DataDownload: The President’s take on tech

DataDownload: The President’s take on tech A weekly summary of all things Media, Data, Emerging Tech View this email in your browser

This week, there’s a change in leadership. Joe Bidden and Kamala Harris have four years to solve a list of challenges facing the United States. And interestingly, many of them orbit around tech and science.

Protocol has a great article about the complex web of relationships between tech and the administration. takes us to the Met’s new augmented reality experience. And Wired digs into the complex relationship between Tech and Humility.

Then, some really big Robots courtesy of CNBC. And a cool look into Sim Racing. But perhaps most importantly, for those of us waiting patiently (or not so patiently) for the Vaccine, a look at just what synthetic mRNA means, and why medicine is rapidly speeding up.

Overall — it’s a good week to be positive and proactive. Innovation is the only way forward.

Have a good week.


Steven Rosenbaum
Executive Director
The NYC Media Lab Must-Read The Complex Web That Links the New Administration to Tech, Visualized

Protocol created a relationship map of all of President Biden and Kamala Harris’s connections to the tech industry a few months back, and it’s worth revisiting as we learn how the administration will be dealing with social media platforms over the next four years. What we know for sure is that neither party is a fan of Big Tech, but not exactly for the same reasons. From a CNET piece earlier this week

“Democrats are troubled by the rampant flow of hate speech and disinformation, including misinformation about the outcome of the 2020 US presidential election, as well as, interference by foreign countries in the election. Republicans, led by Trump, allege their speech is being censored by social media sites. The companies strongly deny the claim. Both sides say these companies have grown too big.”

Protocol / 1 min read Read More I Spent Two Hours Inside the Met’s New Augmented-Reality Experience. Here’s the Best and Worst From My Edutainment Odyssey

If you haven’t tried the browser-based Met Unframed experience on your phone, head over to the landing page and enable the gyroscope option once inside the 3D environment. The experience drops you into virtual galleries displaying some of the Met’s most popular works, lets you superimpose artwork in your living room, and adds some minigames into the mix. Artnet has a detailed walkthrough but we’d suggest just jumping in.

Artnet / 13 min read

Read more Tech+Media An Artificial Intelligence Scholar Urges Technologists to Embrace Humility

Over the past decade, AI has brought together computer scientists with healthcare practitioners, musicians, policymakers, synthetic biologists, philosophers, and professionals from a bevy of other disparate disciplines. As Fei-Fei Li writes in her Fast Company essay, success in AI depends on “the humility of researchers like me to recognize the boundaries of our knowledge, and the graciousness of experts in another discipline to help us overcome them.” AI is not just an engineering challenge — it’s a data gathering and curation challenge, it’s an ethical challenge, and it’s a policy challenge.

Fast Company / 6 min read Read More Entertainment Robots the Latest Craze Worldwide as the Pandemic Rages On We’ve seen plenty of pieces on robots — drones, delivery vehicles, cleaner bots — being tested in infectious environments throughout the pandemic. But aside from the glorious Boston Dynamics videos, most of these bots aren’t strictly entertaining, so it’s nice to see a piece dedicated to the entertainment robot industry. And you can’t really talk about robots without mentioning Japan, which delivers 52% of the world’s industrial robots. CNBC covers Gundam Factory Yokohama’s full-scale Gundam replica (see video below), and some of Asia’s robot eateries… and a robot theme park.

CNBC / 7 min read Read More Pandemic Paved the Way for Sim Racing, but Will It Last?

Early on in the pandemic, when auto racing events were canceled, NBC and Fox decided to perform an experiment: go fully virtual, using games like iRacing to compete on TV. The experiment worked: an “eNASCAR race drew 910,000 viewers, fewer than the three million typical for NASCAR but more than the 400,000 typical for a virtual race.” An F1 replacement race drew 4M viewers — 30M less than usual, but almost twice as much as your usual pro digital race.

The races also drew a younger and more diverse audience, a plus for sponsors and leagues. The lower sponsorship fees opened opportunities for companies who couldn’t afford the $35M it costs to sponsor a front-running racer: “It cost four figures per [virtual] race… to be seen by a million TV viewers — a bargain.”

NY Times / 8 min read

Read More What We’re Watching How mRNA Vaccines Work — Simply Explained

Wondering how mRNA vaccines work? Simply Explained gives us an overview in four minutes. In a nutshell: “The main idea of mRNA vaccines is to trick our bodies to produce part of a virus. This kickstarts our immune response, without getting us sick. All that’s needed is a part of the virus’s DNA or RNA, packaged into mRNA.”

Simply Explained (YouTube) / 4 min watch

Watch Now What We’re Listening To Podcast: Babbage: Innovation’s New Wave

Check out this recent Economist podcast on how “Covid-19 has catalysed scientific advancement and boosted technological optimism. Could innovation be the answer to decades of slowing growth in Western countries?”

Apple Podcasts / 27 min listen

Listen Now Virtual Events Free Event: Developing an Experimental Culture by Tesla PM
Date: January 25, 2:30PM-3PM
Join Product School for a session with a Tesla product manager to learn what skills are required for bringing your team together and working towards success as a PM. Register Here.

Free Event: Data Driven NYC with DoorDash, Datakin, & Ursa Computing
Date: January 26, 5PM
“We’re thrilled to welcome three incredible guests, Alok Gupta (Head Of Data Science & Machine Learning, DoorDash), Julien Le Dem (Founder & CTO, Datakin), Wes McKinney (Founder & CEO of Ursa Computing).” Register Here. A Deeper Look Music on the Mind

“If we can understand what music is — how it works and what it means — then we have the key to understanding the most complex questions of human cognitive development.” — Monica Lopez-Gonzalez, senior lecturer in the Department of Cognitive Science at the Johns Hopkins Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

Lopez-Gonzalez says that music is so essential to humanity and how we think that if we understand what music is, we can grasp the “human mind-brain.” She has taught a course on the subject at Hopkins for the past decade, delving into math, philosophy, neuroscience, history, biology, and other disciplines throughout the semester. The point, she says, is to find “unexpected and revealing connections,” something she describes as “21st century Leonardo da Vinci style…. It is precisely because there’s an entire history as to how we human beings have evolved to enjoy, to play, to experience music, that we can actually learn about our neurobiology.”

“One group, calling themselves TheraMuse, looked at music therapy as an effective, affordable addition to other interventions for people with depression and anxiety. Through interviews with experts, four podcasts explore the connection between music and mental health and the ways music therapy can create changes in the brain to address the issues that cause mental illness. In their policy paper, which advocates for more widespread use of the intervention, the team proposes making music therapy available under Medicare and Medicaid and creating a continuing education module on music therapy for physicians.”

Hub / 5 min read

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