The Rise of the Computer Therapist

A little less than two years ago (October 2017), I was toying around with the idea of a computer therapist. Not a novel idea, by any means. In fact, one of the earliest artificial intelligence programs was a computer therapist named ELIZA – created in 1964. Impressive for the time. Laughable today.

However, the language models are much further along than they were 55 years ago. Plus, we now have digital humans to fill a presence for these computer therapists. But do people actually want to spill their feelings to a computer program?

Biosensors in the NBA

Human health data is the most valuable data we collect and analyze. It’s the only data I can think of that directly impacts the length of a person’s life. While fitness wearables have helped popularize the mass recording of individual, daily health data. Most monitors miss meaningful data – body temperature, blood pressure, blood glucose, ECG, respiratory rate, etc.

But new advances in biosensors and wearable health monitors are bringing us closer to a complete human health picture. And the possibility of elevating sports is what has me very excited.

Social Media Addiction

Social media platforms have been designed very similarly to casinos. They’re loaded with psychological tricks to keep you around for as long as possible, monetizing your attention all the while. It’s devious, genius, and problematic all at the same time.

Aside from people changing their behaviors one at a time, how can we turn around the nature of this beast on a wide scale? One senator from Missouri has a possible resolution.

Next Billion-Dollar Companies

Not too long ago, Forbes created their annual Next Billion-Dollar Startups list. It’s sort of a prediction list for companies that’ll soon join the nearly 400 unicorns(worth a billion dollars). It’s not a proverbial, blind prediction list. All of these companies have some early traction. They’re a reflection of what’s working now. Not necessarily a guide to “the future” though.

What’s most fascinating to me is that the list points to some interesting niches which I usually overlook. Here they are:

AI in Advertising

Sometimes I wonder why we’ve romanticized the role of advertising but vilified the role of sales. They do the same thing. Both tap into people’s feelings, desires, and memories in order to sell. Look no further than the juxtaposition of Jordan Belfort (The Wolf of Wall Street) and Don Draper (Mad Men). One is portrayed as a slimy salesman while the other is a suave adman.

Naturally, as a future-obsessed technologist, I think about how each job will look in the future. And while the salesman’s job will largely remain intact. The advertiser’s job is slowly being picked apart by AI in advertising.

AI wrote my business plan

AI employees are already fairly prevalent around us. Chatbot customer service reps, content recommendation algorithms, spam filters – they are literally doing the jobs that would take tens of millions of people to do. We don’t get mad at Google for using AI spam filters, for the same reason we don’t get mad at Ford for making engines that do the jobs of millions of horses.

But what about AI writers? Will text generators such as Talk to Transformer and GPT-2 by OpenAI change this AI employee conundrum? That’s why I tested the value of an AI employee in the writer role.

Every AI Creator AI has an AI Critic

Every great creator is contrasted by a critic. Zeppelin had The Rolling StonemagazineKubrick and Spielberg had Siskel and Ebert. But when we look out twenty years – realizing that the next Shakespeare, Pollock, or Spielberg could actually be a piece of software – will creative AI also be faced with critical AI? Are creative algorithms such as GPT-2 at the mercy of the reviews from algorithmic critics like GLTR?

What are Dark Patterns?

There’s a good chance that the Internet has tricked you once. Accidentally buying something you didn’t mean to, agreeing to something that gave away your data, or clicking an ad that looked like native content. These are traps known as Dark Patterns. They are psychological design elements that turn you into a puppet – forcing you to fall exactly into behavior that a website planned for you. From Amazon to Ziggy’s Zigars, every website uses them.

What are Dark Patterns? And how can you avoid them?

7 of the Cleverest Smart Home Gadgets

Amazon, Google, and other Internet of Things companies have been feeding us the idea of the smart home for years. This paradise-like ecosystem that is sustainable, safe, automated, and self-updating. While most of us are waiting for these commercial behemoths to roll out this vision – others are taking it upon themselves to update their house with AI.

Tinkerers and makers across the globe are creating these quirky household AI gadgets that actually have a lot of character. They have that pre-commercial personality.

The Truth About Digital Ownership

Imagine a world where everything outside of family and friendships is commoditized as a part-time, rented experience. Your travel, your property, your entertainment, your wardrobe, it’s all access-based. And the moment you stop paying it disappears. Should we be worried about this access-based economy?

To the generations that know the joy of owning and caring for personal property (no matter how small the ownership), this seems like a nightmare. But to the newcomers that want to freely float around without the weight of ownership tying them down, the access-based economy is beautiful.

AR in Sports

Augmented reality apps have already begun taking over the sports fan experience – Bundesliga’s real-time AR stats app, Gatorade’s Dr. Seuss-meets-soccer Snapchat portal, the Cavaliers turned their scoreboard into an AR game, and the Soccer on Your Tabletop experience are just a few. This is to be expected, given that AR is a clear fit for entertainment. However, it’s the use of AR among players which will have the true impact.

Smart glasses, 3D projectors, and AR apps are all contributing to this new form of AR coaching. And you don’t need to be a pro athlete to receive these insights.

Using Workplace Software in the Family Household

Referring to the old cliche’, I’d say that I have “a lot on my plate”, but that would be a massive understatement. It’s as if my plate just went through an all-you-can-eat buffet and is now toweringly full. And I’m only a twenty-something, workaholic. I couldn’t fathom adding a wife and kids to this plate.

Honestly, it’s no wonder that families are using workplace productivity software to keep their households in order. Wait, what?! Families are using Slack, Trello, Asana, and Jira – software designed for the workplace – to run their households?

The Facts About Neuralink

Yesterday, Elon Musk brought us one step closer to connecting our brains to the internet, announcing the updates to his brain-computer interface company – Neuralink. I remember getting carried away with Neuralink about 16 months ago when I made a video raving over possible use cases.

It’s just one of those inventions that will make your mind wander. Either conjuring up dystopian images of rogue superhumans and mass mind control. Or imagining the positive possibilities of downloading languages directly to one’s brain and giving sight back to the blind.

Microsoft Office’s AI Upgrade

Nobody can deny the excitement of a good competition (especially when you’re on the outside looking in). Uber vs. Lyft, Apple vs. Android, Facebook vs. YouTube vs. Snapchat, Netflix vs. Prime Video vs. Hulu. These rivalries fuel headlines and push innovation forward. Perhaps one of the greatest rivalries of all time, though, is Microsoft vs. Google. Not the battle over search engines. Rather the battle for the office suite.

Just about everyone can remember the time when Microsoft Office was the premier (basically only) choice in office suite products. I, along with millions of my fellow Millennials, learned to type on Microsoft Word and copy the Ken Burns style of presentation on PowerPoint.

Talking with Holograms

The very way in which we share our experiences and upload remnants of our lives online is going to completely change once the metaverse swallows up the Internet. (If you need a quick refresher on the metaverse, check out this video.)

As we transition into the metaverse and change our digital lives, how we interact with the Internet’s info – from social media to news – will get a very nice upgrade from holograms. Yes, the future of digital asynchronous communication (info spread when people aren’t together) is going to be led by holograms.

Boycotting Amazon Prime

In most cases, it’s an achievement for a company to “top a list”. The Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For. The Giving 20. America’s Most Just Companies. All great lists to top. However, one list you don’t want to top: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s “Dirty Dozen” Employers list. It’s a list that highlights companies that put workers and communities at risk due to unsafe practices… of which Amazon is a consecutive champion.

Miraculously, Amazon has endured a decade of exposes’ on the oppressive working conditions at their warehouses.

The Next Apple Empire

Apple’s latest keynote ushered in the era of Apple as a Services Company. The introduction of Apple News+, Apple TV+, Apple Card, and Apple Arcade on top of the already existing Apple Music, iCloud, and Apple Care. But the service everyone seems to be short-changing as the true dark horse of Apple services is Apple Business Chat.

Introduced in 2017 to a select number of retailers, Apple Business Chat opened up the coveted iMessage platform to retailers (and their developers) to create personalized messaging experiences for their customers. Some of the first retailers involved were: The Home Depot, Lowe’s, Newegg, and 1-800-Flowers.

Conceptualizing CRISPR Gene-Editing Technology

In November of 2018, the scientist He Jiankui revealed that he birthed healthy twins which had been genetically engineered without the CCR5 gene – hopefully rendering the offspring resistant to HIV, smallpox, and cholera. Immediately, there was a global uproar in the science community which mounted fear mongering proclamations in mass media that the era of designer babies was among us. Seven months later, a Russian biologist is looking for approval of a similar experiment.

The Declaration of Digital Independence

The tyrannical powers above us have dipped their greedy fingers into our wallets, profited from us, and given us little in return. They’ve overpromised a better life and given us no voice in the matters which control our future. It’s time for a revolution.

If you think this is an account from 243 years ago, describing the feelings which would precipitate into the fight for American freedom, then you are sadly mistaken.

What is Cardiac Surveillance?

Did you know that your heart is one-of-a-kind? Not metaphorically, speaking. Literally, your heartbeat (cardiac signature) is as unique to you as your fingerprint. While cardiac signatures are most commonly used to detect fatal heart conditions (the Apple Watch’s EKG monitor is already saving people’s lives), your heartbeat will soon be used to identify who you are.

And just like the research in all other areas of biometrics (fingerprints, irises, palm prints, faces, gait, DNA, typing rhythm, and voice), cardiac signatures will fall into the identification purgatory of security and surveillance.