Weekly Reading: Feb 15th – 21st

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“We’re working on apps for VR,” {Chris Cox, head of product at Facebook) said. Cox didn’t describe the apps in detail, but imagined a world where users will be able to share their current environment with other users using an app. He imagined that it could become an everyday way of sharing. “You’ll do it. Beyoncé will do it,” he said. (Chris Cox, Facebook is Working on Virtual Reality Versions of It’s Apps)

Slater and Banakou had demonstrated that adult test subjects could be made to perceive a virtual toddler’s body as their own, in a kind of high-tech version of the so-called rubber-hand illusion. Now they were attempting to push the concept a step further, beyond the sense of body ownership and into the realm of agency…To test the voice illusion, they split speech into its component parts—sound, lip movement, and vibration of the vocal chords. At the moment that the avatar mouthed “casa,” the word sounded in the woman’s headphones and the vibrator on her throat buzzed gently. The virtual voice was higher pitched than the woman’s, but this didn’t stop her from reporting, in a subsequent questionnaire, that she believed it to be her own. “Basically, we convinced people that they were saying something that they actually weren’t,” Slater told me. (Nicola Twilley, This is Your Avatar Speaking)

Don’t waste your time on stuff that doesn’t matter (i.e. things other than building your product, talking to your users, growing, etc.).  In general, avoid the kind of stuff that might be in a movie about running a startup—meeting with lawyers and accountants, going to lots of conferences, grabbing coffee with people, sitting in lots of meetings, etc. (Sam Altman, Startup Advice, Briefly)

Keep doing this for 10 years. (Sam Altman, Startup Advice, Briefly)

Similarly, I believe that Bitcoin is the first “killer app” of The Blockchain as email was the killer app for the beginning of the Internet. We are in the process of inventing eBay, Amazon and Google. My hunch is that The Blockchain will be to banking, law and accountancy as The Internet was to media, commerce and advertising. It will lower costs, disintermediate many layers of business and reduce friction. As we know, one person’s friction is another person’s revenue. (Joichi Ito, Why Bitcoin Is and Isn’t Like the Internet)

In recent years, the United States and China have accused each other of sponsoring major cyberintrusions, and Iran has accused the United States and Israel of unleashing a worm against its nuclear installations. Before such activities escalate into cyberattacks that destroy innocent lives, we should apply the lessons of the bitter past and establish the norms of cyberconflict. We should define acceptable targets, and we could even place limits on cyber weapons, just as we did on chemical ones nearly a century ago. (Karl Rauscher, It’s Time to Rewrite the Rules of Cyberwar)

“I’ve shot too much from the time I was eight years old,” Bryant says. “But ‘too much’ is a matter of perspective. Some people thought Mozart had too many notes in his compositions. Let me put it this way: I entertain people who say I shoot too much. I find it very interesting. Going back to Mozart, he responded to critics by saying there were neither too many notes or too few. There were as many as necessary.” (Kobe Bryant, Kobe Bryant Will Always Be an All-Star of Talking)

Watson reads english text, it’s a natural language processing tool…It can go out and read huge volumes of literature. The Watson who played jeopordy could read 200 million pages in 3 seconds. So if you can think of a process where making a decision would be benefited from the huge number of articles, reports, whatever, there’s a use for Watson…{If} an international bank is trying to decide to buy the bonds of a country. it’s going to look at econmomic reports, social reports, political reports, hundreds of thousands of documents to help inform the decision. (Marty Kohn, Application of IBM’s Watson in Medicine)

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