Box of Amazing: Robot Priests  
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Box of Amazing is a weekly digest curated by Rahim covering emerging technology, trends and extraordinary articles, hand picked to broaden your mind and challenge your thinking.

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Editor's Note
I'm asked regularly which book to read to get an overview of tech, emerging tech, where we are and where we are going. I recommend Kevin Kelly's The Inevitable. If you haven't read it, please do read it. If you haven't got the time, then read this Book Summary. You will be better for it.

It's been a few months since I launched this format, and I think, in the main, most of you like it - and what Box of Amazing brings. To recap, a few interesting reads (not necessarily tech) that I include in this editor's note - and 10 emerging tech stories, all of which you can dig down into, depending on the time you have. And that's it - if you don't like the newsletter or what it has evolved it, please do unsubscribe - we can still be friends. And if you do, please consider sharing with friends and colleagues. Box of Amazing is free and I rely on you all to spread the word. And, as always, I always take feedback on - so don't feel that this is one way.

On to this week:

1. The Strategy Behind TikTok’s Global Rise Link
2. Pagers, Pay Phones, and Dialup: How We Communicated on 9/11 Link
3. America’s future of work Link
4. 8 Rules to Do Everything Better Link
5. The Shocking Paper Predicting the End of Democracy Link
6. How to Build Artificial Intelligence We Can Trust Link
7. WeWork and Uber are proof valuations are meaningless Link
8. If Sapiens were a blog post Link
9. The Rise of ‘Hangry’: A Modern Word for a Timeless Feeling Link
10. Facebook is bad for your health Link

Have a great week!

Onward! - Rahim
 
What's Amazing
 
1. Robot Priests
"A new priest named Mindar is holding forth at Kodaiji, a 400-year-old Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan. Like other clergy members, this priest can deliver sermons and move around to interface with worshippers. But Mindar comes with some ... unusual traits. A body made of aluminum and silicone, for starters. Mindar is a robot. Designed to look like Kannon, the Buddhist deity of mercy, the $1 million machine is an attempt to reignite people’s passion for their faith in a country where religious affiliation is on the decline. For now, Mindar is not AI-powered. It just recites the same preprogrammed sermon about the Heart Sutra over and over. But the robot’s creators say they plan to give it machine-learning capabilities that’ll enable it to tailor feedback to worshippers’ specific spiritual and ethical problems." Link
2. Brain Interfaces will make you telepathic
People will communicate 'not only without speaking but without words - through access to each other's thoughts at a conceptual level': "Neural interfaces that link human brains to computers using artificial intelligence will allow people to read other people’s thoughts, according to leading scientists. A new report by the Royal Society outlines the benefits of such technology but warns that there could be severe risks if it falls into the wrong hands. Brain-computer interfaces are already being developed by Facebook and Elon Musk’s Neuralink and the report estimates that by 2040 neural interfaces will be an “established option” for effectively treating diseases like Alzheimer’s. More futuristic applications are expected to follow, such as brain implants that allow people to virtually taste, smell and see without actually physically experiencing the sensation. The report also details how such hardware could boost people’s memory, improve their vision and even allow thoughts to be transmitted from one person to another." Link
3. Tech to make you live forever
From cryonic baths to ozone saunas, scientists and companies are chasing a magic pill that will cure ageing: "According to Orbis Research, consumers spent $43 billion (£33 billion) on anti-ageing products in 2018 – from lactic-acid-based anti-wrinkle creams to collagen peptide tablets and anti-oxidant co-enzyme Q10 pills. Research from Pitchbook estimates that $559 million in venture capital was invested in US anti-ageing companies in 2017. These include California-based BioTime, which is developing treatments using embryonic stem cells to rebuild cell and tissue function; CohBar, working on editing the mitochondrial genome to regulate metabolism and cell death; and Google sister company Calico, which has a $2.5 billion budget for research into solutions for age-related diseases." Link
4. Smart Cane
A blind man has helped to develop a smart cane that uses Google Maps and sensors to navigate the world. "The WeWALK smart cane uses ultrasonic sensors to warn of nearby impediments through vibrations in the handle." In order to guide its user around both low-hanging objects and obstacles above chest level, the WeWALK smart cane uses ultrasonic sensors to warn of nearby impediments through vibrations in the handle. The cane, designed by engineers from Young Guru Academy (YGA) in Turkey, can also be paired with the WeWALK smartphone app (via Bluetooth). Using the touchpad controls on the smart cane, the user can then control their smartphone without taking it out of their pocket (leaving one hand free for other tasks)." Link
5. Augmented World in 2030
"Today, adults in the US spend over 11 hours a day looking at screens. That counts for more than a third of our livelihoods. Yet even though they serve as a portal to 90 percent of our media consumption, screens continue to define and constrain how and where we consume content, and they may very soon become obsolete. Riding new advancements in hardware and connectivity, augmented reality (AR) is set to replace these 2D interfaces, instead allowing us to see through a digital information layer. And ultimately, AR headsets will immerse us in dynamic stories, learn-everywhere education, and even gamified work tasks. If you want to play AR Star Wars, you’re battling the Empire on your way to work, in your cubicle, cafeteria, bathroom, and beyond. We got our first taste of AR’s real-world gamification in 2016, when Nintendo released Pokemon Go. Thus began the greatest cartoon character turkey shoot in history. In the years since, similar AR apps have exploded. Once thick and bulky, AR glasses are becoming increasingly lightweight, stylish, and unobtrusive. And over the next 15 years, AR portals will become almost unnoticeable, as hardware rapidly dematerializes. Companies like Mojo Vision are even rumored to be developing AR contact lenses, slated to offer us heads-up display capabilities—no glasses required." Check out how AR will affect your day in 10 years time.  Link
6. Brain Privacy
Facebook and Neuralink have publically stated on how they are building tech to read your mind. "Other companies such as Kernel, Emotiv, and Neurosky are also working on brain tech. They say they’re building it for ethical purposes, like helping people with paralysis control their devices. This might sound like science fiction, but it’s already begun to change people’s lives. Over the past dozen years, a number of paralyzed patients have received brain implants that allow them to move a computer cursor or control robotic arms. Implants that can read thoughts are still years away from commercial availability, but research in the field is moving faster than most people realize. Your brain, the final privacy frontier, may not be private much longer.
Some neuroethicists argue that the potential for misuse of these technologies is so great that we need revamped human rights laws — a new “jurisprudence of the mind” — to protect us. The technologies have the potential to interfere with rights that are so basic that we may not even think of them as rights, like our ability to determine where our selves end and machines begin. Our current laws are not equipped to address this." Link
7. McDonald's AI Drive Though
McDonald's is to replace human servers with voice-based technology in its US drive-throughs. The fast-food chain hopes the AI technology will make the ordering process more efficient. McDonald's is implementing the technology with the help of start-up Apprente, which it acquired this week. The move comes amid concern about workers whose jobs may become obsolete as a result of automation and new technologies. Link
8. Robot Built Houses
"The three-level building near Zurich features 3D-printed ceilings, energy-efficient walls, timber beams assembled by robots on site, and an intelligent home system. Developed by a team of experts at ETH Zurich university and 30 industry partners over the course of four years, the DFAB House, measuring 2,370 square feet (220 square meters), needed 60% less cement and has passed the stringent Swiss building safety codes. “This is a new way of seeing architecture,” says Matthias Kohler, a member of DFAB’s research team. The work of architects has long been presented in terms of designing inspiring building forms, while the technical specifics of construction has been relegated to the background. Kohler thinks this is quickly changing. “Suddenly how we use resources to build our habitats is at the center of architecture,” he argues. “How you build matters.”" Link
9. Amazon will let anyone answer your Alexa questions now 
What could go wrong?: "The next time you ask a question to Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant, the answer might come from another Alexa user. Starting today, Amazon is publicly launching a program called Alexa Answers, which lets anyone field questions asked by users for which Alexa doesn’t already have a response. From then on, when people ask a question, Alexa will speak an answer generated through Alexa Answers, noting that the information is “according to an Amazon customer.” The program launched in a private, invite-only beta for thousands of customers last year after a period of internal testing. Even with that limited group, Amazon says it’s already logged hundreds of thousands of responses, which Alexa has served millions of times. Those numbers will likely shoot upwards now that anyone in the United States can participate."" And then the world. Link
10. The Best Imitation-Meat Burgers
What's your fake meat burger of choice? No surprise that Impossible is the winner, but there are others you could consider: The Impossible burger, which is vegan, outperformed every other contender in every category and in both rounds; the competition wasn't even close. It earned the top rank for all but two of the tasters in the first round, and those two tasters picked it as either their second- or third-best choice; in the second round, in which the burgers were eaten with buns, it performed similarly well.  Link
This email contains the ten most important stories that I have read this week. 
You can get my long list of recommended reading by following me (@rahim) on Twitter.
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Box of Amazing is a project that I started to share my thoughts with like-minded individuals who are interested in the future world that we are fast approaching. This newsletter now has readers spanning the globe from San Francisco to Tokyo and across multiple industries including strategy consultancy houses (McKinsey to Bain), from all the FAAANG companies (Facebook to Alphabet), from startups to scaleups, from unicorns to brand new companies as well as people just interested in staying ahead of the game. If you enjoy it, please share it with your friends, family, co-workers, enemies, competitors, pets, potential love interests and others who are interested in learning about the emerging technology and trends that will affect us all in this lifetime. 

Thank you for reading

- Rahim

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