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Exceptional humans

Hearing aids are due for an upgrade. New research into the brain's sound mixing capabilities could radically improve how hearing aids work.

A new look at how the brain processes sound could radically improve hearing aids

Different from hearing aids but related: We actually have the technology to address these hearing issues in cochlear implants.

I'm a cochlear implant user (Cochlear, if you're familiar with implant processor companies) and we have features to help us better hear in loud or busy situations mentioned

Different from hearing aids but related: We actually have the technology to address these hearing issues in cochlear implants.

I'm a cochlear implant user (Cochlear, if you're familiar with implant processor companies) and we have features to help us better hear in loud or busy situations mentioned in the article, like the "cocktail party."

We have "Beam," for my implant microphone to specifically focus on one speaker and where my processor lowers the sound of distracting background noise, best for a one-on-one conversation at a crowded restaurant. And we have "Scan," where I can open my implant microphone's focus to hone into about 1-3 people I'm facing, for casual conversations with friends in a loud setting and where multiple people are talking (sort of an "expansion" of the "Beam" setting).

There are other features I haven't mentioned——My audiologist and I can place these settings on certain "programs" (I have four of them on my current processor) and I can toggle between them anytime I'd like. I use the features here and there when they may come in handy.

I had no idea loss of hearing can increase incidence of cognitive decline, like dementia. I also never realized that scientists still do not understand quite how the brain chooses which voice to concentrate on and listen to in chaotic or layered auditory environments (bar, sporting event or cocktail

I had no idea loss of hearing can increase incidence of cognitive decline, like dementia. I also never realized that scientists still do not understand quite how the brain chooses which voice to concentrate on and listen to in chaotic or layered auditory environments (bar, sporting event or cocktail party). I take a lot of my day for granted.

Google’s quantum leap

Google achieves "quantum supremacy." After publishing—and swiftly deleting—a paper claiming to have built a machine that could do 10,000 years of supercomputations in mere seconds, CEO Sundar Pichai finally talked to MIT Technology Review about his company's latest breakthrough.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai on achieving quantum supremacy

While this is indeed a milestone (even with a little help by means of sticking to a very narrow task), it's not really relevant for the average person. It just proves in practice something computer scientists expected in theory. That we can prove it now (like what happened with many of Einstein's hypothesis

While this is indeed a milestone (even with a little help by means of sticking to a very narrow task), it's not really relevant for the average person. It just proves in practice something computer scientists expected in theory. That we can prove it now (like what happened with many of Einstein's hypothesis) is a great milestone but not very functional.

On the bright side, the milestone puts pressure on the competition, which will have to accelerate their investments.

Whether or not quantum computing will ever be something that mere humans would need on a daily basis the idea of data analysis on the scale of populations by companies would seem a valuable skill. What will Google ir any social media do if the public decides to protect their data and switch to free access

Whether or not quantum computing will ever be something that mere humans would need on a daily basis the idea of data analysis on the scale of populations by companies would seem a valuable skill. What will Google ir any social media do if the public decides to protect their data and switch to free access systems paid for by advertising.

Marking 30 years of the web

The Steve Jobs speech that made Silicon Valley obsessed with pirates. In the early 1980s, Steve Jobs delivered a speech to Apple employees that included a metaphor about pirates. Since then, startups and tech companies have embraced the tale, while simultaneously misinterpreting it.

The Steve Jobs speech that made Silicon Valley obsessed with pirates

It's a tale as old as time: scrappy, innovative outsider becomes the establishment, and the ethos that helped make them that way becomes warped by copycats. The phrase is a perfect microcosm for the tech industry as a whole.

Great article. There is an investor-fueled myth that being a “pirate” is required. Surely, no one gets to define new categories without challenging the status quo. But pirates will be more effective if they can scale like the navy... that’s where the big returns come from.

I’ve had the opportunity

Great article. There is an investor-fueled myth that being a “pirate” is required. Surely, no one gets to define new categories without challenging the status quo. But pirates will be more effective if they can scale like the navy... that’s where the big returns come from.

I’ve had the opportunity to advise some startups and have seen the gamut of overly ambitious with no execution to the opposite end of purely tactical with no bigger ambition. Neither extreme is the place to be over the long term.

But from a cultural perspective, I agree, perhaps new symbols are needed to enable a culture that challenges rules while respectful of individuals...

Jobs was being literal about pirates. According to Wikipedia Jobs misled Atari, lied to Wozniak so he could rip him off and broke laws selling blue boxes to phone phreaks.

Lying stealing greed and a willingness to break the law sounds like a pirate.

Don't understand the confusion.

Technology has opened different doors that make this happen. Remember Napster? It opened the door to music subscriptions and looking at music distribution in a different way, while breaking nearly all the rules in the industry.

To me, Jobs understood the Sillicon Valley ethos long before it became

Technology has opened different doors that make this happen. Remember Napster? It opened the door to music subscriptions and looking at music distribution in a different way, while breaking nearly all the rules in the industry.

To me, Jobs understood the Sillicon Valley ethos long before it became mainstream. He was one of the original pirates, before it became cool to want to break the way things have worked. I suppose there’s an allure to the notion of being iconoclastic, and Jobs inspired that within Apple’s walls.

White House under pressure

US tech grows globally

Snapchat is finding new life outside the US. Parent company Snap posted its third-quarter earnings report this week, which revealed that it added 7 million new daily active users. The bulk of the new users, 5 million of them, are from new, burgeoning markets.

Snapchat is finding new life outside the US

Positive signs for Snap, but I still think it’s going to be a massive test for them to compete for ad revenue against Instagram and now TikTok. It’s great that they’re experimenting and finding new users outside of the US, but without new revenue streams, I can’t see how they get to profitability anytime

Positive signs for Snap, but I still think it’s going to be a massive test for them to compete for ad revenue against Instagram and now TikTok. It’s great that they’re experimenting and finding new users outside of the US, but without new revenue streams, I can’t see how they get to profitability anytime soon. Hope I’m proven wrong though, as they’re one of the few social sites constantly taking risks and trying new things.

Nike and UnderArmour CEO shakeups

Why Nike selected a tech executive as its next CEO. The company has been investing heavily in tech and data analytics. It sees its new CEO leading it into a future focused on data-driven, direct-to-consumer sales.

Why Nike selected a tech executive as its next CEO

"Parker, who has been Nike's CEO since 2006 and has worked at the company for four decades, will become the company's executive chairman, according to the press release."

This is one of the most important parts; Nike needed Parker in some sort of capacity after he steps down as CEO for 13 years.

Why

"Parker, who has been Nike's CEO since 2006 and has worked at the company for four decades, will become the company's executive chairman, according to the press release."

This is one of the most important parts; Nike needed Parker in some sort of capacity after he steps down as CEO for 13 years.

Why?

Because Parker steered the company through countless potential disasters, from the gender discrimination mess in 2018 and the Kaepernick campaign backlash to their disservice to pregnant athletes. He didn't just address them; he fixed the problems, wiped out the bad actors, and managed to TRIPLE sales.

Parker is a heck of an architect.

If overall sales are booming for Nike while US sales are slowing down, that means that their footprint internationally is growing a lot (like Netflix and a few other US companies with a strong global brand identity). If they’re looking to the future, a former e-bay leader makes sense as someone to help

If overall sales are booming for Nike while US sales are slowing down, that means that their footprint internationally is growing a lot (like Netflix and a few other US companies with a strong global brand identity). If they’re looking to the future, a former e-bay leader makes sense as someone to help build online based infrastructure for the global market instead of having to build a deep network of vendors to sell their products like they have established at home.

This is a very interesting move. It just goes to show that the biggest companies on the planet are all actually tech companies today - whether you realize it or not...

India's coal addiction

What makes coal so dirty? It’s a crucial question, given that without cutting its use drastically, the world won’t hit its greenhouse gas emissions targets. Quartz reporter Akshat explains the trouble with the sedimentary rock, which India uses for 55% of its energy. ✦

The science of what makes coal so dirty

Coal's many sins shouldn't be used to forget the value it has offered to humanity. Coal powered the industrial revolution and it continues to pull people out of poverty in much of the world. During the 17th and 18th centuries, coal helped create the carbon-based branch of chemistry we call "organic chemistry,

Coal's many sins shouldn't be used to forget the value it has offered to humanity. Coal powered the industrial revolution and it continues to pull people out of poverty in much of the world. During the 17th and 18th centuries, coal helped create the carbon-based branch of chemistry we call "organic chemistry," which I studied to gain my PhD from the University of Oxford. Organic chemists have won one in five of all Nobel Prizes in chemistry awarded over the last 120 years.

Coal is typically just carbon when taught in chemistry class. I had no idea that in reality, it contains so many other elements (mercury, cadmium, etc). The coal scientist Akshat quotes sums it up nicely: “coal is the most complex solid we’ve ever found and analyzed”.

Bigger than football

Elevated dementia and Alzheimer's rates found in soccer pros. A study of Scottish soccer players found a threefold rate of death from neurodegenerative diseases when compared to the general population, MedPage Today reports.

Dementia Deaths High in Former Pro Soccer Players

In the US, there's robust evidence that CTE is a major problem among football players. Soccer isn't as common here. But it's not surprising to me that the sport also carries significant risk of neurodegenerative disease as well. Heads should not be knocked around.

The costs of deregulation

Lawmakers move to make it much harder to launder money in the US. A bill looking to dent America’s status as the world’s biggest tax haven—by forcing owners of US firms to disclose identities to law enforcement—passed a vote in the House.

Lawmakers move to make it much harder to launder money in the US

This would be a welcome, if painfully overdue, measure to curb the use of shell companies, etc. It’s just way too easy to hide assets on an incredible scale in the US, mainly because of the government’s refusal to do anything about it.

Of course, whatever actually gets implemented will probably be a

This would be a welcome, if painfully overdue, measure to curb the use of shell companies, etc. It’s just way too easy to hide assets on an incredible scale in the US, mainly because of the government’s refusal to do anything about it.

Of course, whatever actually gets implemented will probably be a halfhearted, loophole-ridden mess... but at least it would be something.

Now if only they’d crack down on corporate tax evasion. You’d think the government would have a strong incentive to make corporations and the rich pay what they owe, but that’s not the case when lobbyists run the country.

This is pretty big from the White House: "The bill got a late boost today when the White House commended it, saying it 'represents important progress in strengthening national security, supporting law enforcement, and clarifying regulatory requirements.'"

And if you haven't yet, definitely read colleague

This is pretty big from the White House: "The bill got a late boost today when the White House commended it, saying it 'represents important progress in strengthening national security, supporting law enforcement, and clarifying regulatory requirements.'"

And if you haven't yet, definitely read colleague Max de Haldevang's deep dive (Quartz member exclusive) into the United States as the world's largest tax haven: https://qz.com/1593317/welcome-to-the-worlds-biggest-tax-haven-the-usa/

It is a start but clever lawyers and international banking will avoid the traps. If they were really serious crypto payments and other anonymous payment systems would also have to be shut down.

The complexity of money laundering techniques make it challenging to uncover wrongdoing when information can be hidden about the nature and ownership structure of companies. It is good to see that the USA is joining others across the world to finally bridge this gap. One risk to guard against is the

The complexity of money laundering techniques make it challenging to uncover wrongdoing when information can be hidden about the nature and ownership structure of companies. It is good to see that the USA is joining others across the world to finally bridge this gap. One risk to guard against is the politically motivated investigations such added transparency could drive in the short run.

Quartz at Work

Butter come back soon 🦋

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Your lunch is watching you

Your lunch is watching you

Read more on Axios Future

From Our Members

  • I used to think that the convenience tech provided was worth some sacrifices to my privacy. But no longer... it’s big brother and it won’t stop... it’s getting worse. Food habits? Medical records? Communications? What doesn’t the boss man know? It’s really enough. And the onus falls on me and all individuals

    I used to think that the convenience tech provided was worth some sacrifices to my privacy. But no longer... it’s big brother and it won’t stop... it’s getting worse. Food habits? Medical records? Communications? What doesn’t the boss man know? It’s really enough. And the onus falls on me and all individuals. Time to realize that we live in an almost zero privacy world and act accordingly. I wonder if - in my lifetime - the “in” thing will be old school living habits vs. the invasion of tech into our personal lives. For now, it’s all tech all the time. Limits must be drawn.

  • Beware the next time you order a fancy coffee through an app at your workplace. Companies are collecting and sharing (with the bosses) all sorts data about employees based on their eating habits and not all are related to food: “when they arrive at work, their circadian rhythms”. One of the goals: find

    Beware the next time you order a fancy coffee through an app at your workplace. Companies are collecting and sharing (with the bosses) all sorts data about employees based on their eating habits and not all are related to food: “when they arrive at work, their circadian rhythms”. One of the goals: find out how use food to con employees into staying closer to their desks.

    This is surveillance capitalism at its absolute worst. Also super creepy.

  • Anyone in middle management of a large public company knows that “resources = number of employees.”

    Technology will continue to play a bigger role in helping management allocate human and other capital in increasingly efficient ways. What has not been solved is how to treat these resources as humans.

  • Were going to have to get used to technology capturing all of our words and actions. In 2019, there’s a lot that we can do to opt out of how we are monitored. But in the next 20 years, opting out will get harder to the point of being impossible. I fear we are just scratching the surface.

  • More stories about data being used for what? That’s right: advertising. Nobody watches adverts, they don’t work. They just annoy people and give people who work in marketing something to put on their endless PowerPoint presentations. Nonsense.

  • In this case, I feel sympathy for my lunch. Matters for it are about to take a dramatic turn for the worse. Just like breakfast before it.

  • Sounds to me like it's time to regularly order random things, then give them away. Throw a little more mystery into your data.

  • Perish the thought, my employer knows I'm lactose intolerant and starts stocking the break room with things I like so that I'm more likely to stick around at the office, because I enjoy it more there.

  • With EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), guess that the EU is not an addressable market for these vendors. One of the rights introduced under GDPR is the right to be forgotten oh, the right to have individual personal data wiped off of systems. It will be interesting what happens when these

    With EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), guess that the EU is not an addressable market for these vendors. One of the rights introduced under GDPR is the right to be forgotten oh, the right to have individual personal data wiped off of systems. It will be interesting what happens when these regulations come to the United States.

  • What did you expect? Privacy. No longer believe that big brother I always watching and listening.

  • The latest business fad is to coĺlect data for resale to whoever wants it is reaching idiotic proportions.

    The usual claim that the data collected is to impove customer service and to tailor future offers......yadda ya..

    Its lunch or the drug store or the supermarket. I don't care if they waste their

    The latest business fad is to coĺlect data for resale to whoever wants it is reaching idiotic proportions.

    The usual claim that the data collected is to impove customer service and to tailor future offers......yadda ya..

    Its lunch or the drug store or the supermarket. I don't care if they waste their time but I haven't noticed an improvement. The collection analysis and sale of anonymous sales data is valid market research its the additional personal data that's new. While its on the creepy side that companies indulge it is no different than your travel agent being a gossip.

    I don't know if it has happened yet but eventually there will be damage as the data is misused by criminals. What the courts will decide on the issues of negligence and criminal charges is unknown but tracking your personal habits might have a high cost.

  • "... Briggo found that an employee was gaming its promotions and sign-up bonuses. The company tattled on the employee, who was fired."

  • Markets are not created with built-in regulation. Regulation comes when individuals lose control of certain rights - often times giving those rights up willingly for convenience (whether they actually understand the trade off or not). In theory, individuals still control their privacy rights (I.e., get

    Markets are not created with built-in regulation. Regulation comes when individuals lose control of certain rights - often times giving those rights up willingly for convenience (whether they actually understand the trade off or not). In theory, individuals still control their privacy rights (I.e., get your coffee somewhere that doesn’t collect your data). However, it seems that more and more businesses see consumer marketing as a significant revenue stream (or more accurately, the revenue from collecting data is greater than, or expected to be greater than, the value of any consumers lost to privacy concerns). While it may take a savvy consumer to completely escape data collection today, the real problem is the lack of disclosure. While I don’t know the specifics of the two companies mentioned in the article, my guess is that neither transparently disclose how they collect your data and what they do with it - more likely it’s buried in the fine print or a click through terms and conditions on an app. For this reason, the buying behavior of the uneducated or unaware consumer is unlikely to force businesses to change privacy practices for economic reasons (e.g. losing customers). I believe regulation can be an effective tool to educate consumers. If we, as a society, decide that we value our privacy in the same way we value our health (for example), eventually regulation will make these privacy disclosures front and center (think calorie disclosures at franchise restaurants or cigarette warnings). Consumers will at least then be making an educated decision - and that’s all we can really ask.