoundly change our lives over the next few years. From self-driving cars to peopleless warehouses, intelligent machines will play major roles in shaping our world. He makes a critical distinction between artificial intelligence (AI) and intelligence augmentation (IA), two schools of research that take radically different approaches to the relationship between humans and machines. As a bonus, the interview ends with what is probably the funniest robot song ever recorded.
Don’t look now, but your phone might be a looking glass that enables you to peer into a unique, irresistible fantasy world. Technologists and artists at Google and Motorola just introduced Windy Day, a free virtual reality interactive story that may represent a whole new form of narrative storytelling. And if you own a Moto X phone, it’s yours for free. Steven Levy tells the story behind the story in this Wired article.
If you live in a city, you probably take the Internet for granted. It’s always on, everywhere you go. But for many people in sparsely populated areas, the Internet is out of reach. In this Wired article, Steven Levy describes how Google is experimenting with a system that delivers the Internet to these people using balloons.
When Apple released the iPhone, the world changed. People were carrying powerful computers in their pockets and purses. Developers released a bevy of creative apps to harness that always-available computing power. Today it’s hard to imagine a world without smart phones. Could Google Glass, the wear-on-your-face computer from Google, be the beginning of the next revolution in personal computing? This short NPR story explains how early adopters plan to use their prototype high-tech specs.
Of course, not everyone views Google Glass through such rose-colored lenses. This Saturday Night Live skit mocks the idea that Google Glass can be used discreetly; other detractors question our need to become even more dependent on our technology.
A few short decades ago the Surui tribe lived a stone-age lifestyle in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon. Encroachment of modern civilization into their forest threatened their home—and their very existence. But today the tribe is using digital technology to help preserve the rainforest, the people that live there, and the health of our shared planet. This unlikely story is described in this NPR piece and the accompanying YouTube video.
The brave new world of augmented reality may be closer than you think. If it becomes a popular product, Google’s Project Glass may make touch-screen smart phones seem positively old-fashioned. This Huffington Post article describes this intriguing wearable technology, and the video gives you a sense of what it might feel like to spend time behind the lenses of smart glasses.
Our digital planet is being transformed every day by new ideas and inventions. In this fascinating Fast Company article, Farhad Manjoo describes how Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon are battling for the future of the innovation economy. If you want to better understand how the “Fab Four” will change your life over the next few years, this feature-length essay is well worth reading.
In this NPR Fresh Air interview, Terry Gross talks to the article’s author, Farhad Manjoo.