Box of Amazing: Robocrop  
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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'd like to draw your attention to an article entitled "The Attention Economy Crisis: The Future of Content, Commerce and Culture" In a world where much is chosen not by us, but by an algorithm. The list I choose to send to you is not 100% free of algorithm, but it is hand-picked. But you should read the article to understand how content plays a part in our world.  

Have a great week!

Onward! - Rahim
 
What's Amazing
 
1. Hollywood using AI to decide what to make next
The Long Tail of content may still be valuable but we are hits driven. What will we read or watch next has been driven somewhat by gut instincts until the age of tech. Now we have data, it's easier to predict what might work. In fact, companies like Netflix are building their whole business model on predicting what we like. "The streaming behemoth has always bragged about its data-driven approach to programming. It surveils the actions of millions of subscribers in great detail and knows a surprising amount about them — from which thumbnail will best convince someone to click on a movie to the choices they make in Choose Your Own Adventure-style tales like Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. “We have one big global algorithm, which is super-helpful because it leverages all the tastes of all consumers around the world,” said Netflix’s head of product innovation, Todd Yellin, in 2016. It’s impossible to say whether Netflix’s boasts are justified, but the company claims its recommendation algorithm alone is worth $1 billion a year. (It surely doesn’t hurt that such talk puts fear into the competition.) Combined with its huge investments into original content, it’s enough to make even the most die-hard Hollywood producer reach for a fortifying algorithm." The Algos will win. Not all of the time. But most of the time. Link
2. The End of Mobile
In this must-read piece from Ben Evans, we hear why we reached full global penetration of smartphones. What's next: "But this also means that now we go back to the beginning: I’m not updating my smartphone model anymore. The next fundamental trends in tech, today, are probably machine learning, crypto and regulation. "   Link
3. Robocrop
"The robot has been developed in partnership with Hall Hunter, one of Britain’s main berry growers which supplies Tesco, Marks & Spencer and Waitrose. Standing at 1.8 metres tall, the wheeled machine with its robotic arm has begun field trials in a greenhouse at a Hall Hunter farm near Chichester in West Sussex. Guided by sensors and 3D cameras, its gripper zooms in on ripe fruit using machine learning, a form of artificial intelligence. When operating at full tilt, its developers say the robot’s gripper picks a raspberry in 10 seconds or less and drops it in a tray where the fruit gets sorted by maturity, before being moved into punnets, ready to be transported to supermarkets. The final robot version, expected to go into production next year, will have four grippers, all picking simultaneously. Separate field trials in China have shown the robot can pick tomatoes, and it has also been let loose on cauliflower." Link
4. Uber Ban
Uber has become the easy option for many travellers in cities whether this is part journey or door-to-door. Imagine if Uber was taken away from you. For some, that's like removing public transport, like taking the Tube away from Londoners. But that's exactly what might happen if you are abusive to your driver. We've had drivers banned if their score goes below 4.6, but that might happen to riders. "Riders may lose access to Uber if they develop a significantly below average rating. Riders will receive tips on how to improve their ratings, such as encouraging polite behavior, avoiding leaving trash in the vehicle and avoiding requests for drivers to exceed the speed limit. Riders will have several opportunities to improve their rating prior to losing access to the Uber apps."  Link
5. The Netflix of Education
I'm a big fan of Outschool and what Amit Nathoo has created - a globally accessible marketplace for supplementary education. It's broader than what we've been doing with EtonX. Anyway, It's now hoping to scale. "Plenty of companies offer online learning, like Khan Academy or thousands of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). And there are plenty of options for well-off families to hire tutors focused on high-stakes tests, college prep, and just about everything else. Outschool is doing something different: an online marketplace offering kids (and parents) extra opportunities for learning, either to help fill in holes or just pass the time with fun, and educational, stuff. “We can help them pursue their interests, even as their interests change over time,” says Nathoo. It’s an alternative to expensive private schools, tutors, and camps, thereby addressing a much larger market. At same time, it offers teachers a way to supplement their income, while broadening the pool of what constitutes a teacher: you have to be approved by the company to teach, but you do not have to be a certified teacher." Link
6. Seeing Cancer
Cancer researcher Bert Vogelstein has won plenty of prizes for his work on the genetic mutations that cause cancer. What he always wanted, though, was a way to spot those mutations early on, when cancer can more easily be treated.
Now a group of investors is putting $110 million behind Vogelstein’s dream and creating a company called Thrive Earlier Detection. It’s the latest entry in a costly race to develop the first screening tests able to spot a range of cancers from a simple blood draw. A competing company, Grail, has raised more than $1 billion to develop a general-purpose cancer detection test. The blood-screening concept, called a “liquid biopsy,” relies on the fact that tumors release mutation-riddled DNA and distinctive proteins into the bloodstream. These can sometimes be detected even in someone with no outward signs of cancer. Link
7. TikTok Phone
TikTok parent ByteDance is reportedly making a smartphone. "ByteDance CEO Zhang Yiming has “long dreamt” of building a smartphone full of preloaded apps. The Beijing-based company confirmed a deal with phone maker Smartisan early this year, saying it had acquired a patent portfolio and hired some Smartisan employees. ByteDance claimed this would help it “explore the education business,” but this recent news casts the purchase in a new light." Much like any other closed social platform, this, I believe, won't take off. Maybe in China, in a small way, but there aren't the overall levers to become dominant across one channel. If there was a Snap/Insta/TikTok Phone or a wechat/facebook phone, you might see leverage, but this seems like a wrong move IMHO. Link
8. Sky Farms
Smaller land massed locations are challenged when it comes to fresh food and Singapore is a perfect case in point. Coupled with newer technologies in food, Singapore is ready for a food revolution. "Sustenir Agriculture is one of more than 30 vertical farms in Singapore, which has seen a doubling in so-called sky farms in three years. The hydroponic farm grows non-native varieties like kale, cherry tomatoes and strawberries indoors under artificial lights and sells the produce to local supermarkets and online grocers. Sustenir raised S$22 million ($16 million) from backers including Singapore state investor Temasek and Australia’s Grok Ventures last year, which will be used for an expansion in Singapore and opening in Hong Kong. Temasek is also providing funds to Apollo Aquaculture Group which is building a S$70 million highly-automated, eight-storey fish farm. Apollo says the new farm will deliver more than a twenty-fold increase in its annual output of 110 tonnes of fish." Link
9. Hydrogen Fuelled Flying Cars
"Another startup is joining the long list of companies developing flying cars. Alaka’i Technologies is launching a new craft called the Skai, and like many competitors, Alaka’i plans to use its vehicle as a flying taxi or delivery van. What sets the Skai apart is its power source: Hydrogen fuel cells.“It’s the cleanest form of energy available on the planet,” Alaka’i board member Dr. Bruce Holmes told Digital Trends regarding the choice of hydrogen. Many competitor designs use batteries, but Alaka’i believes it can achieve a lower environmental impact and better performance from fuel cells, Holmes said. Fuel cells have much greater energy density than batteries, he said, meaning they can store more energy in a given volume. That allows for a reduction in weight without sacrificing operating range. The Skai’s fuel cells are also 99% recyclable, don’t use the rare-earth metals found in lithium-ion batteries, and have a decades-long lifespan, Holmes said. Refueling is also quicker than recharging a battery pack, at under 10 minutes." Link
10. Radar that knows how you feel
Modern wireless tech isn’t just for communications. It can also sense a person’s breathing and heart rate, even gauge emotions. "About three years ago, we decided to try sensing human emotions with wireless signals. And why not? When a person is excited, his or her heart rate increases; when blissful, the heart rate declines. But we quickly realized that breathing and heart rate alone would not be sufficient. After all, our heart rates are also high when we’re angry and low when we’re sad. Looking at past research in affective computing—the field of study that tries to recognize human emotions from such things as video feeds, images, voice, electroencephalography (EEG), and electrocardiography (ECG)—we learned that the most important vital sign for recognizing human emotions is the millisecond variation in the intervals between heartbeats. That’s a lot harder to measure than average heart rate. And in contrast to ECG signals, which have very sharp peaks, the shape of a heartbeat signal on our wireless device isn’t known ahead of time, and the signal is quite noisy. To overcome these challenges, we designed a system that learns the shape of the heartbeat signal from the pattern of wireless reflections and then uses that shape to recover the length of each individual beat." Sounds like magic to me! 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 Box of Amazing 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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