Blog Archives

The Pipe Dream: A Roundaloop?

21st-century ground transportation:

Envisioned by Elon Musk.

Traveling from Point A to Point B seems (and can literally be) pedestrian. In the modern world, there seem to be far too many detours, connecting flights, complications and mind-numbing traffic patterns to conceptualize a simplistic, easy-going path from Point A to Point B.

Then a big idea happened. And then that big idea was built and tested.

And what happens next?

Innovator Elon Musk founded The Boring Company, which is the firm that is building the Hyperloop (featured in the video above). While people won’t be lining up just yet to experience this futuristic form of transportation, the fact that a proof of concept has been achieved is a giant first step towards the reimagined American railroad. To be more precise, the reimagined American train and railroad system.

The Boring Company has essentially taken the archaic railroad system from 19th and 20th centuries and created a significantly faster 21st-century upgrade. Is it the right upgrade? Is the Hyperloop the next great innovative masterpiece in transportation we’ve been waiting for? Would you ride in the Hyperloop?

Fortunately, there’s a model (actually, a few models) to follow for judging the future progress and success of Hyperloop’s introduction to the American traveler, current and new:

Tesla.

Now, who is the co-founder and CEO of that innovative car company…?

iPhone: Episode VIII

Which beloved entity has the more influential following in modern culture:

Apple or Star Wars?

Apparently, to those closest to both, it’s a virtual tie of sorts?

Apple’s earbuds were inspired by the dark side, or more specifically, the stormtroopers from Star Wars, according to an interview with Apple’s chief designer Jony Ive in The Wall Street Journal. Ive reportedly told Star Wars: The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams he had the “look of the original Stormtroopers in mind when he designed Apple’s earbuds.”

It’s also interesting to note that the costume designer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Michael Kaplan, told Vanity Fair in 2015 that Apple itself inspired the new stormtroopers of the First Order. “With the Stormtroopers it was more of a simplification, almost like, ‘What would Apple do?’” Kaplan said at the time.
–Thuy Ong, The Verge, “Apple’s earbuds were inspired by the dark side, says chief designer Jony Ive”

As a reference, here’s a stormtrooper in The Force Awakens.

With iPhone 8 on the horizon for release later this year, Apple will likely begin to slowly work its way back towards the top of our news feeds. And particularly since the iPhone 8 will be the 10th anniversary iPhone, the speculation (never-ending with Apple products) concerning this forthcoming version of the globally popular mobile device is focused on a wide variety of game-changing features for an Apple phone. This includes rumors of a borderless screen, wireless charging and the potential removal of the physical home button (not the home button feature, but just the actual button).

Interestingly enough, those rumors almost pale in comparison to what’s been revealed in the quotes above from brilliant designer Jony Ive and the costume designer for The Force Awakens.

As a newspaper editor would say, “That’s the lead.”

Even more is the fact that Apple is great at storytelling, specifically the customized story of each of its consumers by providing them the opportunity to define a phone, tablet or computer through countless apps and user photos, music, videos, etc. The surprisingly awesome news that key figures from both Apple and Star Wars influenced each other in profoundly cool ways makes an Apple-Star Wars crossover promotion seem like a pop-culture slam dunk.

So, The Last Jedi is the eighth Star Wars major motion picture set for release this Christmas and Apple is set to sell its eighth iPhone at the end of this year.

Hmmm…

(Please re-read the headline of this blog post).

Since Artificial GRASS is a Problem…

Elon Musk, the face defining and promoting Tesla Motors and its impressively intriguing product line, gave surprising remarks recently to a gathering of American governors.

For the CEO of Tesla, Inc., which designs and builds cars that are arguably more supercomputers than automobiles, to speak about the far-reaching dangers of artificial intelligence going forward involving unrestrained technological variations in this arena is newsworthy. Fascinating, in the very least. Moreover, Mr. Musk has the unique perspective and influence to affect the mindset of large communities of people and innovators with his recent warning revealed in the video above.

But will people listen?

The challenge is that innovation, in its purest form, presents the eternally intoxicating allure of “the future” that every generation has imagined and pursued with purpose to varying degrees. The primary concerns of building a world heavily influenced and dictated by artificial intelligence seems more reckless than wise, yet Westworld (at least to Michael Crichton fans and HBO viewers) was built with great intrigue.

Aren’t you curious to visit Westworld?

Answer honestly.

Jimmy’s Daily Planet maintains its consistent position that innovation, in all of its varieties, should be viewed with excitement and caution in equal measure. What are the costs and the benefits? More often than not, the costs and the benefits of a particular innovation are on a sliding scale nowhere close to a conclusive 100-0 result. Artificial intelligence is a very slippery slope because, in the initial stages, the benefits may appear to make our lives easier, more efficient and, above all, better. It’s usually at this point, however, when the investment into something (in this case, AI) is too grand and, consequently, becomes too interwoven into societal expectations to turn the digital clock back.

It just seems like humans, in too many situations, are far too eager to not only “big brother” themselves, but to also make themselves less relevant and necessary through ill-advised inventions. Impressive? Typically yes. The best idea? Hmmm…

A Google search defines the word “artificial” as, “made or produced by human beings rather than occurring naturally, typically as a copy of something natural.”

How would (will?) Google define a product consciously created and then made or produced by something artificial?

Hmmm…

P.S. In the video above, Elon Musk spoke about the need for increased regulations to combat the threat of AI in the future. While a sensible regulation here and there may help, do you want to know what the better solution would be to deal with AI?

Intelligent people leading by example, like Elon Musk. 

Apple’s Ingenuity is Shifting Gears

This is not the Apple Inc. of the late Steve Jobs.

This blog post’s opening sentence is aimed directly at the surprising disclosure of development plans concerning evolving technology discussed in the recent interview above for the part-tech and part-lifestyle brand that is Apple. You’re likely recalling those iconic slideshow presentations when Steve Jobs was speaking/performing in front a packed auditorium in northern California’s Silicon Valley when he would suddenly reach into his pocket and reveal everyone’s favorite new gadget.

We all miss that suspense from the master of tech ceremonies.

But, as has been pointed out on Jimmy’s Daily Planet many, many times, Tim Cook is not Steve Jobs. For better or worse, that’s a fact. However, for a CEO not categorized as something damn near demiurge for 21st century technology consumer products, Tim Cook has proven to be among the best business leaders in the world. That’s also a fact.

There’s no risk with Tim Cook. Whether that’s been good or bad for Apple is for another blog post.

Returning to the video clip above of the interview with Bloomberg’s Emily Chang (a Silicon Valley favorite), a couple things were subtly revealed that should leave us wanting more. First, Mr. Cook appears to be feeling a bit of pressure (from investors, critics, reporters, their consumers, etc.) because why else admit a project that’s still “in the shop”? Or maybe automotive AI is only intended to serve as the obvious appretizer to something much grander and mind-blowing that shall remain hidden until suspense reaches its peak, as is the past tradition of Apple? Secondly, is automotive AI the best design path forward for empowering Apple consumers in the future?

Not to mention the implications and dangers of increasingly intelligent and widespread AI, as boldly illustrated in virtually any science-fiction book, movie or TV show ever made (cough cough Westworld).

Today, I will leave more questions than answers. Why?

Because perhaps Apple should be asking more questions as our society continues to undergo a massive (and equally uncertain, to put it lightly) digital transfer of power, of which it has played no small part. For a company made a global sensation for literally putting a surreal amount of high-quality information, entertainment and power into our hands, it seems abnormal to shift that same awesome power away from those very same hands.

Automotive AI may or may not be an automatic sell to Apple’s global consumer base. That remains the variable.

The constant is that consumers around the world will ultimately determine whether this evolving technology will find success on the right side of the road.