Big Tech &
Was Amazon's Headquarters Contest a Bait-and-Switch? Critics Say Yes (3 minute read)
Amazon critics are saying that the company's decision to split its second headquarters into two (one in New York and one in Washington DC) showed that the bidding process for HQ2 was a farce. Some believe that the decision was made long ago and that the bidding process was just a ruse to extract concessions and kickbacks. Others have been saying all along that HQ2 would be split into multiple locations that Amazon would again play against one another to strengthen its bargaining position. One critic says "It's tempting to roll your eyes at this soap opera, but Amazon will walk away from this stunt with a cache of incredibly valuable data. It's learned all kinds of things from the bidding cities like their future infrastructure plans that even their citizens are not privy to. Amazon will put this data to prodigious use in the coming years as it looks to expand its market power and sideline the competition."
Tesla's Navigate on Autopilot is like Waze on steroids (4 minute read)
Navigate on Autopilot is a new feature by Tesla that is moving it closer to its self-driving future. It offers step-by-step navigation overlayed on a map (like you would get from Google Maps or Waze) but the cool thing is that if you give it permission, it will execute the directions by itself. It can also be tuned for aggressiveness, with four modes: Disabled, Mild, Average, and Mad Max. This article is written by a reporter who got to try out Navigate on Autopilot for the first time, and he was very impressed, saying that he was "overcome with an ice-cold 'this is the future' feeling."
CoinSnacks is basically a weekly TLDR newsletter for crypto. If you're into buying and hodling, or just want to figure out how to dip your toe into learning about the cryptocurrency space, you might want to check this out.
And Co (Desktop App & Chrome Extension)
This is a free desktop app/chrome extension put out by the freelance marketplace Fiverr, which basically gives you everything you need to run a freelance business. It has features for invoicing, proposals, contracts, time and expense tracking, and more. If you're a freelancer, definitely take a look at this, I'm kind of surprised that something this fully featured is free.
Ozone: The Earth's protective shield is repairing (2 minute read)
Good news folks, the hole in the Ozone layer is closing! The Northern Hemisphere could be fully fixed by the 2030s and Antarctica by the 2060s. At the worst point in the late 90s, 10% of the upper Ozone had disappeared, but since 2000, it's been growing again at a rate of about 3% per decade. The Montreal Protocol, in which 180 countries agreed to phase out use of the chlorofluorocarbons that had been destroying the Ozone, seems to be working.
Bill Gates is obsessed with redesigning the world's toilets (5 minute read)
Bad sanitation kills 525,000 children per year and costs over $223 billion per year in lost wages and extra healthcare. Bill Gates has invested $200 million into developing a toilet that doesn't require a central sewage system to operate, and the first prototypes are here. One developed at Caltech extracts clean water from human waste and reuses it for future flushing. The University of South Florida's NEWgenerator uses feces-digesting anaerobic bacteria. Cranfield University's toilet burns waste in the toilet's combustor to create energy. None of the toilets are cheap enough for widespread use, but Bill Gates wants to spend another $200 million developing the second generation of toilets, and eventually hopes to get these toilets into 4.5 billion homes around the world. Gates said, "A decade ago, I didn't think I would be able to tell you so much about poop."
Open Questions (3 minute read)
This is a list of thought provoking questions posed by Gwern who some of you may know from his blog on biohacking and technology. There's lots of thought-provoking stuff here like "If child abuse and emotional neglect is so harmful, why does it appear in the biographies of so many people who achieve greatness, often middle/upper-class?" and "Given the crucial role of trust and shared interests in success stories like Xerox PARC or the Apollo Project or creative collaborations in general, why are there so few extremely successful pairs of identical twins?"
Computers Can't Read Minds Yet, but This Headset Developed by MIT Researchers Is Getting Close (1 minute read)
MIT graduate students have created a prototype of a headset that takes input from the neuromuscular activity involved in speech and uses it like Alexa uses voice commands to perform tasks. The headset also includes a bone-conduction audio transmitter to send audio through the back of your head so you can hear responses without having anything over your ears, so you can give commands and receive responses completely silently. Arnav Kapur, one of the students, says "The experience is like having the entire internet in your head, and a little AI agent, who can do things for you, perched on your shoulder."
Programming, Design & Data Science
No TLDR Originals for 2018-11-07