Silicon Valley is forced to reset its moral compass for the pandemic

530FCF22-5729-41D4-B775-DF796AAE83D1

The tech industry is rushing to offer remedies to the crisis and, in the process, trying to rehabilitate its image.

 Before the pandemic, Yiying Lu was known for her work designing the Twitter Fail Whale and the dumpling and boba tea emojis. In the past few weeks, Lu said she was called to a higher purpose. From her apartment in San Francisco, she toiled away in a Slack channel with two dozen people she has never met to create a free website called Corona Carecard. It asks Americans to buy gift cards to their favorite local shops, providing a much-needed source of income while stores are shuttered.

Lu is one of hundreds, if not thousands, of workers across Silicon Valley trying to, in their words, hack the virus. The pandemic has stirred up a missionary zeal throughout Silicon Valley. Apple Inc. and Google put aside a decade-long rivalry to form an alliance to track the spread of infections. Facebook Inc. and Salesforce.com Inc. are procuring millions of masks for health-care workers. Jeff Bezos is donating $100 million and Jack Dorsey $1 billion.

In other corners of the Valley, people are developing test kits and possible vaccines, as well as software to treat the social and economic maladies of the pandemic. Smaller companies have created entirely new business models in response to the virus. The projects can be as simple as an app reminding people to wash their hands or one that connects users with barbers in Brooklyn for lessons on how to cut their hair at home.

There’s a feeling among some technologists that some of their work in recent years had become mercenary or frivolous—attempts to capitalize on a prolonged tech boom with apps that cater to the whims of wealthy coastal elites, rather than meeting the urgent needs of the rest of the world. “Facebook, Snapchat and the last decade of tech has brought us together in some ways but has also pushed us further away from real life,” said Lu, a former creative director at venture capital firm 500 Startups. “The virus is a warning for people in the Bay Area that we can’t just come here and take and take. We have to give, too.”

Continue reading… “Silicon Valley is forced to reset its moral compass for the pandemic”

0

Uber Connect lets you deliver things to friends and family

9A9D8E80-5CAC-4917-BF74-FD9C53DD3E9E

Uber has announced a duo of new services as the company chases fresh revenue streams to offset the impact of COVID-19.

With billions of people around the world forced into lockdown during the coronavirus crisis, tech firms across the spectrum have been adapting to this “new normal.” For platforms that enable remote working, this has meant catering to a surge in demand. But for Uber, which relies significantly on physical interactions, it has had to get creative. Shelter-at-home policies enforced by the COVID-19 pandemic has decimated Uber’s core ride-hailing business, leading the company to fast-track the global launch of Uber Eats for business, accept phone orders for food deliveries, and even expand into grocery deliveries.

Now, Uber is looking to deliver pretty much anything, from pet food and medical supplies — and it even wants to deliver goods between friends and family living at different addresses.

Continue reading… “Uber Connect lets you deliver things to friends and family”

0

Marc Andreessen : It’s time to build

IT’S TIME TO BUILD

 529C9EFE-BB10-40DE-BAC7-C5EF725EF3F1

Marc Andreessen

Every Western institution was unprepared for the coronavirus pandemic, despite many prior warnings. This monumental failure of institutional effectiveness will reverberate for the rest of the decade, but it’s not too early to ask why, and what we need to do about it.

Many of us would like to pin the cause on one political party or another, on one government or another. But the harsh reality is that it all failed — no Western country, or state, or city was prepared — and despite hard work and often extraordinary sacrifice by many people within these institutions. So the problem runs deeper than your favorite political opponent or your home nation.

Part of the problem is clearly foresight, a failure of imagination. But the other part of the problem is what we didn’t *do* in advance, and what we’re failing to do now. And that is a failure of action, and specifically our widespread inability to *build*.

Continue reading… “Marc Andreessen : It’s time to build”

0

The coronavirus butterfly effect: Six predictions for a new world order

6D8356AB-03DE-4724-87C7-D415AE2FB0C7

The world may soon pass “peak virus.” But true recovery will take years—and the ripple effects will be seismic. Parag Khanna and Karan Khemka forecast the aftershocks.

In chaos theory, the butterfly effect describes a small change that can have massive, unpredictable consequences. An insect flaps its wings and, weeks later, causes a tornado.

The coronavirus is more like an earthquake, with aftershocks that will permanently reshape the world.

If we are lucky, the world will pass “peak virus” within the next six months. But the economy, governments, and social institutions will take years to recover in the best-case scenario. Indeed, rather than even speak of “recovery,” which implies a return to how things were, it would be wise to project what new direction civilization will take. That too will be a bumpy ride. The next 3-5 years will remind us that COVID-19 was the lightning before the thunder

Continue reading… “The coronavirus butterfly effect: Six predictions for a new world order”

0

The one percent are fleeing for New Zealand to avoid COVID-19

439EA38E-B183-4D46-B816-C9EDF93181FB

“They have all said it looks like the safest place to be is New Zealand right now. That’s been a theory since before COVID-19.”

 As the COVID-19 pandemic worsens across the United States, some of the country’s richest citizens have fled for a remote oasis: New Zealand.

This is not a new phenomenon; New Zealand has long been a destination getaway for those with the time and money to fly there. In fact, so many people consider it ideal for an emergency home that New Zealand passed a law two years ago that bans foreigners from purchasing real estate in the country

The rapid spread of COVID-19 and subsequent economic fallout in the U.S. brought renewed interest to New Zealand as a place to run away from the troubles of the world. Though non-essential travel to and from the U.S. has now been locked down — and New Zealand closed its own borders in mid-March — plenty of people made it out in time.

Now they’re holed up in luxury bunkers waiting for the pandemic to blow over.

Continue reading… “The one percent are fleeing for New Zealand to avoid COVID-19”

0

If we can make animals smarter, should we?

02963F90-256F-4DF5-B80E-D2390C67F695

In science fiction stories, research can accidentally create superintelligent animal species. As the ability to alter animals’ brains grows, some say we should be wary of fiction becoming reality.

This article appears in VICE Magazine’s Stupid Issue, which is dedicated to the entertaining, goofy, and just plain dumb. It features stories celebrating ridiculous ideas, trends, and products; pieces arguing that unabashed stupidity can be a great part of life; and articles calling out the bad side of stupidity.

In the 2011 movie Rise of the Planet of the Apes, James Franco plays a scientist developing a treatment for Alzheimer’s. The drug, ALZ-112, is designed to restore a human’s brain function, and when tested on a healthy chimpanzee, it causes the monkey’s intelligence to increase dramatically. She passes the intelligence on to her baby, Caesar, who goes on to lead a pack of super-intelligent apes and releases a version of the drug that’s fatal to humans.

Continue reading… “If we can make animals smarter, should we?”

0

This company is building backyard homes at no cost to Los Angeles homeowners

C5C99FFE-CF5C-4A7E-AF3F-89F90B68396C

Crews build an ADU in the backyard of the McCauley residence in Gramercy Park.

But homeowners have to be willing to rent out the units.

Davita and Martin McCauley were starting to think about how, in the years to come, they would care for her mother as she aged .

The McCauleys own a classic World War II-era Southern California home: a peach-hued stucco bungalow in Gramercy Park, with a grassy lawn in the front and a detached garage in the back.

They were toying with the idea of eventually moving her into their three-bedroom house, and adding a second story to make more space, when they were introduced at church to a mutual friend working for a new company called United Dwelling.

At no cost to homeowners, the company builds “granny flats” in the backyards of single-family homes, finds a tenant to rent them out to, and splits the lease revenue with the homeowner for up to 25 years, at which point the homeowner owns the unit outright.

Continue reading… “This company is building backyard homes at no cost to Los Angeles homeowners”

0

Why America is losing the toilet race

F9ED5EF1-C506-4AEF-BF97-3475D1E2F3C8

I just got back from my first trip to Japan, and I’m now in love with the country. The ramen, yakitori and sushi. The gorgeous volcanoes. The fascinating people and culture. But of all the things I fell in love with, there’s one that I can’t stop thinking about: the toilets.

Japanese toilets are marvels of technological innovation. They have integrated bidets, which squirt water to clean your private parts. They have dryers and heated seats. They use water efficiently, clean themselves and deodorize the air, so bathrooms actually smell good. They have white noise machines, so you can fill your stall with the sound of rain for relaxation and privacy. Some even have built-in night lights and music players. It’s all customizable and controlled by electronic buttons on a panel next to your seat.

In Japan, these high-tech toilets are everywhere: hotels, restaurants, bus stations, rest stops and around 80% of homes. It’s glorious. Then, I come back to the United States, and our toilets are stuck in the age of dirty coal mines and the horse and buggy. They basically have one feature: flush. No heated seats. No nice smells and sounds. No sanitizing blasts of liquid. It’s like cleaning your dishes without water. It’s gross. And it got me thinking: Why can’t we have high-tech toilets too?

Continue reading… “Why America is losing the toilet race”

0

Are Millennials the new entrepreneurs?

6618B260-EA78-4129-9F3A-83BEC869628A

The next generation of leaders are making headlines for their entrepreneurial attitude – are millennials driving a new startup revolution?

 Millennials came of age in a world powered by the products of rockstar entrepreneurs – Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Alexis Ohanian. TV Shows like Shark Tank, highlighting the aspirations and potential success of entrepreneurs, drew audiences of over 6 million. Meanwhile, the 2008 recession threw the stability of traditional career paths into question. It’s no wonder, then, that millennials seem to look very favorably upon entrepreneurship. But is this younger generation actually more entrepreneurial than preceding generations? The data is split. In this final article in my series on how millennials are transforming the workforce, I explore what entrepreneurship really means to millennials.

Continue reading… “Are Millennials the new entrepreneurs?”

0

The future of work looks like staying out of the office

815900A4-1C01-493B-B31E-E974B1F29CAE

Dozens of studies find remote workers happy and productive. Why not let them be?

It’s 2020: we finally live in the future! Or at least a future—one where broadband Internet connections and portable, reasonably high-powered computing tools are pervasive and widely accessible, even if they aren’t yet universal. Millions of workers, including all of us here at Ars, use those tools to do traditional “office jobs” from nontraditional home offices.

Tens of millions of jobs at all points of the income and skill spectrum are of course not suited to remote work. Doctors, dentists, and countless other healthcare workers of the world will always need to be hands-on with patients, just as teachers need to be in schools, construction workers need to be on building sites, scientists need to be in labs, wait staff need to be in restaurants, judges need to be in court, and hospitality employees need to be in hotels. All of that said, though, many more of the hundreds of different kinds of jobs Americans do can be done off-site than currently are.

Continue reading… “The future of work looks like staying out of the office”

0

What would your ‘future self’ want to do?

 

DFA59D42-E9FE-46C1-9037-6F83A1020887

Prepare Yourself, It’s Unlikely To Be Comfortable

An internationally acclaimed keynote speaker & bestselling author, grab a copy of Margie Warrell’s fifth book ‘You’ve Got This! The Life-Changing Power of Trusting Yourself’ (Wiley Publishing)

I attend a lot of conferences and regularly sit on panels. One of the more popular questions I’ve seen asked, and been asked, is “What advice would you give your younger self?”

It’s not a bad question. However, it has limited utility. After all, we can’t wind the clock back and change the decisions we’ve made, the actions we’ve taken, or (often more relevant) those we’ve failed to take. It’s why I believe a more useful question is to consider what advice our “future self”—us in the final chapter of life, with all those years of accumulated wisdom—would want to whisper in our ear if it had the chance.

Continue reading… “What would your ‘future self’ want to do?”

0

The Human and machine workforce leading digital transformation

EE165B76-0645-43E9-80AD-7A4D9866CCB4

When it comes to digital transformation, humans—believe it or not—play an integral role. In fact, companies that make strong use of the combined human/machine workforce have a far greater chance of success in digital transformation. Accenture calls these combined people/bot workspaces “future systems”—systems that seamlessly integrate humans and robots to create business goals that are limitless, agile, and “radically human.” I consider the companies that harness the power of humans and machines will be the ultimate winners of the future of work.

The good news: these systems are already happening. The bad news: only 8% of those surveyed by Accenture seem to be using them right now, despite the fact that revenue growth in future system companies is 50% higher than those in average or laggard adoptees.

If your company has not already implemented some type of combined human/machine workforce, it will be hard—in fact, nearly impossible—to catch up. That’s because the power of AI and machine learning amplifies the skills, insights, and capabilities of leading users to the nth degree.

Continue reading… “The Human and machine workforce leading digital transformation”

0