Welcome to Gattaca – or Meet the real Okjas.

After a year of trying, a lab from the University of California that is led by the Australian Geneticist Van Eenennaam, had just used the gene-editing tool CRISPR to add a gene called SRY to some bovine skin cells.

What does it mean?

CRISPR: gene editing tool that enables scientist to make changes on the DNA in the embryo phase,  so they can remove or edit bad genes or just make animals more profitable. It has been used to create pigs that are immune to viruses and sheep whose wool grows longer.

SRY: a bit of DNA that can make a female turn out to be essentially male—with bigger muscles, a penis, and testicles (but unable to make sperm).

It means that the industry will be able to have only male animals and in this case, male cattle – Van Eenennaam likes to call this the “ Boys only” project.

But, why would the industry take advantage of that? Basically, males grow bigger and faster, which means…more steak.

Why it’s hot:
This is scary. Of course, we can discuss the positive effects that editing bad parts of DNA can have on animals and people.  But do we need that? What are the risks of it? How can it change the way we live together?

Source: MIT Technology Review

Embrace Melancholy

Brands are always trying to find positionings that would essentially make our lives better:

Chocolate brands make you feel happier.
Car brands make you feel powerful or aggressive.
Technology brands make you feel connected.
Beauty brands make you feel better about yourself.
Spirit brands make you feel inspired.
But how does a raincoat brand should make you feel?
Stutterheim is a Swedish brand that makes rubbery and –  like almost every Scandinavian brand – super stylish raincoats. Their products are beautiful, they have genderless collections, their stores are minimalistic and on top of that, their positioning is about embracing melancholy.
Why Melancholy? Because that’s the state of mind that we find our selves during a rainy day and since they come from Sweden, rain is part of their culture.
They could have created a singing-in-the-rain kind of positioning ( I bet It crossed everybody’s mind to go that way). But they decided to face melancholy and explore this mood across their communications, including their blog, where they interview artists from all over the world and explore the how melancholy is an important part of their creative process.
Image result for stutterheim melancholy
Why it’s hot?
In a world that celebrates and dictates that we should all be happy, all the time – It’s bold to find a brand that feels comfortable about discussing a ” negative” emotion.
Sometimes as marketers we tend to refute bad things, make fun of our weakness and avoid discussing them with clients – but maybe this can be a good source of inspiration.

Meet the CryptoKitties

 First, a quick definition, according to CryptoKitties’ website:
” CryptoKitties is one of the world’s first games to be built on blockchain technology—the same breakthrough that makes things like Bitcoin and Ethereum possible. Bitcoin and ether are cryptocurrencies but CryptoKitties are crypto-collectibles. You can buy, sell, or trade your CryptoKitty like it was a traditional collectible, secure in the knowledge that blockchain will track ownership securely.”

The game’s developers describe them as “breedable Beanie Babies” and each one of them has its own unique 256-bit genome. The kitties’ unique DNA can lead to four billion possible genetic variations.

Developers also say that these crypto-collectibles cats are gender-fluid, able to play the role of either the “dame” or the “sire” when bred together.

So far people have spent more than $ 3 million dollars on it (!!!).

Check out the CryptoKittens for sale here.

Why It’s hot:

More info: BBC, Mashable

 

From smart homes to smart offices: Meet Alexa for Business

During AWS Reinvent Conference in Las Vegas, Amazon announced Alexa for Business Platform, along with a set of initial partners that have developed specific “skills” for business customers.

Their main goal seems to be aimed at making Alexa a key component to office workers:

 
– The first focus for Alexa for Business is the conference room. AWS is working with the likes of Polycom and other video and audio conferencing providers to enable this.

– Other partners are Microsoft ( to enable better support for its suite of productivity services) Concur (travel expenses) and Splunk ( big data generated by your technology infrastructure, security systems, and business applications), Capital One and Wework. 

But that’s just what they are planning to offer and the new platform will also let companies build out their own skills and integrations.

Why It’s hot: 
We are finally seeing those technologies give a step to being actually useful and mainstream. 
Since Amazon wants to integrate Alexa to other platforms, It can be an interesting tool for future innovations. 
Source: TechCrunch

Facebook, Google and others join The Trust Project, an effort to increase transparency around online news

” ‘Fake news’ and other misinformation, online propaganda, and satirical content people believe is true have filled the web via search engines and social media, and have caused a rift in how people perceive today’s news organizations and the quality of their coverage. A nonpartisan effort called The Trust Project is working to address this situation by helping online users distinguish between reliable journalism and promotional content or misinformation.

Today, a key part of that effort – called “Trust Indicators” – are going live on Facebook, offering easy-to-access, transparent information about a news organization’s ethics and practices.

Here’s how this will work in practice: starting today on Facebook, an icon will appear next to articles in the News Feed. When you click on this icon, you can read the information the publisher has shared related to their organization’s “ethics and other standards, the journalists’ backgrounds, and how they do their work,” according to an announcement from The Trust Project.”

” Facebook, Google, Bing and Twitter have all committed to displaying these indicators, though not all implementations are yet live.

[…]

Specifically, The Trust Project has released eight Trust Indicators created by leaders from over 75 news organizations that will offer additional transparency about an organization’s ethics and practices.”

  • Best Practices: What Are Your Standards? Who funds the news outlet? What is the outlet’s mission? Plus commitments to ethics, diverse voices, accuracy, making corrections and other standards.

  • Author Expertise: Who Reported This? Details about the journalist who wrote the story, including expertise and other stories they have worked on.

  • Type of Work: What Is This? Labels to distinguish opinion, analysis and advertiser (or sponsored) content from news reports.

  • Citations and References: For investigative or in-depth stories, greater access to the sources behind the facts and assertions.

  • Methods:  Also for in-depth stories, information about why reporters chose to pursue a story and how they went about the process.

  • Locally Sourced? Lets people know when the story has local origin or expertise.

  • Diverse Voices: A newsroom’s efforts to bring in diverse perspectives.

  • Actionable Feedback: A newsroom’s efforts to engage the public’s help in setting coverage priorities, contributing to the reporting process, ensuring accuracy and other areas.

Why It’s hot:
We’ve all seen the effect that fake news can have.
We’ve been waiting for Facebook, Google an Twitter to do something about it as they are the media where fake news gains traction and visibility.
This is the first step and the good thing is that they are all in this together -and that’s a good start.

From: TechCrunch

Uber’s ‘flying cars’ could arrive in LA by 2020

 

Uber NASA just announced a partnership that intends to provide” flying car” rides to people living in big cities until the year of 2020.

While NASA is responsible for developing air traffic systems, Uber makes their UberAIR project become a reality.

The idea is to launch the beta service in Los Angeles, Dallas and Dubai and they are expecting it to cut by more than half the travel time.

Although this is not exactly a new thing, the difference now is that we know they intend to make that option affordable and that they are now officially part of NASA’s “Space Act Agreement”, which exists to develop security measurements to air traffic while assuring its efficiency.

Why it’s hot:
– It makes us think that those movie-like future predictions are actually happening.
– Air taxis can change the way we experience and live in big cities. For example. If it shortens the commute time, then maybe we can decrease the demographic density of big cities.

 

 

The Crazy German Theater With a 19-Mile-Long Stage

The Bewegtes Land is a project that started recently in Germany. Passengers traveling by train through Germany’s Saale Valley will have an unexpected treat, as the train route was transformed into a long stage for performance art.

The acting is performed by 400 residents (and volunteers) along the 19-mile train route. The vignettes showed various situations from “running” bushes to a shark emerging from a lake right beside a canoer. The goal of the project is to amuse passengers and, at the same time bring people from these small communities together.

The project was created by Jörn Hintzer and Jacob Hüfner, media artists, and professors at the Bauhaus University Weimar.

Why it’s hot:
They managed to create a new and creative media and a narrative fully designed for it.

What machines can tell from your face

This article from the economist talks about the effects that Face recognition can have in our society. As advertisers, we always imagine the good, cool stuff like giving out coupons, recommending something like a massage if you look stressed and so on. But there’s a dark side of it that makes the discussion not only about fun.

For example: a face recognition software has a rate of 80% success in discovering a person’s sexuality. Imagine how people can be exposed, specially in countries where homosexuality is illegal.
Why It’s hot: 
It’s important for us to fully understand the impact of technologies: the good and not so good part of it.