Box of Amazing: Your Data is For Sale  
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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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Before you scroll to the best ten reads and read about Elon Musk, consider the following slightly alternative reads:

1. How Cultural Differences Shape Your Gratitude
2. The Neurologist who hacked his brain...and almost lost his mind
3. Why I’m turning my son into a cyborg 

For those of you who facepalmed themselves after trying out the FaceApp, you'll enjoy Think FaceApp is scary. Wait til you hear about Facebook.

Have a great week!

Onward! - Rahim
 
What's Amazing
 
1. Internet Connected Brains
Elon Musk took to the stage to unveil a sewing-machine-like robot used to implant ultra-fine flexible electrodes deep into the brain. The threads are thinner than human hair and would be used to detect neuron activity. The robot would conduct the procedure under the direction of a neurosurgeon. This presentation is worth watching if you can skip through some of the blurb. Wired does a great summary. MIT tech review has some great analysis of whether any of this is new and how long it will take (10 years-ish if you want to believe it)  Link
2. Computers that can see
"Now, suppose I post five photos of myself and Mr Porter knows what clothes to recommend, without my having to buy anything first, or go through any kind of onboarding? Suppose I wave my smartphone at my living room, and 1stDibs or Chairish know what lamps I’d like, without my having to spend days browsing, liking or buying across an inventory of thousands of items? And what happens if a dating app actually knows what’s in the photos? No more swiping - just take a selfie and it tells you what the match is. Seven or eight years ago this would have been science fiction, but today it’s ‘just’ engineering, product and route to market. " Link
3. Microsoft hologram speaking Japanese
This video is less than two minutes long and gives those laypeople (like me) a sneak peek of what is going on behind closed doors. Watch this video and your mind will go into overdrive.  It shows Microsoft using its Mixed Reality studios and neural TTS engines to create a hologram of a person speaking in another language. The voice will sound just like the original person, but with a different language. Magic. Link
4. I found your data. It’s for sale.
As many as 4 million people have Web browser extensions that sell their every click. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The root of this privacy train wreck is browser extensions. Also known as add-ons and plug-ins, they’re little programs used by nearly half of all desktop Web surfers to make browsing better, such as finding coupons or remembering passwords. People install them assuming that any software offered in a store run by Chrome or Firefox has got to be legit. Not. At. All. Some extensions have a side hustle in spying. From a privileged perch in your browser, they pass information about where you surf and what you view into a murky data economy. Think about everything you do in your browser at work and home — it’s a digital proxy for your brain. Now imagine those clicks beaming out of your computer to be harvested for marketers, data brokers or hackers. Link
5. A new immersive classroom uses AI and VR to teach Mandarin Chinese
You'll know I have a penchant for tech news in education. Stuff like Pearson phasing out print textbooks is expected but using real-life immersion to learn how it's really like to be in China and learn Chinese is the stuff that really excites me. "In a new collaboration with IBM Research, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), a university-based in Troy, New York, now offers its students studying Chinese another option: a 360-degree virtual environment that teleports them to the busy streets of Beijing or a crowded Chinese restaurant. Students get to haggle with street vendors or order food, and the environment is equipped with different AI capabilities to respond to them in real-time. While the classroom is largely experimental, it is being used for the first time in a six-week, for-credit course at the university this summer." Link
6. Boston Dynamics Robots are about to join us in the real world
"Boston Dynamics now faces its biggest challenge yet: turning its stable of robots into an actual business. After decades of kicking machines in parking lots, the company is set to launch its first ever commercial bot later this year: the quadrupedal Spot. It’s a crucial test for a company that’s spent decades pursuing long-sighted R&D. And more importantly, the success — or failure — of Spot will tell us a lot about our own robot future. Are we ready for machines to walk among us?" Link
7. The Chinese Chatbot with 660 Million Friends
Making a new friend is a complex business. You might begin with small talk: introductions, explorations. Perhaps you bond over something you have in common: shared tastes or interests. Gradually, you’ll open up more emotionally: telling your new friend personal stuff, coming to them with your problems. Maybe they become a major source of emotional support for you, turned to nearly every day for advice on affairs of the heart or careers. These disclosures and shared context bind us as friends: this shared vulnerability and, yes, humanity. Except that, at the International Conference on Machine Learning, we learned that this whole process has happened between a human user and a chatbot: Microsoft’s XiaoIce. After a few weeks of talking to XiaoIce, at least one user preferred talking to the bot over any of their human friends. XiaoIce became the confidante they went to for romantic advice, the friend they chatted about movies and TV with, and a constant companion. Link
8. AI-Powered Home Work Outs
There’s no shortage of fitness apps that promise to tone your muscles and boost your baseline heart rate, but a new challenger on the block claims its approach is more holistic than most. Pivot taps a combination of sensors and machine learning to count reps and track form in real time. When Pivot launches sometime in Autumn 2019, its service — which will include all necessary equipment, including a heart rate monitor and weights, and which will cost around $2,000 with a monthly service fee of around $39 — will provide access to live and recorded strength training, high-intensity interval training, and cardio classes from group fitness trainers. Live instructors will be able to view workout data and get alerts when participants aren’t performing exercises properly, allowing them to provide targeted feedback, and Pivot’s social features will enable users to compete with friends and other members of the community. Link
9. Electronic Skin
"A team from the University of Singapore has now used that nervous system as inspiration to create a "skin" for robots that, one day, could improve their ability to detect and understand their environment. Sheets of silicon were covered with 240 sensors that can pick up contact, pressure, temperature, and humidity. These are able to simultaneously transmit all this data to a single decoder, and should still work when the system is scaled up to 10,000 sensors" Link
10. A Chinese AI startup is tracking lost dogs using their nose prints
Megvii, a Chinese AI startup that supplies facial recognition software for the Chinese government’s surveillance program, is expanding its technology beyond humans to recognize different faces of pets. Megvii’s new program is trained to recognize dogs by their nose prints — much like how humans have unique fingerprints. 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

P.S. Are we connected on LinkedIn?
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