Category Archives: Blog

musings about new technologies, life experiences, and rogue ideas.

Ethics of Driverless Cars

Driverless CarsGoogle has been developing the driverless car for over half a decade, and with each passing year these automated chauffeurs move farther away from science fiction and closer to reality. Five states have passed laws enabling such vehicles, and as of April of this year, over 700,000 miles have been driven without an accident.

While commercialization is still a long way off, last week a debate raged over the ethical situations that may arise when a driverless vehicle is put into a situation where a crash is imminent. As a hypothetical example, what if a crash was unavoidable, and a driverless car had to choose where to guide the car – either to collide with a schoolbus or a volvo?  Physics dictates that hitting an object of larger mass will statistically be the safest, but there are kids on board! What is the correct decision?  Is the law, and by extension, the public, prepared for cars that “choose” the best scenario?

Continue reading

Posted in Hardware, Science, Security, Shifting Perspectives, Technology. Tagged with , , .

Code Combat: Wield JS, Slay Orcs, Get Jobs!

CodeCombatNever has Javascript been more fun to learn. A startup venture backed by Y Combinator wants to teach you that language you’ve always wanted to learn through gameification – or the usage of elements of game design(e.g., point scoring, competition with others, rules of play)- to enhance motivation and the learning process. Slay orcs and battle minions by programming your units in a real-time web game. Compete against your friends to see who wrote the more robust code. Possibly get a job for your efforts?  Welcome to CodeCombat. Continue reading

Posted in Inspirations, IT, Shifting Perspectives, Software, Technology, video games. Tagged with , , , , , .

Are You Color Blind?

The human eye

The human eye is one amazing instrument – a phenomenon of biological engineering, and the window through which we interact with our world.  The fastest and arguably strongest muscle – it is second only to the brain in its complexity. At Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, where I now work, our mission is to promote healthy vision for everyone.

This doesn’t mean just vision correction! It means treating the full range of optical conditions, from common myopia (short sightedness) to the more complex and currently incurable glaucoma –  and everything in between.  It means designing products that don’t just improve the quality of vision, but are also safe and non-damaging to this special organ.

It’s easy to just focus on simple vision correction, because 285 million people are estimated to be visually impaired worldwide, and only a fraction of them are treated. But in the spirit of Healthy Vision, I had a very interesting discussion with my coworkers about color blindness – and learned some pretty amazing things! Read on to take a hue test to see how accurately you see the lush colors of the world, and to hear about exciting research into curing color blindness. Continue reading

Posted in Science, Shifting Perspectives, Technology. Tagged with , , , , , .

Solving Complex Problems Without Adding Complexity

maxresdefault

Ever wonder why a common complaint in the workforce of many large companies is that the business processes are too complex?  While every company tries to remove inefficiencies, its a recurring narrative that the bigger a company is and the longer it has been around, the more likely it is to be mired down in processes that sap productivity and don’t add value.

Yves Morieux is a Senior Partner and Managing Director of the Boston Consulting Group,  head of BCG’s Institute for Organization.  In a recent TED talk, he really got me jazzed looking at how the top two organizational structures that corporate leaders use for resolving business challenges contribute directly to this productivity atrophy.  It is his opinion that these methods are obsolete and no longer work into today’s corporations.  He makes some compelling arguments.  What do you think? Continue reading

Posted in IT, Life Lessons, Shifting Perspectives, Work. Tagged with , , , .

Isaac Asimov and the Foundation Series

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny...'

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ but ‘That’s funny…’

Isaac Asimov is one of the most read, accessible, and prolific science fiction writers that has ever lived.  One might say he helped define the genre. He has written popular works on science and the history of science, as well as a number of science-fiction classics, including I, Robot (1950), and the Foundation Trilogy (1951-53). He is most well known for having written these series. I have recently reread the entire foundation series (six novels), and am reminded again as to just how groundbreaking these ideas must have been in his time. I highly recommend that if you are looking for a book, and you like science fiction, pick up one of Isaac’s. Continue reading

Posted in Art, Inspirations, Literature. Tagged with , , .

badBIOS, a Bad-To-The-Bone, Halloween Malware

"Our forensic procedures are weak when faced with challenges like this"

“Our forensic procedures are weak when faced with challenges like this”

As a cyber security enthusiast, I like to think I know a thing or two about how to stay safe against viral threats.  But no article could have been more frighteningly fitting for arstechnica to post on Halloween, even for me. The article tells the story of Dragos Ruiu, a security icon responsible for the pwn2own hackathon franchise, who three years ago stumbled upon malware that took over a clean install of OS X on his Macbook Air.  He was unable to boot from CD, and found the machine was deleting data and undoing configuration changes without prompting. This is when it starts to get freaky.  The virus started propagating, even to machines completely disconnected from any traditional access point.  No networking, no power cables (running on batteries) fresh installs, with no contact with infected devices. Continue reading

Posted in IT, Science, Security. Tagged with , , , , , , , .

Ready Player One: And My Love of Video Games

220px-Ready_Player_One_coverReady Player One, written by Ernest Cline, consumed all of my available attention from start to finish. I was transported to a captivating dystopia where the real world decayed and the general population spent their lives jacked into the Oasis, a virtual reality world based on Video games and 80’s pop culture, searching for the fortune of the designer and creator, hidden deep inside.

Published in August of 2011, It quickly joined the ranks of the New York Times Best Seller list.  Warner Bros. bought the rights to the movie before the book was even published. The genuine writing style and nerdy characters quickly drew me in.  I felt like one of them. I got to relive aspects of my childhood long buried. I highly recommend the novel, to anyone who has struggled to explain how immersing themselves into an rpg or platform video game was a formative part of their growth as an imaginative individual. I will not spoil the book! Just want to talk about games and growing up. GO READ IT! Continue reading

Posted in Art, Inspirations, Life Lessons, Literature, Shifting Perspectives, video games. Tagged with , , , , .

The Art of Debate & Why It’s So Important

Is Islam a Peaceful Religion?

This question may incite thoughts and feelings that you don’t want to think about right now. That’s ok.  I don’t mind if you don’t feel like confronting this question at this moment. But shortly after the beheading of a British soldier in London on May 22, 2013 by individuals justifying their actions in the name of Allah, the Oxford Union society held a debate on this very question. They decided that they felt compelled to talk about it their feelings.

Oxford Union Debate: Is Islam a Peaceful Religion?More than 450 Oxford University scholars and community members gathered for a debate, with arguments presented by six speakers- three that propose that Islam is in fact a peaceful religion, and three that do not. The speakers would have their time, to speak their piece on the subject. These people came with the most noble of democratic intentions – to hear reasoned arguments for and against something, to determine their position from the arguments poised and their own experiences, and to vote for or against the motion as they saw fit.

I am inspired by the individuals who had the courage to defend their beliefs, the individuals with the courage to question, and by the people that found it worth their time to spend an evening engaging in serious self reflection.  Most of all, I am thankful for the Oxford Union for discussing topics that cause us to question our beliefs and actions, for keeping the masterful art of debate alive.    Continue reading

Posted in Art, Life Lessons, Shifting Perspectives. Tagged with , , , .

John Kao – Mr. Creativity on Large Scale Cultures of Innovation

Kao_JohnA lot of companies are starting to have earnest discussions about innovation. My own company strives to build a “culture of innovation” making it part of the fabric of everything we do.  But what does that look like?

Dubbed “Mr. Creativity” by The Economist, John Kao calls himself an innovation activist.  He is chairman of the Institute for Large Scale Innovation, whose i20 group is an association of 30 national ‘Chief Innovation Officers.’  John coined the term “large scale innovation” to refer to innovation as a societal agenda.  He has advised numerous nations and regions on innovation strategy and execution, including Finland, Singapore, the City of San Francisco, Abu Dhabi and elements of the US government as well as the European Union innovation policy team.

And as the last keynote speaker at the World Innovation Forum, I got to hear his response to his corporate clients trying to build a culture of innovation.  With several wise words and a few musical performances, John earned his nickname and my respect. Continue reading

Posted in Inspirations, Life Lessons, Music, Shifting Perspectives. Tagged with , , , , , .

Kairos Society – Tomorrow’s Leaders on Today’s Problems

"Innovation is about thinking outside thebox.  give them your insight and see what the bright minds of tomorrow come up with."
 

"Innovation is about thinking outside thebox. give them your insight and see what the bright minds of tomorrow come up with."

“Innovation is about thinking outside the box. Give them your insight and see what the bright minds of tomorrow come up with.”

Ankur Jain is the founder and chairman of the Kairos Society. The Kairos Society is an international, student-run, not-for-profit foundation based in the United States that brings passionate young entrepreneurs together from all over the world and asks them to tackle the worlds toughest challenges. Ankur doesn’t just believe that they can solve these challenges, he also believes that by fostering inside tomorrow’s leaders a belief that they will do well by doing good, that they will impact the quality of life for the global population on a large scale.  Continue reading

Posted in Activism, Inspirations, Shifting Perspectives. Tagged with , , , , , , , .