Vol. 2 | #13 | 03.29.19

Read time: 4 minutes


The Problem With SpaceSuits

While the protective feats of engineering that astronauts use for EVA’s (extra-vehicular activity) are unisex in design, they are not uni-sized. This seemingly obvious fact became newsworthy this week when the size of the spacesuits on the International Space Station that were prepped for EVA use inadvertently scrubbed what was to be a historic moment: the first all-female EVA mission. Two women were scheduled to step outside and perform some exterior maintenance to the ISS today: NASA astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch. But, because only one of the station’s two medium-sized upper torso pieces of the EVA suits are going to be prepped and available, today’s mission will feature astronaut Nick Hague taking McClain’s place … wearing a size large.

2Slow Down for Security’s Sake

With data security issues being so important, some are finally asking “do we really need to have our refrigerators and toilets connected to the internet?” (No, I’m not making up the connected toilet thing. It’s real.) In this Harvard Business Review article, the authors raise a wild idea: maybe we should take a breath and take our foot off the gas of finding ways to connect every gadget in our lives to the vast Internet of Things network.

Crazy, right?

So how do we fix our cybersecurity troubles? In two words: Slow down. Put simply, the time has come to more purposefully control what it is we digitize. This means slowing down the pace of adoption of networked technology with new laws and standards aimed at increasing the quality and reliability of any device with an IP address. And it means carefully preserving analog capabilities, even as we embrace the digital.


313,000 CRISPR Edits in a Single Cell

For all the handwringing about the science of genetic editing using CRISPR technology getting too far ahead of good sense, it doesn’t seem like the pace of development is slowing down at all. When dealing with highly complex systems, it is one thing to acquire the capability to make changes to the system. It is quite another thing entirely to be able to understand and predict all the ramifications of making just one change in that system.

Now, scientists at Harvard have developed a technique to make 13,200 genetic changes using CRISPR to a single cell all at once. If CRISPR is like having a word processor to make genetic edits, this is like using the “Find/Replace All” function to replace one word with another everywhere it appears. Has that ever worked without causing other problems? I’ve never been bold enough to try on any paper or writing I’ve ever done.


4Is This Really a Bad Thing?

High-speed, high-bandwidth video conference enables patients to receive medical care from doctors far away through the technology of telemedicine. Hearing a doctor deliver a grave diagnosis that your elderly loved one will be heading to end-of-life hospice care instead of returning home is undoubtedly a heavy thing to experience, and the delivery of this news should be done with the most humane and empathetic approach as possibly the physician. But, if that doctor’s consultation is being conducted via remote, what should he do? Not deliver the news?

The way this story is reported in the news as a “robot doctor” is silly sensationalism, of course, and obscures the deeper question. In this modern age when Apple’s Facetime and other video chat apps are marketed and enjoyed by users as making interpersonal communication more real and connected, why can that not be the case here?

5Why Cutting the Cord Isn’t That Simple Anymore

It’s all well and good to see the benefits of on-demand video entertainment and the unbundling of content away from the force-fed purchasing models cable and satellite providers have used forever. No longer do you have to pay a bloated monthly fee for 200+ channels you don’t want just to get the 10-15 you do.

On-demand viewing via Netflix or Amazon Prime is easy and simple, right? Not anymore. The early days of the internet brought unprecedented availability to almost any kind of information you could think of … if only you could find it. The sheer volume of information options required the ability to search intelligently before we could get value out of it. That need gave rise to the search engine races, from which the Google consolidation of everything online began.

We are facing the same dynamic now in video. With over 300 video streaming service providers out there, and even more on the way, the field is becoming hopelessly fractured, complex, and confusing. Too many choices is no paradise, and trying to comparison shop across the patchwork quilt of services … trying to determine which ones carry which content and support which devices … it’s all getting to be prohibitively complicated. Just like Google brought order to the internet, some consolidating force(s) will need to do the same for the video streaming world. Perhaps Apple’s big plan will be it?