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Peter Thiel has said that computational power will be used more and more as a tool to decode the mysteries of biology. I think most bioengineers agree with that. And that is in large part what my book is about – that and how this new “power” is being used to actually change people’s lives. Bioengineering is just another tool we can use to repair the body and possibly mind (ethically fraught territory there) when it is broken.
You see the potential most clearly right now in the area of biomechanics and bionics. The human leg is basically a complex web of springs (made of tendons, ligaments, muscles and bones). Every time we take a step, these springs capture energy, juggle it between one another and prepare to reuse it in the next stride – somewhere in the neighborhood of half the energy we expend with each step is elastic recoil energy from the previous one. There are scores of constituent body parts involved in this process.
Hugh Herr at MIT is using the same kind of sensing technologies used to, for instance, record and replicate the way Lebron James moves in his EA sports avatar. Then he has taken these measurements, built a predictive mathematical equation that can tell you, for instance, what impact moving a knee joint two inches to the left, might have on the tautness of a tendon, and the force with which the foot will hit the ground. Then he has put that algorithm on a computer chip, built an artificial leg out of robotic parts, and programmed it to…
The continued rally in equity markets has us in uncharted waters when it comes to the value of the world’s leading technology companies. In what appears to be a first, six firms are valued above $400 billion in market cap and the five most valuable of them are all in tech: Apple, Alphabet/Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook (the other is Berkshire Hathaway). Together, the quintet is value at $2.8 trillion but to date none have managed to achieve the milestone of a $1 trillion market cap. Historically, even speculation that a company could approach that level has been finance’s version of the Sports Illustrated jinx. But with so many contenders this time, the chance that one will join the “four comma club” has never been higher.
V for Victory? Apple’s recent run up has given CEO Tim Cook a lot to smile about. But he might want to hold off on that victory sign in the race to $1 trillion. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Some history and caveats
To say the road to a trillion hasn’t been easy is to quickly gloss over the wreckage of contenders to the throne. All the way back in 1999, Microsoft reached a record $619 billion only to see the dot-com bubble end less than 3 months later. The software giant then spent most of the next 15 years in the wilderness, trading down and then sideways before finally starting a sustained rise post recession — but not before bottoming out around $200B. That the brainchild of Bill Gates and Paul Allen is a contender to ascend the mountain first not only shows Microsoft’s resilience, but also how hard it is to get back to rarefied air.
Consider that in the same era Vodafone, the mobile provider, was considered a possible trillion-dollar baby. Today it’s worth $66 billion. Networking giant Cisco also heard the “T word” thrown about back then and years later is a $170B concern. Outside of pure tech, GE once got halfway there and sits just above a quarter trillion today. (It’s also worth noting the Chinese oil company PetroChina technically traded at the magic level, though that calculation was based on one class of shares and not another that was already trading. Even that was short lived and today’s valuation is but $200B.)
With that, let’s look briefly at each of the leading contenders. Future installments in this occasional series will (1) look at some dark horses and (2) break down each company’s challenges and chances in greater detail.
1) Apple, $753B at publication time, odds of getting there first 1-to-1
While people have recently been touting Apple’s all-time highs, the truth is the company has yet to eclipse its peak value. Back in November of 2014 when it first seemed Apple might reach the trillion-dollar mark, I examined its prospects of getting from $680B all the way there — with skepticism:
If things come together, this time it will be different. If not, Apple’s march toward $1 trillion will find itself interrupted sometime before it gets there. Whether it’s a market slowdown or an Apple slowdown, something will likely get in the way.
And indeed, a lot got in the way. One thing, ironically, that hurt Apple was turning its massive cash hoard into the largest sustained share buyback anywhere. Every time Apple takes a share off the market it needs a higher price multiplied by the remaining shares to increase its market cap. The other speed bump was a strong reversal in Apple shares that took the company from $130 down into the double digits.
Today, the rise in Apple t0 above $143 has first actually put the company’s own record market value in sight. Apple reached $775B in February of 2015, adding nearly $100B from when I first looked at its chances. And reecently the company has managed to get back to $753B — just 3 percent below its record. Apple has benefited from a slight uptick in its price-to-earnings ratio, which now sits above 17. But to rise by a third from here, the iPhone maker will likely need more than the single-digit growth it’s managed of late. Apple’s lead is large, but it’s still a long way from $1T. Still it benefits from having faltered before and rising once again. The investment community is finally getting the message that Apple is more of…
The Open Source Movement is based on an ideology. To me, it seems like a (non-theistic) religion. We have cannon texts, inspiring but strange thought-leaders, a revolutionary view of what ought to be , occasional condemnations of evil, voluntarily contributions to a shared cause in pursuit of a greater good, and periodic meetings to affirm our faith. Added to this, there’s the major split into two factions: the Free Software Movement vs. the Open Source Movement (you could call it the First Church of the FSF and the Temple of the Apache Way). Ideological schisms are common in religions where two ways to interpret doctrine suddenly divide what was once a shared ideology: c.f. Catholic / Protestant, Shi’a / Sunni, Orthodox / Reform. So I understand why people think of open source as a religion, it can feel like one.
If you’re asking about the downsides of open source; channeling back to my former ideological bias as a non-believer, I can share two approaches to oppose open source based on the two major drivers to open source. Consider the doctrinal divide between the FSF and the OSI.
The Free Software Foundation supports the orthodox view that software’s source code ought to be shared and thus we ought to use licenses like the GPL that compel the sharing of source code…
You should read more. We’ve all said it to ourselves. You hear about a great new book and you think, “I should pick that up.” Then life happens. Before you know it, that book is on a list of hundreds of titles under the category, “I wish I wasn’t so busy so I could get to that book.”
Every Friday, pop critics for The New York Times weigh in on the week’s most notable new songs and videos — and anything else that strikes them as intriguing. You can listen to this playliston Spotify here. Like this Playlist? Let us know email@example.com, and sign up for our Louder newsletterhere.
Katy Perry feat. Migos, ‘Bon Appétit’
There’s nothing organic or not craven about “Bon Appétit,” which pairs Ms. Perry, a pop star of the old, Big Record Label sort, with Migos, fresh off a No. 1 song and album owing almost exclusively to bottom-up virality. Everything happening here is a face-off: pop and hip-hop, white and black, male and female, slick and tactile. (Ignore, for a moment, the disorienting and curious cover art, which features Ms. Perry’s disembodied head atop a plate of fruit, with each of the Migos’s hands reaching out for a piece.) Ms. Perry is in her least convincing mode — dance-floor diva — but the production is direct and effective. The contributions from the three Migos members are collapsed into one verse, lasting around 36 seconds, a small stretch of time in which more happens than in the rest of this song. JON CARAMANICA
Willie Nelson, ‘God’s Problem Child’
Willie Nelson didn’t write the title track of his latest album, “God’s Problem Child”; Tony Joe White and Jamey Johnson did, and they sing some of the verses. It’s not the typical chuckling or avuncular Willie Nelson song; it’s haunted and morose, a minor-key existential blues without a wry twist. “The higher I flew, the farther I fell,” Mr. Nelson sings. It puts its hope, stoically, in faith, with or without concrete evidence: “Heaven must love God’s problem child,” the song insists. JON PARELES
DJ Khaled feat. Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance the Rapper and Lil Wayne, ‘I’m the One’
There’s instinctual genius at work in the seemingly inevitable DJ Khaled summer anthem “I’m the One,” which gathers a murderers’ row of stars — Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance the Rapper and Lil Wayne — and swaddles them in unerringly soft production that makes a lot out of simple, breezy parts. For a song about how money makes men irresistible (with a few dubious lines scattered throughout), there’s an uncommon calm to this song, and also the video, which overcomes its alternate purpose as an advertisement for liquor…
Becoming a minimalist has captivated a new generation of people looking to pare down their lifestyles. It’s been all over the news lately, including in The New Yorker , where the #vanlife has taken over the site.1 For me, minimalism is not about having fewer things—as a traveler and full-time digital nomad, it’s a necessity and a philosophy.
What really is Minimalism?
Minimalism is really the idea of having the chance to pursue happiness. Much of the philosophy is finding what makes you content as a human being and following your passions rather than acquiring things. This can mean having items in the traditional sense, like a car and nice sheets. As long as these things are essential to your goals and happiness as a person, then there is nothing wrong with having some items that you truly enjoy and make a difference in your life.
Having more doesn’t mean it’s better.
When things become unnecessary, that’s when minimalism is important to consider in your life philosophy. Our current world culture encourages buying more in order to be happier person. Some of the pros of choosing minimalism include giving you the freedom to explore your interests on experiences rather than on clothes or styles that will change quickly.
Our society attaches meaning to how much you have and how expensive it was to purchase. This means often that we prescribe meaning to how many things you have rather than value as a human…
What is the Facebook Messenger 2.0 platform, and why is it important?
Messenger 2.0 is a huge leap for the platform and for Facebook. It is clear they will give the bot platform a voice. Ultimately, we will likely see Facebook create an Alexa-like Voice First device.
Many assumed the bot was dead already, Facebook made it far more intelligent.
Facebook is already the equivalent to the White Pages directory of a bygone phone era, a 1.2 billion-person modern directory. At the F8 conference, Facebook announced that it is moving to become the Yellow pages and using AI to facilitate the programming to over 60 million businesses on the platform. At last year’s F8 conference, Facebook announced the bot platform and the intelligent agent called M on the Messenger platform. The bot platform attracted many developers and also far more users than most observers have understood. There have been stories of very high engagement and very high sales via the platform. Although the infrastructure for users and developers have been a bit of a disappointment, the concept has proven itself in places like China. With Messenger 2.0, Facebook is moving the platform to be far more useful.
While the quality of bots over the last year has been mixed, a year later these new features could help Facebook, which now has 5 million active advertisers, build a wider, more active user base and “reinvent the way people and businesses are communicating” as Facebook’s VP of messaging David Marcus put it last year. Many tech observers have called bots a failure and assumed Facebook would give up on bots. In fact, it’s making them easier to use and access than ever thanks to elements of Messenger 2.0 and in particular Chat Extensions, which is a way for multiple people in your group chat to chat with the same business at the same time and thereby create a new way for many potential commerce interactions. This is all part of the M Suggestions, the wide release of the Facebook M personal assistant feature that rolled out in Messenger a few of weeks ago.
“We’ve created an ecosystem of developers that are now enabling large companies to do different types of things, whether they want to do brand stuff or whether they want to plug into their huge call centers with thousands of people and allow them to answer Messenger messages instead of phone calls”— David Marcus, VP Facebook
There are many elements of the new Messenger 2.0 platform, but here are the highlights:
One of Facebook’s main goals with Messenger last year was to make businesses use the product more to interact with customers. With Smart Replies, this will be an order of magnitude more successful at using Messenger. Smart Replies let businesses with Business Pages use Facebook’s AI bot engine to automatically respond to frequently asked questions such as business hours and contact details. The smart replies API gives businesses the ability to create an AI responder, powered by Facebook’s Wit.ai code. Today the system will do this in a completely automatic way with no programming on the part of the merchant. The AI and Machine Learning (ML) will scan the Business Page and produce an instant and useful response to basic questions.
Over time the ML will become more informed about successful responses and constantly update to deliver the correct or desired result. At this point Smart Replies are limited to basic questions and intents, in the future this will expand to far more complex operations that include commerce. For example, placing a food order at a quick service restaurant would be a next likely avenue that is not much more complex than scanning a FAQ page. I also see this extending into web commerce with the same very high potential for commerce.
Smart Replies will bring millions of small and medium sized businesses into an area that would have cost perhaps thousands of dollars. This solves the chicken/egg problem to populate the Bot platform, overnight millions of businesses can be on the platform making it very useful. Small and medium sized merchants can focus on responding to questions that fall outside of the abilities of the AI and over time the AI will have the answer ready. Today, Facebook is starting off by providing this service…
During the final stages of World War II, an American B-29 Bomber dropped the world’s first atomic bombs over Japan. The attack was launched from an airfield on Tinian Island, one of three islands in the Marianas. Today, little remains of the airfield where the Atom Age began, save for two loading pits used to haul the nukes onto the aircraft that carried them over Japan.
Located just over 1,500 miles from Japan, Tinian was an ideal launch site for the U.S. 509th Composite Group and 313th Bombardment Wing. But first, a massive construction project had to be undertaken…
You probably replace something when it breaks down and no longer works (or repair it if the costs aren’t too high). However, that’s usually not a good strategy for large, expensive appliances in your home that you rely on every single day. Here’s what you should know about the lifespan of most appliances and when they should be replaced.
When it comes down to it, most appliances last for however long they decide to last—lifespan is mostly an enigma. However, manufacturers build their appliances with a set lifespan in mind. From there, these appliances could last longer than expected, or less than expected.
With that said, most major home appliances last anywhere from 10-20 years, give or take. This includes your HVAC system, water heater, kitchen appliances, laundry machines, and more.
Granted, I’ve seen a water heater last 30 years without any issues with the proper maintenance, so the above year range isn’t a hard and fast rule. But it’s a good number to keep in mind—if you’re having problems with your furnace and notice that it’s 15 years old, it might be time for a new one.
How to Find Out How Old Your Appliances Are
Unfortunately, there’s no one standardized way to tell you how old an appliance is in your house, but there are a few things you can do to try and find out.
First off, look through the paperwork that you signed when you bought your house or see if you can find the original listing. It’s possible that the previous owner jotted down the age of all the major appliances. The previous owner might have also left behind the original paperwork for the appliances themselves when they were installed, which would mostly likely have the date of installation…
“13 Reasons Why” is causing controversy in Canada after some schools have started warning parents about the graphic nature of the young adult adaptation, despite the show’s positive messages regarding bullying and suicide prevention.
After debuting on the streaming service on March 31, executive producer Selena Gomez’s hit series has become the subject of dispute at multiple Canadian school systems in less than a month. According to the CBC, St. Vincent Elementary School in Edmonton, Alberta, sent an email to the parents of sixth graders letting them know their students were prohibited from even mentioning the show on school grounds.
“The discussion that is unfolding at school is troubling. This series is rated Mature and the theme is the suicide of a high school student. This show includes graphic violence (rape) and gore, profanity, alcohol/drugs/smoking, and frightening/intense scenes,” read the letter….