Business

Capturing the Value of Technology—in Economic Terms

When you look at economic statistics like G.D.P. and productivity, what gets overlooked? According to a New York Times column by Eduardo Porter, these key measures fail to capture the value people get from digital technologies. But leading academics from the University of Chicago, Stanford, M.I.T., and the University of Michigan are developing metrics to assess the overall value of technology on our lives, trying to put numbers around key pieces of the puzzle, like the value of the Internet and the value of free online services.   More

Media & Marketing Video

Media Execs on Video: Why Distribution Hasn’t Trumped Content

Techonomy asked Forbes CEO Mike Perlis, Thomson Reuters's ex-CEO Tom Glocer, and Huffington Post CEO Jimmy Maymann: Is content king, or has it been trumped by distribution? In this video, one of them says that if media models don't shift, we could end up in a world of mindless cat videos.   More

Business Cities

New Yorkers Can Now Hail Yellow Cabs with an App

New York City cab image via Shutterstock

New York City’s yellow taxi riders can now legally hail a cab with a smartphone app. Tuesday evening, San Francisco-based Uber announced that its cab hailing services were approved for use throughout the city, a move that positions Uber as the first and only cab-hailing app currently approved for use in New York. This follows a recent dismissal of a lawsuit filed by the livery car industry in New York, which opened the doors for app makers to offer electronic hailing of taxicabs throughout the city, a service Uber initially began testing last fall.   More

Business

Zooniverse Calls the Crowd to Find Patterns in Science Data

The Planet Hunters project at Zooniverse asks citizen scientists for help identifying stars

When two amateur astronomers noticed via a citizen science platform that NASA's Kepler space telescope software had possibly overlooked the signal of an unknown planet, they tapped "the most powerful pattern-recognition computer in the world—the human brain" to point out the mistake, Michael Lemonick reports on the New Yorker's new science and tech blog, Elements, today.   More

Business

Closing the Brain/Computer Divide

(Image via Shutterstock)

It sounds so very Star Trek: Computers that can read your mind, and act accordingly. Brain computer interfaces—computers that are able to assess and respond to your needs, wants, and feelings—have been in the works for years. But now we’re strikingly close to seeing them in the mainstream: within a few years, predicts Nick Bolton in a New York Times Bits post. The technology “was conceived to enable people with paralysis and other disabilities to interact with computers or control robotic arms, all by simply thinking about such actions.   More

Bio & Life Sciences

Do We Get Sick Like Rats? A New Philip Morris Prize Asks the Crowd

It might be surprising to hear a tobacco giant described as a tech innovator. But Philip Morris researchers are pioneering new territory with a crowdsourced approach to checking the accuracy of life sciences data. In partnership with computational biologists at IBM’s Watson Research Center, Philip Morris's so-called sbv IMPROVER project creates open challenges to encourage scientists to augment traditional peer reviews of research data. On Monday, Philip Morris launched its Species Translation Challenge, which will award three $20,000 prizes to teams whose results best define how well rodent tests can predict human outcomes.   More

Government Learning

Why Zuckerberg Wants Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Washington appears best suited to screwing up good ideas, even when more or less everyone there agrees it's a good idea. Fiscal Times here examines the politics and details surrounding tech-oriented immigration reform, including increasing H-1B visas, letting immigrant PhDs in STEM subjects stay in the U.S., and exempting entrepreneurs who are creating jobs from deportation. Because these are such logical reforms, they can't be passed individually but must become part of a comprehensive package, because Congress typically weighs down no-brainer bills with stupid amendments. Thus, Zuckerberg's new pro-immigration lobbying group FWD.us wisely supports a comprehensive bill, though it's hard to achieve.   More

Business

Mining Big Data for Programming Talent

(Image via Shutterstock)

Finding and recruiting top programmers remains a huge challenge for fast-growth companies like Square, Google, Facebook, and Amazon. Will Big Data come to their rescue? They’re willing to give it a try. These companies—along with other big names like Twitter and Walmart—are all customers of Gild, a startup that leverages information technology to find hidden talent. Gild was developed to tap self-motivated achievers—a cohort rife with what co-founder Dr. Vivienne Ming calls "wasted talent"—who are largely unknown compared to the smaller pool of much-wooed Ivy League graduates.   More

Business E-Commerce Startup Culture

Startup Creativity Flourishes at NY Tech Day

New York TechDay, Image courtesy @MNXconnect

There seems no limit to the business ideas the Internet can spawn. More than 400 tech startups, most of them dot-coms and 75% New York-based, exhibited at NY Tech Day on April 25. Some presented pre-launch concepts; others, more established, were there seeking investors, recruiting employees, and hatching partnerships. Concepts included the countercultural (InkedMatch.com, online matchmaking for tattoo lovers), the controversial (Parlor, enabling phone conversations between like-minded strangers), and the socially purposeful (Audicus.com, high-quality hearing aids sold at steep discounts to a market that includes earbud-damaged 20-somethings).   More

Jobs Manufacturing

The Humanoid Robots Start Arriving

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Steve Jurvetson, a VC friend of Techonomy's at Draper Fisher Jurvetson, ordered a humanoid "Baxter" robot from Rethink Robotics and shared these shots of taking it out of the box and plugging it into the wall. Right out of the box, Jurvetson programmed Baxter by moving its arms. On his first try, he taught the robot to move cups across a table, reporting that Baxter was able to persevere even as people placed cups in random locations on the table. "It learns what its hands can do by looking at them against the table as background," writes Jurvetson.   More

Business Cities

From the Model T to P2P: How Automotive Innovation is Changing Detroit (Again)

The "People Mover" in Detroit's Greektown (image via Shutterstock)

San Francisco's Uber has turned the limo and cab industry upside down by offering a car service that books rides on demand from smartphones. Users can request vehicles and complete transactions entirely through a mobile app. This method creates efficiencies that don't exist in traditional limo/cab offerings: upon request for a vehicle, the app sends the picture, name, and direct contact number of your driver to your smartphone. GPS enables real-time tracking as the driver approaches your pickup location, and upon reaching your destination, payment is automatically processed (gratuity included) through the app. In short, Uber has radically streamlined the customer experience for both driver and passenger.   More

Business Manufacturing

An Online Matchmaker for Designers and Manufacturers

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Repatriating U.S. manufacturing jobs isn't just about bolstering the economy. There are practical business problems associated with outsourcing production abroad. It's not uncommon for shipments of products made in countries like China to arrive with defects, which can be hard to rectify from the other side of the world. In a report on WNYC's New Tech City, Matthew Burnett, a small business owner in Brooklyn, says quality control wasn't the only issue he ran into when he used foreign companies to manufacture parts for his designer watch company—language barriers and time-zone differences hampered routine communications. When Burnett started his next company, a clothing line, he decided he only wanted to make his products in the U.S. That way he could order smaller batches and call up the factory directly if there were any problems.   More

Business

Is Apple’s Blossom Fading?

Image: Andrey Bayda / Shutterstock.com

Apple is arguably the Brangelina of companies: It’s not young anymore, and there isn’t much new there. But our fascination and fixation endure. Widely regarded as a bellwether for the global economy and a perennial favorite on Fortune’s World’s Most Admired Companies list, Apple’s better-than-anticipated earnings report reveals a company that continues to capitalize on its unwavering customer loyalty numbers, baked-in culture of innovation, and relentless focus on design as a key market differentiator. But with its iconic founder gone and the company maturing under the leadership of CEO Tim Cook, some are seeing signs of stagnation and decline.   More

Bio & Life Sciences

Why Scientists Celebrate DNA Day (April 25)

DNA helix image via Shutterstock

Here’s a holiday you’ve probably never celebrated: April 25 is DNA Day! It honors the publication of the original 1953 paper from James Watson, Francis Crick, Rosalind Franklin, and others first describing the double-helix structure of DNA. In more recent times, the day has also commemorated the Human Genome Project, declared complete in April 2003. This year, DNA Day marks the 60th anniversary of Watson and Crick’s discovery as well as the Human Genome Project’s 10th anniversary.   More

Bio & Life Sciences

CrowdMed’s Investors Bank on Crowdsourced Medical Diagnoses

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Fans of Dr. Lisa Sanders's "Diagnosis" column, which invites New York Times readers to guess what's causing anonymous patients' mysterious ailments, will love the idea behind CrowdMed, a business that announced its beta launch and $1.1 million in seed funding at TEDMED in Washington last week. CrowdMed is a crowdsourcing platform that taps the collective wisdom of regular folks to produce diagnostic suggestions for baffling cases.   More

Bio & Life Sciences

Brain Science Could Be the Next Big Leap

Brain image via Shutterstock

Those who tuned in to President Obama's State of the Union speech in February might have missed a brief mention of a project some say will catalyze an entire new industry devoted to understanding the brain. "Today, our scientists are mapping the human brain to unlock the answers to Alzheimer’s," Obama said. "Now is the time to reach a level of research and development not seen since the height of the Space Race." This brain mapping effort is the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (or BRAIN) Initiative, proposed jointly by the President and researchers. Obama has called it one of this century's "Grand Challenges," akin to mapping the human genome, or sending a man to the moon.   More

Finance Manufacturing

With $30 Million, Shapeways Will Push 3D Printing Frontiers

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Peter Weijmarshausen believes that 3D printing "is fundamentally changing the manufacturing ecosystem in its entirety." Several deep-pocketed investors agree. Weijmarshausen announced today that Shapeways, the 3D printing marketplace he heads, has raised $30 million in a series C financing led by Andreessen Horowitz. Existing investors Union Square Ventures, Index Ventures, and Lux Capital also participated in the round. Since its founding in 2007, Weijmarshausen says Shapeways has seen a drop in 3D printing prices, an expansion of printable materials, and users upload over 1 million designs.   More

Business Government

New 4G Contracts Test Beijing’s Fair Trade Commitment

The coming months will be a pivotal time for Beijing to show its commitment to free trade, as China’s three telcoms operators get set to award billions of dollars in new contracts to build 4G mobile networks. The building spree will mark the first batch of big new contracts since both the U.S. and Europe took moves last year that could severely limit or ban the import of Chinese networking equipment for reasons of national security and unfair competition.   More

Business

Does Facebook Want to Make Us Closer or More Separate?

A thoughtful article at Wired.com by Evan Selinger asks the right questions about the TV ads for the new Facebook Home app for Android phones. How appropriate is the kind of self-absorbed distraction that the ads depict users of the software indulging in? Should we celebrate people who tune out those around them, opting instead for entertainment provided by their friends? While one ad shows a guy on a plane being greeted by a young relative, another depicts a young woman at a family dinner completely ignoring her relatives as she enjoys her friends' snowball fight, a ballet performance, and a loud drummer.   More

Business

How to Fake an Internet Phenom in Five Easy Steps

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True story: Kevin Ashton, general manager of consumer electronics firm, Belkin, offers a remarkable step-by-step tutorial in Quartz on how to create the next big household name using social media. It’s easier than you’d think. Using some ingenuity and a little cash ($68, to be exact), Ashton created “Santiago Swallow,” a modern-day Internet celebrity with a verified Twitter account and more than 90,000 followers—who is entirely fake.   More