A Blog by Jonathan Low


Apr 28, 2016

The City That Embedded Stop Lights in Sidewalks So Smartphone Users Looking Down Would See Them. And Not Walk Into Traffic

This happened after a 15 year old girl was killed by an oncoming tram she didnt see because she was looking at her phone.

The counterargument to Augsburg's humanitarian gesture might be that the laws of evolution suggest this culling of the unwary is good for the species. Though that would, of course, be unkind...JL

Rick Noack reports in the Washington Post:

Pedestrians were so busy looking at their smartphones that they were ignoring traffic lights.The city has attempted to solve that problem by installing new traffic lights embedded in the pavement so that  pedestrians constantly looking down at their phones won't miss them."It creates a whole new level of attention."

Uber Drivers Can Now Use Their App To Find the Cheapest Gas Station

A small benefit given that gas is the driver's responsibility as an 'independent contractor.' And as the following article reports, dependence on the Uber ecosystem discourages alternative behavior, though some may wonder at what point such dependence becomes employment. At least until they are all replaced by self-driving cars. JL

Andrew Hawkins reports in The Verge:

Not only will the app show drivers where the cheapest gas prices are, it will also provide step-by-step, GPS-enabled directions to those stations. It's another example of Uber trying to keep both drivers and riders within its own ecosystem for needs associated with their trips.

Saudi Arabia's Thatcherite Plan To Reinvent Itself, Reducing Dependence on Oil By 2020

The plan is bold, though a retrospective analysis of Thatcherite reforms suggest that the pain may have far outweighed the gain. JL

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard reports in The Telegraph:

“We have an addiction to oil. I think that by 2020 we can live without it.” (Saudi Arabia) has historically relied on oil for 90% of its income and has yet to build alternatives.The plan aims to slash $80bn of spending each year. Female participation in the workforce will rise from 22% to 30%. Non-oil exports (are) to jump from 16% to 50%, with a $4 trillion of investment to cars, healthcare, metals, solar power and tourism. Half-hearted reform risks bankruptcy.  

Is Local Professional Licensing Slowing the Spread of Digital Diagnoses Like Telemedicine - And Should It?

The growth of digital patient prognosis and monitoring is expected to expand exponentially as cost and aging Baby Boomers put more strain on health care delivery systems.

One obstacle to this is the practice of local, state or regional licensing requirements for nurses and other health care professionals. This system might make it illegal for an RN in one location to monitor or recommend treatment to a patient in another area.

The question, as is so often the case with technology, pits efficiency and productivity against safety and quality, not just in medicine, where the risk may be most urgent - and significant. It could also be a factor in accounting, engineering, law and myriad other professions as digitally remote diagnosis becomes more common. JL

Stephanie Armour reports in the Wall Street Journal:

Adoption of remote health services such as patient care monitoring online and by the phone is expected to soar in the U.S. to $1.9 billion in 2018 from $240 million in revenue in 2013,

California Jurors Caught Using Social Media In Court Could Be Fined $1,500

Serving on a jury is a right and a privilege, but does not confer the legal opportunity to report on and benefit from the experience. 

California is taking the lead, as it has in so many areas of technology, by attempting to limit the temptation to share jury experiences, especially while trials are in progress. JL

David Kravets reports in ars technica:

Under the new law, designed to combat mistrials, a judge would have an easier time issuing a rank-and-file citation instead of having to go through all of the legal fuss to charge somebody with contempt. Wayward jurors (using social media) have disrupted countless cases across the country. The Press Law and Democracy Project used to keep track of those cases, but there were too many.

Will Data Scientists Soon Be Rendered Obsolete By Their Own Technology?

Advances in computerized algorithmic data analysis, pattern recognition, visualization, coding, statistics, machine learning and natural language processing may eliminate the need for a priesthood of data scientists.

Although, as a society, we appear to be learning that the optimal configuration blends (hu)man and machine, the essential tasks of analyzing, interpreting and perhaps most of all, communicating what we learn may soon be done quite competently by the devices and their programs.

This follows the natural progression of technology adaptation which has seen successive waves of expertise-based silos in telephony, electricity and yes, IT, eventually subsumed by technological democratization. JL

Bernard Marr comments in Forbes:

Machine learning algorithms analyze data and identify patterns, interpret data and produce reports and data visualizations.Unless we can communicate (data), they are a waste of  time and money. Natural Language Processing (NLP) can break the barriers to analytics by teaching computers the spoken language of humans – eliminating the barrier between man and machine. The data scientist may unneeded where lay persons can conduct their own analytics at will.

Apr 27, 2016

Are Project Management Group Chat Platforms Really A Solution - Or Just Another Digital Attention Suck?

"Meet the new boss, same as the old boss..." JL

Adrienne LaFrance reports in The Atlantic:

Individual relationships with technology are a reflection of the anxieties and expectations a person brings to the technology—and not the other way around. That Slack encourages round-the-clock attention to work, prompts people to be terse—are extensions of email culture.As it did with e-mail, our love of group chat will  morph into loathing.The obsession with reaching inbox zero is a human feature, not a technological one. Email does not produce guilt.