Page 1

p .8 In tervi e w w it h MAR TIN F O RD : Author a n d En trepren eu r

p .2 2 B O T - O MA T I O N: T h e r i s e o f m a c h ines o n s o ci al m e d i a

p. 4 4 AUT O MAT E D LO VE : Swiping left on meaningful r e lation s h ips

p. 5 7 Interview with ANDRE IGUODALA: NBA player

Published for students by students.

the automated world


EDITOR remember the process of getting a cab as a middle-schooler in Geneva after a birthday party at a friend’s house. I would call the number of Taxi Genève that I jotted down on a post-it, wait on the line for an operator to pick up the phone and ask for my address, then be put on hold before the taxi was confirmed. After around 20 minutes, I would go wait outside for the cab to eventually roll into the driveway. Once the trip through a seemingly arbitrary route was over, I would have to pull out my purse and fumble around with coins and bills. Now, despite months of conflicts with the law, Ubers flood the city. Within seconds, I am connected to a driver, an optimal path, and a fixed fare that is deducted from my account. When I think of how automation has impacted my life, I think of the demise of Taxi Genève and what it represents. On the one hand, it is a wonderful testament to the power of technology in optimizing our lives and making everyday tasks seamless. On the other hand, it is an ominous reminder of the threat of robots invading the workforce. These machines are not only threatening the jobs of the Taxi Genève operators, but those of our lawyers, doctors, and ironically, computer programmers. This issue of Business Today explores the Automated World, which impacts all demographics, particularly college students entering the changing workforce. The Automated World is one which is governed by the laws of statistics, mathematical modeling, machine learning and artificial intelligence. It is a world where clouds are full of information and data pertaining to each and every one of us. As new apps continuously enter the marketplace and redesign our social structures, like Snapchat or Tinder, our privacy laws that have existed for years struggle to keep up. With Twitter bots programmed to make information viral, we do not even know if news is real or fake. This issue discusses a range of ethical questions and concerns: what happens when love becomes automated? To whom does data belong? How will virtual reality impact healthcare? While all of these questions are discussed, none of them have answers, and our writers will certainly be tempted to alter their opinions as technology keeps advancing. This issue also looks at industries whose relationships with automation are often overlooked. As millennials are increasingly inflicted with “mall malaise” and choose to shop online, what will happen with all of our existing establishments? In what ways have sport analytics affected NBA player Andre Iguodala? When reading this issue, readers will naturally feel worried about the uncertainty that surrounds automation. When asked for advice regarding college students entering the workforce, our interviewees, all leaders in their fields with years of experience, had differing opinions. There is no safe option or path for an ambitious college graduate to follow. While you certainly should not rush to go change majors or future goals, I urge you to think about how automation might impact the field you hope to enter, and what competitive edge you can bring to the table that no robot could parallel (at least in the next few decades). No one can halt the rise of robotics, but the students who will best ride the wave of automation are those who acknowledge its risks but identify its benefits, aiming to stay up-to-date with technological advances. I would also like to encourage readers to embrace the shifting landscape of the world around us. Even with the development of artificial intelligence, robots will not be governing the world any time soon. Rather, we are in an exciting and dynamic time where social, political and economic systems are susceptible to major restructuring which could potentially be revolutionary. With the uncertainty that lies ahead of us, I look forward to reading through this magazine in thirty years and seeing how well a group of college students was able to gauge the changes that will arise from the Automated World.




CONTRIBUTORS Business Today is America’s largest student-run publication. Published at Princeton University, the magazine is the most widely distributed student publication in North America and has extensive online readership at our website, Business Today is dedicated to presenting the opinions of students and business leaders. By examining controversial issues facing our world and exploring life after college, we hope to help readers prepare for their futures. The magazine has been published by Princeton University undergraduates since 1968. COLLEEN KANG President JAMIE DOWNEY director of strategy PETER HOLT director of oPerations VICTOIRE HAYEK editor-in-chief of Magazine SOPHIE HELMERS editor-in-chief of online Journal NICOLE ZIKOVIC international conference director CAROLINE MARSHALL WoMen in Business conference director SWANEE GOLDEN director of seMinar series JARRED FELIX director of MeMbershiP & outreach AdELLE dIMITUI director of Web,tech & analytics ARIA WONG director of design WAQARUL ISLAM director of investMents PAUL KIgAWA director of finance & corPorate contacts YIJIA LIAng director of executive relations

Business Today Princeton University 48 University Place Princeton, NJ 08540 609.258.1111 Business Today is a publication of the Foundation for Student Communication, Inc.. FSC, a 501(c) (3) non-profit foundation, is run entirely by students for students at Princeton University. In addition to the magazine, FSC sponsors International and Regional Conferences held across the country that bring together students and executives to discuss the future of business. For more information, visit our website,

Photo by Vincent Po






Cover design by Aria Wong





BT BITS: Unlikely Paths to Success pg.6


An Interview with MARTIN FORD Author & Entrepreneur pg.8 The Age of FAKE NEWS Evaluating its impact through social media & our responsibility against it pg.11 HACKED From iCloud leaks to exposed emails: the power of hackers and the vulnerability of personal information pg.14


An Interview with ROMAN YAMPOLSKIY Computer Scientist pg.26

REPLACED Television robots who rise and the corporations that control them pg.18 BOT-OMATION The rise of machines on social media pg.22

AUTOMATED LOVE Swiping left on meaningful relationships pg.44


Humans Need Not APPLY Should robots be taxed to protect the human workforce? pg.29 PILOTLESS PLANES Planes will become selfdriving as automation moves to the air pg.32

An Interview with

ANDRE IGUODALA NBA Player Golden State Warriors

An Interview with TODD GOLUB Founding Member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard pg.36 Wired WEED A look into the online market for marijuana pg.40 Is Your house SMART? The rise of automation in our homes pg.50 Visualizing HEALTH Using virtual reality to help us better understand and cure diseases pg.54

An Interview with JOANNA BRYSON AI Scientist pg.66




#HIRED How to navigate the online job market pg.69 The Future of SHOPPING MALLS How will traditional malls survive the threat of online shopping? pg.72 HANDMADE in the Age of Technology Automated machines transforming the fashion industry pg.75

FOOD WITHOUT FARMERS BeyondMeat is creating veggie-burgers that bleed pg.62 BUSINESS TODAY SPRING 2017



Unlikely Paths to Success By Betty Liu

As spring lies just around the corner, waves of established firms are coming to campuses to begin their early recruiting efforts. With heightening enthusiasm for these early initiative programs and preinternship opportunities, it is easy to get sucked into believing that there is only one path to your dream job. However, success isn’t always so straightforward. Here are a few of today’s most prominent leaders in business who got off to an unlikely start.




Kat Cole, President of Focus Brands and COO of its subsidiary brand Cinnabon, never expected to be a leading woman in business by age 32. When she was in college, studying engineering at the University of North Florida, she began working as a waitress part time at Hooters. By the end of her first year, she had covered nearly every position from cook to manager. She continued to seek new opportunities within the company as the business expanded. She began playing a vital role in training new employees and managing new locations, and soon was traveling all over the world to open new restaurants. While serving as Vice President of the company, she oversaw the growth of Hooters from approximately 100 locations with $300 million in revenue to 500 locations in 33 countries with $1 billion in revenue.

In 1977, Jerry Greenfield had just unsuccessfully applied to medical school; Ben Cohen was stuck cycling through various jobs in menial labor. The two were friends in high school, and they decided to enter the food industry together. Initially, the pair aimed to start a bagel company, but the cost of equipment made the project infeasible. So they shifted their attention to ice cream. After taking a five dollar correspondence course in ice-cream making at Penn State – the cost of which they split – they opened their first ice cream shop in a renovated gas station in Burlington, Vermont. However, Cohen suffered from anosmia (resulting in the loss of smell and partial loss of taste) and struggled to distinguish flavors. To compensate for this impairment, he added large chunks of ingredients to their ice cream, leading to the famous Ben & Jerry’s texture. Their ice cream shop became extremely popular and today, the company has over 500 franchises and generates over $132 million in annual revenue.




When Kavita Shukla was only 12 years old, she swallowed some unsafe tap water while visiting her grandmother in India. Though she expected to be ill for a few days after the incident, a cup of her grandmother’s homebrewed tea successfully warded away the illness. After this remarkable occurrence, Shukla spent several years conducting experiments and found that the spices in her grandmother’s tea had anti-microbial properties. She came up with the idea of infusing the key spices into paper that would keep food fresh. Her product, FreshPaper, is now sold in groceries nationwide and in more than 35 countries. Shukla herself has been featured in Forbes 30 Under 30 for her efforts and continues to focus on growing her company.

When Pete Cashmore was recovering from an appendectomy at age 13, he discovered his passion for a new emerging medium: blogs. In order to pass the time, he honed his writing skills by penning articles and submitting them to well-known online publications. As he became familiar with the digital media landscape, he saw a lack of new sources dedicated to the “Connected Generation,” those who have grown up using the internet for entertainment and news. In 2005, Cashmore launched Mashable from his parents’ house in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. He envisioned it as a news source that covers the latest tech advancements and trends in the start-up world. With few resources at first, Cashmore had to produce content himself, often authoring over 10 articles a day. But Mashable has come to become an Internet giant, with 19 million social media followers and logs 35 million unique visitors each month.

Before entrepreneurship, Christina Wallace found success in the performing arts. As an undergraduate, she majored in Mathematics and Theater Studies at Emory University, and served as a theater director and arts administrator at the Metropolitan Opera. After graduating Harvard Business School, she created her own start-up, Quincy Apparel, an e-commerce site that offered semi-custom clothes for young women. Within two years, the company went under. Undeterred, Wallace founded BridgeUp:STEM, an education start-up inside the American Museum of Natural History that teaches computer science to inspire young children. Today, she works as a co-host for a Forbes podcast, The Limit Does Not Exist, which focuses on the intersection between STEM and creativity, and serves as the Vice President at the venture capital firm Bionic Solution.




Martin Ford is a futurist and the author of two books: The New York Times Bestselling Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future (winner of the 2015 Financial Times/McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award) and The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future, as well as the founder of a Silicon Valley-based software development firm. He has over 25 years experience in the fields of computer design and software development. He holds a computer engineering degree from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and a graduate business degree from the University of California, Los Angeles. He has written about future technology and its implications for publications including The New York Times, Fortune, Forbes, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Harvard Business Review, The Guardian and The Financial Times. He has also appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NPR, CNBC, CNN, MSNBC and PBS. Martin is a frequent keynote speaker on the subject of accelerating progress in robotics and artificial intelligence—and what these advances mean for the economy, job market and society of the future.


By Luca Rade Business Today: First of all I wanted to start with the main themes of your work, particularly your book Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future. You talk about how widespread automation will be, and that it’s not necessarily clear that there will be replacement jobs as there were for the Industrial Revolution. Could you elaborate on why you think that? Martin Ford: Artificial Intelligence and robotics are going to be general-purpose technologies, which means that they’re essentially going to be everywhere, they’re going to invade everything. A lot of people have compared these technologies to electricity:you would never ask what industries are most impacted by electricity since everything depends on it. Past technological revolutions have caused disruption within industries, such as agriculture in the Industrial Revolution, but they didn’t cause systemic unemployment throughout the whole economy because people were able to move to other sectors; they moved to factories first, and later on, they moved to the service sector. But with artificial intelligence, everything is going to get hit simultaneously across the board. Clearly there are going to be new things, but what is going to come up that could create jobs for tens of millions of people? Something on that scale is really quite hard to imagine. BT: The second issue you focus on is that new approaches are necessary to deal with these problems, that we can’t reuse old tools. Could you elaborate on that? Ford: The only tool that we have historically to adapt to these changes is education. You retrain workers, you send more people to college, you increase the education level of people so that they can hopefully move up the skills ladder and do more elaborate work. And that worked really well when automation was primarily about mechanization? Education shifted people away from doing manual labor to doing more cognitive tasks. But now, machines are moving into those

cognitive areas. There are plenty of examples that I give in my book, and you can read about it in the news every day: journalists, lawyers and radiologists; these are obviously jobs that you need a college degree for. And yet, they’re being threatened. So, my whole thesis is that education won’t be enough. There will likely be an income distribution problem; a lot of people will be left without marketable skills. So, we have to figure out something else, and that’s why I talk about basic income as a viable alternative. BT: Do you think that universal based

“Some jobs done by people with more education may actually be more susceptible than lowwage jobs done by people with almost no education.” income is an efficient primary policy or are there also other major policy initiatives that we need to implement? Ford: I think that it can be the basis for building a sustainable future. The most important problem you’ve got to solve is the income distribution problem. People need an income so they can survive economically, and they also need an income so they can spend money and help drive the economy. One can argue that we already see some of that around the world: there are a lot of developed countries already that have got very low growth rates. You’ve got to get income into the hands of the people at the middle and the bottom of the income distribution, or it’s going to be harder and harder

to really see the kind of growth that we’d like to see. I think a basic income is one good step towards that, although it’s currently not yet politically acceptable. There are some experiments being conducted in New Zealand, in the Netherlands, even here in Silicon Valley, where Y Combinator is privately funding an experiment. That’s the point we’re at right now, where it’s being tried on a small scale to gather data. The other thing I’ve argued in the book is that I think we could have a basic income with incentives built into it. I think we should have some minimal level that everyone should get no matter what, but we should maybe pay people a little more if they do some basic important things, for example complete their education. Other possibilities include part-time community service or environmental work. That would also help solve the problem of what people are doing with their time if they’re working less. The idea hasn’t gotten a lot of traction yet; there are what you would call basic income purists, who absolutely think it should be unconditional... it’s almost like a religion to them. I think that’s a mistake - we should think of ways to improve on that idea, to make it not just better in terms of the way it functions, but also politically more acceptable to people who are more conservative. BT: Your main focus is automation from AI and robotics. Do you think there are any other emerging technologies that will also play an equally disruptive role? Ford: Well, I think a lot about virtual reality. Eventually people will be able to enter environments that approach realism. That could be a technological drug; people might drop out of their ordinary lives. And, of course, that can also tie into inequality - as people begin to lose faith in the idea that they could have a great future in the real world, and at the same time there’s this alternative, where you can enter this virtual world and very cheaply be anything and do anything you want. Inequality and virtual reality could go hand to hand and create a real problem.



Unfortunately, a basic income could enable that even more, so that’s another aspect to be cognizant of. BT: How did you go from a computer engineering undergraduate degree to where you are now, a best-selling author on the future of automation? Ford: I studied computer engineering and worked in engineering for four years, and I enjoyed that, but I wanted to do something broader, so I went back and got an MBA at UCLA. I ended up doing a finance job in a high tech company, which was very boring. The company was going downhill, so I was laid off after 6 months, and decided I wasn’t going back to look for a job. I started a small software company. Even in that small business I began to see the impact of technology. I came to the conclusion that this would eventually scale across everything. That’s what got me thinking about the issue and led me to write my first book back in 2009, “The Lights in The Tunnel”. The book did well enough over a five-year period that it led to the opportunity to write the second book, which was more of a real book, and that got a lot more exposure. It wasn’t an easy process. When I uploaded that first book on Amazon, no one knew about it. I sold five copies in the first month. I had to do a lot of marketing over several years before the book began to get some attention. There were articles in the press that mentioned it, and it began to sell better, and that eventually got to a point where I leveraged that into developing a proposal for the second book. BT: What’s most exciting about it all for you? What gets you up in the morning? Ford: AI has tremendous potential, and we see some of that already. One of the areas that everyone talks about is health care. A lot of things that are important, in terms of medical diagnosis, we can migrate into an AI system. This could lead to another class of professionals: people that have only a fouryear college degree could work as the front end of an AI system and do a lot of what


doctors do today. This won’t include everything, but tasks such as managing chronic diseases can become a lot more affordable and less of a burden on our healthcare system. In the future, no matter what doctor you go to, it will be like you’re going to the very best doctor in terms of that person’s ability to make a diagnosis and design a treatment plan because they’ll have access to these intelligent tools. BT: How should undergraduates choose careers given that most jobs will be automated? Should we all become programmers now? Ford: First off, definitely don’t all become programmers, because programming is one of the things on the list that can be automated. There’s nothing wrong with being a software engineer, if that’s something you want to do, but you’d better be good at it and work at a very high level. You want to be one of the best people. Just having average routine skills in software or programming is not going to be a defense. That’s probably one of the biggest misconceptions that people have - that if you learn to program a computer, you have nothing to worry about. That’s just not going to be true at all. In general - and this is kind of a stock answer, almost a cliché - the areas where you’re going be safest are number one, if you’re doing something creative, if you’re generating or building something new. This might be in science, it might be in engineering, it might be in the arts; as long as it’s coming up with something that didn’t exist before. Having said that, though, there definitely is research into the field of computing creativity. There are algorithms that have developed original symphonies and painted original works of art, so you can never say never. The other areas that are really important are ones that involve deep interactions or relationships with people, and that might be a caring-type role, like a nurse or a doctor, or in the business world, it might be the kind of role where you build deep relationships with clients. And again, in those areas too,

the technology is progressing, I know there’s already work on chatbots that can do basic counseling. So again you can never say never, but I think that’s going to be relatively safe in the future. And then the third area is fields that require mobility and dexterity. Things like electricians and plumbers and auto mechanics, it’s really hard to build a robot that can do those things. The problem in general for college graduates is they want knowledge jobs, information jobs, the kind of jobs where you are sitting in front of a computer, manipulating information. And if you’re doing that, in a relatively routine way, that’s going to be highly susceptible to automation. So, this is one of the paradoxes. Some jobs done by people with more education may actually be more susceptible than low-wage jobs done by people with almost no education. The best advice I could give to anyone in college is: could another person watch you work and figure out how to do your job, or could another person study everything that you’ve done in the past and figure out how to do your job? If so, that job is probably susceptible to automation. So, don’t make a big investment in training to do that job, make another choice. BT: To take it a step further, for someone who would want to be involved with directly helping realize the potential of AI and avoiding its negative impacts, what would be your advice? Ford: There are a number of fields that are going to intercept with that, if you’re really technical. If you are, then, by all means, study artificial intelligence and be one of the people driving this. Other fields can also have an impact, though. There’s a lot of work for economists to work on the details of how we respond to this, looking at concepts like basic income. So, you can definitely have a career in economics and be thinking about these issues. I think there’s quite a range of other professions through which one can have an impact. ■


fake news Evaluating its impact through social media & our responsibility against it By Audrey Ou



64% of people believed this FAKE headline to be accurate “Pope Francis Shocks World, Endorses Donald Trump for President, Releases Statement”

ou are scrolling down your Facebook newsfeed and you come across something titled “Breaking News:…”. Maybe your high school teacher posted it. Maybe a friend of a friend did. Either way you don’t really think about it. You read the headline and are shocked. Quickly, you click on the link. It takes you to a news site that you have never seen before. It is only when you start reading the text when you start to think that this may be too shocking to be true. There are some bits and pieces that just don’t seem to add up. You scroll back to Facebook and find that a few other people have commented on the post – and surprisingly, they all seem to believe it. You, my friend, have just engaged with ‘Fake News’. In the past year or so, the concept of ‘Fake News’ has garnered a significant amount of attention, partly due to President Trump’s continuous attacks on traditional media and recent upheaval within political press. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s camps have made claims about how ‘Fake News’ affected the 2016 presidential election. Trump, however, goes a step further by voicing his beliefs that different legacy news sites are in fact non-credible, untrustworthy press. It is yet to be seen if his comments will affect the future of these news sites, but what is for certain is that assumed “credible” sources will come under greater scrutiny. This is a nerve-wracking situation, especially in the United States, where the power and goodness of democracy have always been heavily associated with the freedom of press. On the other hand, social media has also played an increasingly important role in the generation of fake news. Even as traditional media, such as cable stations and newspapers, are drawing record audiences, according to Forbes Magazine , the number of fulltime daily journalists has dropped to nearly half of what it was in 2000 . A byproduct of of social media’s impact that is facilitating the rise of fake news is that it is changing the barriers of journalism. Whereas in the past


only established journalists working at reputable organizations would be able to reach a wide audience, any Twitter handle or Instagram account can now generate the same amount of buzz. There are two primary categories of fake news. The first utilizes sources that are deliberately publishing incorrect or unproven information, while the second passes opinionated judgments as fact. These two categories are often interlinked, as readers who have read incorrect information may base their judgments on what they have read. So then, how does fake news relate to the financial market? Indeed, it can be said that the market is both driven by and based on opinion. Everyone thinks differently, and what one may deem to be a risk may seem like an excellent opportunity for another., All capable investors, however, do their homework before making any decisions regarding their investments. They first have to understand the company’s business. They also have to identify strengths and weaknesses based on a company’s past data. Most importantly, they have to be constantly looking at the state of the specific market. The bottom line is that they have to be able to easily access fast, reliable information that they know they can trust. Past examples show that this bottom line has been broken due to Fake News. In 2013, a Chinese reporter named Chen Yongzhou was arrested for accepting bribes from a competitor to the construction company Zoomlion. The Guardian reports that Chen, who was working for the New Express newspapers, wrote more than 10 news stories with false information regarding Zoomlion’s abnormal sales practices and wrongful handling of state assets. State broadcaster China Central Television (known as CCTV) aired footage of a handcuffed Chen who admitted to his wrongdoing, citing greed as his motivation for accepting the bribes. New Express newspapers later admitted to not carefully reviewing the articles before publishing. However, the effects of these articles couldn’t

“FBI Agent Suspected in Hilary Email Leaks Found Dead in Apparent MurderSuicide”

72% of people believed this FAKE headline to be accurate 12 SPRING 2017 BUSINESS TODAY

73% of people believed this REAL headline to be accurate “Trump: ‘I will Protect Our LGBTQ Citizens’” Source: Ipsos MORI, Buzzfeed News

be erased – they ultimately resulted in widespread criticism of the company, and in the same period during which the articles were published, Zoomlion’s stock price fell around 26.9% on the Hong Kong stock exchange. Also in 2013, according to Forbes Magazine, “130 billion in stock value was wiped out in a matter of minutes following an AP tweet about a supposing explosion that injured the then President Barack Obama.” These are just a few of the many examples of how fake news has ultimately affected the financial world. Unfortunately, as social media becomes increasingly prevalent, it is likely that these kind of situations will become more common. Let’s look at the impact of a mere tweet. Last year, a man named Eric Tucker passed by downtown Austin and tweeted a series of photos of a group of large buses with a caption that stated that paid protestors were being bused to demonstrations against then President-elect Donald J. Trump. His tweet was posted to the Reddit community, and soon linked to Free Republic, a conservative discussion forum, and multiple Facebook pages. Journalists began calling. Ultimately, according to the LA Times the post was shared at least 16,000 times on Twitter and more than 350,000 times on Facebook. Even Trump personally tweeted about it. Unfortunately, however, Tucker was wrong – the buses were hired by a company named Tableau Software which was holding a conference. Eric Tucker’s story is both mystifying and frightening : social media has enabled even a simple tweet from a man with fewer than 100 followers to go viral, and to reach the attention of legitimate journalists. It is uncertain how many articles that haven’t been factually checked can have this kind of effect. If this ended up being an attack on a particular financial market, the results would be unimaginable. It also must be said that investors don’t tend to rely on social media as legitimate news. The Forbes article “Can Fake News Impact the Stock Market?”notes that most

business people rely on only Bloomberg, Reuters, and Financial Times as trustworthy sources. Because of that, at the stock level, the effect of fake news appears to have been minimal thus far. This is not to say that people are not worried. Indeed, many individuals, including those working for tech giants such as Facebook and Google have been trying to combat Fake News in different ways. At first, Facebook had a team of professional journalists who would curate the “trending” news box that appears next to the Facebook newsfeed. However, they struggled with maintaining objectivity as the team appeared to routinely suppress trending stories that were more conservative. After this bias was discovered, Facebook terminated the entire team and began using ‘detection algorithms’ to decipher the reliability of particular pieces of content. This method also proved faulty, as it placed “user engagement” as the first priority in determining whether the piece of information was truthful. This caused dramatic articles that drew attention to have high “engagement” to be judged as accurate, even though the most dramatic stories were often less accurate. More developments and improvements have been suggested, with algorithms rating user credibility scores potentially harkening a return to the fact checking era of “professional” journalism. Even with the development of better algorithms, this doesn’t mean that we should be any less vigilant when it comes to being aware of Fake News. Self-monitoring is the first step to resisting fake news. Content both true and false will continue live amongst each other in the sphere of media, so we must learn to look at news differently and not blindly believe everything that we read. We need to learn to fact check from different sources, evaluate the author’s background and past work, and not base our opinions solely off articles posted by friends on our Facebook feed. Remember that you are the first line of defense to stopping Fake News. ■

62% of U.S. adults get news on a social media platform

Source: Pew Research Center

“Donald Trump Says He’d ‘Absolutely’ Require Muslims to Register”

80% of people believed this REAL headline to be accurate BUSINESS TODAY SPRING 2017




Online Vulnerability in an Automated World by Andrew Scott



AUG 2014 iCloud A group of hackers took advantage of a weakness in the iCloud API releasing three waves of nearly 500 private picture of celebrities, many including nudity.

SEPT 2014 iCloud The final wave of photos were released from the iCloud hack one month earlier. Some of the victims include Kate Upton, Jennifer Lawrence, and Kaley Cuoco.

OCT 2014 SWIFT SWIFT, a communication network responsible for connecting world banks, was hit by a hacking group that yielded them 113 million dollars.

AUG 2016 JP Morgan Chase A hack on JP Morgan exposed the private accounts from 76 million households and 7 million small businesses, yielding the information of millions of credit card users, social security info and addresses.


nd then it happened- the prayers of teen boys and seedy paparazzi answered in one fell swoop: hundreds of celeb-nudes were released after a massive hack of Apple’s iCloud on August 31, 2014. With subsequent groups of photos being released on September 26 of the same year, the total number of celebrities affected numbered nearly 500 individuals. Targeted figures included Hollywood celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, and other actors, actresses, and athletes. Yet, arguably, files even more personal to these celebrities were released along with the nudes: physical addresses, texts, call logs, and basically any other data backed up on the cloud was released along with the photos. So, after the tabloids and celebrity news shows were done feeding off the photos for ridicule and entertainment, the grim reality soon set in. These celebrities, who are mere mortals, trusted iCloud as much as the millions of other Americans who use Apple’s cloud backup service. The reality of the hack underlined two major concerns concerning our digital lives: the dire need for a massive revamp of the digital security infrastructure currently in place, and the extent to which individuals feel comfortable keeping deeply personal information on third party servers. Amazon web services, DropBox, iCloud- these are just a few of the third party data hosting services widely used by the public today. What complicates these matters even further is the legislature surrounding the storage and access of these servers. Amazon web services, for example, is a US based company whose servers are physically located in Ireland. As a result, the law surrounding the access and transmission of that data is governed by the EU, instead of the USA. What this means for the everyday consumer is a rather unclear understanding of the laws in place to manage and protect one’s private data. In fact, after some probing about digital security standards for these third party servers, there is no clear-cut legislature defining how much security should be in place for these service providers. What the law, in the US at least, assures is that third party data hosting services must adhere to a baseline for security, in short requiring some form of protection on data that is not very well defined. Yet, what most laws concerning privacy seek to achieve is establish the threat of litigation upon anyone attempting to hack into servers. This is a rather unsettling fact, as most people would


prefer having greater security to avoid having their data breached to begin with, rather than seeking justice upon the thief after the fact. Upon reviewing the legal guidelines surrounding the security of private data, there are only rough and vague government regulations laid out in a 15 year old piece of legislation, the FISMA (Federal Information Security Management Act.) In order to comply with FISMA, there is a 9 step process: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.

Categorize the information to be protected. Select minimum baseline controls. Refine controls using a risk assessment procedure. Document the controls in the system security plan. Implement security controls in appropriate information systems. Assess the effectiveness of the security controls once they have been implemented. Determine agency-level risk to the mission or business case. Authorize the information system for processing. Monitor the security controls on a continuous basis

These steps are outlined by the NIST, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which is a part of the US Commerce Department. Although FISMA is 15 years old, the NIST releases periodically a “Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity,” the latest of which was released January 10, 2017. This booklet outlines the necessary steps a company should take to ensure the protection of its data, in a simple 5-step process. This latest 5-step process states: 1. 2. 3.

4. 5.

Describe their current cybersecurity posture. Describe their target state for cybersecurity. Identify and prioritize opportunities for improvement within the context of a 172 continuous and repeatable process. Assess progress toward the target state. Communicate among internal and external stakeholders about cybersecurity risk.

Although this process seems easy enough to understand, finding exact laws and procedures outlining specific security measures and protocols to be followed is nearly impossible. More-so, these convoluted reports are difficult to understand for the everyday consumer. The consumer is thus left with a vague understanding of the means and measures put in place to protect private data, from banking information, identity information, etc. The consumer then has to make a crucial decision with limited information, akin to forcing consumers to judge a book solely by its cover. While some data services may appear better than others, what truly matters is hidden from plain sight, allowing the data hosting service to market themselves with limited information. They can claim “great security,” but with no clear baseline of what that means, the consumer can be mislead and make a decision that he later regrets. This brings up a new question: if all this private data is seemingly somewhat vulnerable, why do people keep placing more and more of their private lives into the hands of third party data hosts? Why do we feel the need to digitalize every private aspect of our lives? Ultimately, there is no easy answer to this question. In short, we are digitizing our lives because “that is what we do.” Online banking, tax-filing, business management, cloud photo storage- these are all examples of the transition from a paper world into a digital one. The benefits are easily seen; everything from data processing to archiving is made far easier with the aid of computers. And it isn’t just a generational phenomenon. According to Pew research, 81% of American households used online banking in 2015. With more and more individuals banking online in the US and abroad, online banking presents itself as a massive target for hackers. In August of 2016, SWIFT, a messaging network that “connects the world’s banks,” was hit by a hacking group that yielded them 113 million dollars. In October of 2014, JP Morgan Chase was hacked, compromising the accounts of 76 million households and 7 million small businesses, yielding the information of millions of credit card users, and other private information like social security info and addresses. The increased use of digital resources for the transmission of private and secret information was also brought to explosive debate during the 2016 presidential campaign. The hack of the Clinton email server left a deep impact on the election, and was

a source of conflict between Trump and Clinton for months, leading into November. What this hack proved wasn’t that email servers are vulnerable; more terrifyingly, is that hackers could very well shape the political outcomes of a whole nation from anywhere in the world. The very core of the American constitution is seemingly coming under attack as the digitization of both campaigns and the voting process opens them up to external threats. Undeniably, there seems to be an increased ease that comes with storing more and more of our personal information online. The ability to do everything that keeps a household running from a single computer is a hallmark of the 21st century, but as utopian as this idea may be, a more sinister reality lies within it. The persistent threat of hackers has kept data storage companies, banks, online retailers, and politicians on high alert, as IT specialists work to constantly adapt to new threats posed by hackers. It is a digital arms race, with dire consequences for the loser. This new field is very much a construction of the last 20 years, a product of generation Y’s desire to keep absolutely everything online. The interconnectedness of our lives to the digital world has greatly increased general efficiency, but has created a massive amount of vulnerability for the average American. The easy solution would be to simply “unplug” ourselves from this world, to revert back to the older ways before the computer dominated every aspect of our day to day lives. However, this “unplugging” process is quite simply impossible for most of us. The computer and the internet are so ardently integrated into the daily lives of every individual that it would be next to impossible to simply remove it all out of our lives. We need computer and data hosting services to keep the status quo operating smoothly, but if we are to accept this status quo, there has to be a much larger push by the American consumer to see that his or her private data is kept locked and secured by more salient legislature. “Data” is a new commodity of this century, yet as more and more of it is produced, the more valuable it gets. Digital threats lie everywhere, eager to get their hands on the personal information of those unwary of these dangers. Locks and barriers keep physical intruders out of our homes, and now it is time for us to invest in as stringent a digital security force as we do for our homes. ■

“Data is a new commodity of this century, yet as more and more of it is produced, the more valuable it gets.”




REPLACED: Television Robots who Rise and the Corporations that Control Them

by Bhaamati Borkhetaria

cience fiction is often considered a fringe genre, yet it permeates mainstream media in the form of books, movies, or television shows. It often manifests through some deep concern that the viewers have in the given time period, and yet it is through this concern that such stories enjoy their popularity. The Twilight Zone, The X-File, Star Trek are all shows that have been subsumed into the popular imagination while also retaining their quality as shows belonging to a particular audience interested in exploring different realities that reflect our world and what it could become. In the past decade, however, science fiction hasn’t been the primary genre of choice for mainstream viewers/ consumers. Fantasy and horror have dominated with genre-based shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Charmed taking center stage. Only in the past couple of years has science fiction received widespread attention . Movies like Ex Machina, Avatar, and Interstellar have enjoyed immense popularity among diverse audiences. Books also reflected this shift near 2010- take for example the young adult genre which is now characterized by books like the Hunger Games, Divergent, Matched, and many more. Perhaps the most recent shift, however, can be seen in recent network television . If you look up the shows that have received an uptick in popularityWestworld, Stranger Things, Mr. Robot, Black Mirror, Humans, The OA – they are all deeply rooted in the science fiction genre. It is interesting to note that after Donald Trump became president, books like 1984 by George Orwell and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood have experienced a resurgence in popularity. It is not hard to figure out why. People are anxious about


the reality that we now occupy- a reality in which our president can present “alternate facts,” or “doublethink” if you will. When people go out to buy and read these dystopian, science fiction tales they are striving to work through the fears that they have about this current moment in time. In a similar vein, it is important to understand why science fiction television shows are also experiencing a resurgence in the mainstream. What deep anxieties do these television shows reveal about our current culture? The advent of the “automated world” is not a new technological bent: even in the past few decades, machines have been a key part of the military-industrial complex as well as of the commercial sphere. Things like Siri and Alexa are making their way into our homes while better robots are being built to make life easier. What is fascinating is the fact that the recent shows do not focus on fear of the technology itself. Although past shows such as the Terminator series depict battles between humans and robots, modern shows center upon the theme of exploiting often humanoid robots for the betterment of mankind. Producers encourage their audiences to sympathize with the robots. Take Westworld for example, a show that centers on humanoid robots who exist in a Disneyworld-esque theme park to entertain guests. This show pays particular attention to human bodies: how they can become dismembered, how they can be abused, how they can be fixed, and how the body is the sum of its parts. The body becomes a commercial entity to be sold, broken, and fixed. The anxiety here concerns the commercialization of human beings. There is a profound fear that the human body can enter into the realm of




‘“People don’t just want to be served. They want to be loved. Now imagine a machine that can think and feel, but still be controlled like a regular [robot].”’ Photo Copyright: Humans

economics and be boiled down to its output value. Should robots actually be created in the human image and become capable of the same output value as a human, there is the risk of humans becoming useless to the economic market. This fear of robots rendering humans economically useless battles with the deeprooted anxiety of creating consciousness in a human creation. This apprehension is evidenced in Humans, a British television show, which also concerns the ethical dilemmas involved in creating robots that emulate humans. Humans have always been fascinated by the act of creation, whether it be the creation of fire or of more complicated technologies. For some strange reason, we like to project humanness onto inanimate objects and therefore we’ve tried to create robots that are more and more like us. We want robots to do everything that we can do while still being subservient. There is a particular moment in Humans where a character reveals this very desire, saying that “People don’t just want to be served. They want to be loved.” Of course, this does not reflect every human’s desire, but it seems like a log-


ical progression that artificial intelligence may take. There seems to be an inevitability when it comes to the rise of robots. This inevitability has ceased to be the consequence of conspiratorial speculation. Numerous figures in the sphere have predicted that the “singularity” will be reached in our own lifetime. Singularity, as defined by the renowned computer scientist and mathematician, John von Neumann, is the point at which “technological progress will become incomprehensibly rapid and complicated.” Essentially, it is the point at which robots will be able to self-improve with no human input required. Let’s take this a step further and say that the public’s true fear is the commercialization of human consciousness. Westworld, like most science fiction stories, shows tension between the scientists who created the AI and the businessman who wants to make money off of the robots. Should robots achieve superhuman intelligence, humans would become unable to fight against or compete with them. But this presumably has not happened yet. Westworld shows a potential method that this could happen should

the scientist work to perfect artificial intelligence and the businessman work to enable his efforts. The entirety of such dangerous technology will always operate within the commercial sphere, whether it be in our real world or in a show like Westworld. Mr. Robot is a show that also explores the anxiety that people express toward corporations that control the world through technology. The show’s premise rests on a vigilante dismantling a single “evil” corporation that manages to control people through digital debt. It’s difficult to fit this show neatly under the umbrella of science fiction, especially considering that it is designated as a psychological thriller by its parent network . Yet, this show demonstrates many of the same elements as science fiction including its preoccupation with human commercialization and the subversive reaction to automated technologies. The show resonates with the audience because it features characters who fight against a massive corporation that has taken over the world. In some ways this has already happened in our world where corporations like Ericsson and Simon own huge amounts of property and technology.

Private interests rule such companies and many aptly fear what could happen if corporations were given the charge of technology like superhuman artificial intelligence. Black Mirror, another popular show, also broaches the same tensions between people and corporations or large organized systems that could gain a hold of more power through technologies like surveillance or robots. Black Mirror’s simulations of dangerous scenarios in a more technologically advanced world are extremely frightening and demonstrate the potential of worst-case scenarios. In one episode, bee drones originally created for artificial pollination are repurposed by the government to conduct mass surveillance and assassinations. Other episodes show how social media, the digital news networks, the entertainment industry, and many other aspects of the technological world could severely damage our lives. The devotion of Black Mirror’s audience suggest that many people enjoy watching how absurd situations can come into being just because of the way that new technologies can influence people. There is an entertainment value in watching a character in

political power having to penetrate a pig to maintain his political standing, but this fascination also betrays an anxiety about how much the internet media can impact politics in the span of minutes. The fear of technology is nothing new in the realm of mainstream science fiction, but the fear of the corporations that control it is something that has grown alongside the advent of mass produced technology. With Apple Watches that can monitor a person’s every move, androids that can do menial tasks, Fitbits that can track a person’s heart rate, social media that can spread a piece of information in the span of a couple of minutes, and many other technologies that have permeated our daily lives, there is arguably reason for anxiety. There is perhaps now greater example of this than the revelation that the American government has been conducting mass surveillance on us. There has always been some sort of anxiety about being surveilled by technology present in the popular imagination but Edward Snowden’s intel validated that fear. There is also a fear of how technology will be used as it improves and becomes

increasingly complicated. As the automated world becomes seamlessly integrated into our realities, the fears and anxieties of human beings could soon manifest themselves. Recent science fiction television shows have begun to explore what it means to be human in world that is becoming increasingly less human. Maybe these shows are trying to illustrate a future that is inevitable; a future defined by artificial intelligence under the jurisdiction of the corporate world. They are perhaps trying to explore the dangers on a virtual platform so that we might be capable of avoiding their impact in the real world. As all good stories do, they teach us something. In this case it’s how to navigate an increasingly automated world. They teach us not to get too sucked into the technology that surrounds us. They teach us to suspect not the technology but rather the people in power. When it comes down to it, the majority of people have little say in what technology is built and who controls it. The recent interest in television shows that focus on it is a way for the powerless to alleviate their fears by seeing the worst and somewhat preparing themselves for it. ■

“The audience of Black Mirror enjoys watching how absurd situations can come into being just because of the way that new technologies can influence people.”

© Netflix













IA C SO by



Te n s y d


n sites like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, followers and friends can be seen as a form of social currency. The allure of feeling popular makes it tempting to accept “friend” requests from strangers without bothering to read their profiles. However, the rise of automated accounts, or “bots,” has risen dramatically in just the past few years. In 2011 on Twitter, for example, if one were to skim through his or her list of followers, it would have been easy to spot which accounts were not run by humans. The main giveaways at the time were the handles consisting of random, nonsensical sequences of characters, and the complete lack of a profile picture. Since then, bots have evolved to not only possess greater online capabilities, but more strikingly, deceive humans by assuming legitimate identities. While several types of bots exist on the Internet, this article will focus on social media bots that populate sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. A social media bot is an account that is programmed to perform several functions automatically, such as tracking hashtags, retweeting new posts immediately, posting original content based on algorithms, and even conversing with other users. To be clear, bots themselves


are neither inherently good nor bad. In fact, there are plenty of “good” bots on Twitter that make scheduled posts consisting of selfcare reminders or corny jokes. Still, mildly irritating “bad” bots also exist on social media. At the bottom line, bots are neutral. These accounts are almost always transparent about their bot-nature, so no deception is involved. The real danger lies not in what bots can do, but what they can be used for. One of the most common uses for social media bots is to inflate an individual’s popularity or influence. There is a black market for fake followers. According to one source, the cost of 5000 Twitter followers can be as low as $77. In the recent election campaigns, both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have been targeted for the number of fake accounts in their Twitter followers-bases. Even more unsettling is the fact that anyone can buy fake followers for any account – not just their own. This means that even if someone has a follower-base comprised of 81% bots, he or she may not necessarily have obtained them intentionally. Instead, delegitimizing people’s reputations on social media by flooding their follower’s list with bots has become a sabotage tactic in itself.


In addition to distorting popularity levels, bots have been manipulated to be malicious, fulfilling political agendas on behalf of governments and other self-interested organizations. Samuel Woolley, the Director of Research of the Computational Propaganda Project at the Oxford Internet Institute, discusses the “more sophisticated propaganda accounts that can engage with real users,” as his team has done studies on the role of bots in the 2016 US presidential election as well as the Brexit vote. He notes that “during the US Presidential election we found the top 100 most automated accounts, those tweeting using election specific hashtags more than 500 times a day, accounts for over 500,000 tweets in the week leading up to the election,” and similarly “during Brexit one percent of accounts tweeting about the referendum accounted for nearly a third of all tweets about the topic.” According to Woolley, the bots in these cases were programmed to create “strategic, political traffic” and follow a predetermined agenda. Larger, more advanced networks of bots are capable of propagating fake news and manipulating public opinion. The phenomenon of “going viral” has become increasingly automated on Twitter, where bots beat

BAD BOTS 28.9%



in 2016




“When existing bots get removed from social media platforms, they often simply adapt and reappear in more sophisticated forms, similar to how bacteria evolves to resist antibiotics that once killed them.” humans when it comes to achieving the timing and level of support needed to make a topic “trending.” There is an alarming number of bots that are programmed to retweet posts without first verifying their legitimacy. Even worse, a multiplier effect happens when human users react to popularized tweets and unwittingly contribute to the spread of fake news. Consequences of this effect include stock market crashes – ironically, there exist investor-bots programmed to web-scrape, data-mine, and track news on social media for the purpose of predicting market trends algorithmically. More broadly speaking, real human lives are easily impacted by the publicized influence of individuals who use bots as weapons in the age of technological warfare. So who exactly are the humans behind social media bots? The answer is unknown. Since bot creation has become relatively simple, anyone with a computer can make


them. is a website that serves as a repository for source-code, and it is referenced as one of the most widely accessed resources used by bot creators. Certain programmers have already written the code for Twitterbots with different capabilities, so all one needs to do is to follow a set of directions to run it. This accessibility adds new dimension of uncertainty to the already murky world of bots, and their anonymous nature conveniently protects their human owners from being exposed. Fortunately, cybersecurity teams within Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram design and implement algorithms to accurately spot bots and the networks they may belong in. Studies on the behavior of social media bots have shown that they often act in coordination, making it possible to identify their entire communities. For example, they would post similar content within a certain time frame, and they tend to follow other bots instead of

humans to avoid unwanted attention. Academic researchers have also been actively creating and testing out new ways to identify whether an account is human or bot. There are even free websites such as Bot or Not? and StatusPeople that use algorithms to detect fake accounts. When existing bots get removed from social media platforms, they often simply adapt and reappear in more sophisticated forms, similar to how bacteria evolves to resist antibiotics that once killed them. Now, bots not only assume realistic profiles but also better imitate human behavior regarding timing and the frequency of posts. They retweet and post according to the circadian cycle and even seem to exhibit unique personalities. However, it is their tactic of targeting and interacting with human users that seems to transform science fiction into reality. Sophisticated bots can communicate


of INSTAGRAM accounts are FAKE or BOTS


of TWITTER accounts are FAKE or BOTS

with human users by tweeting at them or messaging them directly. These tactics promote their underlying agenda to a live audience, and more importantly, helps them gain real followers to appear legitimate. While bots used to be programmed to only follow other bots, the more evolved ones have a mix of human and bot followers to be harder for algorithms to detect. One study has found that humans themselves come out on top when it comes to distinguishing between real and automated accounts, with an accuracy rate of 90% or higher. Indeed, crowdsourcing has been proposed as a possible solution to identifying human-like bots, but its obvious drawbacks – such as slowness and costliness – have prevented it from being widely utilized. A general strategy that both Twitter and Facebook use to regulate bot activity is to increase the risk-reward ratio for humans to own and control bots on their platforms. By

making the consequences of illegal activity more severe and potential profit less lucrative, they de-incentivize the creation and maintenance of malicious bots. Such tactic has been proven effective while conducted well, as Google achieved some success in their anti-spam efforts in 2014 and 2015. However, a significant difference between spam and bots is that while there is no such thing as “good” spam, there is a substantial population of good and useful bots despite being outnumbered by the malicious ones. It is just as important to avoid discouraging the growth of these good bots as it is to suppress malicious ones. According to Woolley, eliminating all bots is neither reasonable nor feasible. He notes that instead, “policy makers need to make informed decisions – by talking to those that build and study algorithmic systems and new technology – about how to respond to things like automated disinforma-

tion and hate speech.” He also highlights the importance of transparency and how automated accounts need to be clearly labeled as such. Despite the steady growth of the bot population, humans are still the majority users on social media platforms, with new people regularly continuing to join sites like Twitter. Yet as bots now constitute around 50% of the traffic on social media, those of us who manage personal accounts on sites like Twitter must learn to coexist with them. Our increasing reliance on social media for news, self-expression, and political activism makes it even more indispensable to ensure a secure and healthy online ecosystem. In order to effectively interact with this new internet demographic, we must first understand the human incentives behind their creation. As the bots are evolving, it is only fitting that humans heighten our consciousness in order to “follow” them. ■



Roman Yampolskiy PROFESSOR AND


Dr. Roman V. Yampolskiy is a Tenured Associate Professor in the department of Computer Engineering and Computer Science at the School of Engineering, University of Louisville. He is the founding and current director of the Cyber Security Lab and an author of many books including Artificial Superintelligence: a Futuristic Approach. Yampolskiy is a Senior member of IEEE and AGI; Member of Kentucky Academy of Science, and Research Advisor for MIRI and Associate of GCRI. He holds a PhD degree from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University at Buffalo and a BS/MS (High Honors) combined degree in Computer Science from Rochester Institute of Technology, NY, USA. Dr. Yampolskiy’s main areas of interest are AI Safety, Artificial Intelligence, Behavioral Biometrics, Cybersecurity, Digital Forensics, Games, Genetic Algorithms, and Pattern Recognition. Dr. Yampolskiy is an author of over 100 publications including multiple journal articles and books. His research has been cited by 1000+ scientists and profiled in popular magazines both American and foreign (New Scientist, Science World Magazine).


By Luca Rade Business Today: What’s the most important issue within the artificial intelligence community that you think we will face within the next ten years? Dr. Roman Yampolskiy: Technological unemployment is something that immediately comes to mind, probably the first significant impact from having many jobs becoming automated. This will likely start with things like cab drivers, and slowly grow to cover many professions. BT: What do you think needs to happen to minimize the damage caused by these issues? Yampolskiy: It’s good to have a sort of social safety net. Labor of automated robots can be taxed, the proceeds distributed to people who lost their jobs. This can initially be used for retraining of workers and later on apply to maintenance and support of displaced workers. Unconditional basic income is a potential solution that comes up afterwards. BT: There has been some criticism regarding how universal basic income may reduce the incentive to work. What are your thoughts on that? Yampolskiy: It is a problem. In a way it’s kind of like the welfare system today. My personal intuition is that people can be divided into two types: those who hate their job and do it to put food on the table, and those who love their job and would do it for free. Automation impacts those two groups of people in very different ways. Some people will enjoy getting free checks and do what they would do instead of working, others will probably continue to work even for free. BT: Do you think there may be not enough work being done under a universal basic income scheme, or do you think that’s less of an issue? Yampolskiy: Well if you’re getting free money, you’re not the kind of person to do research for fun and you previously had a very boring manual-labor type of work, chances are you’re not going to do something very productive with your life. You’ll probably fall into a hedonistic loop of pleasures of the flesh. BT: Considering that your primary field of

research is in cyber-security, how does AI play into this field? Yampolskiy: Right now we’re starting to see AI being used a lot for improving security, for catching abnormal behavior, and some work is now even showing up in terms of cyberattacks. Long term, the problem I’m interested in is security from AI. Right now we use them as tools for both defense and attacking, but in the future the adversary will likely change to AI. BT: Can you go into a little detail on how that might potentially look? What would you do to minimize the risks? Yampolskiy: The simplest scenario is

“For me, malevolent design is the biggest concern where people intentionally post harmful content, steal sources, blackmail, and design social engineering attacks.” where you have a pretty sophisticated intelligence system that gives malevolent orders and now you have to protect against the system penetrating networks and committing crimes. We’re trying to see if we can use techniques developed in cyber-security and forensics to prevent this type of attack. As long as the system is at human level or below the same methods we use against human adversaries should scale to AI. If a system becomes more capable, then nobody will know what to do. BT: What do you think is likely to happen? Yampolskiy: It doesn’t look good. If you’re

not the smartest thing around, you’re not competitive. So eventually you’re not the one deciding what will happen, the super-intelligent AI will decide what will happen. BT: Do you think we can do anything now to prepare for this situation now or do we have to wait and see? Yampolskiy: Well it’s a good idea to start preparing as soon as possible. A lot of people have realized that and started a lot of interesting projects, trying to come up with some solution. I think it’s a bit too early to see how successful they will be. I’m not too optimistic at this point but I’m happy there are a lot of smart people looking at the problem. BT: Do you think solutions in this realm are more of a technical thing that a few smart people should be working on, or is it something that requires more input from different institutions? Yampolskiy: I mean it’s good to have lots of people looking at the problem, the more the merrier, certainly. BT: In terms of the longer term risks, say fifty years, what do you think is the main thing? Yampolskiy: For me, malevolent design is the biggest concern where people intentionally post harmful content, steal sources, blackmail, and design social engineering attacks. BT: Moving away from the risks and more to the opportunities, what do you see as the most exciting potential in artificial intelligence? Dr. Yampolsky: Science is really the domain I’m most interested in. Right now, humans are capable of reading a few papers a year, but we’ll get some of the most interesting and fruitful discoveries from AIs mining existing work, finding patterns we had never seen before. BT: What do you think the timeline is for AI to be able to generate insights like that? Yampolskiy:We’re starting to see some progress in that area. Some data mining of research papers regarding potential new drugs and other applications of existing technologies are in the works, but it’s not quite at human level yet. It will get much



better soon with additional techniques, such as expanded memory and others of the like. BT: So it seems like this is likely to happen fairly soon. Yampolskiy: Yes, it’s starting to happen already, and in the next five or ten years there should be a tremendous explosion in that type of work. BT: I would like to address jobs in the private sector, particularly those that have not yet been automated and involve more mental labor. Do you think work of this sort can be automated, and if so, how long will it be before we have mass automation of not just physical but mental labor? Yampolskiy: Well, we often see jobs like tax preparation, which has been considered intellectual labor, become automated to a large extent. Similarly, many jobs such as investing and financial advising would be quite trivial for an AI to accomplish. BT: What about more complicated decisions like management and government decisions? Do you think such jobs could be automated? Yampolskiy:There have been many breakthroughs in even developing AIs that can deal with even human-esque decisions, such as business dealings, military decisions, and even government policy. In the future, such dealings can all be done pretty successfully. BT: Do you think there’s any kind of domain still that will be predominantly human-done? Yampolskiy:Programming is the last job to be automated. If you can automated programming, then anything else goes. I actually have a paper that says programming is the hardest task for an AI to complete. If you want job security, be a top-notch programmer. BT: You’re saying if programming is automated, then basically everything has been automated. Yampolskiy: Right. I can just tell a computer, automate an accountant, automate this, and the computer does the programming and it’s a done deal. BT: What are your thoughts on the values debate, in terms of how to program our human values into AI? Yampolskiy: It’s very, very hard on so many levels. It’s hard because we don’t agree on values, it’s hard because we cannot define values, it’s hard because values change all the time and we want them to not be static. Thus, it will be very difficult to actually implement. BT: Would you say there are major techni-


cal hurdles that once overcome, would help with these issues or is it a pretty broad set of complicated tasks? Yampolskiy: Anytime we zoom in on a problem, we see just as many new problems show up. It always just gets worse. BT: So there’s not really one central issue? Yampolskiy: No, it’s not like “You can do this, and everything else will become easy and safe.” Instead, it’s more of “Oh, we have a new safety mechanism, how do we make this mechanism safe?” There are additional problems with that, like interactions between components, which becomes very complicated. BT: What would you say is the best thing for current undergraduates interested in these issues to do? Do you have any recommendations for the field of work to enter, say AI safety, or is it too early for such considerations? Do you believe it’s better to go to work at a company at the forefront of AI or in a government lab somewhere? Yampolskiy: All of those are good options. It depends on specifically what you want as long as you’re in this domain. Whether you’re developing safety mechanisms or conducting further research, you can certainly help. BT: More generally, for students who are interested in AI but not necessarily technology oriented, what advice would you give them? Dr. Yampolsky: Consider something related to philosophy or ethics. We will definitely need help figuring out what we want with that in relation to AI. BT: In terms of the business realm, is there any way those people can help? Yampolskiy: The best way would be to provide resources for research, as funding is a substantial issue. BT: Are there any additional thoughts you wanted to share? Yampolskiy: I mean, just take the time to evaluate your major. It’s really sad how many people are in majors that will not exist in a few years or are even dead right now. It’s definitely worth your time to explore more before committing to a specific area. BT: How does one factor the future into decision-making in the present? Yampolskiy: There are quite a few studies on what jobs will be automated and how hard they are to be automated. So if you pick something that in five years is predicted to be fully done by machines, it may not be the smartest thing to start your career in. ■


cientific advancement, and particularly mechanization, has been traditionally met with fierce resistance. Centuries before the advent of Amazon Echo, Twitterbots, and e-commerce, the Industrial Revolution produced one of the first instances of automation: the fabric industry’s mechanized looms and sewing machines. In protest of the changes brought about by this new equipment, a coalition of English textile workers – who were known as “Luddites” – rioted, smashed factory equipment, and even clashed with the British army numerous times. Pessimistic attitudes towards changes in industrial practices and equipment are extant: look no further than the international rise of anti-globalist sentiments over the last few years. In the United States presidential election of 2016, both major-party candidates vocally opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership due to a groundswell of public opposition towards it. It is easy to blame this phenomenon on a struggling, uneducated middle class’s irrational hatred of change. Instead, consider how this widespread distrust of economic openness closely parallels Luddism – by the same token, imagine how the pattern may foreshadow the middle class’s response in the coming decades to the increasing influence of automation. Economists already cite the sluggishness of middle-skill job growth — relative to low and high-skill job growth — as an indication of automation’s coming impact. Many high-skill jobs cannot yet be performed by machines; likewise, hiring low-skill workers is often cheaper than utilizing robots. Middle-skill jobs, on the other hand, are most vulnerable. Yet, the long-term impact of this trend is uncertain.




“Some theorize that humans will always have jobs to perform, and that those of new professions will simply replace those made redundant by advancements in technology.”


Some experts theorize that humans will always have jobs to perform, and that those in new professions will simply replace jobs made redundant by advancements in technology. After all, it was the Luddites themselves who first predicted that humans would be replaced, which has yet to happen. More recently, in his 1930 essay Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes invented the term “technological unemployment,” often misunderstood to mean the increase in the overall level of unemployment caused by technology (whereas it actually refers to temporary unemployment due to technological changes). Those who think that automation will not make human labor redundant, rather shifting it towards emerging occupations, argue that while robots often reduce employment in one specific area, they ultimately increase efficiency of and therefore demand for the product or service associated with that field. This, in turn, increases demand for jobs which facilitate the task itself, thereby increasing the overall level of employment. ATMs, for instance, or “automated teller machines,” are now taken for granted in dayto-day life in the developed world. However, these machines have had a severe impact on the livelihoods of human bank tellers since their introduction into the marketplace in the 1960s. Even though there are now fewer bank tellers in the U.S. than there were in the 1980s, there are more bank employees overall. Many who defend automation in its current form explain this phenomenon by looking to lower operating costs of banks, allowing them to open greater numbers of

locations and therefore hire more workers overall (though fewer workers per branch). Others believe automation will eventually make human labor obsolete. One compelling argument for this view is that as automation is applied to itself, the facilitative role of humans will wash away. When robots begin manufacturing robots which can manufacture our goods, there truly will be no need for human factory workers. Market forces will drive the wage rate well below the poverty line, and humans will stop working altogether. The dystopic vision of this future is one in which corporations and the economic elite control the factors of production, and those factors of production inevitably do not include employees. Therefore, the rest of the population subsists on a barely-livable amount. If most people — of both high and low education backgrounds — are made nearly unemployable whilst not benefitting from the technology that displaces them, widespread civil unrest and a second coming of Luddism could ensue. Many prominent public figures are unsatisfied with the thought of such a future, and believe that there are policies which would combat this process.Bill Gates, for example, called for “some type of robot tax” in a recent interview with Quartz. Gates elaborates, “You ought to be willing to raise the tax level and even slow down the speed of that adoption somewhat to figure out, ‘OK, what about the communities where this has a particularly big impact? Which transition programs have worked and what type of funding do those require?’” Mark Cuban and Elon Musk have respec-

tively expressed concerns with automation’s impact on unemployment, in particular how it threatens the safety of humanity. While many were quick to criticize Gates’s proposal as one that would increase unemployment, few seemed to recognize the underlying intention of such a policy: to safeguard those whose jobs are currently threatened and thereby avoid disruptive forces that cause widespread layoffs in vulnerable areas. The main obstacles to Gates’s proposal have to do with the legal questions which it begs. To begin with, does Gates’s idea involve ascribing legal personhood to the robots which would be taxed? It certainly seems to imply this. Moreover, how would the distinction between a taxable “robot” and a piece of equipment be made? It seems that many robots are already in use: would these suddenly be subject to taxation and, if so, how would the financial burden of current owners be tackled? Perhaps a more realistic proposal is that of universal basic income (UBI). For decades, this proposition has been disparaged by politicians, economists, and public figures from both the right and the left. Those on the left, while enticed by the redistributive nature of basic income, worry that it would subvert the existing welfare state, damage the power of labor unions, and favor the middle class over the impoverished. Those on the right fear that basic income would require massive funding from the public sector and would undermine labor incentives. Yet, the idea also has its enthusiasts from both ends of the political spectrum. In fact, it was libertarian economist Milton Friedman who first proposed a “negative income

tax” in 1962. The simplicity of its design, which eliminates much of the bureaucracy that conservatives decry the current welfare system for, is a major benefit of the proposal. More recently, however, Yanis Varoufakis and other prominent economists have proposed a basic income because of automation’s likely impact on the distribution of wealth. His funding proposal for such a mechanism is to tax a portion of each Initial Public Offering (IPO). Regardless of how it is funded, a stipend system to ensure a sustainable income for citizens may be instituted as a precursor for a post-employment world. This trend, even with a guaranteed income in place, still begs the question: what will happen when humans simply cannot compete in any profession with robots? Consider that eventually, the very production of robots could become fully automated, and then the production of robots which produce robots, and so forth. This cycle, known as the “technological singularity,” will likely leave humans with few viable professions. Under such a circumstance, should economic inequality exist? Presumably, we currently accept inequality on the basis that equal opportunity does not necessarily result in equal outcomes, and that social mobility is a significant part of the human experience. But without the opportunity to improve one’s own condition through hard work and ability (as well as fortune), how can anybody justify their economic privilege? Will inheritance be abolished altogether? Either socio-economic class will cease to exist, or these divisions will become more deeply ingrained in our lives than ever before. ■

“If most people are made nearly unemployable whilst not benefitting from the technology that displaces them, widespread civil unrest and a second coming of Luddism could ensue.”



PILOTLESS PLANES by Deasee Phillips




n today’s society, planes have done everything. From crashing into California homes, disappearing from Malaysia, and even landing on the Hudson River, planes have left most, if not all people asking, “What are these pilots doing when they are in the cockpit. Are they even flying the plane?” But what if pilots never existed? And what if planes flew without them? Planes without pilots, a new technological innovation that is redefining what it means to travel around the world. Scientists have designed a new and safer way for people to travel in the air, potentially eliminating all problems that have been affecting airlines. The New York Times explains how government agencies are experimenting with replacing pilots with either robots or remote operators. Passengers would no longer hear the voice of their pilot throughout their flight, but instead the silence of a robot fully operating the liftoff, landing, and anything else in between. But believe it or not, most commercial airplanes are already heavily automated. In fact, pilots operating a Boeing 777 spend only seven minutes manually flying their plane. The rest of the time, while the passengers are relaxing and thinking their pilot is still flying the plane, the plane is actually flying itself. Here is how it works In most modern aircrafts, there is a computer autopilot that tracks the plane’s position using motion sensors and dead reckoning. The computer software within these aircrafts gives pilots the option of complete freedom from manual flying. On the other hand, most critics believe such reliance on the computer software leads to lack of prac-


tice and infrequent use of pilots’ skills. But regardless of what critics believe, this aircraft phenomenon has been set in motion and shows no sign of stopping. According to CNN, an expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has mentioned that commercial airliners could be piloted by remote control. Even James Albaugh, the president and CEO of Boeing, announced that a “pilotless” airliner is being constructed. It is a matter of when; not how. Until then many new issues, especially legal issues, must be resolved. Senior Software Developer of Delta Airlines, Ernest Phil-

“Automated aircrafts are described as smarter, more efficient, and securer than their manual counterparts.” lips, believes that a technological change this drastic will not come into full effect until generations from now. “People have this fear of being in the air while having a pilot control their fate from the ground”, Phillips mentions when discussing a counter argument to automated planes. This reasonable fear, along with many other factors, explains why the switch from human-piloted to “pilotless” planes has not been immediate. Though it will take time for all airlines to fully transform their airline operations, expert scientists have already created two

models for these automated planes. The first academic model would have pilots flying the aircrafts by remote control from “cockpits” on the ground. Imagine a child flying a toy helicopter in the air as she stands in the backyard with the remote control. The second model would have a flight attendant on the plane that serves as a backup pilot in case of emergency on the auto-piloted airplane. The same person who would serve peanuts and sprite to passengers would potentially switch roles and control the aircraft if need be. Interestingly, aircrafts these days have already implemented specific automated techniques in planes that show, to a certain extent, how automated planes are safer than planes with pilots. In The New York Times, automated aircrafts are described as smarter, more efficient, and securer than their manual counterparts. For instance, David Mindell, an aeronautics and astronautics professor at MIT describes how current Airbuses know how to avoid flying into a mountain, warning the pilot and even being equipped with software to take over for the pilot if necessary. What comes next? During the summer of 2015, The Defense Advanced Research Projects (a Pentagon research organization) took the next step with developing the Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System. This system has a robot installed in the right seat of a military aircraft to act as a co-pilot. The robot, reminiscent of R2D2 from Star Wars, can speak, listen, manipulate flight controls, and even read flight instruments while onboard. It has many skills that a human pilot would have flying an aircraft

Transitioning to

PILOTLESS PLANES Completely manual airplanes


Automated software in airplanes with 2 pilots

and can even manage the difficult liftoff and touchdown maneuvers. Currently, companies and universities are working with the Pentagon research organization to officially develop the robot. They want it to be “visually aware” according to The New York Times, and have the ability to control the airplane by manipulating instruments that were made for human hands. This includes the pilot’s yoke and pedals, a variety of knobs, and different buttons throughout the cockpit. Ultimately, the inventors want the robot to rely on voice recognition technology and speech synthesis to communicate with a human pilot. On the other hand, NASA is considering a different idea. Instead of the R2D2 look-alike, there would be a single remote operator that would serve as the co-pilot for multiple aircrafts. Ideally, there would be a ground controller that would function as a dispatcher by simultaneously managing a dozen or more flights. While this might sound like a hectic case of multi-tasking, the ground controller would only need to worry about one plane at a specific time or land a plane if there was a serious emergency. With all this technological advancement and research, many people still believe that automated aircrafts can never replace manual aircrafts. Even the airline companies believe that this shift could be extremely risky. While eliminating full-time human pilots will save airline companies more money than one would expect, the associated risks are too high. Amy Pritchett said, “Technology can have its own costs,” and she is absolutely right. The more technology used on an air-

Automated robots on airplanes with 1 pilot (and a flight attendant as a back-up pilot)

plane, the greater chance for a piece to fail. To further this argument, experts have even considered the material costs for having an automated airplane. CNN says it could cost up to hundreds of billions of dollars to build the infrastructure needed for computer-piloted airplanes. The transition of airline companies from two human pilots to one would be very difficult, hence computerizing two pilots add an even larger huge safety factor, making the latter essentially impossible according to Hansman from MIT. Yet, even with these reasons, automated airplanes are not a dead dream. Think about self-driven cars or automated trains at the airport. All of these ideas started from somewhere small. Just think back to the days when the notion of humans ever achieving flight was a asinine fantasy, at least until the Wright Brothers first took off. Inventions take time to build, and humans need time to adapt to their presence. Just because it could cost up to hundreds of billions of dollars to make the infrastructure needed for these “pilotless” airplanes, does not mean scientists and other experts cannot do it. As mentioned earlier, it is not a matter of how they would build it but when. Automated/self-controlled aircrafts are just at the very beginning development stage, and people really do believe that with time there could be a potential shift from manual to computerized piloting. The effect it would have transport and safety would be grand yet unpredictable. But, for now, fully computer-piloted commercial aircrafts will have to reside on the drawing board for just a bit longer. ■

“Though it will take time for all airlines to fully transform their airline operations, expert scientists have already created two models for these automated planes.”

Completely selfautomated robots on airplanes with no pilots



Todd Golub

FOUNDING MEMBER OF THE BROAD INSTITUTE Dr. Todd Golub is a world-class innovator in integrating genomic methods into cancer research and medicine. This background has enabled him to lead The Broad’s set of exhaustively interdisciplinary labs, which research diseases including schizophrenia, tuberculosis, and many others. In addition to directing The Broad’s cancer program and serving as Chief Scientific Officer, he has made trailblazing discoveries in the molecular basis of childhood leukemia. Dr. Golub also researches cancer at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and teaches pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Golub received his B.A. from Carleton College and his M.D. from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. In our interview, Dr. Golub shares with us benefits and pitfalls accompanying automation in research.


By Conor Fitzpatrick Business Today: Could you tell me about your experiences from your early years as a student and researcher that led you to your current career and work at the Broad? Dr. Todd Golub: I started doing research as an undergraduate at Carleton College, and you either get bitten by the research bug or you don’t. To me, the details of methods didn’t matter so much, but the idea of discovering something that had never been discovered before was exciting. So, I spent a lot of my free time while in college, during summers between years, and during breaks doing biomedical research. I then decided to go to a research-oriented medical school for the same reason – because research-oriented students would be supported and encouraged, and there would be lots of role models for future physician scientists. After, I went to do research-oriented clinical training in pediatric oncology. But it wasn’t until my postdoc after all my clinical training that I had a long, fully protected block of full time research effort, where I focused on using what was at the time modern genetics and genomics to study the genetic basis of one of my patients’ leukemia. There was an unusual chromosome translocation in the leukemia cells, so we hypothesized that if we could discover the genes that were broken by that chromosome translocation, that would provide biological insight into why that kid’s leukemia developed. Today, that sequencing experiment lasts a couple weeks, but in the early nineties that was not straightforward at all – it was a several-year undertaking. There was no human genome project at that time, so it turned out that one of the genes that was broken by this translocation was a gene that hadn’t yet been discovered. But discovering a gene in the human genome doesn’t happen anymore, because we have the complete human genome sequence. So that brought me to a faculty position at Harvard Medical School and the Dana Farber Institute, and that then led to my collaboration with the Whitehead Center for Genome Research, which was the forerunner to the Broad Institute. BT: I was reading that you had a formative experience working at a small lab that granted you intellectual freedom. With the Broad being such a large and very different

institution, how has this small lab experience impacted your approach to research today? Golub: I don’t think the size of an organization matters. What matters is how wide open you encourage the lens to be amongst people in your lab. My view is that the lens should be very wide, and that people shouldn’t feel constrained too much by either prior knowledge or discoveries, or by their position or status in the research ecosystem. People should feel like they have the ability, the freedom, and the expectation to do something really important. That happened for me in a small lab in Chicago – where at the time I didn’t realize it was small. I was excited about discovering

“Slavishly trying to fully automate an entire process is often a misdirected effort.” something really cool and important, and the freedom that I have to think big started there. And those principles don’t change when you get to a different lab. BT: You mentioned that rank doesn’t matter, and that attitude encourages a very inquisitive atmosphere. How else do you foster this inquisitive culture of research? How do you push scientists to ask creative and different questions? Or is it all up to scientists’ own respective interests? Golub: I think a lot of creativity comes from within. But I think one thing that we can do as mentors and leaders is to encourage people not to be limited by what they see as certain constraints. By that I mean too often scientists, especially young scientists, start a project by thinking about how much money they have available to do their project, or when they need to get the project finished, or what have other people done already, or what do we even know about the particular problem. This is a different mindset than thinking about what is needed to crack open the

field; what would be important. After that, we deal with issues like whether we have the technical feasibility to pull it off or do we have enough funding to pull it off. Those should be secondary considerations, which might indeed lead to not being able to do the project. But if you put those secondary issues first, you’re dead in the water. BT: Molecular Biology research is becoming increasingly automated, with high-throughput screening experiments and assays capable of testing hundreds of chemicals in a matter of minutes. What nascent automation technologies in cancer research do you think are the most important, promising, and fascinating? Golub: Certainly, high-throughput DNA sequencing is having a big impact on being able to characterize human tumors. That used to be a very low-throughput process, and now it can be highly automated in a factory-style sequencing operation. CRISPR technology and other genome-editing methods can be scaled up to look at the entire genome at once, by for example mapping out all genes in the genome in one experiment. That is very powerful. I would emphasize that I don’t think these breakthroughs are about automation per se; I think they are more about the underlying molecular biology that makes it possible to think big, and to do experiments at scale. And once it becomes interesting to do that, then it is worth investing in the automation to scale up according to peoples’ imagination. But it is not that the automation itself has created some new capability. In fact, much of the automation that is used at the Broad is not all that sophisticated. So, if you focus only on automation capabilities, you wouldn’t get very far. In fact, for many projects, trying to automate the entire process results in slowing down the research rather than accelerating it, because it may be that if there is a step that can be done easily by a human you should just do it by a human. And so, slavishly trying to fully automate an entire process is often a misdirected effort. BT: The Broad has pioneered a new model of scientific research that incorporates scientists across disciplines. What else sets the Broad apart from other research institutions? What is the Broad’s next step in creating



innovative research methods? Golub: I would say that many institutions have multidisciplinary research, so I don’t think the Broad can lay claim to that. I think the Broad has become very good at bringing scientists coming together to take on something together that they couldn’t accomplish on their own. In some cases, that is multidisciplinarity. Sometimes it’s not being afraid of research of a certain scale that would be more difficult in academic labs. Sometimes it’s taking on a project that just doesn’t make sense for a company to do because the research should be a public good, and the monetary value cannot be extracted by a company and therefore it makes no sense for a company to do. So, I think we work in this very rich ecosystem of biomedical research, and I think the Broad has specialized in trying to identify and execute on those projects that will help crack open a field, but don’t make sense for a company to do because it is best done as a public good. And yet, our research can’t be tackled by an academic lab because it requires a certain infrastructure, scale, management, and integration across multiple disciplines, in particular laboratory-based data generation and computational analysis. Having both of those disciplines together is very powerful; having them separate can work in principle, but in practice that doesn’t work as well as with them together. So, I think the unique problems we tackle are what distinguishes us from other labs. BT: What was your proudest moment in your career? Golub: I can’t point to a single proudest moment. When I see people that have trained in my lab flourishing as independent investigators and continuing the culture of the lab that puts a premium on making a difference in the world over personal career achievement, that makes me very proud. BT: What were the unique strategies developed in the Broad’s founding? Golub: A very substantial part of the Broad’s founding was empowering young


people to think big and empowering them to lead. This is not always customary in the corporate world or the academic world. When I started leading what became the cancer program at the Broad Institute, I had just started my lab as an assistant professor. And so, I was an unlikely suspect to lead anything new or large. That was part of the Broad’s culture from the beginning: identify good people and give them encouragement to think big, and it’s okay to give them authority to lead. And so, in an effort among four principle faculty – Eric Lander, Stuart Schreiber, David Altshuler, and myself – working with the universities Harvard, MIT, and the Harvard hospitals, we created a structure that would become the Broad institute. The main purpose of creating that structure was to help ensure that other scientists who wanted to come together spontaneously could do so. It is an umbrella administrative framework to allow grassroots activities to flourish without administrative boundaries getting in the way of scientific progress. BT: What advice do you have for undergraduates pursuing research, medicine, or other science fields? How do you prepare for constant change in this industry? Golub: My advice would be to focus on what is going to have the biggest impact. If that requires developing new technologies, then establish the collaboration needed to develop those new technologies. If making the biggest impact involves throwing out the technology you just finished developing, you need to be prepared to do that as well. If you keep your eye on the ball of maximizing your impact in a way that is going to move the needle, I think you’ll be just fine. I think people get lost chasing specific papers to be published, or trying to follow what they think is hot in the field rather than stepping back and not skating where the puck is but skating where the puck is going. You need to have enough flexibility of mind so you don’t paint yourself into a scientific corner. If you can do that – and it’s not easy – then I think everything will be fine. ■

– Boundaries –

Pushed As an innovation leader, we push the boundaries of science, technology and engineering every day and help make possible the technologies shaping the future. We don’t see the limits of what we can achieve, and neither should you. Take the next step, explore our open career opportunities and help shape the future at Applied Materials.

Applied Materials is committed to diversity in its workforce including Equal Employment Opportunity for minorities, females, protected veterans and individuals with disabilities. © 2017 Applied Materials, Inc. All rights reserved. Applied Materials, the Applied Materials logo and make possible are trademarks of Applied Materials, Inc. in the U.S. and other countries.

Wired Weed An emerging online market for marijuana by Rasha Suleiman


he infamous Boston Blaze tour. This is a ritual I had heard of many times from a close friend. He highly recommended the experience. It is self-explanatory, consisting of a weekend in Boston smoking weed in a series of scenic places. Last month, I finally got to see it in action. I do not smoke weed, but I enjoyed tagging along with my less sober friends. Given the fact that I do not buy drugs, it is not difficult to conclude that I have no idea how to obtain them. That is why I was completely shocked by an exchange I witnessed on the Boston Blaze tour. We were in Boston Common one evening and my friends were passing around a joint when a random man stopped by and asked, “Where can I get some of that?” Without missing a beat, one of my friends pulled a card out of his pocket and handed it to the guy: “Bro, just check out this website and you’ll find someone — they deliver to you.” I was impressed, to say the least. Weed delivered to your door like a pizza or an Amazon Prime order? All I knew about drug distribution came from my high school friends and movies. My friends would get weed from other students at school, and movie characters would get it from sketchy people in sketchier alleyways. I had not considered that buying drugs online was even


possible. As it turns out, drug proliferation has become a highly automated process in a number of avenues, which has made a wide range of drugs accessible. Just like any other social trend following economic laws of supply and demand, the automation of drug proliferation is the natural progression for an expanding market. The definitions I present can be found in an article published in the International Journal of Drug Policy by M.J Barratt and J. Aldridge. In the internet, the part of it that we are familiar with is the “surface web”, which can be accessed by search engines. The rest of the internet is referred to as the “deep web.” Furthermore, a small subset of the deep web is referred to as the “hidden web,” which can only be accessed through “anonymizing software.” The market for drugs exists both on the internet that we are familiar with and have access to – the surface web – as well as on cryptomarkets that function within the realm of the hidden web. On the hidden web, cryptomarkets have facilitated the distribution of drugs, and on the surface web, social media sites have played a similar role. Unsurprisingly, these marketplaces are closely related and hold significant influence each other. Many of the sales on cryptomarkets (about 51% of these sales)









indicate wholesale transactions. This means that those buying drugs on these hidden online markets are not simply purchasing them for personal or shared use, but for profitable resale. This further implies that online drug sales contribute to general greater drug proliferation. In other words, the automation of the drug sale industry has allowed people to purchase drugs for personal use as well as for resale and proliferation. Drug sales through cryptomarkets are unique compared to online sales with which we are familiar. While most of us have logged into our Amazon accounts, added products to our cart, and paid with a credit card; however, shopping on cryptomarkets is a bit of a different ball game. In order to access cryptomarkets, we would require specific software and in order to make purchases, and we would require crypto currencies, such as bitcoin. Furthermore, sales on these markets are not as straightforward. Cryptomarkets have an escrow system in place in order to protect buyers and sellers from being scammed, holding the money in limbo until the transaction is finalized by both buyer and seller. Drug sales through social media are less neat and tidy. Through this interface, we see that sellers advertise their products on

sites like Instagram and even Grindr, generally conducting sales in person. Though these systems may seem surprising, the progression leading to this state was likely inevitable. There is a significant and steady demand for drugs as well as people willing to supply them. Technology has provided the tools for more efficient transactions, and so the sale and diffusion of drugs has become largely automated. The reason that the market for drugs has experienced a drastic shift from face-to-face transactions to online sales is that the benefits of online sales outweigh the detriments. In all, this new system is more efficient, effective, and reliable. This change in interface is a logical response to supply, demand, and technological capabilities. Why is it that these online systems are more efficient? For one, they tend to offer higher quality products. This is due to the fact that people can and do evaluate sellers. They leave ratings and comments on sellers’ profiles about the quality of products, the delivery, and overall satisfaction with the process. Transactions through this market facilitate trust through the escrow process described earlier. Another benefit of this system is that it makes transactions

safer. People do not need to meet dealers face-to-face and put themselves in the way of potential harm. Through this method, they can have products delivered directly to an address of their choice and pick it up at their convenience. Though this system has many advantages for those marketing and purchasing drugs, it also has risks. Even though the chance of face-to-face violence is reduced through this method, people become susceptible to the risk of “doxxing” or having their personal information revealed, leaving them vulnerable to exposure and blackmail. Additionally, though online reviews are mostly effective at ensuring product quality, ordering drugs online leaves both sellers and buyers exposed to risks of scamming because neither can ensure that a product was actually shipped or delivered – they have to trust each other. Selling drugs on the surface web through social media has its own pros and cons. One of the most significant benefits is shared by both the buyer and seller. This is that people have the opportunity to choose with whom to interact. Each party involved has the ability to chat with the other before they meet and set mutual agreements on how the sale will go through. For example,

Princeton professor Rachael Ferguson, in a recent paper, cites interviews with people who engage in this market interface. Since those who sell drugs are always at risk of legal repercussions, they take precautions with whom they choose as customers. One weed dealer described how he “distance[s]

“This automated system supplies better products, ensures greater security, and facilitates increased efficiency.” himself from shitty customers” by watching out for “sketchy” behavior and strange messages. Another advantage to this interaction is that people are less likely to be caught in a deal considering that transactions often take place at an office or home, and the fact

that they are planned in advance. Overall, this system provides a lot of opportunity to plan and control the situation. The major disadvantage of this system is that it leaves traces online. Both dealers and buyers have to take precautions to make sure that they do not put themselves at risk of being caught. If they are caught, they are more likely to face repercussions due to the online documentation of evidence of their involvement. How can we conclude that the benefits of this automated industry outweigh the detriments? It is evident in the system’s success, persistence, and growth. As Ferguson put it, “With every round of busts, the marketplace operators, vendors, and buyers learn from the mistakes of others and find new ways to protect themselves.” Clearly, the benefits of this system outweigh its costs considering that people are willing to incur risks in order to reap the benefits. People have found that this automated system supplies better products, ensures greater security, and facilitates increased efficiency. All of these factors indicate that this automated market should continue to evolve and expand. In the end, this development is a reflection of the market’s needs: finding a way to blaze with the least effort required. ■




LOVE by Anna Pouschine




alling in love – the ultimate romantic experience – has still eluded satisfactory standardization by the era’s efficiency-oriented innovations. The Millennial generation has grown up on legendary love stories rife with uncertainty and bravery. Disney tales presented heroic and magical tales of love, TV sitcoms explored angst in response to young crushes, and schools taught Austen novels that dramatized the trials and tribulations of passion. Such accounts have exposed young people to the challenges and upheavals involved in romance. However, this generation now rejects such emotional exhaustion of traditional quests in favor of the efficient and demystified systems offered by apps. While such dating or hookup apps are effective in gratifying the user’s whims, they often fail to spark wholehearted love, and ultimately reinforce a rather concerning gender imbalance in the dating process. Various apps have applied the trend of automation to the dating world by aiming to optimize romantic pairings. Tinder, the most famous dating app that boasts 26 million matches a day, uses bare-bones user profiles – comprised of a few photos, brief description, and select information from Facebook – as the basis for introducing potential “matches” to one another. Other more niche and targeted apps have also sprung into popularity: Hinge connects friends and people who are friends of friends from Facebook to focus on committed relationships, while Bumble promotes a feminist platform by allowing only the woman to initiate the conversation for heterosexual couples, and Happn sets up matches with those you have had chance encounters with in daily life. The appeal of these apps stems from their pronounced convenience: flirting can be carried out without stakes. The anonymity of the profiles and obscurity of the matching process dulls the pain of rejection. Users can message matches equally easily while out with friends at a bar or relaxing in sweatpants at home. Furthermore, if a match is boring or non-stimulating, there are low barriers to exit conversation and nearly limitless other profiles to choose from. This ease of access to a dating pool is well-suited for Tinder’s key demographic, “busy, fairly wealthy transplants who have left their friends and families, and thus are looking, assertively, to make connections in the most efficient way they can,” according to The New York Times. Tinder thus serves to replace traditional modes of introductions, which range from family connections, religious institutions, and hobby groups, with a detached and omnipresent smartphone screen.



The most successful apps thrive on a “thick” contingent of users. A high number of participants increase the number of potential connections, thus increasing the likelihood of a successful match in the optimization process. The less information an app demands of its users, the more participants the app will attract. Thus, Tinder’s simple profiles enable a massive number of users. However, apps also face the challenge of “congestion,” or becoming so crowded that it detriments users ability to find a desirable match. Some apps narrow options by targeting a niche user base – for example, JSwipe caters to Jewish singles. Other apps create optional filters, sorting users results based on distance and age. Such apps strive to reward their users with instant gratification. They excel

“The appeal of these apps stems from their pronounced convenience: flirting can be carried out without stakes.” at allowing users to easily sift through users based on geographic location, interests, age, and apparent personality. Further, the anonymity and encouragement to flirt inspire frank conversations. Users often enjoy exciting and unexpected experiences through the app – one user recounted sleeping with a male model she met through the app, then recruiting him to be her full-time roommate. Another foodie would use the app in upscale neighborhoods in search of dates willing to pick up the tab on expensive dinners. Another user, though committed to his girlfriend, reported using the app for the ego-boost of matches. Tinder provides the opportunity to chat with a motley crew that could span from frat stars, fashionistas, athletes, artists, and travellers. All the while, users have much reign to manicure their own identity as they see fit. However, the resulting relationships are often treated as dispensable. Young people, especially in large cities, note that Tinder is a poor means of developing meaningful connection. In part, this shortcoming is due to Tinder’s inability to incorporate chemistry while creating matches. Rather, the app provides mainly superficial criteria and encourages rash decision-making, given the ease of swiping. Secondly, the ongoing possibility for new matches enables users to be weakly

looking for love

Top 3 Attention-Grabbing Devices on Tinder Looks (72%), Clever Opening (17%), Humor (11%)



Men swipe right 46% of the time, while women swipe right 14% of the time.


accountable to previous ones. Experts note theoretical evidence that over-abundant options reduce dedication to a partner, lessening the value of each individual date. Benjamin Karney, a social psychology professor at U.C.L.A. expands upon the latter issue, “There’s tons of research that suggests if people know they have lots of options, they feel less dependent on and committed to their current option. But options aren’t the only or the main predictor of commitment. What’s more important is that you actually like your partner. What mobile technology does is make it easier to find someone if you’re looking.” Accordingly, while apps are likely to increase the quantity of romantic matches, ultimately the quality of the relationship remains to be determined by the individual personalities. Looking forward, Tinder aims to diversify their portfolio to broaden the types of matches that the app initiates. For example, Tinder Social, launched in summer 2016, enables groups of friends to meet up in order to expand friend groups, or – in the words of Tinder – “upgrade your social life.” Such a feature on an app encourages platonic as well as romantic connections, and reduces the unnerving uncertainty of one-on-one interactions. Tinder has also introduced a “super-like” feature, which allows users to express especially strong interest once a day. Further, Tinder is looking to expand internationally as well. Currently, Tinder has users in 196 countries, enticing the company to scale globally, as their platform is highly adaptable to many urban hubs. In the long-term, Tinder hopes to revolutionize the app by incorporating Artificial Intelligence more prominently in user experience. Rather than demanding user participation through requiring swiping and consideration, Tinder founder and chairman Sean Rad imagines the app itself doing the heavy lifting. He envisions a “tinder assistant” that proactively notifies users of promising matches in the vicinity, report on mutual interests and friends, and even suggest ideas for date and offer to set them up. Rad described to Forbes Magazine, “Imagine you open Tinder one day and, you know, the Tinder assistant says, “You know, Sean, there’s a beautiful girl, someone that you’re going to find very attractive down the street. You have a lot of things in common and your common friend is Justin and you’re both free Thursday night and there’s this great concert that you both want to go to and can I set up a date? And here is a little bit more info

about her.” This future for Tinder would thus reduce even further the agency of the user in establishing potential matches. This ability to act on any desire – coupled with the ease of accessing more sexual partners – indeed reduces the personal value of individual relationships. Christopher Ryan, a co-author of Sex at Dawn (2010), notes of this increase in potential sexual partners, “People are gorging. That’s why it’s not intimate. You could call it a kind of psychosexual obesity.” Furthermore, while women are able to develop sexual identities in their profiles in their quest for non-committed hookups, they struggle to find respect from men, who are often keen to disregard them as “just a hookup.” The implications of this hands-off approach empowers women by providing easier – and largely judgment-free – opportunities to act on their sexual desires. Women are given new ease of access to sexual pleasure. However, the resulting interactions in heterosexual couples still retain a gender imbalance in which men are perceived to have greater authority over the seriousness of the relationship. Elizabeth Armstrong, a professor of sociology at the University of Michigan, describes, “Young women complain that young men still have the power to decide when something is going to be serious and when something is not… There is still a pervasive double standard. We need to puzzle out why women have made more strides in the public arena than in the private arena.” While young women are able to date more and create physical relationships quickly; ultimately, men continue to assume the power of determining the viability of the relationship and perceive the ability to “turn the tables” if they deem the woman worthy of dating. Ultimately, Tinder success in satisfying the most carnal urges of its users, at the detriment of meaningful connections. As love becomes automated, users have an easier time finding more potential sexual encounters. However, these apps focus on quantity of matches and convenience of the opportunity, rather than providing relationships that bring emotional fulfillment. As young people break into new careers and explore new cities, they should remember that such apps serve desires for instant gratification in order to maintain impressive user bases. However, the ultimate emotional satisfaction still eludes the realm of technological automation and optimization. ■

“Experts note theoretical evidence that overabundant options reduce dedication to a partner, lessening the value of each individual date.”







“While increased consumerism can contribute to a healthier economy, it can also speed up the consumption of natural resources in a way our planet can no longer afford.”


mart House.” The term evokes memories of a late 90s Disney Channel feature film. A thirteen-year old boy, hoping to help his dad run a household and raise his younger siblings after his mother passes away, enters a contest and wins a computerized home that cooks and cleans and takes care of other routine domestic tasks. The catch? The cyber maid named PAT takes on a life of her own, overbearingly attempting to fulfill the emotional role of a mother and a wife. I remember watching this movie in third or fourth grade and considering it a strange, futuristic film that surpassed realistic expectations. But technological developments in the past decade suggest a world resembling Disney’s Smart House is well within reach. The idea of machines mimicking cognitive functions cropped up as early as the 5th Century BCE. Greek mythology tells stories of Hephaestus, a blacksmith who manufactured mechanical servants. During the Middle Ages, rumors circulated that alchemists could place mind into matter. By the 19th century, science fiction writers had published works that brought notions of synthetic brains to a more public sphere, a fundamental example being Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. It was the development of programmable electronic computers in the 1940s, however, that inspired a handful of scientists to formally convene at Dartmouth College and discuss the trajectory of a new field they decided to call artificial intelligence (AI). While an ambitious plan to construct a machine as intelligent as a human in one generation was at first funded by the U.S. and British governments, its failure brought AI research and development to a temporary halt. But in the 1980s, the Japanese re-activated the field by focusing on expert systems: software that is programmed with specific knowledge to assist a narrow professional domain. For instance, a program could emulate an auto mechanic’s knowledge in order to more efficiently diagnose automobile problems. Since the turn of the century, the field of AI has been largely geared towards automating goods for the everyday consumer. Software developers have begun to embed popular devices with connectivity, a process referred to as the “Internet of Things” or IoT. The Apple Watch, for instance, has transformed a simple timekeeper into a


device synced to one’s bank accounts and text messages. At the forefront of marketed AI and IoT connectivity is smart home technology – the domain that has turned Disney’s fantastical home into a promising future design. Domestic appliances such as light bulbs, thermostats, refrigerators, and entertainment systems have grown a brain. Not only do these devices collect information about the user via auditory and visual sensors, but they also make predictions based on demographic, geographic, and temporal data found online. These devices can therefore adapt to a homeowner’s behavior in a sophisticated way that should make life more efficient, more productive, and more pleasant. In order to discover more about smart home technology and its implications, I spoke with Edward Felten, the Director of the Center for Information Technology Policy and a Professor of Computer Science and Public Affairs at Princeton University. Felten also leads an undergraduate seminar on artificial intelligence and public policy, which examines the impact of automation on the economy and decodes the ethics that determine how it is regulated and controlled. He considers how smart home tech – AI in a very personal sphere – might influence interactions with our environment and consequently the market. Professor Felten began by explaining how computers, performing tasks that humans conventionally have, might alter the job market. While the greatest impact will probably be with respect to autonomous cars – the 2% of the American workforce that drive cars for a living could be replaced with machines – smart home technology could also influence our careers. In the short term, the research, development, installation, and maintenance of automated appliances increases human employment opportunities. However, if smart home technology takes off such that domestic chores become automated – as in the case of the Roomba – employment opportunities in cleaning services could see a decline. There is also the potential for janitorial staff in larger institutions like schools and corporate offices to be replaced. Smart home technology will not only influence the economy by altering the job market, but also by stimulating consumer-

ism. The development of innovative gadgets creates a market for trendier models of devices consumers already own, but it primarily contributes to consumerism by cultivating a demand for entirely new products. While domestic products don’t have the interface to advertise user-specific products the way a laptop or smartphone might, they do facilitate extraneous purchases. For instance, the NPD Group, a market research firm, found that owners of Echo spent about 10% more on Amazon products after purchasing the smart speakers. Why? Perhaps because “Alexa” makes it easier to get what one wants. Rather than logging on to a website or driving to a store, one can simply state their request verbally and expect it to arrive by mail in a matter of days. A six-year old girl in Texas used this facility to her advantage, ordering a $150 dollhouse and four pounds of cookies, the arrival of which took her parents by surprise. Even my twentytwo-year-old brother inadvertently ordered a MacBook Pro through my mom’s new Echo. In addition, smart home technology enables consumers to replenish groceries or other supplies with ease. Refrigerators, for instance, are being designed to not only monitor for bacteria or spoilage, but also keep track of food stocks and independently make grocery store delivery orders. Other devices could similarly monitor the use of paper towels or cleaning supplies and make sure they are always at the homeowner’s disposal. It is true that technology will not drastically change the rate at which one buys groceries or other routine supplies, but this sort of technology does eliminate opportunities to improvise with recycled or otherwise forgotten materials. Have you ever made a delicious meal of the spare can of corn, head of lettuce, and leftover chicken because the fridge was otherwise empty? Such an instance of innovative and efficient use of resources could be lost to smart home technology. While increased consumerism can contribute to a healthier economy, it can also speed up the consumption of natural resources in a way our planet can no longer afford. Luckily, smart home technology also has the capacity to reduce energy use. Correlating electronic light with the user’s habits eliminates the possibility of forgetting to flip off the switch. If a thermometer learns that a homeowner prefers cooler temperatures at

night, it can simultaneously increase the consumer’s comfort and decrease waste. As long as the technology itself can be developed in sustainable ways, smart homes are an environmentally friendly proposition. Smart home technology therefore has the potential to impact the economy in a number of ways. By creating opportunities to develop and install technology and by automating domestic chores, AI contributes to a shifting job market. By simplifying and systematizing the process of making purchases, the technology also stimulates consumerism. And by regulating the use of utilities like heat and light, smart homes can reduce the use of natural resources. There is potential for these developments to be very productive and increase efficiency such that the standard of living increases. However, it is important to consider whether the benefits will be evenly distributed or concentrated among those who least need them. A certain degree of regulation is therefore necessary to maximize the benefits of artificial intelligence. There are privacy issues inherent to devices that operate on the premise of gathering information about the consumer. When visual and auditory sensors in a home are connected to the internet, it is important to consider to whom those eyes and ears belong. Most of these devices have systems in place to control the flow of information and prevent personal data from leaving one’s rooftop. Amazon’s Echo, for instance, automatically downloads software updates to defend against security threats and only takes commands after hearing the word “Alexa.” Nevertheless, sophisticated hackers have the capacity to bypass these systems and absorb sensitive data like financial or health information. Regulation could not only control the development and marketing of technology that breaches one’s security, but also control the distribution such that it does not widen our nation’s wealth gap. Although there may be some time before we can live in a home straight out of the pages of your favorite sci-fi novel, we are undoubtedly steadily progressing in that direction. As we slowly integrate more and more “smart” devices into our daily lives, we should appreciate all of the conveniences and benefits they provide, yet remain wary of the increasing dangers of such a connected world. ■


Apple Watch Smartwatch synced to iPhone

iRobot Roomba Autonomous floor vacuum

Amazon Echo Voice-commanded assistant




Visualizing Health:

healthcarexvirtual reality by Lilly Chadwick

icture this: a 65-year-old woman decides to consult her doctor after sporadic periods of shortness of breath and chest pain. After a series of tests, her doctor notifies her that she has coronary artery disease, and as her attentiveness drifts in and out, she picks up phrases like “plaque buildup on the inner walls” and “restricted blood flow to the heart.” However, she is in a virtually paralyzed by panic, causing the diagnosis full of esoteric terminology to escape her brain as soon as it enters. Barriers of understanding between physicians and patients are often difficult to surmount. With virtual reality (VR) software, however, such impediments can be eliminated. In a situation like the one described above, the woman could simply strap on a headset and travel through the plaque-covered arteries, with which she was diagnosed, in 360° vision and internalize the effects on her body as if she were looking at herself during an open heart surgery, thereby making the disease more tangible in her mind. This is just one example of countless measures to make healthcare go virtual. Projected to be a $3.8 billion market by 2020, virtual reality has the potential to completely disrupt the healthcare industry as methods of personalized care, medical education and therapy have been given an additional dimension. For one, virtual reality creates a trailblazing way to improve personalized care, as it greatly facilitates communication between patients and physicians. Both parties can better gauge the path of the disease, the benefits of modifying certain behaviors, and the results of taking medicine. Similarly, virtual reality is expected to dramatically improve the treatment processes of anxiety disorders, phobias, addictions, and physical rehabilitation. Dr. Albert Rizzo, Director of Medical

P “Projected to be a $3.8 billion market by 2020, virtual reality has the potential to completely disrupt the healthcare industry”

Virtual Reality at University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative Technologies, is one of the main players in the development of therapy through virtual reality. Specializing in clinical VR since the 1990s, his initiatives have ranged from creating virtual prosthetic arms for amputees to practice with to simulating social interactions for people with autism spectrum disorder. In addition, Rizzo’s development of treatments for PTSD earned him an award in 2010 from the American Psychological Association, and he championed the use of exposure therapy through his program Virtual Iraq. Adapted from the Full Spectrum Warrior video game, Virtual Iraq is integrated in a therapy session, in which the therapist controls the environment, incrementally adding triggers like gunshots, explosions, or even the sight or whirring of a Hummer while monitoring the patient’s heart rate and blood pressure. Developing treatments to phobias has made strides in the past decade. A 2010 study tested the effects of virtual reality on arachnophobia, adding tactile augmentation to more accurately simulate touching a spider. By pairing the virtual reality illusion with tactile augmentation, participants who on average could not be within 5.5 feet of a live spider before the treatment were made comfortable approaching within 6 inches of the virtual spider with far less anxiety. Aside from therapy techniques, virtual reality has also revolutionized education for aspiring doctors, as watching two-dimensional video tutorials or practicing surgeries on cadavers can now be augmented or even replaced by virtual surgeries in which doctors can conduct the surgery with their own novice hands. Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, California, for example, has opened a virtual-reality learning center that allows students to interact with



“Virtual reality may not revolutionize the way in which physicians develop cures or make other medical discoveries, but it will completely transform the way in which the field of medicine is taught and communicated.”

a virtual dissection table to rotate the body around, identify organs or systems without having to empty any part of the body out, and look at holograms. It is clear that there could be countless potential uses of virtual reality technology, but what exactly is the unifying thread that links all healthcare virtual reality products together? Does it really have the potential to disrupt the healthcare industry? Virtual reality may not revolutionize the way in which physicians develop cures or make other medical discoveries, but it will completely transform the way in which the field of medicine is taught and communicated, argues Dermot Waters, Senior Vice President of Product at Sharecare, the digital health and wellness company. Consisting of a series of personalized programs to inform and improve an individual’s health, Sharecare decided to venture into the world of virtual reality in September 2016 by acquiring BioLucid, the leading developer of virtual reality healthcare technology. BioLucid’s main technology is YouVR, a program that, coupled with the HTC Vive, provides scientifically accurate journeys through the body and immersive visualizations of diseases, therapies, and conditions. Not only can one view a simulation, but a patient, physician, or loved one can also insert personalized blood pressure, heart rate, weight and height to traverse the body to internalize the individual patient’s body and condition. According to Waters, “With YouVR, a physician can see what it is like to experience an asthma attack or live with diabetes, and a father or mother can see the world through the eyes of his or her autistic child.” Sharecare uses this platform of internal visualization along with two other mediums to produce what they call a “patient journey,” which they define as “visual storytelling through the eyes of the diagnosed.” In addi-


tion to the YouVR technology, Sharecare creates a series of videos in virtual reality in which an actor depicts living with a certain disease or condition. Then, they produce “share and care stories,” telling the success story of a particular patient who lived with the disease. For example, one particular “patient journey” package they are developing is for diabetes. To internalize how the disease is affecting their bodies, patients can immerse themselves in animated simulations depicting how the pancreas produces a lack of insulin, and how the body responds to this issue. Then, after understanding what exactly is happening in their bodies, they can watch a video in 360-degrees of an actor who, upon learning of his or her condition, takes measures to exercise and eat healthy, providing inspiration for those struggling with the news of their condition and unsure of how to proceed. After, patients are provided a “share and care story” of a lady who lost 100 pounds after eating healthier and exercising regularly with her local community. With all these measures, according to Jeff Arnold, chairman and CEO of Sharecare, the company can “turn data into actionable, visual intelligence, and make a transformative impact on patient engagement, health literacy, medical education and therapy adherence.” With virtual reality, Sharecare hopes to make patients and loved ones feel less overwhelmed and hopeless due to their lack of knowledge of what is happening to the patients’ bodies and what they can do to prevent the disease’s progression or overcome the disease or condition altogether. Virtual reality will expedite medical education, personalize care, and improve patient comprehension. However, it is important to note that there still exist several barriers to this new, empathetic healthcare system of the future. Studies estimate that only 91 mil-

lion people have used virtual reality, and that number is projected to jump to 171 million users by 2018. Though the number of virtual reality users is projected to skyrocket, it will still take time for virtual reality to become a commonplace item in hospitals, clinics, other health centers, and especially individual homes. One reason for this is that the cost of virtual reality technology is still fairly high. The HTC Vive, the main platform for medical VR, costs $800, a premium many individuals are not willing to pay. On top of the price, many customers are only attracted to the entertainment capabilities of VR, a fact exaggerated by the current lack of VR material for consumers other than that for entertainment. Making up more than 10% of the virtual reality market and projected to reach $30 billion by 2020, medical VR is expected to uproot the manner in which conditions are diagnosed, medicine is prescribed, surgical procedures are taught, and therapy is conducted. The experience economy, which commands the present era, will now extend into the areas of health and wellness: personalized care can become more finely tuned. In one scenario, the 65-year-old woman hears her diagnosis of coronary artery disease and tries to mask her confusion on how exactly her condition affects her body, how she should change her lifestyle habits to alleviate her condition, and what action others have taken with the same condition. Through the visual storytelling of her health in virtual reality, she feels more educated, empowered, and hopeful. According to BioLucid co-founder Dale Park, “understanding is really the key to positive outcomes in treatment.” With even a minor increase in visualizing the medical reality on behalf of the patient, loved one, or physician through virtual reality, the implications on treatment results are limitless. ■




ANDRE IGUODALA is a professional NBA basketball player currently with the Golden State Warriors and formerly with the Philadelphia 76ers and Denver Nuggets. Andre is a former NBA All-Star, two-time All-Defensive Team selection, 2012 Olympic Gold medalist, and the Most Valuable Player of the 2015 NBA Finals, where he led the Warriors to their first championship since 1975. Off the court, Andre is the Vice President of the Executive Committee for the National Basketball Players Association, a role in which he ensures that all players are informed of all basketball and business affairs within the NBA, represents the players in negotiating the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, and ensures security for both current and former players. Andre is also a prolific investor, having a very diverse portfolio of investments and deep relationships in Silicon Valley with many investors, companies, and venture capital firms like Andreessen Horowitz. Combining these interests, Andre led the inaugural National Basketball Players Association Technology Summit in 2016, aiming to connect influential technology companies and NBA players. The Warriors are also leaders in the NBA at embracing technology, partnering with firms like Second Spectrum to provide thorough statistical analysis about their game performance and Catapult to provide statistical insights about players’ health during both practice and games.

Business Today: Business Today’s main audience is college students, and so, what advice would you give students on reaching success and staying motivated? Andre Iguodala: I think doing what you love, something that you’re passionate about, is more important than anything. You shouldn’t view work as a job; you should view it as a passion that you want to perfect, and you should have good intentions in doing so. Good intentions are when everything you do is to gain more knowledge, to learn the history of whatever you’re passionate about, to get the best out of yourself, and to make things better for the next generation. BT: What are your professional goals in basketball and venture capital the next 5 years? Iguodala: I want to continue playing at a high level and having an impact on the floor. With social media, everyone does a lot of what we do for attention. For me, though, I know I need to think for myself and my teammates and put them in a position to be successful, and it may not show up on the stat sheet and I may not get credit or attention. That’s really been my goal as I’ve gotten older: to put my team in a position to win and get a crack of winning a championship every single year. With venture capital, I want to continue to learn. I put myself in a position to be around the right people who have good intentions about whatever it is they’re trying to do. You also want to be around people who have great business savvy, know how to build teams, and know how to build communities. I’ve been around some really good people and learned a lot from them, and the goal there is to also take that learning and pass it along to my teammates and other fellow NBA players. BT: What is your approach to adjusting to different situations and showing leadership and teamwork? Iguodala: I think that the best approach to being ready for all situations is to put the work in. I try to be prepared right when the game starts to see what my team needs from me in the spur of the moment. But that starts at practice. I shoot thousands of jumpers


and I’m always in the weight room, trying to do the right things off the court, and doing all these drills. You may think, “What’s the point?,” when that’s not my main job, but that’s what part of being ready for that moment is. It’s all preparation and going about it the right way. BT: Basketball has seen an increased use of analytics, like with the Warriors’ partnerships with Second Spectrum and Catapult. How have these developments changed the way that you prep for and play the game? Iguodala: More than anything with the analytics, I’ve watched my movement on the court from a health perspective. There are a lot of good things with analytics, and there are a lot of things that might be misinterpreted, but I look at my load, how hard I’m cutting, my acceleration and deceleration, and how much stress is put on my knees, and that in turn dictates my weight training and how hard I go in practice. If I’ve had a tough week, I might just relax in practice and focus on treatment on my body. That’s where the NBA is getting smarter. Rest has been a big topic all over the sports channels, and in actuality, our bodies aren’t made to play and practice hard every single day. Technology is helping us be smarter at preserving our bodies to be at their best when they really need to be. BT: Given that analytics are so new to the NBA, what have been the responses and challenges in getting players to change their game based on analytics? Iguodala: It’s drawn some criticism, but I think it’s helped. Only a few teams have had the luxury to really rest, but analytics have changed the game. The three point shot has become a little bit more important in this era. The art of the mid-range has been lost but that’s just the day and age of the game of basketball. The game may change and the power forward may be more important than outside the three point line in 15 years as opposed to now, so you have to look at time in the way the game has evolved. Michael Jordan is the best basketball player of all time, and his midrange was the most import-

ant part of his game, so analytics are important but you also have to look at the era, the time, the type of players that are coming up, the kind of the way the game is changing, and you never know if it’ll change back. BT: How have these new perspectives from the influx of analytics changed the team and coaching dynamics? Iguodala: With the dynamic for the players, it’s almost the same. We understand why practices are a little bit lighter, and we know the guys are getting rest because of the minutes being played. From a coaching standpoint, it has probably been the biggest change. When I first got in the league, we practiced for a couple hours every day and we got after it, and we were burnt out and tired by the end of the season. Coaches are understanding that rest is a little bit more important, and our practices are very light. We spend a lot of time focusing on our fundamentals and keeping ourselves sharp because sharp is a lot better than tired or rusty. BT: What have been some other notable insights you’ve gotten from analytics? Iguodala: One thing that is forgotten with analytics is that there’s so much of it. When you have too much information, you don’t know what to do with it and you can misread it. We found the right information for us is something as simple as our total passes. We pass the ball a certain amount of times, it correlates to a good amount of assists, and our percentage of winning is off the charts. So we know if we don’t turn the ball over and make good, consistent passes, we’re almost be guaranteed to win. BT: Moving off the court, you’re very wellknown for your investing and venture capital involvement. What have been some of the interesting investments you’ve had recently and what drew you to them? Iguodala: That’s a really good question. I’m meeting with Ariana Huffington tomorrow about her new startup, Thrive Global, a wellness life platform. She and I had similar stories to where I was having issues with

“Technology is helping us be smarter at preserving our bodies to be at their best when they really need to be.”



“When building a platform, you have to have the right pieces in place, and investors need to make sure the team is the right team for that company.”


sleeping for about 10 years until I finally saw a sleep therapist and started doing research. I saw that the more sleep I got, the better performance I had; all my stats were affected. It’s always about burning out and those who get the least amount of sleep are the most productive, and you know, “I’m grinding and I’m up working harder than you because I don’t sleep,” but that’s false. Your life should be surrounded by healthy living, and then other things will come, not the other way around. I started spreading that message and wanted to be a part of it, and that’s what brought Ariana and myself together. I try understanding startup founders and what exactly they’re trying to do, not just on a whim seeing a company starting and wanting to be a part of it, but understanding it and letting the relationship happen organically and then becoming a part of it by investing. BT: How do you keep the concept of teamwork alive or present in your investment strategies? Iguodala: The startups that I’ve gotten involved with through Andreessen Horowitz have given me a lot of great feedback as far as the teamwork and the network that Andreessen has. If any issue comes up, they can make a simple call and Andreessen can have the network to get it fixed right away. That has been a key factor: it isn’t just “I invest money into you”, but it’s more like everyone’s working together as a team. I’ve thought many times about what it’s like to be a General Manager, and it is very similar to that. You need to put the right coach in place, strength trainer, analytics guy…When building a platform, you have to have the right pieces in place, and investors need to make sure the team is the right team for that company. BT: What was your inspiration in starting

the Players Association Technology Summit? Iguodala: Well, the Silicon Valley is one of the reasons I joined the Warriors - to start making a transition after basketball and putting myself in a position to meet the right people, and it’s been great so far. I’ve branded myself as a guy who wants to have that bridge built before I’m done playing, and I’ve gotten good feedback from other players interested in this space as well, so we brought about 15 guys to see it for themselves. A lot of guys knew what was going on and knew a lot of the companies we were speaking about. They shadowed a VC, went to startups in different phases, and spoke with founders who had different degrees of success. It was just a really good experience; they learned a lot, we got great feedback, and a couple guys are still involved with those companies. BT: What have been the breakthroughs and challenges in bridging the gap between players and investing? Iguodala: I think the hardest thing is to get the two sides to understand the parallels. There are many parallels there between business and sports, similar to being a GM. You’re building your team or you’re building your company; you’re putting the right pieces in place. Basketball players are becoming more business-conscious and have a lot more savvy when it comes to business. You see a lot of guys going back to school, and if not, they are taking advantage of programs provided by our union. Our players are getting smarter and are up to date on what’s happening in whatever field they’re interested in. Some of the VCs and tech companies understand that, and that’s what makes the gap become bridged - there’s this understanding of two sides now. BT: What are your goals with the Summit in the coming years?

Iguodala: We want to continue to expand, and we have more players wanting to get involved. The big thing is to continue the education. Athletes have the eye and ear of the public. The more we are together, the more powerful we can be from a standpoint of influencing people. Tech is a lot about disruption and making the world more efficient, and we are trying to do that every single day. BT: How has the relationship between tech companies or venture capital and players evolved since the time you got into the NBA or started investing? Iguodala: I think the landscape has changed. You only have a handful of guys who get big corporate deals, but the consumer is becoming smarter as far as branding, who’s organic, and what’s real and what’s not. I think you start with social media; athletes have benefited from social media with branding, being in a place where public can come see a player for who he is and what he’s about. If you look at that, that’s tech; social media has probably played the biggest part with athletes. Both sides have played a big part on the other, like you see Twitter now has a live sports feed on the app, and people are really tuning in. BT: What have been the biggest advantages and challenges with social media in promoting your values and personal brand? Iguodala: I think it’s been really good to get your message out there. Sometimes I think in the past, whatever was written was the story of the athlete; he wasn’t necessarily able to get his side out there or show people who he truly was. There’s only a handful of guys who are doing Late Night Shows or who cover magazines. I think fans wanted to see more and more of all athletes - not just the top 5 guys in the NBA, but the top 100 guys. Now they have access to our lives and all those things, but the challenges have been

having a balance of the two. BT: How do you see this relationship between technology, companies, and also players changing in the future? Iguodala: I think that remains to be seen. With VR and mixed reality, you have an opportunity for training to be changed. Players will be able to have their trainer halfway across the world but still get through a workout. Kids will be able to workout with an NBA player through technology, see their workouts right there while they’re there on the court. The sky’s the limit for tech, and it’s only going to get better - better and smaller. When the Google glasses came out, they didn’t quite have a hit, but you see the good things in them and integrate that into something else. Athletes are getting bigger, faster, stronger. I remember when I was a kid I saw an All-Star commercial and athletes were jumping up and dunking on 100 foot rims, and it seemed crazy, but with the way technology is going, you laugh and say that’s a possibility. BT: Beyond players just using technology, where do you see this relationship between tech companies, and VC firms and players evolving in the future? Iguodala: You’re going to see a lot more. For example, you’re going to be able to subscribe to a VR as if you’ll be courtside watching the game while you’re at home, and people will be able to buy tickets to the VR. There’s good and bad to that because you take the social aspect of being there, but it will get to feel like they’re there and it definitely helps the growth of the game. I think tech wants to grow, sports wants to grow, and it’s almost as if sports entertainment is the last live content that holds its true value. You can’t record that, and in this day and age it holds high value, and the two will continue to use each other to remain strong. ■

“With VR and mixed reality, you have an opportunity for training to be changed. Players will be able to have their trainer halfway across the world but still get through a workout.”







am hungry.” A phrase said by many people on a daily basis, whether young or old, whether in the Western or Eastern hemispheres. Indeed, everyone needs to eat, and everyone likes to eat. Macroscopically, under the current situation, there is no food shortage, but only an imbalance in food distribution. Specifically, developed nations have a decreasing rate of population growth, and a surplus in food. In contrast, developing nations have an growing population rate—as much as 50% in African countries, and many families in developing nations already struggle to put food on the table. Even if there is no food shortage under present circumstances, given that food can be better allocated, the concern for the future is still pressing. The population of the entire globe has reach 7.3 billion by 2016, and is expected to rise to 9.7 billion by 2050. Although the population will only rise by 33%, the earth needs to produce 200% more food than it did in the beginning of the 2000 to feed over 9 billion people on the earth. A fair allocation is a rather utopian thought, since the rich gets richer and the poor gets poorer. Thus, we need to discuss how advanced machines might help alleviate the dichotomy between the developed and developing nations and how modern technology can contribute to sustainability on the grand scale. The biggest problem we face now is yield gap, the difference between how much a field is producing and how much it can produce. Due to yield gap, the world is producing more food at a decreasing growth rate. Some nations have already, or will soon reach a plateau for crop growth, contrary to previous environmentalist estimates based off exponential food production. Indeed, in the southern area of China, rice production actually decreases over the decades. IN the 70’s to the 90’s, the overall annual average percentage increase rate of yield goes from 3.3% to 2.9% to 1.5%. As the largest producer of rice for the world, it is concerning to have a decreasing growth rate. The main causes for yield losses are soil-related, weather-related and pest-related. Soil-related means the deficiency of nutrients in the soil, weather-related


“With sensors in 15 rows to inspect plants, LettuceBot can care for 5,000 plants per minute and treats 40 acres per day with a single machine.”


problems include floods and droughts, and pest-related problems include bugs and weed. Out of all, soil-related constraints, including shortage in nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, account for about 45% of yield losses on average. Many modern machines target specific factors to shorten the yield gap. To deal with the problem of nutrients deficiency, Blue River Technology invented a machine called “LettuceBot”, a precision thinning machine. In essence, LettuceBot decides which plant to keep and which to thin to optimize yield. If there are too many plants in one field, they will fight for nutrients. LettuceBot selectively chooses the stronger sprouts and allows them to get enough nutrients, targeting the soil-related problem and reducing yield losses. LettuceBot is also more efficient than humans. With sensors in 15 rows to inspect plants, LettuceBot can care for 5,000 plants per minute and treats 40 acres per day with a single machine. Using human hands, farmers can select around 50 plants per minute and select examine one acre of a field per hour. LettuceBot expands the area by using 15 rows instead of one, and increases the speed of the thinning process by 100 times. Machines like LettuceBot are key to producing more plants and closing up the yield gap. Soil problems aside, pest-related problems are being tackled by drones! Drones have surfaced to many aspects of people’s life due to how versatile they are, and agriculture is the next field many companies are entering. Drones can be designed to monitor moisture level in the field, spot pests, and spray pesticide on flagged areas. Lehmann Aviation devised the LP960 drone to achieve such purposes, taking aerial images of the field using a thermal camera, which determines heated areas where pests congregate. It can be used in harsh environments, anywhere from -13 F to 140 F. Spotting pests with human eyes is much less efficient, and humans cannot work in extreme weathers like LP960 is. Other companies, like Blue River, have come up with See & Spray drones, which spot and directly spray pesticides on pest-affected areas. Although drone

95% less land

Impossible Burger uses...

87% less fossil fuels

invested in this technique. It brought to the market the burger that “bleeds”. On first sight, one would imagine it to be a perfectly sizzling steak burger, but it is in fact a veggie burger with zero meat content! “In vitro cultivation”, meaning food cultivated in a lab, is the step up from the conventional method since it leaves significantly less environmental impact than beef raised on the field, and is also more nutritious. For Impossible Food, over a third of its production is done in labs. The researchers use centrifuge to separate plant molecules and another machine called gastro-chromatography (GCS) to add flavor into the “meat”. In the lab of Impossible Foods, burgers are synthesized using potato, coconut oil, soy, wheat and their key ingredient called “heme”. It is the magic ingredient that allows the veggie burger to bleed just like real meat. In nature, it is present as hemoglobin in blood, which gives the smell, sizzle and taste of meat. Thus, using extracted heme from yeast cultivated in tanks, real meat flavor can be preserved in these vegetarian burgers. Together, the all-natural ingredients plus the magic touch equate the veggie burger that swept through the east coast and made its way onto the menu of some Michelin-starred restaurants in NYC. Not only does it taste like a good old fashioned burger, it greatly decreases the environmental footprint of cows. 1 kilogram of Impossible Food burgers uses 95% less land, 75% less water, and produces 87% less greenhouse gas emission compared to traditional beef burger. Even on a personal scale, substituting that beef patty for an Impossible Food synthesized burger can make a real environmental difference. LettuceBot, drones, and Impossible Foods are all modern techniques designed to prevent food crises in the future. Scientists are trying their best to invent machines to close up yield gap and maximum production, and many organizations are spreading the ideology of a less meat-based diet to alleviate the burden on Earth. While it is advanced machinery that has planted the seeds, it is the advanced thinking that will foster them to blossom in a sustainable future. ■

75% less water

technology in agriculture is still very avantgrade, it holds much promise in the foreseeable future. Yet our food supply problems cannot be solved through increased crop production alone. Economic growth also brings up the standard of living, causing people switch to a highly carnivorous diet. More meat-lovers call for more meat, and livestock is consumed at the expense of human appetite. If the aforementioned crop machines are made to assemble production, slaughterhouses utilize highly mechanical system to disassemble. In Timothy Pachirat’s book Every Twelve Seconds, he narrates his personal experience from working at a slaughterhouse in Nebraska. The book’s title references the fact that a cow is killed every twelve seconds, and goes through 156 stages along the (dis) assembly line. The entire slaughterhouse is filled with machines to chop off body parts, extract the innards, and eventually produce freezer packs for markets all across America. Pachirat recounts how industrialized and callous the entire process is, as the cattle are always referred to as an mechanical entities, desensitizing the workers to treat them as living machines for profit. Not only may butchering cattle be considered unethical by some, but raising cows also places a heavy burden on the environment. Since cows are ruminants, only a minute fraction of consumed nutrients actually enter into the bloodstream. Put it in simpler terms, cows eat way more than they produce. In caloric terms, a portion of red meat requires 28 times more land than poultry, and 160 times more land than potatoes. According to an UN report, they also contribute to the advent of global warming, since cows produce more greenhouse gases than cars. Specifically, cows are responsible for 37% of all human related methane emission, one of the major players in global warming, and 64% of all ammonia emission, a producer of acid rain. Considering this negative impact, could there be an alternative to raising cattle for meat? Many companies have synthesized plant proteins to resemble real meat. Impossible Foods is one of a myriad companies that has

when compared to a regular burger




Joanna J. Bryson is a transdisciplinary researcher on the structure and dynamics of human- and animal-like intelligence. Her research covers topics ranging from artificial intelligence, through autonomy and robot ethics, and on to human cooperation. She holds degrees in Psychology from Chicago (AB) and Edinburgh (MPhil), and Artificial Intelligence from Edinburgh (MSc) and MIT (ScD). She has additional professional research experience from Oxford, Harvard, and LEGO, and technical experience in Chicago’s financial industry, and international organization management consultancy. Bryson is presently a Reader (associate professor) at the University of Bath, and an affiliate of Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy.


By Luca Rade Business Today: To begin with, what do you think is the biggest misconception about the future of Artificial Intelligence? Dr. Joanna Bryson: The false idea that artificial intelligence is in the future. We’ve had it for decades now and it’s fundamentally changing who and what we are. Many people associate the future of Artificial Intelligence with Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Terminator and robot apes bent on seeking world domination, but I don’t think we’re ever going to see something like that, and in the meantime, AI is already here and causing radical change. For example, think of our relationship with large tech companies. Facebook and Google give us entertainment and information, not in return for a monetary transaction but in return for our information. They are paying us for our information with their services, basically – it’s a barter transaction. I think that’s one of the many reasons that there is an increase in wealth inequality; all kinds of transactions are happening that are not denominated conventionally, and so they can’t be taxed. The only reason we know how important these tech companies are is because the market is valuing them with high market caps in recognition of these hidden transactions. I don’t think that is only true for super AI companies. We now do labor ourselves that we used to hire people for like booking travel or checking out at supermarkets, and we don’t get paid for that except that it presumably gets back to us in the form of low costs. Effectively, we are bartering labor. I think that people just haven’t recognized the extent to which we are changing the world already as a result of automation. Many people aren’t seeing this yet because politics is blaming the symptoms on other forces like globalization. BT: What are the implications of thinking that way for the next 5-10 years? Bryson: I think in the next five years it’s possible we’ll see radical shifts in democracy and how the state is organized. The last time we had this much wealth inequality and this much political polarization was around WWI, which caused us to fall through a bunch of floors and brought a lot of instability but which led to the welfare state and the enshrining of universal human rights. That was a really big shift, a completely new invention. I think we are going to need another revolution of governance on the order of

the welfare state. Well, first of all we need to return to the welfare state as that is being dismantled. The threat of communism meant Western governments implemented policies to keep the proletariat happy. When it became clear that communism wasn’t going to work, once the Soviet economy plateaued in the late 70s, and I think that’s when the elite stopped worrying about keeping the proletariat happy, so that was when whatever policy had been keeping wages growing steadily ended. When you look at the inequality numbers, there’s a weird trait where the wealth inequality and political polarization are just weirdly low and declining from WWII until 1978. The graph you often see is that between 1945 and 1978 wages rose with productivity and then after

“I think in the next five years it’s possible we’ll see radical shifts in democracy and how the state is organized.” 1978 they plateaued. I think that government policy was keeping wages growing with productivity and I don’t know what exactly it was but it was in living memory so hopefully someone knows. BT: I’ve heard the argument that the reason wages began plateauing in 1978 is because that’s when automation began picking up steam. Bryson: That doesn’t make sense at all. Automation has been going on for centuries. There is nothing special that happened in AI in 1978. The cause was the change in government policy in 1978 as the Soviet economy plateaued and the resulting rise in wealth inequality. To be clear, I don’t think it’s actually the inequality itself that’s the problem, I think it’s the curve. If you look at what’s happened with the Gini Coefficient, the curve now has an incredibly steep part and a whole lot of flat. If you’re right along the flat it’s not clear how you can get up. You can’t just say if I

go to college I get to the steep part. I have academics who have asked me if inequality is really that big of a deal because we are getting these amazing gifts due to the incentives inequality provides. The twenties, when inequality was high, were a very creative time, after all; but the two world wars also completely sucked. I think it’s better to sacrifice a little bit of creativity for a slightly more stable economy. BT: How does technology play into that equation, and what can we do about it? Bryson: One of the things they talk about a lot in the EU is whether or not we should declare robots to be people and then tax them. I think that there is economic interest in that because it’s about taking a part of the business process, fully automating it, and then breaking it off. The robot performs labor but they don’t get tax liability or legal liability for it because it’s not a real person. I can see why the European Union would want to say this might be a way to solve that problem. But I think it’s a really bad way. it doesn’t break the chain, it’s not coherent to treat a robot like person. First of all they are not accountable as people are. Second of all it’s hard to count them; you can replicate a software program without cost, and the boundaries between different entities aren’t clear. It should be very clear that the legal and financial responsibility for automated parts are the original business’s. The alternative is coming up with a better revenue model. Europe has more people and a larger economy than America, yet Google is paying no tax and getting more benefits from Europe than they are getting from America. I don’t think a tax would make sense anymore because companies figure out all types of ways to barter and cheat the system. In fact, now that we have information, we should look into a wealth tax. Wealth taxes are in fact already known to be better than income tax in theory but the main problem is that it’s hard to track, there’s so many ways to hide wealth. However, now that wealth can be better tracked and accounted for with information technology, a wealth tax may be possible. BT: What keeps you up at night? Bryson: Data and privacy. The more we know about people, the easier it is to manipulate them. My biggest fear is that people are too easily manipulated now that we know so much information about them. I think data



should be treated under personal law; if people seem to be manipulating us, we should be able to do class action, and I think that is what the European Union is thinking about, creating an AI regulatory body that would be watching for things like that and get on and intervene. It would be a major shift from the way business today is done. Data wouldn’t be owned by the people who hold it, but by the people it’s about, and the people who own it would have some kind of asset, but not one they can do whatever they want with. BT: Going off of some of the policies you mentioned, is the main barrier to the realization just politics? They sound fairly feasible. Bryson: A lot of the things I have been talking about are feasible because I have been looking for things that are feasible. What we need to do is first of all convince ourselves that we are ready and then convince other people that we are ready. Sometimes you just have to move in politics, you just have to try and guess, and then we need to convince people with power that this is worth doing. I try to do that, I talk about this kind of stuff when I’m at AI meetings. From talking to governments and companies, I’ve noticed a lot of the things people worry about, we don’t need to worry about, it’s like fire-fighting. They think if we put out this fire, it’s going to fix it, but no, that’s a fire that’s been caused by something more fundamental - the political polarization, the wealth inequality, that system. BT: What would be your advice for undergraduates who are deciding what to do in light of the changes wrought by new technologies and the problems that come with it? Bryson: First of all pick a problem, don’t keep bouncing around. Try to pick a problem you can really contribute to. Bounce around for a couple of years, try to see different things but pick something and really work on it. Do realize though that that’s sort of a five year threshold and it’s important to be generalist, it’s important to keep learning. I always tell people to get into the best university because it does keep you cognitively challenged and learning to learn is a big deal. Also, in order to learn new things, it helps to be intelligent. It used to be that people thought intelligence peaked when they


were 18. This was because 18 was when you would stop being educated. It’s now known there are ways to maintain your intelligence into your old age, and the two best predictors are having a cognitively challenging job and picking a partner that is at least as smart as you are. That would be my advice to everyone. Finding a challenging job and a partner that is as smart as you are. BT: In terms of career path: given someone’s strengths, how should they be thinking about how to move forward? Bryson: It’s not only about strengths, although that is important. It’s also about interest. I just picked something that was I really interested in and stuck with it, and didn’t chase grants like some people do, so in some ways I’m successful in that I’ve learned what I wanted to learn and am actually having a tangible influence in the world right now, but on the other hand, I’m 52 and don’t have tenure. A big part of it is also creating opportunity. One of my favorite quotes is “luck is when opportunity meets preparation.” The best way to prepare is to differentiate yourself. There’s no reason to keep doing the same thing. There’s a whole bunch of people doing the same thing and the wages for that are going to down. I think this is one of the big mistakes we are making right now in general education, teaching to the test, so everyone gets the same education, which is kind of weak. We should try to seek unique individual opportunities and try to combine different things. When evaluating opportunities, I would always look for things where they need something that I could do but I would get to learn something that I thought I needed to know. That’s how when I was in industry I landed some great opportunities, by hopping a couple of times and making those kinds of assessments, where I had a strength that the company needed enough that they would let me address the weakness that I wanted to address. You can’t always go exactly where you want to go, but you can build up your portfolio as you take advantage of different opportunities. Then again, every time you change, you do lose a little ground, so there are different strategies. ■

#HIRED Successfully ďŹ nding a job in the digital era by Daphne Mandell


he rise of the digital age has permanently altered the landscape of interpersonal communications; texting has replaced talking, an inbox is the new mailbox, and “Instagram” and “Snapchat” are now verbs. While these advancements have introduced major changes to correspondence etiquette (is it ever really ok to use an Emoji in a work email?) they also challenge long-held conventions that have dictated how college students should effectively search for jobs or internships for decade. The digitization of job postings and networking opportunities has created an inevitable dichotomy for both students and recruiters; while the Internet offers increased opportunity, it also presents increased competition. A recent Microsoft survey found that 79% of employers conduct an online search of applicants and 85% of hiring managers use social networking sites like LinkedIn to assess potential candidates. Sophomore Emma Bruce describes, “It’s so frustrating to fill out so many online [internship] applications and not know if you’re ever going to hear back.” This sense of online anonymity is a sentiment shared by countless college students who feel intimidated by the enormity of online opportunity; “I just applied for this really cool position at this medical consulting company, but they don’t say how long the internship is going to be posted for, or if they’ll ever get back to you,” Bruce adds. Given the increased impersonality of the cyber-driven world, many students struggle with how to stand out through online job applications while simultaneously contending with emerging professional protocols. Paradoxically, however, as the job market becomes increasingly automated, Princeton Career Services Director Evangeline Kubu reminds students to let their personalities shine through. It is precisely because employers are beginning to rely on digital recruiting tools that prospective job seekers must take advantage of the wide variety of online outlets to curate their professional perception and create personal narratives that extend far beyond a traditional resume and cover letter. Here are four key tips for students look-


ing to get #hired: Tell Your Story Before a student can start to look for a job online, it’s important that he or she seems hirable. Talent Acquisition Director of Viacom, Ralph Nader, notes that for candidates looking to build their online profiles, “The first line of defense is LinkedIn. Though while many students’ first instinct may be to copy and paste their work experience straight from an existing resume, former LinkedIn Customer Service Manager and current life and business coach, Cailin McDuff, advises students to put their resumes aside and focus on their personal summaries, which she adds are “the #1 thing that recruiters look at on candidates’ profiles.” McDuff recommends that these summaries should be 3-5 sentences, written in first person, and centered on a key theme that explains your motive for joining the workforce and advancing your career. Carolyn Crabtree, co-founder of Cornerstone Reputations, a firm that helps job-seekers to manage their digital footprints, suggests that in addition to maximizing their LinkedIn profiles, students should design personal websites where they’re not limited to a singular platform’s constraints. These sites give young people who may not have had extensive experience in the professional workforce to expand upon volunteer or extracurricular activities by including personal narrations and multimedia links. Crabtree also notes that if this site is going to be the official online destination for all things related to a candidate, it should be visible from both desktop and mobile devices, optimized by Google algorithms, and include a blog section so that the site-owner has a go-to destination to express his or her authentic voice. Google Yourself While it’s important for students to put energy into carefully crafting profiles on personal websites, LinkedIn, and other recruiting platforms, like Princeton’s Handshake, it’s equally important for them to be wary of what other information there may be circulating about them online. The first thing that

Percentages of U.S. Internet users who use LinkedIn by age

18-29 30-49 50-64 65+


34% 33% 24% 20%

Kubu instructs students to do when curating their online presence is to Google themselves, and then set up Google Alerts so they know if anything affiliated with their name is ever published. Moreover, as the lines become increasingly blurred between the professional and social spheres, it’s increasingly important for students to be strategic with how they manipulate their presence on social media. For candidates seeking jobs in creative fields where their social media skills might be relevant, Nader notes that recruiters often leverage applicants’ social accounts to see how they engage with the community around them. For fields like banking and medicine, however, where company policies often necessitate disaffiliation on non-professional platforms like Facebook and Instagram, candidates should make sure to privatize their profiles and emphasize the separation between their personal and professional profiles online. Over 90% of recruiting firms do a Google search on candidates, so it’s critical for job-seekers to optimize those search results in a way that only increases their appeal as a potential hire. Do Your Homework Given the wealth of information available on the Internet, students should research potential employers’ needs in order to showcase their possible contributions and emphasize shared core values. Amanda Gabriel, a recruitment and marketing specialist for IBM, notes that it’s much more impressive when applicants reach out to her to provide answers, not ask questions. She counsels students to consider the scale of potential employers’ companies, and recommends that the larger the company, the more department-specific a student should be when describing why a certain position appeals to them and what their potential contributions would look like. McDuff recommends that if a student is interested in a working for a particular company, that he or she should follow them on all professional networking sites (i.e. LinkedIn) so they can remain current with all brand-related news and be aware if a position opens up. Similarly, students should be aware of key words

that recruiters use to describe available positions and then employ them on their own profiles so that their names will come up if those terms are used in an online search. In terms of finding specific companies and positions, the Internet offers a wealth of sites including, but not limited to, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Handshake, Monster, Indeed, and CareerBuilder. There are also regionally specific sites, like FindSpark, or industry specific boards like StartUpHire, that seek to connect employers and candidates per certain criteria. Once students have located the brand they’d like to work for, Nader rec-

79% of job seekers used online resources in their most recent search

ommends reaching out to the person who they would intern for or the person who is currently holding the job they may want, in addition to submitting a general application or appealing to the recruitment team. He says that it’s important for candidates to understand their potential position and ideally establish a rapport with the people they’d be working with. He also notes that, like 70% of recruiters, he’s infinitely more likely to look at a resume sent through a personal referral. Easy as ABC Although “who you know” has long beeAlthough “who you know” has long been heralded as the most valuable asset in the hunt for a job or internship, Kubu notes that it’s become increasingly important for students who are looking to make themselves stand out against the Internet-induced


influx of applicants. In order to forge valuable connections online, she recommends an ABC approach. The “A” stands for the people you already know; i.e. family, friends, professors, and former employers who know you well and can speak to your accomplishments and abilities. The “B” represents the “bridge connections” that the people you may already know can put you in touch with, and the “C” denotes the people who “can help” or “can hire you” with regard to your desired position. Kubu stresses the increased importance of optimizing digital resources in dealing with all of these people, and notes that the wider range of people with whom you can share your personal site and connect on LinkedIn, the more exposure you can gain in any given field. Advances in technology have only increased networking opportunities because the Internet breaks the barriers of distance and time, so students can connect with professionals regardless of time zone or geographic location. Nader also notes that sites like LinkedIn provide students with the opportunity to remain connected with different professionals simply by appearing in their feeds, so that even once a connection has been facilitated, they can remain in touch past a thank-you email. Crabtree notes that when following up with intermediate connections and potential employers, it’s critical to follow up regardless of whether or not you get the job or internship you want. She advises students to show that they’re already contributing by sharing articles or ideas that are relevant to their potential employer’s field. ••• Ultimately, however, as students seek to navigate the digital job market, the number one thing to keep in mind is authenticity. As information becomes increasingly accessible and the lines between personal and professional continue to blur, it’s up to students to be both strategic and honest about the information they choose to advertise. But given that 1 in 5 people are engaging social media to find a job, both employers and candidates enter into an unwritten contract that whatever they put online must remain true in person. ■

of all U.S. adults have applied for a job online Source: Pew Research Center




SHOPPING MALLS by Maha al Fahim

“These ‘Store Closing’ signs plastered across the walls of department stores are also signs of trouble for specialty stores and boutiques.”

hopping malls were once just places for shopping. People streamed in with their shopping lists and scattered out of with their shopping bags. Besides the food court and the occasional bench, these unimaginative malls offered little for consumers to do. But consumers still shopped at the mall because, until recently, they had little other choice. The advent of ecommerce, to which I will later return, is giving consumers an alternative. Unsurprisingly, less people are visiting malls to fulfill their shopping needs. From 2010 to 2013, American malls have experienced a fifty percent decline in traffic. Over the past decade, sales for US department stores have plummeted from $87.46 billion to $60.65 billion, and sales per square foot have dropped by twenty four percent. As a result, many major department stores are scaling back. JC Penny announced its plans to close over 130 stores across the country; Macy’s will close 68 stores; Kmart and Sears will close 150 stores by 2017. Many more department stores are following suit, shifting their weight from their physical to their online platforms. These “Store Closing” signs plastered across the walls of department stores are also signs of trouble for specialty stores and boutiques. Department stores gather traffic for neighboring specialty stores as people visit malls intending to visit the department stores and only then stop by boutiques. As these big stores close down, owners are also struggling to find tenants to replace them. Indeed, a study by Green Street Advisors projects that


fifteen percent of malls will disappear in the next decade. This is unfortunate for the tens of thousands of employees who will lose their jobs. It is unfortunate for those in small towns who will be constricted in their shopping means. It is unfortunate for urban shoppers who must now travel far in fetch of their next open mall. Vicki Howard, author of ‘From Main Street to Mall’, noted in the ‘Penn Press’ that it is a also a loss of “valuable community space for meeting up with friends and family, taking part in charity or school events, selling Girl Scout cookies, or getting a picture taken with Santa at Christmas.” What explains the shopping mall graveyards sprawling across our states? One major cause of the decline of shopping malls is the rising popularity of online shopping. Nearly seventy percent of Americans shop online at least once every month. Online shopping has many perks. You can escape the bustling crowd and the uncooperative salesclerk, as you shop from the comfort of your home (or classroom). Queues by the cash register are a problem of the past. You have clear access to an array of sizes, colors and styles of goods to choose from as these virtual malls transcend borders to get you what you want. As online stores don’t need to rent a space or hire as many employees, they can afford to give you better deals. You can compare prices across stores with a click of a button. Also, online shopping grants you the feeling of buying a present for yourself as you await the delivery and unravel the package - the element of surprise extant as

24% sales per square foot decline in US department stores over the past decade

31% sales decline in US department stores over the past decade Source:


you discover how your purchase looks like in reality. Does this mean the end for the American shopping mall is upon us? A look at the most successful malls of today can give us a glimmer of hope. Take the Mall of America in Minnesota for example. Here you can ride a flight simulator for an aerial tour of America’s greatest sites, feel your adrenaline levels rise at its SMAAASH virtual reality gaming center, laugh in its comedy clubs, play golf at the miniature golf course, or throw your wedding at its Chapel of Love. An example across the border is the West Edmonton Mall in Canada. Here you can ride the world’s largest indoor triple-loop roller coaster, or play at the world’s largest indoor water park. The mall also has a petting zoo, an indoor lake with live sea lions, a life-size replica of the Santa Maria and more. The Dubai Mall is yet another example. Besides being home to 1,200 retail stores and an assortment of cultural cuisines, the mall hosts the Dubai Aquarium and Discovery Center, flight simulators, a children-sized city called KidZania in which kids can play grown up, dancing fountains that put on daily performances with light and music, and more. What do all these malls have in common? Besides being extraordinary, these shopping malls are not just malls for shopping. They transcend the competition against ecommerce because they sell what no online store can provide. They sell experience. To survive, lagging American malls must do the same. Rather than bestow eighty percent of their space to retail stores, malls should

2010: $87.46B

dedicate more space for entertainment and leisure. That means having stylish cafes sprawled between stores, allowing shoppers to unwind from shopping. That means opening quality cinemas, sit-down restaurants, galleries, spas, play areas for kids, or even fitness centers. Aesthetics and architecture also contribute to experience. Lush greenery, artworks, high ceilings and grand windows create an open airy atmosphere. Employee-customer interactions are another integral ingredient for positive customer experience. A research titled “Discovering ‘WOW’ – A Study of Great Retail Shopping Experiences in North America” surveyed 1,006 North Americans shoppers and found that the top two most important great shopping elements were employees who were “very polite or courteous” and employees who were “very familiar with the products the store carried”. Thus malls should heed on hiring employees that can connect with customers on a personal level and on training employees to understand their products. “We forget that’s where we build the business: getting to know a little bit about the gal going to her wedding or the guy who just lost 50 pounds,” Bob Phibbs, CEO of The Retail Doctor noted in ‘Earnshaw’s’. “The world might not give a damn about a person’s life but, for three minutes, make your customer feel like your store does,” he advocates. Another common theme among extraordinary malls like those mentioned above is diversity. Consumers are showing symptoms of “mall malaise” – a sickness with the standardization of chain stores. Malls across the

“These malls transcend the competition against ecommerce because they sell what no online store can provide. They sell experience.”

2015: $60.65B



region are like clones, each hosting the same layout and the same chain stores (Macy’s, Sears, Bed Bath & Beyond). Millennials have grown sick of this standardization and want to wash their tongues from the taste of corporate blandness. Oliver Mark, founder of Bodega, noted that, “The mall has become a negative term in youth fashion as evidenced by the term ‘mall-core’—slang for lower tier, unhip brands.” Youth are developing a penchant for personalized hip products. Thus, rather than searching at generic malls, they find unique products that match their fashion palate in online stores. The above extraordinary malls, however, present a variety of stores from global chains to local shops, from department stores to specialty stores, from the high end to the low-tiered brands, and from fast food restaurants to healthy juice bars. Recognizing the more international composition of consumers in our globalized world today, these malls also offer shops and restaurants of a range of cultures. Turns out, “one size fits all” truly fits none. These malls also embrace diverse architecture, breaking out of the cookie-cutter concrete block form. The Wafi Mall in the UAE, for example, takes on the form of an Egyptian Pyramid with hieroglyphics inscribed on its columns and walls, and a giant statue of Ramses in its courtyard. The Forum Shops at Caesars in Las Vegas, USA also grants consumers a unique shopping experience on the streets of ancient Rome, with beautiful Roman architecture, grand sculptures, and a replica of the Trevi fountain, all under a purple-pink painted sky. Many of these malls act as quasi-community centers. Vicki Howard, author of

‘From Main Street to Mall’ remarks that “the decline of shopping mall culture in America parallels a diminishment of civic life and public culture as people choose to shop from the privacy of their own home”. Extraordinary malls, however, cultivate public and, by extension, shopping, culture through numerous community-wide events. They host science fairs, fashion shows, guest panel discussion on current issues, performances, birthday parties, computer workshops and

“The mall has become a negative term in youth fashion as evidenced by the term ‘mall-core’— slang for lower tier, unhip brands.” more. For example, the Mall of America is hosting a Maddie Ziegler book signing, a Walk to Cure Juvenile Arthritis, and a session by Sesame Street, teaching kindness to kids. Such events make them not merely malls, but epicenters of peoples’ social lives. This draws traffic and sustains loyalty. It invigorates both shopping culture and community life, at a time when both are declining. Finally, these malls work synergistically with technology. Like their consumers, these malls are merging the physical and the digital. Consumers can order products online

and pick them up in store. These physical stores can also be showcases for online products, as they allow consumers to feel, touch and try products on. Roxana Castillo, founder and owner of Kissy Kissy, says in ‘Earnshaw’s’, “Brands have a great opportunity to bridge the gap between online and brick-and-mortar shopping in creative, fun and interesting ways that benefit the overall shopping experience of the consumer.” These malls explore such avenues, experiment with shopping apps, have interactive websites, and reach out to consumers through social media, informing them on special events and upcoming sales. Some stores are even experimenting with Bluetooth Low Energy appliances, also known as Beacon, that track smartphones and analyze your shopping habits, allowing it to give you personalized recommendations, coupons, and info on discounts. For example, as you approach a certain store, it will notify you of promotions in store for you. If American malls are to survive, they must be centered on experience, offer diversity, and work synergistically with technology. The examples of extraordinary malls mentioned above do that. As a result, they are not only popular regional malls, but also new global tourist attractions. For example, in 2012, Dubai Malls received 65 million visitors. That is almost twice more than the number of visitors to the Eiffel Tower and Niagara Falls combined. Yes, many malls are threatened by online shopping. But this provides us the opportunity to reimagine what a mall could be and to rebuild it into something better than it ever was to begin with.

2017 major department store closings across the nation: 68 stores


150 stores

130 stores

Handmade in the Age of Technology by Grace Cordsen



hen mentioning luxury, one often thinks of “handmade” goods. Indeed, each one is like a piece of art, with a skilled artisan stitching on the high-quality fabrics. Imagine the aged expert tirelessly stitching the curves of the world’s most famous handmade bag: the Hermès Birkin. This bag is often considered the pinnacle of craftsmanship; it is considered a symbol of extreme wealth- usually sold for thousands of dollars. Nevertheless, as technology advances, consumers face an increasingly complex understanding of handmade luxuries, since robotic hands are involved at various steps in the conventionally hand making process. This is referred to as the process of automation: when certain technology is introduced with the purpose of eliminating a job that was held by a human. As a result of automation, the consumers’ definition of “handmade” becomes intriguing. How have we defined the handmade, and how will this definition change? I offer you observations on what changes we can anticipate and what questions we should be asking ourselves to evaluate such goods. Let us start out by defining a handmade good in the clothing and accessory industry. This industry serves as a prime example for luxury products that boast craftsmanship above all else. A luxury good is usually defined by three characteristics: it is made of the highest quality materials, it comes in a limited quantity, and it was created by a company or individual that publically values craftsmanship. A handmade item is also defined within these parameters, with a particular emphasis on the crafting process. Something handmade is unique, and likely contains a rich history or unique story. The object ought to be made by hands that earnestly infuse personality to the product. On the other side of consumerism – how should we understand technology? For the purposes of this article, technology mechanizes a process that would have originally been done by hand, or it is an innovation that creates a whole new way of producing a good, such as 3D printing. In considering this intersection between handmade and



technology, technology threatens the three criteria for a luxury good. In regard to the first two criteria, both handmade and produced goods can be marked with superior materials and low production quotas. It is on the topic of the limited quantity of a finished good, that technology begins to blur the definition of the handmade. The use of new technology in production usually implies that production will now be more efficient, and therefore a larger quantity of goods can be produced. Take, for example, Aston Martin. This revered car company has for years sculpted its image on the basis of a luxury, hand crafted good. Aston Martin has recently made a shift to have some of its car part be created through automatic process like 3D printing, On one hand, this allows Aston Martin to create more, faster, as well as specialized parts that only they have. On the other hand, processes like 3D printing take away from their long standing reputation of making manmade cars. Although Aston Martin has stated that their cars will still “predominately be built by hand,” it is interesting to think about what exactly is being lost and what is exactly being gained in the switch from craftsmanship to automated processes. One might ask, does technology take away the characteristic of a luxury good as something that can only be made one time or one at a time? Let’s use leather totes as an example. Imagine a craftsman making simple leather tote bags, and say he originally created the shape of the bag by hand molding the leather. This process usually took about a week of careful crafting. If this craftsman was given a machine where all he had to do was enter what shape he wanted the bag to be and the leather would be prepared in two days, does that change the way we think about this good? I would argue that yes, this should change our conception of the good. Machines like this imply that the skill and artistry of handling the leather will be lost within a few generations of craftsman. This takes away the artistry of the handmade and reduces it to an inartistic product. Further, the machine also increases the rate at which

the product is made, reducing the characteristic of valuable time investment in a luxury good. Now imagine that the craftsman was given this machine, and chose to use it, but also restricted the quantity of output to preserve the scarcity of the object. Should we categorize this object as luxury? It should not be marketed the same way as the original handmade good, even if the same quality of good was maintained. Luxury is not solely about speed and scale. Consumers must consider the process by which luxury goods are made, to recognize the increased care put into handmade goods. Thus arises another kink – does technology take the uniqueness out of craftsmanship? One of the most perplex examples to understand this question is 3D printing. 3D printing enables a craftsman produce by programing the creation of an object. In the 2016 exhibition, Manus x Machina, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute displayed clothing that represents the future of the fashion industry. One of the pieces was a 3D printed ensemble by Iris van Herpen from her spring/summer 2010 haute couture collection. This futuristic, alien like outfit was indeed unique visually. Furthermore, it was the sole example of 3D printed clothing in the show. Accordingly, does this 3D printed ensemble fall into the same level of craftsmanship as a leather bag made by a skilled artisan? No doubt, the creation and programming of the ensemble took considerable skill and creativity, but van Herpen was not the one who physically put this item together. Is there a new kind of craftsman that is emerging with the modern era? There are some brands that boast sophisticated automation as proof of quality, rather than a loss of luxury. These companies are traditionally electronics companies, such as Apple. When one sees an Apple advertisement, they are usually faced with sleek designs, effortlessly floating in space, but occasionally Apple advertisements will give an inner look into how products are made, showing advanced automation processes. This is all part of the argument that

automation and the introduction of technology into craftsmanship actually enhances the accuracy with which the item is made and therefore the reliability of the final product. This leads into a whole new version of products, a group of products that are stuck in the middle between “should be automated” and “should be handmade.” One example of this are luxury watches like Rolex or Frank Muller Watches. Luxury watches have always been coveted as highly handmade and showing the skill of the individual craftsman, but in reality many of the techniques that have been used for decades are outdated and slow. It makes a lot more sense to have a machine cut teeth of a gear than a craftsman- this means that the tedious job would be done faster and probably more accurately. Watch consumers shouldn’t feel as if this automation is taking away from the final product. A finished watch still has all of the unique characteristics of the handmade watch, it was only that the process of crafting it was made easier for the craftsman. Frank Muller watches are known to be sold for amazingly high prices, (some being sold for over $14,000.) This brand has gone through a process of automation, the way they have explained their changes to automatization is that their watches will still be made by hand, but only where it is meaningful to be made by hand. Otherwise, the will use technology to make even more accurate and perfected watches. There are a considerable number of implications to consider when thinking of how handmade products are perceived and how they will change and adapt to the technological era. As consumers, we tend to waver in our interest in craftsmanship and our personal value of it. How shall we differentiate between the craftsmanship in a handmade item versus a machine-made one? This question links to the spheres of both consumerism and art. While consumerism provides efficiency and reliability, we must ask ourselves how this new technology fits into the craftsman’s tool-belt: should we praise them for being progressive, or deride them for ruining a timeless art? ■

“Does technology take away the characteristic of a luxury good as something that can only be made one time or one at a time?”



Dear Reader, Significant generations have frequently been defined by their respective “revolutions.” From the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century to the Technology Revolution of today, humans have held a fixation with improving upon past ideas. Somewhere along the way we began to equate being revolutionary with being relevant. However, as our generation has endlessly searched for this innovation, it seems that there has been a consequent rejection of traditionalism in business. In startup and venture capital culture in particular, we have seen a shift from a strictly vertical power structure to one of horizontal thinking and collaboration. Moreover, advancements in technology have brought individuals from across the world and their ideas ever closer. Clay Christensen’s novel The Innovator’s Dilemma outlines the problem that larger companies have spurring innovation from within and embracing new technology to improve efficiency. Although the advancements in technology have increased access to information, the ability to revolutionize has become confined to a few standout individuals. For students, there is an oversaturation of information that individuals are unable to utilize; when given too many options, many freeze. Being surrounded by such explosive growth can be both inspiring and overwhelming, as the need to create something original and meaningful is more stressful than ever. This tension underscores the necessity of shifting how we identify and incorporate innovation in our lives. Perhaps we should stop searching for the “revolutionary” and start looking for the practical, the tangible. By sharing information and building off one another’s expertise, we enable a better, more cooperative world. The 43rd International Conference aims to capitalize on the principles of sustainable innovation to inform a new approach: one that transcends the “temporary fix” and that has structural endurance. Over the three days, we will start from the foundations and restructure the way we define and implement innovation, providing a framework and network whose bounds can extend far beyond the conference. Business Today’s Conferences provide attendees with an opportunity to benefit from exposing themselves to diverse mindsets and viewpoints not only from many industries and companies, but also from different countries, universities, and backgrounds. True to our mission, the Business Today Conferences team connects influential executives and leaders with top undergraduate students to educate the leaders of tomorrow. Through its International Conference, Designation Conference, and Women in Business Conference, Business Today connects smart, motivated, and diverse students with experienced executives who will share their expertise. Whether in their first or 43rd year, our conferences aim to innovate and improve, and hope to pass that spirit on to whoever joins us. The burden is on our generation to create innovation that stands the test of time. Fortunately, this challenge can be faced with the heartening presence of both mentors and peers. At the 43rd International Conference, we aspire to facilitate this exchange by creating a forum in which students and executives can connect and learn. I urge you to apply and to become an active part of the conversation and the Business Today family. Let’s redefine innovation and start our own revolution. Warm regards,

Nicole Zivkovic Director of the 2017 International Conference Princeton University

Please visit for more information about Business Today’s Conferences and their application processes. 78 SPRING 2017 BUSINESS TODAY

bt sponsors EXPANSION




Aman Kapadia The Julis Rabinowitz Family

SPONSORS Alliance Abroad Group Asana Bank of America Merrill Lynch Cardinal Health Celgene Corporation

Centene Davis Polk and Wardwell Farrell Family Foundation FONA International Inc. GCM Grosvenor General Dynamics

Goldman Sachs HEB Hellman and Friedman Lazard Lear Corporation Lyft

Namely NBC Universal Nordstrom Printpack Qualtrics Stripe

Richmond Country Savings Foundation Simpson, Thatcher, and Bartlett LLP The Dave Thomas Foundation True Ventures

Chealsea Hotels Coursera Covestro Disney Drawbrodge Extreme Networks Farmer & Co. Federated Investors FelCor Fiji Water Genesis Prize Foundation

Henkels & McCoy Group Houzz j2Global Jet Lexicon Pharmaceuticals Mitsubishi NOVEC PDQ Enterprises, LLC Pelaton Penn National Gaming Plaid Technologies

Quizlet Rivers Edge Rockport Capital Rosenthal and Rosenthal Rothschild North America Sallie Mae Tom Shepherd Simplisafe Skadden Arps Slate Meagher Smithfield Trust South Water Signs

Stupp Bros., Inc. Sumo Logic Talent The Canning Foundation The Hersh Foundation The Motley Fool The Shepherd Chemical Co. Yext

CB Wellness Foundation CSM Capital Daniel Driscoll Rudy Dieperink Dries Family Fund Eagle Global Advisors Andrew Edelman EVAXX

Evergreen Fibres Alexander Farman-Farmaian Frost Brown Todd LLC Full Circle Insights Georgescu Family Found. Hill Investment Group Hubbard Hall Internet Marketing Assoc.

Jeffrey Sharp Keller Family Foundation Maria Klutey Martin Koldyke New Mountain Capital Open Arms Healthcare Sage Capital LLC SES

Smiling Tiger, Inc. STROOCK Symantec Patrick Swearingen Towle & Co. Wendell Family Foundation

CONTRIBUTORS 5AM Ventures A.O. Smith ActionIQ Alliant Credit AltSchool Athena Group, Inc. Barclays Birch Lake Holdings Cadre Carbon3d Chaac Ventures

DONORS Adam Lieber ATR & Associates Atrium Bentley Associates LP C.H. Douglas & Gray Canusa Corporation Carl Greppin


If you would like to write for BT, submit an article to

The Automated World  

Spring 2017 BusinessToday Magazine

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you