A Blog by Jonathan Low


Dec 15, 2019

Move Over Work Life Balance, Hello Work Life Integration

 No, they are not equivalent. And yes, your employer wins. JL

Brianne Garrett reports in Forbes:

Professionals in what’s been called the “always on” work culture—especially women—often find it difficult to achieve work-life equilibrium.The work-life conversation has recently evolved into one about corporate culture, “which is a huge leap in working to address some of the drivers of imbalance.” Companies have begun to understand their roles in creating environments conducive to work-life success.

Mall Santa Lose Reins To Video Chat Santas

At least they've resisted texting. So far. JL

Jim Charlton reports in the Wall Street Journal:

With fewer families showing up at the mall to visit Santa near the food court, he, too, is meeting his customers where they live: online.Through a service called Talk to Santa, children can have a live video chat for $34.95 with the jolly old fat man from the convenience of home. The Denver-based company has enlisted more than 300 Santas this season, who are expected to deliver more than 10,000 videos, both live and taped

Dec 14, 2019

An IQ Test For Artificial Intelligence Systems

How difficult are the problems they are trying to solve and how well are they solving them. JL

Siddarth Vodnala reports in TechXplore:

"Research on measuring intelligence in AI systems has been mostly theoretical. They didn't measure real-world performance in novel, previously unseen environments and didn't account for the complexity of the tasks." A test will grade AI systems based on the difficulty of problems that they can solve. Creating methods to rank problems on their difficulty will be one of the major parts of the research. "The score will also take into account the systems' accuracy, correctness, time taken and amount of data they need to perform well."

DNA Dating and the Digital Manipulation of Everything

The idea is to wipe out inherited disease. Who can be against that, right?

But the problem, as humanity continues to learn the hard way, is that every ostensibly positive concept can quickly and easily be converted and perverted in the digital era. JL

Antonio Regalado reports in MIT Technology Review:

A genetic dating app could wipe out inherited disease.The idea is to use DNA comparisons to make sure people who share a genetic mutation never meet, fall in love, and have kids. The app won’t block dates for people carrying dominant disease genes. “We are saying that up front. If they are attractive and healthy enough to go on a date, it doesn’t matter.” Doesn’t it? Wasn’t the idea to avoid sick kids? The geneticists’ position doesn’t seem particularly consistent, but it really would be eugenics if your app tried to block a whole class of existing people from getting dates.

The Reason We Geek Out Over Sleek Interface Designs

Because it invites to share the world of technology, rather than merely be a recipient of its virtues and vices. JL

Ross Harley reports in Quartz:

We are surrounded by a dizzying array of technological gizmos. With tablet and mobile computing literally flattening everything out onto the smooth surface of a screen, the ones we love and use the most are often the ones that have been designed with humans firmly in mind. The “interface” has become one of the central principles of contemporary design.A well-conceived interface distinguishes more than just the pretty looks of a product. (It) reminds us of the complex aesthetics of touch and play at work in any interface. It also prompts us to ask whether contemporary interface design is always as good as it can be.

How Instagram Is Making Young Women Look the Same

Algorithmic identity, achieved through FaceTuning...JL

Jia Tolentino reports in The New Yorker:

Instagram has its own aesthetic language: the ideal image is the one that pops on a phone screen. The aesthetic is marked by a familiar human aspiration, documented in wedding photography, toward a generic sameness. Accounts  illustrate the platform’s monotony by posting grids of indistinguishable photos posted by different users. The human body is an Instagram subject: it can be adjusted, with the right kind of effort, to perform better and better over time. Instagram Face (has) an algorithmic tendency to flatten everything into a composite of greatest hits in a beauty ideal that favored white women capable of manufacturing a look of rootless exoticism.

Amazon Is Now Delivering Half of Its Own Packages

 And no, this is not good news for FedEx and UPS. JL

Nick Statt reports in The Verge:

At the current rate, Amazon is set to pass both FedEx and UPS in US package volume, with the company currently delivering 2.5 billion packages per year compared to FedEx’s 3 billion and UPS’s 4.7 billion. Amazon’s number doubled in just the last year alone, from delivering  20% of all of its own packages to now about half. A substantial contributing factor here is Amazon’s new one-day Prime shipping initiative, which it kicked off earlier this year and promises to bring to more markets and more products as time goes on.