The industrialized West doesn’t know how to deal with death. Culturally, we only seem capable of engaging with the end of a human being’s life in one way: as a problem. That problem can be “solved” by medicalizing it into a million little pieces, throwing money and fantasy at it, or simply turning away from the people facing its natural approach. Rituals of acceptance, dignity, or even beauty around death are not part of our social firmware–which is why a project like Philip Nitschke’s Sarco may seem sincere, obscene, crass, and humane all at once. Sarco is a suicide chamber: coffin-sized pod you get into in order to painlessly and peacefully kill yourself on purpose. It’s the brainchild of Nitschke, a former physician from Australia who became an extremely vocal and active advocate of euthanasia for humans (in 1996, he became the first doctor in the world to administer a legal, voluntary lethal injection). It’s no disrespect … [Read more...] about The world’s leading euthanasia advocate designs a “death pod”
NEW YORK — Shoe chain DSW Inc. on Tuesday reported a surprise loss for its fiscal fourth quarter as it digested costs from acquisitions. DSW, based in Columbus, Ohio, also offered a disappointing earnings forecast for the current year, which drove shares down more than 13 percent. The results come as the chain said it plans to change its corporate name to Designer Brands Inc. as it expands its offerings. It's slated to change its ticker symbol to DBI on April 2. Last year, the company purchased Camuto Group, a shoe manufacturer that owns licensing rights for the Jessica Simpson footwear business and footwear and handbag licenses for Lucky Brand. DSW also has been adding services like nail salons, and it plans to build exclusive brands and products. The moves come as Amazon has been increasing its market share in shoes, while key rival Payless ShoeSource is closing its 2,500 stores in North America. DSW posted a fiscal fourth-quarter loss of $45.7 million, after reporting a profit … [Read more...] about DSW posts surprise 4Q loss, will rename co. Designer Brands
Vint Cerf, who co-designed the early protocols and architecture for our modern internet, uses a parable to explain why courageous leadership is vitally important in the wake of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence. Imagine that you are living in a tiny community at the base of a valley that’s surrounded by mountains. At the top of a distant mountain is a giant boulder. It’s been there for a long time and has never moved, so as far as your community is concerned, it just blends into the rest of the landscape. Then one day, you notice that the giant boulder looks unstable—that it’s in position to roll down the mountain, gaining speed and power as it moves, and it will destroy your community and everyone in it. In fact, you realize that perhaps you’ve been blind to its motion your entire life. That giant boulder has always been moving, little by little, but you’ve never had your eyes fully open to the subtle, minute changes happening … [Read more...] about How can we design AI for the best long-term interests of humanity?
Now imagine if AI weren’t just in the background, but instead acted like an equal collaborator in the design process? To explore this idea, Toronto-based design research company Radical Norms worked with a computer vision algorithm, powered by a Google API, to design a chair. For the project, called 100% Chair, the designers attached two-dimensional silhouettes of chair parts to a rotating machine. A camera watched the rotations and a computer vision algorithm assessed the percentage probability that it was looking at a chair. The camera took screenshots of each composition and tagged it with what percentage of chair the computer saw–one image might be only 6% chair, while another might be 42% and a third could be 96%. This wasn’t just a wacky thought experiment. By turning AI a design collaborator, Radical Norms hopes to demystify a sometimes obscure technology. “People tend to be afraid of these unknown processes, AI being one. We [think] mainly it’s … [Read more...] about See a chair co-designed by AI
A funny thing happened when I recently upgraded my iPhone to iOS 12: The Settings menu items got rearranged, and it completely changed my relationship to my smartphone. Sometime in the last six months, I’d gotten the idea that I could put the brakes on my mindless mobile-web surfing by using iOS’s “Restrictions” settings to deactivate my web browser. Of course, the only thing stopping me from reactivating it whenever I wanted was a simple passcode. So I developed an objectively silly habit: Every time I wanted to mindlessly surf the web on my phone, I’d open Settings, input my “Restrictions” passcode, and have at it. It took a little longer than just tapping the Safari icon, but pretty soon my fingertips could accomplish it with an equal amount of nonthinking. But after upgrading iOS, the Settings menu was suddenly different–just unfamiliar enough that my silly, habitual maneuver to unlock my web browser didn’t work anymore. If I … [Read more...] about How I designed distraction out of my phone, in 3 steps