Box of Amazing: Feet Feedback 👟 & Big Pigs 🐷  
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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
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I spent this week in San Fran - and so perhaps my reading is a little skewed to the West. I'll try and balance up with more East next week. 

My recommendations:

1. Jeff Bezos’s Master Plan Link
2. $1B+ Market Map: The World’s 390+ Unicorn Companies In One Infographic Link
3. Beautiful News Daily Link
4. Stop giving companies your phone number. Do this instead Link
5. Disney is using AI to correct gender bias in its movies Link
6. The Only Metric of Success That Really Matters Is the One We Ignore Link
7. I tried to hack my insomnia with technology. Here’s what worked. Link
8. The Definitive History of the Flu Link
9. 11 Years  - The rise of UK Fintech Link
10. How Photos of Your Kids Are Powering Surveillance Technology Link

Have a great week!

Onward! - Rahim
 
What's Amazing
 
1. Feet Feedback
"New Microsoft patent shows off a floor mat for your virtual reality experiences. The patent, spotted by Variety, details a floor mat that marks out a boundary for a gaming space. Your VR or AR headset could use the boundaries of the mat to work out where you are, and provide haptic feedback under your feet to help you stay within those boundaries. As well as keeping you from knocking the television over or standing on the cat, the mat could also buzz your feet to provide in-game feedback as well. There are all sorts of possibilities that developers could make use of. Pressure sensors inside the mat could be used to help work out a user's position in three-dimensional space, the patent suggests, reducing the reliance on cameras and sensors onboard the VR/AR device itself for tracking position."  Link
2. The Alibaba Hotel of the Future
Alibaba, known for its e-commerce platforms, has branched out into retail, restaurants, and even hotels. It has opened a hotel near its headquarters in Hangzhuo where almost everything is automated. The hotel lobby has no counters or couches. A staff member will assist foreigners for check-in, but Chinese nationals can check-in via an app or using kiosks. Elevator and doors are accessed with face scans. Each room has a personal assistant speaker, similar to Amazon's Alexa, where guests can order room service, or control the lights and curtains in their room. A robot butler can deliver most items and is able to ride elevators solo. Guests can order food at the restaurant, to be delivered by a robot server, and a robot bartender can mix drinks for the guest at the bar. The hotel opened for guests at the end of 2018. Fly Zoo's aim isn't just to build a futuristic hotel, but to test technologies that can be sold to other existing hotels.   Link
3. How Spotify’s Algorithm Knows Exactly What You Want to Listen To
"Spotify is doing everything it can to get you to listen to more music. The company has created algorithms to govern everything from your personal best home screen to curated playlists like Discover Weekly, and continues to experiment with new ways to understand music, and why people listen to one song or genre over another. While competitors like Apple Music, Amazon Prime Music, and Google Music rely on a mix of paid humans and community-created playlists, Spotify’s main differentiating factor is the level of customization and expansion of music knowledge offered to customers. Spotify needs to continue building out these algorithms because it’s the only way to create custom listening experiences for each of its over 200 million users. As Spotify struggles to grow its business, that differentiating factor needs to be a compelling reason to subscribe to the service." Link
4. Is Amazon Unstoppable?
"The notion of the flywheel—the heavy disk within a machine that, once spinning, pushes gears and production relentlessly forward—is venerated within Amazon, as Ian Freed learned on his first day of work, in 2004. Freed had initially glimpsed the power of the Internet as a Harvard student, when he guessed an e-mail address in Indonesia that led him to strike up a correspondence with the country’s minister of telecommunications. After graduating, Freed built computer networks in Russia and drafted policy papers for the World Bank and the United States Agency for International Development. He felt that every organization he advised failed to take advantage of all the opportunities created by the Internet. He moved to the West Coast, where he became an expert in streaming networks. Then he joined Amazon, as a director of its fledgling mobile-services team. During an orientation that included a warehouse stint unloading boxes of shampoo and stocking shelves with toothpaste, he realized that people at the company saw things in a fundamentally different way."  Link
5. Forty years of Experience
I love lists, especially when they come from learning from wise people. This list from Steve Schlafman is great. 40 lessons from Forty years. I particularly like this: "You can likely learn the fundamentals of any topic or craft if you dedicate ~100 hours. That’s not much time in the grand scheme of things. Immersion leads to progress." Link
6. The Perils of Mind Merging
"For many transhumanists, uploading is key to the mind-machine merger. Perhaps these sorts of enhancements will turn out to be beneficial, but to see if this is the case, we will need to move beyond all the hype. Policymakers, the public, and even AI researchers themselves need a better idea of what is at stake. For instance, if AI cannot be conscious, then if you substituted a microchip for the parts of the brain responsible for consciousness, you would end your life as a conscious being. You’d become what philosophers call a “zombie”—a nonconscious simulacrum of your earlier self. Further, even if microchips could replace parts of the brain responsible for consciousness without zombifying you, radical enhancement is still a major risk. After too many changes, the person who remains may not even be you. Each human who enhances may, unbeknownst to them, end their life in the process."  Link
7. Who is Generation Alpha
"Brands, take heed: a rising generation of digital native consumers, born between 2010 and 2025, are primed to overhaul the consumer landscape. Raised on technology, eagerly principled and the apples of their parents’ eyes, this generation’s expectations already present a powerful force for brands. Influenced by their millennial parents and gen Z role models, this rising cohort is characterized by their strong ethics and values. According to a 2019 report from Wunderman Thompson Commerce, 59% would like to work somewhere saving lives, while 51% want a job where they can use technology to make a difference. Echoing the rallying cry of gen Z climate activists, 67% of 6-9-year-olds say that saving the planet will be the focus of their career. " Link
8. Big Pigs
China is breeding polar bear-sized pigs as a direct result of the rise in pork prices. African Swine Fever (ASF) has taken a major toll on the nation’s pork supply, leading some farmers to ‘go big’ and breed the heaviest swine they can manage. According to Bloomberg, one farm owner, named Pang Cong, in Nanning, Guangxi is breeding pigs the size of polar bears. Pang’s ‘swollen’ swine, which weighs approximately 500 kilograms, is a part of a herd that’s expected to breed more giant swine. In some cases, farm owners can reel in more than RMB10,000 for these massive animals.  Link
9. Slow Robocop
HP RoboCop is a K5 model, specialized for outdoor use, and is one of the company’s first to wear a police moniker. Knightscope’s website promotes some of the K5’s abilities as including a 360-degree high-definition live video stream, a license plate reader that can scan 1,200 plates a minute, a two-way intercom and the ability to track cell phone use in the vicinity. But as it is currently used, HP RoboCop is little more than a glorified security camera on wheels. The robot’s five cameras provide 24/7 live monitoring, with the ability to send footage directly to officers’ phones, but that’s currently only accessible to Knightscope. It’s another feature that the police are working on activating, Lozano said.  Link
10. The rise of facial recognition technology
Gordon is in his early 60s, with sandy hair and a glowing tan that hints at regular visits to Italian vineyards. He makes an unlikely tech entrepreneur, but his frustration spurred him to launch Facewatch, a fast-track crime-reporting platform that allows clients (shops, hotels, casinos) to upload an incident report and CCTV clips to the police. Two years ago, when facial recognition technology was becoming widely available, the business pivoted from simply reporting into active crime deterrence.  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 every Sunday to whoever signs up. 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 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. 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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