Box of Amazing: Meatless Meat & AI Whiskey  
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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
You will notice that I have dropped the links at the bottom of this email. Too few of you found them of value now that I have rejigged the flow of this newsletter. But don't worry, the long list still exists, as it always did. You'll find all the links on Twitter.

Mid-year beckons and we're clearing through junk. It's cathartic to get rid of what we don't need and pass on things we once loved for reuse. Why am I telling you this? Well, I think it's also useful to do a digital declutter. You may not hand anything on, but you'll feel better for it, Konmari style. 

Have a great week!

Onward! - Rahim
 
What's Amazing
 
1. Peak Facial Recognition
We are at a juncture. Will those that control win using the power of knowing all that we are and all that we have done? Or will there be a privacy backlash? China has gone down the route of being controlled in a Dystopian present but there have been small wins for the "anti-facial-recog" crew in places like San Francisco where the technology is banned. But small wins are not enough. The technology is already widespread and in testing in many countries in the world - and before there is full data in these systems, there will be misidentifications, prejudices and the like. And if you thought that China was the only country dominating in this space, just be aware that there are 50 million cameras used for surveillance in the US. Big Brother, indeed.    Link
2. Amazon's Emotion Checker Wearable
"Amazon.com is developing a voice-activated wearable device that can recognize human emotions. The wrist-worn gadget is described as a health and wellness product in internal documents. It’s a collaboration between Lab126, the hardware development group behind Amazon’s Fire phone and Echo smart speaker, and the Alexa voice software team. Designed to work with a smartphone app, the device has microphones paired with software that can discern the wearer’s emotional state from the sound of his or her voice. Eventually, the technology could be able to advise the wearer how to interact more effectively with others." Where does this leave us when we think of Amazon's ambitions? Your sceptic inner voice will be thinking that Amazon just want us to buy more. Really though, this is another attempt by Amazon to achieve ubiquity in our lives. Alexa is already there. Smartphones failed. But could wellness convince us that we need another game-changing wearable?  Link
3. AI Whiskey
This is not a story about whiskey. This is a story about how AI is starting to determine complicated taste patterns that would be to our liking. "Together with Finnish tech company Fourkind and Microsoft, Mackmyra is creating the world’s first whisky developed with artificial intelligence (AI). In an industry synonymous with deep-rooted tradition, human expertise and craftsmanship, what happens when 1,000-year-old techniques meet advanced 21st century technology? This is the first time that AI has been used to augment and automate the most time-consuming process of whisky creation. “It’s much more complex than models used to create beer, due to the sheer number of combinations available, and the fact that whisky recipe generation is more art than engineering.”" Link
4. China's "Skintellectuals"
Chinese "skinfluencers", no longer content with mass market products are deep diving into the active ingredients to transform the skincare industry. "In China, these increasingly confident and informed beauty shoppers are conducting extensive research on active ingredients and formulations. Nicotinamide was the best-selling skin-care ingredient on Tmall in the fourth quarter of 2017, yet only 1 percent of beauty brands listed the ingredient in their product names during that period. By the fourth quarter of 2018, the portion of brands listing nicotinamide had risen to 14 percent as unit sales of the ingredient surged and kept it in the top-selling position. Nicotinamide was the best-selling skin-care ingredient on Tmall in the fourth quarter of 2017, yet only 1 percent of beauty brands listed the ingredient in their product names during that period. By the fourth quarter of 2018, the portion of brands listing nicotinamide had risen to 14 percent as unit sales of the ingredient surged and kept it in the top-selling position. As skin-care shoppers’ knowledge deepens, they’re expanding their purchases beyond the more “entry-level” skin-care ingredients to a wider range of products. Star ingredient hyaluronic acid was the second best-selling ingredient on Tmall in the fourth quarter of 2017, but slid to fourth by the same time next year. It’s one of the most popular ingredients listed by brands in product descriptions, but appearing on listings for 19 percent of brands in the fourth quarter of 2017 and rising to 23 percent by the same time in 2018." Link
5. Electric Air Taxis
German start-up Lilium has unveiled a five-seater jet-powered electric air taxiprototype that it plans to have operational in a number of cities around the world in the next six years. Lilium "expects to be fully operational in various cities around the world by 2025, although trial services will start earlier than this in several locations", said the company in a statement. According to the start-up, it is already in talks with "a number of cities" about using the planes commercially. Link
6. Bionic Arms
Earlier this year, a Swedish company called Integrum AB and Chalmers University of Technology announced the first successful surgery to implant a bionic arm into a patient. Generally, such robotic prosthetics rely on electrodes placed over the skin to receive signals from the underlying stump muscles. These so-called myoelectric prosthetics use electrical signals generated by the muscles from the brain. While the technology has helped many people, fine motor skills like tying a shoelace are simply not possible. The new technique out of Sweden involved implanting electrodes in all the remaining stump muscles. The surgery also restored a sense of touch to the prosthetic hand, meaning the recipient could actually perceive when she was grasping an object. An even more exciting technology promises to link the brain directly with a bionic arm or other robotic prostheses in the near future. Advances in Brain-Computer Interface  systems would allow a person to control his or her bionic parts with specific thoughts, rather than just generating the electrical impulses at the muscle. Link
7. Meatless Meat
I've had a few plant-based burgers and it's impossible (sic) to tase the difference. The Beyond Burger is pea based and tastes phenomenal, but Impossible is the brand likely to go mainstream due to its marketing and partnerships. "Tasted without accompaniments, the product has a convincing chew and toasty burnt edges but a hollow savoriness at the core. As a meat eater, I would not crave Impossible meat. If I craved a burger, though, this could go part of the way to satisfying the urge. Note that in the Burger King video, the customers' astoundment hits not when they taste the burger but when they realize they couldn't tell the difference. This is what's revolutionary about Impossible's burger -- not that it's the best you've ever tasted but that finally there's a viable, inoffensive alternative for meat that you can find at a drive-through for less than $6." I'm thinking about going vegetarian.  Link
8. Facebook going Crypto in 2020
Facebook is finalising plans to launch its own crypto-currency next year. It is planning to set up a digital payments system in about a dozen countries by the first quarter of 2020. The social media giant wants to start testing its crypto-currency, which has been referred to internally as GlobalCoin, by the end of this year. Facebook is expected to outline plans in more detail this summer, and has already spoken to Bank of England governor Mark Carney. Founder Mark Zuckerberg met Mr Carney last month to discuss the opportunities and risks involved in launching a crypto-currency. Facebook has also sought advice on operational and regulatory issues from officials at the US Treasury. The firm is also in talks with money transfer firms including Western Union as it looks for cheaper and faster ways for people without a bank account to send and receive money. Link
9. It's time for AR&VR
Microsoft’s HoloLens might not quite be fit for AR-assisted surgery, but in a more consumer-driven world. According to varying accounts, despite the lack of content, Oculus' latest VR escapade is ready for the masses. And it's affordable at $400. Most importantly, Oculus’s design team has figured out how to let you walk around your house in a headset without hitting anything in the real world. How does it do that? It allows you to draw out the confines of the real world - and then it remembers. "VR still needs developers to create more games and experiences to make the Quest something you’d use a lot for a long time. Because most developers prefer to build mobile apps for billions of phones instead of virtual reality apps for millions of headsets, that content problem might not be solved anytime soon. But after just a few years, Oculus has delivered VR hardware that’s good enough to feel like VR but simple enough to feel like an iPod. That alone is remarkable." Oh, and in other AR related news, Google Glass redux is getting closer to reality. My bet, though, is that contact lenses take over.   Link
10. Google's AI Lung Cancer Detection outperforms Humans
"Google AI researchers working with Northwestern Medicine created an AI model capable of detecting lung cancer from screening tests better than human radiologists with an average of eight years experience. When analyzing a single CT scan, the model detected cancer 5% more often on average than a group of six human experts and was 11% more likely to reduce false positives. Humans and AI achieved similar results when radiologists were able to view prior CT scans." Again, AI winning is not story. The story is about quality data. The more that you train, the better you become. The more an AI is trained, the more it can train itself. Think of the data that you produce and how you could enhance that for the future. That's where your industry will advance.  Link
This email contains the ten most important stories that I think you should read. 
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. 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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