Olivia Jeffers

Welcome to Compassionate Technologies. Here you'll get a dose of real science and business in your inbox every Sunday morning. Why? Because cutting-edge research shouldn't be locked in an ivory tower. This newsletter covers the relationships between machine learning, robotics, genetic engineerin... Read more

Welcome to Compassionate Technologies. Here you'll get a dose of real science and business in your inbox every Sunday morning. Why? Because cutting-edge research shouldn't be locked in an ivory tower. This newsletter covers the relationships between machine learning, robotics, genetic engineering, and climate science. It's all connected, and it's my passion to simplify and make clear those connections for all of you. Love, Olivia.

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26

issues

#26・

[announcing] the "AI across America" podcast project

There is kind of a media bubble, and it looks like this. It also happens to overlap with the tech bubbles, focused mostly in Silicon Valley, Seattle, New York and Boston.

 
#25・

[on pause] working on something awesome, be back soon!

Dear readers,I will be putting the newsletter on pause because I'm working on a few really cool things: setting up a Patreon page to financially support the newsletter, recording podcasts at PRX Podcast Garage, and an awesome new series on how technologies su…

 
#24・

Part III: The Biology of Machines, the Chemistry of Transistors

There are many ways to build a computer, so why do we use silicon? It all boils down to electrochemistry, the same rules that govern the neurons in our brains. Ultimately, whatever material we use, needs to be easy enough for humans to control - and binary en…

 
#23・

Part II: The Many Faces of a Neuron: Cell, Wire, and Computer

Neurons are cells just like any other cell. They have a squishy, sac-like cell body which has another sac inside (the nucleus) which contains all your genetic information. Inside the cell body is a sea of cytoplasm, which houses a factory of organelles that a…

 
#22・

Part I: The Mind of Matter, Delving into Consciousness

What separates us from animals? Most of the answer lies in the questions themselves.1. We have the need to classify and separate objects into hierarchies - with ourselves uniquely at the top, of course. In the question, we’ve de facto separated ourselves, tin…

 
#21・

'Borg Mice: the very real science behind Elon Musk's Neuralink investment

Yes, you can inject flexible wires and transistors into the brain and measure the activity of individual neurons. Basic unit of computer, meet basic unit of brain. We just haven’t done it in humans yet.Imagine a needle with a mesh of 16 wires smooshed inside.…

 
#20・

Algorithm Serves as Togolese ‘Village Elder’ for Flood Prediction

Each year in West Africa floods take lives dozens of lives, displace thousands of families, and destroy tens of thousands of hectares of cropland. The plus side of all this water is that it has enormous potential for electricity production, making hydropower …

 
#19・

Hunger, a technical or social problem? Do we really need GMOs?

Before the military-industrial complex, there was the agricultural-industrial complex, and damn - those guys created some things! From steam engines to mills, John Deere’s tractors, and hydraulic pressure lifts - they’ve been figuring out better, faster ways …

 
#18・

"Innovation Orchards" and the Engine, turning science into business

Last Tuesday Katie Rae and Anantha Chandrakasan formally introduced The Engine to a packed and overflowing group of entrepreneurs and investors at the MIT Media Lab.The Engine is exactly President Reif’s vision of an “innovation orchard”, a solution to the in…

 
#17・

From Broadway to NASA, Soft Robots in Space

Using the same techniques in building costumes for the Rockettes and making movie monsters, Kari Love and Matt Borgatti with Super-Releaser created NASA-funded space suit glove components.Their tool bench is half mechanical and half medical, screwdrivers and …

 
#16・

Who owns gene editing? #CRISPR #BroadWins

CRISPR sits in the middle of a costly patent brawl. That hasn't stopped scientists and venture capitalists from betting on who will win. Business is moving fast with licenses being sold, betting on the USPTO's decision which recently sided with MIT and the Br…

 
#15・

One day, I'll sit on a couch and tell an AI my feelings...

Rosalind Picard and Rana el Kaliouby are co-founders of Affectiva, an MIT Media Lab spinout and rising star in the relatively new field of affective computing. Well, new since Picard’s 1995 paper on the topic.Engineers at Affectiva train computers to detect ‘…

 
#14・

One day, I'll sit on a couch and tell an AI my feelings...

Rosalind Picard, founder of Affectiva, an MIT Media Lab spinout and rising star in the relatively new field of affective computing. Well, new since Picard's 1995 paper on the topic.Engineers at Affectiva train computers to detect 'affect' - the precursor to e…

 
#13・

Tech In China. Will China Open as America Closes? (Part Two)

Uber entered the Chinese market in 2013 retreating in 2016, losing ~$2B but leaving with a $1B equity investment from and 20% stake (valued at $7B) in DiDi, as well as a DiDi board seat for CEO Kalanick.Why did they and so many other companies fail to enter t…

 
#12・

Tech in China? The History You Need to Know in 5 Minutes (Part One)

China is a land that holds an air of mystery, elegance, and power. In the United States, China is regarded with both fear and respect, both a powerful trading ally and threat to domestic economics.With a long dynastic tradition, the Chinese people have a shar…

 
#11・

Social Media Collides with Social Unrest at the #WomensMarch

The largest threat to any dictatorship or monarchy is the unrest of the people. The introduction of social media technologies layered on top of global communications creates a shift in government-civilian power dynamics, tilting and warping centuries old stat…

 
#10・

I'm in love with my tech...

Technology is all about relationships — ultimately looking at humans as intelligent biological machines… it makes sense that our adoption of another bio-machine into our emotional lives would mimic… the adoption of silicon-machines into our emotional lives as…

 
#9・

You're a buggy machine, and it's okay

If any of your are like me, the holidays were a bit stressful. Family gatherings and idle time for self-reflection, sandwiched between a mad rush to finish everything before the holidays - and a mad rush to get back on the ball after the holidays.The Holmes-R…

 
#8・

Dear AI, please save us from ourselves, a message from 12,017

Imagine an intelligence that knows more about you than you do. Instead of using your iPhone to apply mascara, you can also use your iPhone to apply New Year’s resolutions.This isn’t an article about “How to Make New Year’s Resolutions that Actually Stick, Thi…

 
#7・

An Old Buddhist Exercise with a Technological Spin

A few days ago, I read an article on Lion's Roar on how to deal with difficult people in your life. It proposes a trading places exercise, with you and the difficult person (DP) sitting across from each other (in your imagination of course).It's a fully immer…