New Next Now (August 2016)

24 August 2016 | Keep­ing Up with the Trends

Here’s our month­ly review of the best of the many arti­cles, books, videos and ideas-in-oth­er-forms that our Deputy Edi­tor Kyle Elzy has found for you. The nextsens­ing mind, we believe, is always stretch­ing to see beyond the mar­ket­place hori­zon. Let’s get start­ed …


Cruise into the future. With self-dri­ving cars already upon us, Mer­cedes-Benz is tak­ing the next step. The “Future Bus”, the world’s first self-dri­ving city bus, is already on the road, reports Doug New­comb (@dougnewcomb) for @Forbes. Test­ing has begun in Ams­ter­dam due to the city’s chal­leng­ing net­work of turns and inter­sec­tions. Thank­ful­ly, the Future Bus is packed with front and rear cam­eras and a short-wave radar, and it can com­mu­ni­cate with traf­fic lights to ensure a safer, smoother ride. The inte­ri­or fea­tures design­er seats, wire­less device charg­ing, and onscreen enter­tain­ment. Pro­duc­tion is set to begin after 2020. [Read More Now]

It’s all in the genes. Soci­ety says we can be any­thing we choose, if we set our minds to it. But sci­ence is begin­ning to push back on that notion, says Olivia Gold­hill (@OliviaGoldhill) for @qz. Geneti­cists are pin­ning the strong influ­ence of DNA on every­thing from per­son­al­i­ty dif­fer­ences to chil­dren’s suc­cess rates in school, mak­ing behav­iour­al genet­ics “the fastest grow­ing field in sci­ence”. Why is it impor­tant? Cal­i­for­nia State Uni­ver­si­ty geneti­cist Nan­cy Segal believes in the val­ue of “expla­na­tions… that help you plan for the future and alter your lifestyle appro­pri­ate­ly.” [Read More Now]

A tasty “cool” con­cept. This one comes from Rob Leane (@robleane) at @mental_floss, who high­lights a new start-up built around the impos­si­ble: ice cream that does not melt. The secret is freeze-dry­ing and it’s actu­al­ly noth­ing new: astro­nauts have been enjoy­ing the pack­aged vari­ety for decades. But Gas­tro­naut Ice Cream and founder Robert Col­lignon are “redefin­ing” it for the ice cream-crav­ing world, and that starts with qual­i­ty ingre­di­ents. Col­lignon uses “super-pre­mi­um organ­ic ice cream” and “a touch of sea salt”, mak­ing for a deli­cious — and lucra­tive — treat. The com­pa­ny is already $30,500 (USD) above its $9,500 Kick­starter goal. [Read More Now]

All aboard. The SeaBub­bles are com­ing — per­haps as soon as next sum­mer. Two entre­pre­neurs have suc­ceed­ed in rais­ing 500,000 euros to build a fleet of “bub­ble-shaped” riv­er taxis in the hopes of mak­ing urban trav­el eas­i­er. “You’ve got packed roads and emp­ty water­ways in a lot of cities,” says co-founder Alain The­bault. The bat­tery-pow­ered shut­tles are designed to hov­er over the water with five pas­sen­gers, and the founders hope the cabs can go ful­ly auto­mat­ed in a few years. Many thanks to Marie Mawad (@Marie_a_Paris) and Alexan­dre Bok­sen­baum-Granier (@HatsBoks) for this Bloomberg @technology fea­ture. [Read More Now]

Just in case you missed this when it first appeared… Where indus­try meets biol­o­gy. How can we bet­ter inte­grate what we cre­ate with the nat­ur­al forms of the world around us? Accord­ing to designer/architect Neri Oxman (@NeriOxman), it’s already hap­pen­ing. In her @TedTalks pre­sen­ta­tion, Oxman describes the unprece­dent­ed dig­i­tal fab­ri­ca­tion tools now avail­able to design­ers, which have allowed for inno­va­tions dri­ven by nature — from seam­less cloth­ing that acts like a sec­ond skin, to entire struc­tures made of hard seashell-like mate­ri­als. “Here’s to… a new age of cre­ation,” she con­cludes, “that takes us from a nature-inspired design to a design-inspired nature.…” [Watch More Now]

Hand to ear

Paid to… lis­ten? That’s the occu­pa­tion of Takanobu Nishi­mo­to, whose team of 60 mid­dle-aged Japan­ese men “lend an ear” to those who are fear­ful of open­ing up to friends and fam­i­ly. Most are just eager for some com­pa­ny and a lit­tle bit of under­stand­ing, says Karyn Nishi-Poupee (@karyn_poupee) at @AFP: “…it allows them to for­get the expec­ta­tions of their fam­i­ly and friends and speak freely… [which is] espe­cial­ly use­ful in Japan, where social roles can be tight­ly defined.…” [Read More Now]

An eye for A.I. Microsoft is hedg­ing its bets on arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence as the crit­i­cal DNA for all next-gen apps and ser­vices world­wide, reports Casey New­ton (@CaseyNewton) for @verge. @Microsoft CEO Satya Nadel­la believes the com­pa­ny is in the dri­ver’s seat on A.I., thanks to its advances in “smart” sys­tems that learn and process infor­ma­tion quick­ly and accu­rate­ly. Those inno­va­tions led to Cor­tana, which allows users to speak what they want to know instead of typ­ing it. Now, Nadel­la’s team aims to “ele­vate the expe­ri­ence” by com­bin­ing A.I., mes­sag­ing, and social net­work­ing into one seam­less pack­age. [Read More Now]

You’re mak­ing that up. One of the men behind the Dun­ning-Kruger effect is at it again, shar­ing some fas­ci­nat­ing new insights on “inflat­ed” knowl­edge. In a recent study at Cor­nell Uni­ver­si­ty in New York, psy­chol­o­gist David Dun­ning has observed that peo­ple con­fi­dent in their spe­cialised knowl­edge are more like­ly to claim they know more than they actu­al­ly do — and will even acknowl­edge tech­ni­cal terms that are, in real­i­ty, total fab­ri­ca­tions. Says Simon Oxen­ham (@neurobonkers) for @bigthink: “A stun­ning 92 per cent of peo­ple claimed to be famil­iar with the nonex­is­tent bio­log­i­cal sub­jects of ‘meta-tox­ins,’ ‘bio-sex­u­al,’ and ‘retro­plex.’ ” [Read More Now]

VR for the young-at-heart. Who says vir­tu­al real­i­ty can’t be enjoyed by every­one? Physi­cian-turned-entre­pre­neur Sonya Kim is embrac­ing the won­ders of VR as a way to com­bat depres­sion and demen­tia in seniors — and there is hard research to back it up. The Ocu­lus Rift plat­form allows her to bring scenic, relax­ing expe­ri­ences into homes and senior care facil­i­ties all over Cal­i­for­ni­a’s San Fran­cis­co Bay Area, help­ing those in their gold­en years to recon­nect. Says Kim: “Demen­tia patients often feel lost.… By giv­ing them a beau­ti­ful beach, I want them to feel found again.” Thanks to Kara Pla­toni (@KaraPlatoni) and @KQEDscience for this great arti­cle. [Read More Now]

If you build it… “An ital­ian jury of archi­tects award 132 build­ings and urban plan­ning projects from over 40 nations to define a new glob­al design aes­thet­ic for 2016.” Thanks for the alert from @e_architect. [Read More Now]

Big impact, bright future. Syd­ney, Aus­tralia is tak­ing the lead on envi­ron­men­tal progress, set­ting new goals on emis­sions and effi­cien­cy. By 2030, the city plans to reach 50 per cent renew­able elec­tric­i­ty, with net zero car­bon emis­sions to fol­low by 2050. It’s an ambi­tious tar­get, but @renew_economy colum­nist Sophie Vor­rath (@sophvorrath) reports Syd­ney is already well on its way: 6,604 street lamps upgrad­ed to LED and zero new vehi­cle emis­sions since 2014. The city will also reward projects that sup­port the ini­tia­tive. Says Lord May­or Clover Moore: “After eight years of progress, it’s time for us to raise the bar.…” [Read More Now]

Funds = solu­tions. A glob­al ven­ture cap­i­tal firm is pour­ing invest­ments into an unlike­ly indus­try: African start-ups. Omid­yar Net­work, the brain­child of eBay founder Pierre Omid­yar (@pierre), has begun to sup­port a vari­ety of new com­pa­nies seek­ing to use tech­nol­o­gy to fight pover­ty and dis­ease, pro­vide free edu­ca­tion resources, and cre­ate jobs, accord­ing to Lebo­gang Tse­le (@LebogangTsele) on @SMESouthAfrica. Char­maine Paday­achy, a prin­ci­pal of Omid­yar Net­work, says the firm is “built on the belief that busi­ness­es can be a pow­er­ful force for good” in ways that non-prof­it organ­i­sa­tions often strug­gle to achieve. [Read More Now]

Quote of the Month From @LizWiseman‬: “In this world, it’s not what you know that mat­ters any­more, it’s how fast you can learn.” Cit­ed by @ValaAfshar in his provoca­tive arti­cle: “Cod­ing And A Rook­ie Mind­set Are Crit­i­cal Skills For The Fourth Indus­tri­al Rev­o­lu­tion”. Thanks @HuffingtonPost! [Read More Now]

Lead­er­ship is key. “… [Clear] and deci­sive lead­er­ship” is need­ed at all lev­els of man­age­ment for any com­pa­ny look­ing to nav­i­gate and suc­ceed in the new dig­i­tal econ­o­my. That’s the view of Andrew Woolf (@andrewwoolf2), Man­ag­ing Direc­tor of Finan­cial Ser­vices at @accenture. He says lead­ers should expect many of the “norms” to be upend­ed, believ­ing that organ­i­sa­tion­al sta­bil­i­ty and rule fol­low­ing have already giv­en way to exper­i­men­ta­tion and change. Above all, he says that col­lab­o­ra­tion is absolute­ly essen­tial — the way for­ward must be guid­ed and sup­port­ed “from the cen­tre,” not from the top down. [Read More Now]

Watch Steven D’Souza. One of our NextSen­sors is now on YouTube dis­cussing his intrigu­ing thoughts on the val­ue of “not know­ing.” [Watch More Now]


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