Meet Mr Xenobot: the first living self-healing robot [CNN]
A new life form has seen the day. Meet the “xenobots”, revolutionary tiny living programmable organisms developed by US scientists. These robots are based on the heart and skin stem cells from the African clawed frog Xenopus laevis. Less than a millimeter in size they are meant to help development of soft robots that can repair themselves when damaged. It is also hoped these little guys will help clean up our microplastics’ mess, digest toxic materials, or even deliver drugs inside our bodies. However, this also means T-1000 from Terminator 2 may no longer be that far away. Slice a xenobot open and it will pull itself together again.
Pawfect playlists [The Verge]
The millennial generation is known for obsessing over our pets (often in lieu of having children), much to Boomers’ chagrin, and Spotify has now given our doting a new dimension. Introducing: Spotify pet playlists. Pick your animal, answer some questions about their personality, and voila – a playlist your dog/cat/hamster/bird/iguana will love! Spotify has undoubtably done better than competitors at maintaining customers and one of the reasons is these curated playlists designed to go viral (along with your decade in review etc.) So what are you waiting for? Show your pet how much you love them!
Once upon a time, there was a place called Silicon Valley [The Atlantic]
If you are up for a trip down memory lane over the weekend, this reflection piece is for you. Silicon Valley has been known for its startup ecosystem and as the birthplace of the biggest tech companies to date. Most of these companies grew in an environment where pioneers and founders were encouraged to go beyond the status quo and ‘dream big’. But what happens when those big dreams become a reality? Well, Silicon Valley is not what it used to be, and this author argues it could be at the detriment of innovation worldwide.
The power of memes [The Verge]
Memes are making their way from the 9GAG scroller pages to the highest courts. Never has the age gap been more salient as when the US supreme court’s Chief Justice John Roberts used ‘Ok boomer’ in the courtroom. The meme allegedly originated from infamous 4chan in the dark ages of 2015 and resurfaced in the Twitter realm in 2018 as a retort to politicians criticising millennials and Gen-Z. Roberts ruled that using OK Boomer as a descriptor while distinguishing between job candidates is actionable due to its discrimination against older applicants who might not have the same tech skills. It’s not the meme’s first appearance in more ‘serious’ debates: a 25-year old New Zealand lawmaker used it as a slick comeback to an older member of Parliament heckling her climate crisis bill speech.
In case you haven’t had enough…
The crime-fighting app that caused a phone-hacking scandal in Italy (Bloomberg)
Your DNA could catch a criminal (The Wall Street Journal)
The smart ideas that will define technology in 2020 (Wired UK)
YouTube algorithms promote climate change-denying videos: report (Politico)
From Glass to Fire Phone, these were the decade’s top tech flops (Wired UK)