Box of Amazing: AI University & Crypto School  
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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
Welcome - if you love Box of Amazing, please forward this email. If you don't love Box of Amazing, please unsubscribe. 

My recommendations for this week:

1. The new dot com bubble is here: it’s called online advertising Link
2. Inside Amazon’s plan for Alexa to run your entire life Link
3. How Mark Zuckerberg Became the Most Reviled Person in Tech Link
4. The Art of Losing Friends Link
5. Managing Your Friendships, With Software Link
6. The Spectacular Rise and Fall of WeWork Link
7. Microsoft experimented with a 4-day workweek, and productivity jumped by 40% Link
8. Why Groups Struggle to Solve Problems Together Link
9. Uber is entering the Ads Business Link
10. Bob Iger Takes the Gloves Off for Disney’s Streaming Debut Link

Have a great week!

Onward! - Rahim
 
What's Amazing
 
1. TikTok is a potential counterintelligence threat
"The fear is that TikTok serves as a vessel that extends Beijing’s influence and control outside of China. And it’s a legitimate concern. TikTok is perhaps the first Chinese tech export with the potential to reshape the global internet. Unlike Alibaba and Tencent, TikTok does not just cater to overseas Chinese users or focus on expanding in emerging economies. Teenagers in democracies across Europe as well as India, South Korea, and Australia are flocking to the app to record 15-second video clips of themselves singing and dancing. Most probably don’t realize that, because TikTok is a Chinese company, their communications might be restricted and monitored by Beijing." Link
2. The Promise of Electric Cars
"Most commercial vehicle fleets still run on gasoline and diesel, David Hayward, a fleet expert with Deloitte consulting, said. But EVs are top of mind. “Everyone is excited about it and everyone wants it,” he told Quartz. “But there’s trepidation.” The potential savings are huge. Fleet owners’ biggest expenses after depreciation (44%) are fuel (22%) and maintenance and repairs (11%), according to Deloitte.  EVs could slash those by more than half.But unknowns, as well as the limited number of available models, particularly heavier-duty vehicles, have kept fleet owners on the sidelines. Range and charging infrastructure remain major concerns for fleet owners who must ensure recharging isn’t more difficult than refilling at a gas station for salespeople and corporate clients on far-flung trips (most drivers charge at home or work)." Link
3. DNA Beauty
"Advanced Genomic Solutions sells its DNA testing kits to corporations as a white-label offering or as a benefit perk to corporations, as well as to the end customer through its DTC site. Typically, DTC purchases of its standard health kit are made by women 45 years old, said MacDonald. The AGS team assumed it would be the same for when it launched its SkinHealth kit. However, DTC purchases, which account for approximately 20% of SkinHealth sales, are made by women ages 35 and younger. MacDonald said this is because its customers are looking to reduce the guesswork of finding the right skin-care products. AGS has sold nearly 10,000 kits via DTC and wholesale, but has not engaged in any DTC marketing; however, it does plan on promoting its kit to skin-care professionals in its network during the holiday season, for $140, so that they can market and sell it to patients for $199."  Link
4. Crypto Startup School
Last month, Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) general partner Chris Dixon announced at TechCrunch Disrupt that the VC firm would run a free crypto startup school. And the company is officially launching its school today. Applications are now open and you have four weeks to apply. With this initiative, a16z wants to democratize cryptocurrencies. Dixon and the a16z team has been involved in the cryptocurrency/blockchain space for seven years, and the firm now wants to share some of its learnings with entrepreneurs. This way, it could give a boost to the crypto community, which could create investment opportunities for a16z down the road — a16z says clearly that participating in the crypto startup school doesn’t mean you’ll receive an investment from a16z. It also positions a16z as a thoughtful investor when it comes to crypto startup investments — not just for participants of the crypto startup school but for the crypto community at large. The a16z Crypto Startup School will be a seven-week program that starts February 21, 2020. The program is free and a16z doesn’t take any equity.  Link
5. Robot Videos
I know there are a chunk of you that love robot videos. You can thank me later.   Link
6. Robot Brain Surgery
A neuroradiologist in Toronto has reportedly carried out the world’s first robotic brain surgery. The robot-assisted aneurysm coiling was conducted on a 64-year-old female patient at Canada’s Toronto Western Hospital and Krembil Brain Institute on November 1. The patient had suffered a major aneurysm, a bulge of a blood vessel in the brain that can be potentially lethal.A team led by Vitor Mendes Pereira used the robot arm to help treat the aneurysm by guiding a catheter to the patient’s brain from an incision made near the groin. The procedure is described as a significant milestone in interventional medicine in building toward new treatments for patients suffering from a neurovascular disease. Link
7. This Is How the U.S. Military’s Massive Facial Recognition System Works
ver the last 15 years, the United States military has developed a new addition to its arsenal. The weapon is deployed around the world, largely invisible, and grows more powerful by the day. That weapon is a vast database, packed with millions of images of faces, irises, fingerprints, and DNA data — a biometric dragnet of anyone who has come in contact with the U.S. military abroad. The 7.4 million identities in the database range from suspected terrorists in active military zones to allied soldiers training with U.S. forces. “Denying our adversaries anonymity allows us to focus our lethality. It’s like ripping the camouflage netting off the enemy ammunition dump,” wrote Glenn Krizay, director of the Defense Forensics and Biometrics Agency, in notes obtained by OneZero. The Defense Forensics and Biometrics Agency (DFBA) is tasked with overseeing the database, known officially as the Automated Biometric Information System (ABIS). Link
8. SoftBank's Earning Deck
If you want the juicy details on what's going on at Softbank, especially at investments like WeWork & Uber...and their own perception - check out this deck!  Link
9. AI Uni
Thousands apply to Abu Dhabi AI University in its first week
Artificial intelligence university in Abu Dhabi gets more than 3,000 applications in the week following its application process being opened. MBZUAI will offer MSc and PhD level programmes in key areas of AI, such as machine learning, computer vision, and natural language processing while also engaging policymakers and businesses around the world. The university will provide all admitted students with a full scholarship, plus benefits such as a monthly allowance, health insurance, and accommodation. The UAE is investing in becoming a global pioneer in the use of AI technology in various sectors of its economy. In 2017, it set its sights on developing AI skills as part of a strategy to reduce its economy’s reliance on oil, which has driven the UAE economy for 40 years. The country created the world’s first “minister of AI”, along with an AI strategy that is leading the transformation of multiple sectors, such as transport, education and healthcare. Link
10. Hackers Can Use Lasers to ‘Speak’ to Your Amazon Echo or Google Home
In the spring of last year, cybersecurity researcher Takeshi Sugawara walked into the lab of Kevin Fu, a professor he was visiting at the University of Michigan. He wanted to show off a strange trick he'd discovered. Sugawara pointed a high-powered laser at the microphone of his iPad—all inside of a black metal box, to avoid burning or blinding anyone—and had Fu put on a pair of earbuds to listen to the sound the iPad's mic picked up. As Sugawara varied the laser's intensity over time in the shape of a sine wave, fluctuating at about 1,000 times a second, Fu picked up a distinct high-pitched tone. The iPad's microphone had inexplicably converted the laser's light into an electrical signal, just as it would with sound. Six months later Sugawara—visiting from the Tokyo-based University of Electro-Communications—along with Fu and a group of University of Michigan researchers have honed that curious photoacoustic quirk into something far more disturbing. They can now use lasers to silently "speak" to any computer that receives voice commands—including smartphones, Amazon Echo speakers, Google Homes, and Facebook's Portal video chat devices. That spy trick lets them send "light commands" from hundreds of feet away; they can open garages, make online purchases, and cause all manner of mischief or malevolence. The attack can easily pass through a window, when the device's owner isn't home to notice a telltale flashing speck of light or the target device's responses. "It’s possible to make microphones respond to light as if it were sound," says Sugawara. "This means that anything that acts on sound commands will act on light commands." 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 personal project that I first started in 2017 to help curate quality articles for myself to fine-tune my reading around emerging technologies and the future. I now send this out by email every Sunday to whoever wants to receive it. The newsletter consists of ten great articles (topical recommended reading) and ten stories (what's amazing!). Box of Amazing now has thousands of readers spanning the globe from San Francisco to Tokyo and across multiple industries including strategy consultancy houses (McKinsey to Bain), from all the FAANG 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. If you have been forwarded this email, you can sign up at boxofamazing.com - it's free.

Thank you for reading

- Rahim

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