Virtual realities, a GOTY contender, and more: THE WEEKLY RECAP (2022#08)

So Russia ended up invading Ukraine. Seems like both Europe and the US will hastily react by doing… something useful? In a couple weeks? After the invasion ends? Everyone seems to have forgotten how history developed the last time a bully started invading European territories and diplomats did nothing that could break “peace”. Economic sanctions are a bad joke.


Meta? Second Life? Snow Crash? or World Fairs?

Very interesting piece on the MIT tech review about the concepts behind “the metaverse”. A really cool trip through the history of the concept, from the latest proposal by Facebook to the world fairs, passing through Second Life and Snow Crash.

The metaverse is a new word for an old idea, on the MIT technology review

VR headsets are here to stay

Second generation of the Sony VR headset, with a bunch of design improvements. What really started as a gamer gimmick it is becoming more and more mainstream. Let’s see the price tag for these, because up to now the high-end devices have been extremely expensive.

Behold the orby new PlayStation VR2 headset, on techcrunch
Sony finally reveals the PlayStation VR2’s design, on The Verge

Modern warfare tactics

And I am not talking about strike drones, robot assisted military actions or invisible planes. One of the most important things when an event of this dimension occurs is to control the global view of the conflict, and nowadays this does not involve just radio and tv emissions. Massive reporting on Twitter accounts that share information about the Russian invasion of Ukraine have provoked the ban of many users covering the news on the ground. While Twitter says this has been a mistake and the accounts have been mostly restored by now, it shows how the propaganda machine has been evolving during the past decade.

“We’ve been proactively monitoring for emerging narratives that are violative of our policies, and, in this instance, we took enforcement action on a number of accounts in error,” Busby said. “We’re expeditiously reviewing these actions and have already proactively reinstated access to a number of affected accounts. The claims that the errors were a coordinated bot campaign or the result of mass reporting is inaccurate.”

Twitter accounts sharing video from Ukraine are being suspended when they’re needed most, on The Verge

Industry + government + academia = win

If you asked me about innovation some years ago, I would have said that everything outside universities had the only purpose of generating benefits, and true innovation could only be done at academia, without any economical objective. Years have passed, and now I think I was being quite foolish, with a very limited view from the only point of view that I knew. As I grow older, I see how exceptional people (truly brilliant people, capable of doing research at the highest levels of excellence) leaves academia for many reasons. First, the system is quite flawed in how it treats people (long hours, a lot of uncertainty, high levels of stress, difficulties to establish and create a family, and a very long etc.). Second, the number of positions is so low (due to the low amount of funding) that it is impossible to fit all the talent around.

Usually, people go to work at tech companies where they do R&D, most of the time in topics that really help society in numerous ways. Without the restraints of academia (no publish or perish situations, no need to teach for months every year), and some of the benefits of the private sector (access to huge amounts of money from private investors), we have seen how many startup companies have been gathering hundreds of millions to develop biomedical solutions, AI-based driving, and many other technological solutions for some of the most challenging problems around. However, this approach also presents some drawbacks. Sometimes people overhype what tech can do, which ends in vast amounts of money burned in stupid trends. Also, we recently saw how bankrupt companies stop the development of their products, which can hurt people that need them in their everyday lives.

However, there is a simple solution to these problems: strong governments that bet into science in different ways. First, you need to build a strong public research network that allows to produce high quality science. Second, you need to plant the seeds for companies to be created, and for the symbiotic relationship between these and the academic institutions. Third, you need to regulate and control how companies function, develop, and gather investment from the private sector. Research has an ethical part that cannot be ignored for the sake of economical benefits, and companies tend to forget that very easily. A good government needs to control that point with extreme care. It is not an easy approach, but we have seen a very good example on how to do it during the COVID pandemic and the development of vaccines, as the piece on the MIT tech review tells.

These leadership roles across the technology industry, academia, and government have given me unique perspective and insight. What I have learned is that it is only through the mobilization of all three, acting in concert in an innovation ecosystem, that we can meet the biggest challenges of today and tomorrow.

True innovation requires big tech, academia and government to work together, on the MIT technology review

Rise, Tarnished

This just came out today and boy I miss having a good desktop computer around… can’t wait to grab something where I can run it. A worthy successor to Breath of the Wild? It seems like it, at least from the first batch of reviews. The best thing G. R. R. Martin has done since A Storm of Swords? Quite probable. I will need to play it first, but it he hype might be real for once….

Elden Ring, the Game Penned by George R.R. Martin, Lives Up To the Hype, on Bloomberg

And that’s it for the week. Stay safe!

Featured image from Elden Ring

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