In the Dubai of 2050, the world looks both instantly familiar and utterly strange. Here, urban planning is driven by an omniscient AI installed at the top of a skyscraper; your smart bathroom mirror tracks your physical health; and you interface with the government through a personalized “genie,” a hologram in the form of a virtual Emirati gentleman in traditional garb. All of these future products are skinned in a particular visual aesthetic of friendly white-on-black animated icons like a minimalist, sentient version of Apple’s iOS.
This uncanny scene was on display at the United Arab Emirates’ second annual Government Summit, hosted in Dubai in February 2014. A three-day event comprised of dozens of speakers — including Sir Richard Branson — and over 4,000 participants, it bills itself as the “largest annual government gathering in the world.” The gathering was meant to “build hope, build life and future, and make people happy,” said Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, prime minister of the UAE and royal ruler of Dubai, during the event. The urban AI, hologram genie, and smart bathroom were part of the Museum of Future Government Services, a series of seamless interactive installations that demonstrated to attendees — Emirati politicians and civil servants, as well as foreign dignitaries and business leaders — how the UAE would serve its citizens several decades hence.
The Museum of Future Government Services was created by Tellart, a technology-focused design agency, headquartered thousands of miles away in Rhode Island. Launched in 2000, Tellart now employs 38 individuals spread across offices in Providence, New York, San Francisco, Amsterdam, and Dubai. The UAE government is one of the company’s largest clients; the two entities collaborate on the Government Summit events and are developing a permanent Museum of the Future in Dubai.
Read the rest of this article at: The Verge
What Tyler Cowen Thinks of Pretty Much Everything
So for my podcast conversation with him — which you can listen to on iTunes, SoundCloud, or wherever you get your podcasts — I had a simple plan: ask Cowen for his thoughts on as many topics as possible. And I think it worked out pretty well. We discuss everything from New Jersey to high school sports to finding love to smoked trout to nootropics to Thomas Schelling to Ayn Rand to social media to speed reading strategies to happy relationships to Donald Trump to the disadvantages of growing up in Manhattan. And believe me when I say that is a small sampling of what we covered.
We also talk about Tyler’s new book, The Complacent Class, which argues, in true Cowenian fashion, that everything we think we know about the present is wrong, and that far from being an age of rapid change and constant risk, we have become a cautious, even stagnant, society.
At the end of our discussion, I did a lightning round with Cowen, where I asked him for his snap reactions on everything from a universal basic income to superhero films to geoengineering to a cashless society.
Read the rest of this article at: Vox
The Curious Case Of Sidd Finch
The secret cannot be kept much longer. Questions are being asked, and sooner rather than later the New York Mets management will have to produce a statement. It may have started unraveling in St. Petersburg, Fla. two weeks ago, on March 14, to be exact, when Mel Stottlemyre, the Met pitching coach, walked over to the 40-odd Met players doing their morning calisthenics at the Payson Field Complex not far from the Gulf of Mexico, a solitary figure among the pulsation of jumping jacks, and motioned three Mets to step out of the exercise. The three, all good prospects, were John Christensen, a 24-year-old outfielder; Dave Cochrane, a spare but muscular switch-hitting third baseman; and Lenny Dykstra, a swift centerfielder who may be the Mets' lead-off man of the future.
Ordering the three to collect their bats and batting helmets, Stottlemyre led the players to the north end of the complex where a large canvas enclosure had been constructed two weeks before. The rumor was that some irrigation machinery was being installed in an underground pit.
Standing outside the enclosure, Stottlemyre explained what he wanted. "First of all," the coach said, "the club's got kind of a delicate situation here, and it would help if you kept reasonably quiet about it. O.K.?" The three nodded. Stottlemyre said, "We've got a young pitcher we're looking at. We want to see what he'll do with a batter standing in the box. We'll do this alphabetically. John, go on in there, stand at the plate and give the pitcher a target. That's all you have to do."
Read the rest of this article at: Boston Baseball
Inside Condé Nast’s Digital Strategy | BoF Exclusive, News & Analysis
NEW YORK, United States — “Everyone’s saying they want to be the next Condé Nast — we’re going to be the next Condé Nast,” asserts chief executive Bob Sauerberg at the company’s headquarters at One World Trade Center. “My strategy is about the biggest premium network with the most influential people — reclaiming influence. It used to be [that] bloggers tried to take it from us, but we’ve always had it, before there was even a name for it.”
For almost a decade, since the rise of the internet and the fallout from the Great Recession forced the publisher of glossy titles like Vogue, Vanity Fair and GQ to reconsider its print-centric business model, the family-owned media giant has lagged behind its competitors in defining a compelling strategy for success in the digital age. Now, Condé Nast is finally on the digital offensive.
“The big digital buyers are going to spend a lot of time with the big social networks, with Facebook at the top of the list,” says Sauerberg. “They’re going to spend a lot of time and money with Google for the search piece. When they come to premium digital inventory, I want them to think of us first.”
But is it too little, too late?
In 2010, Condé Nast’s most powerful fashion brand, Vogue, finally launched its own website and Charles Townsend, then the company’s chief executive, first gave publishers responsibility for digital advertising. The same year, the iPad was released and the internet surpassed newspapers and radio as the most popular source of news, according to Pew Research.
Condé Nast spent the following years focused heavily on iPad magazines — what the company called digital editions — that were often digital regurgitations of print issues. It jumped between different content management systems and underwent several rounds of organisational restructuring that reflected tensions between the company’s traditional emphasis on print and a growing need to focus on digital content and advertising spend. Recent headlines have been dominated by news of layoffs and shutterings at Condé Nast — Lucky, Details and others — as it cut costs, doubled down on its most valuable brands and shifted resources to digital.
Read the rest of this article at: Oxygene Magazine
America seen from a satellite at night blooms with lights, up one coast, down the other, and all across the middle. If you focus on the lights of South Florida and then move in closer on a metro area—say, Naples or Miami or West Palm Beach—and then zoom in on a particular mall or commercial strip or residential area, and then on a particular streetlight, and then on the illuminated circle that the streetlight throws on the ground, you may see some frog-like shapes. Go in as close as you can, down to the round, black, gold-flecked eye of one of those shapes, in which the light above it is a pinpoint blue reflection. You are eye-to-eye with a cane toad, one of the most successful invasive species on the planet.
Cane toads flock to lights. Across South Florida, in all kinds of man-made places, they appear on warm evenings. A bug drawn to the glow hits the glass and falls; a cane toad snaps open its wide mouth and gloms the bug with a long, adhesive, party-favor-like tongue. The toad’s mouth closes.
Multiply that cane toad, and the two dozen or so others in its vicinity, by a whole lot of South Florida streetlights. Is this an oncoming ecological disaster? Experts on invasive wildlife don’t know. None can say for sure how many cane toads the state has already. Nor can they estimate how much or how quickly the cane toad population will expand. The phenomenon of the cane toads may be news to the rest of the country, but to South Floridians it’s not. Consider the classic toad facial expression, the humorless, fake-sleepy look most species have. Cane toads are like that, only super-intense; behind their deadpan demeanor, the fierceness with which they want to live and make more cane toads is almost sublime. Cane toads happen to thrive best in close vicinity to humans, and of course the number of humans in Florida is likely to increase. So yes—in the future, there will be more cane toads.
What it’s like in some places right now: Step out of your house in the morning and cane toads are squatting on the front walk. They are in the garage in the coils of the garden hose. They climb up the screen on your lakeside cabin’s front door to get closer to the outdoor light. They are in your window wells and by the hot tub on the patio and next to the swimming pool filter motor. They sit and look at you as if you owe them money; a creepy shiver excites your shoulder blades.
Read the rest of this article at: Outside