A whirlwind tour through trends in China

In China, a country that leapfrogged the PC era to go mobile-first, the smartphone is the “remote control” of people’s lives… especially given the dominance of messaging/operating-system platforms like WeChat. But this is about more than just WeChat, Alipay, and others — it’s about online-to-offline commerce in general (and the viability of on-demand marketplaces there); the past, present, and future of QR codes; and new forms of social-mobile communication, from livestreaming to stickers to even VR cafes as a vector of early adoption.

So what does this mean for brands? What happens when emerging online influencers create their own offline brands, practically instantly? Things change fast, so Connie Chan shares observations on all this and more in this whirlwind tour of trends in China…

What is Moonshot Thinking?

At X, they pride themselves on moonshot thinking. Moonshots live in the gray area between audacious technology and pure science fiction. Instead of a mere 10% gain, a moonshot aims for a 10x improvement over what currently exists. The combination of a huge problem, a radical solution to that problem, and the breakthrough technology that just might make that solution possible, is the essence of a moonshot.

Why Cities Are Where They Are

Wendover took a really hard look at why cities are whey they are in this video and it’s completely fascinating. Some of the reasons are pretty obvious: Being close to water helps because the ocean is what connects the world, and without access to drinkable water cities would die of thirst. Being near natural resources obviously helps, too, since living near the stuff you need just makes sense.

Scott Galloway and Maureen Mullen: Predictions for 2017

Amazon Go will prompt retailers to rethink the checkout experience, Google will continue dominating digital advertising, and Instagram will become the new Facebook as the original platform faces increased scrutiny over miscalculated metrics. Meanwhile, Snapchat's IPO will be dead on arrival and Amazon will become the most valuable company in the world.

Amazon Go Is About Way More Than Groceries

Some interesting thoughts from Evan Puschak on what Amazon is up to with Amazon Go. Could Amazon Go be Amazon Web Services but for retail stores? In the same way that AWS provides hosting for sites like Netflix and Reddit, Amazon Go will provide patent-protected technology infrastructure for “self-shopping” supermarkets and retail stores?

Mobile is eating the world

As we pass 2.5bn smartphones on earth and head towards 5bn, and mobile moves from creation to deployment, the questions change. What's the state of the smartphone, machine learning and 'GAFA', and what can we build as we stand on the shoulders of giants?

"VoCo" - Adobe has invented a way to "Photoshop" Voices

Adobe has invented a way to "Photoshop" Voices! They started with a real voice recording and then replaced "my wife" with the name "Jordan" which the speaker never said. The results sound eerily real. They cut more of the sentence and added the phrase "three times" the result sounds totally real. Adobe is calling this tech "VoCo". With a twenty minute voice sample, Voco can make anbody say anything.

Professor Scott Galloway: How to Be a Winning Brand in 2017

The equation for success is no longer user growth multiplied by engagement. Rather, it's receptors multiplied by intelligence. In other words, smart companies leverage user data to improve the intelligence of their products. Professor Galloway lists the winners according to this formula, including Uber, Amazon, and Facebook - as well as some surprising losers.

Why Elon Musk says we're living in a simulation

Elon Musk thinks we are living in a simulated reality. Nick Bostrom think those chances are more around 20 percent. The chances of human kind participating in a simulated reality is broken down into three options: 1) humans go extinct before we are able to run a simulation of this size. 2) Humans are uninterested in running ancestor simulations. 3) We are currently participating in the simulation.

Interactive Dynamic Video by MIT

We learn a lot about objects by manipulating them: poking, pushing, prodding, and then seeing how they react. We obviously can’t do that with videos — just try touching that cat video on your phone and see what happens. But is it crazy to think that we could take that video and simulate how the cat moves, without ever interacting with the real one?

Face2Face: Real-time Face Capture and Reenactment

Computer scientists from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, the Max Planck Institute for Informatics and Stanford University have invented a new futuristic face capture technology that can map a user's facial expressions in real-time onto a famous celebrity and then generate realistic video showing the celebrity saying anything the user chooses. Fake news anyone?