March 7, 2014 in Daily Bulletin
This economy has been tough for everyone. When we last checked in on IBM’s supercomputer, Watson, it was sending resumes with a requested salary of a billion dollars to the top companies around the world. As it turns out these days it is flipping burgers at a fast food joint for, we presume, minimum wage:
- Watson has been scanning the world’s recipes to identify patterns in ingredients and cooking methods.
- It is then using this data to create new dishes that are likely to appeal to the human palate.
- Its ideas so far have included a “Swiss-Thai asparagus quiche” and an “Austrian chocolate burrito”.
- Interested customers can go to a food truck in Las Vegas to see the supercomputer at work.
Read more about the initiative over here.
Via: Marginal Revolution
March 6, 2014 in Daily Bulletin
One Zombie Apocalypse has already begun writes Erica E. Phillips:
- Zombies are generally thought to crave fresh human brains. The increasing amount of academic resources devoted to studying them indicates that they have been successful in attaining it.
- In the past five years there have been 20 scholarly books with the word ‘zombie’ in the title.
- JSTOR, an archive of academic journals has also recorded a significant uptick in the number of papers that refer to Zombies.
- An increasing number of college courses allow students to study zombies.
- Fields such as economics (“The economics of the Undead“), media studies (“Zombie sexuality”), and literature have tackled the subject.
- Defenders of the trend point out that Zombie studies are used to analyze more serious topics such as slavery, religion, and even post-traumatic stress disorder.
Read more about those who think that this is all a waste, the places where you can study zombies, and more over here.
Source: The Wall Street Journal
March 5, 2014 in Daily Bulletin
Ellen DeGeneres’ now famous Oscar Selfie was paid for by Samsung writes Suzanne Vranica:
- As an official sponsor of the event Samsung had negotiated to have its phone integrated into the show.
- It also paid for five full minutes of commercials. All of this is estimated to have cost Samsung $24 million.
- Ellen DeGeneres had come up with the idea to take a selfie during rehearsals and Samsung employees taught her how to use the Samsung phone to take the shot.
- The stunt was effective. Samsung was being mentioned 900 times a minute soon after the photo was posted on Twitter.
- Advertizers have increasingly tried to integrate their products into shows since consumers are more likely to skip over ads.
Read more about Samsung’s previous spending on the Oscars, the hitch that Samsung had to deal with, and the proportion of the mentions of Samsung on social media that were positive over here.
Source: The Wall Street Journal
March 4, 2014 in Daily Bulletin
Cracked took a look at things that we don’t realize are actually mass produced:
- Two songwriters are responsible for many hit pop songs. Songs such as Kesha’s Tik Tok, Taio Cruz’s Dynamite, Katy Perry’s I Kissed a Girl and many, many more were written by just one person.
- For several popular young adult novels, a committee comes together to determine what young people may like. A writer is then brought in to write the book from an outline. The committee then alters it to maximize its chances of success. Even movie studios sometimes get to edit books to make for easier theatrical adaptions.
- Famous celebrity personalities are sometimes determined by “reputation managers”. After Miley Cyrus hired Larry Rudolph she did a sexually charged performance at the VMAs which included a phallic object that was safe to show on TV and ignite discussions. This is exactly what Britney Spears did after she hired the same person a few years ago.
- Online reviews are sometimes mass produced by companies that are hired to manage the online perceptions of restaurants, authors, and products.
The full article covers more surprising items, and is an entertaining read. Find it here.
March 2, 2014 in Daily Bulletin
See those unrecognizable people sitting with the elite at the Oscars? Ever wonder who they are? Julie Miller has your back:
- Some of them are nominees for the technical categories as well as friends and families of the celebrities.
- However the organizers also hire about 300 ‘seat fillers’ whose sole purpose is to fill empty seats when guests go to the bar or washroom, or if there’s an unappealing seat behind technical equipment.
- To become a seat filler one must submit a passport and job application with photos of the evening wear they have purchased and will wear to the event.
- It’s mostly those who have connections with somebody at the Oscars who get the position.
- Unlike the real guests, seat fillers have to show up for the evening ceremony at 9 am.
- Seat fillers aren’t allowed to talk to any of the stars, and aren’t allowed to use the open bar.
- If the camera happens to pan to them then seat fillers must be stoic and there must be no indication that the stars surrounding them don’t know them.
- The 14 hour experience is considered volunteer work and thus is unpaid.
Read more about the experience of one fake guest, why some seat fillers can be abusive, and how the rules are bent over here.
Source: Vanity Fair
February 28, 2014 in Daily Bulletin
All you can eat restaurants make you unhappy writes Alice Robb:
- In one experiment economists found that the higher the price that people pay for the same food at an all you can eat restaurant, the more they eat.
- However since all you can eat restaurants charge an upfront flat fee the amount of consumption shouldn’t vary by the price paid for entry.
- But people are susceptible to the ‘sunk cost’ fallacy, where they feel that if they pay more they somehow have to make it ‘worth’ more.
- In fact those who ate more ultimately enjoyed their meal less as they overstuffed themselves.
- Thus at all you can eat restaurants it’s possible the more you pay the less happy you’ll be with your food.
Read more about the study, its methodology, and its implications over here.
Source: New Republic
February 27, 2014 in Daily Bulletin
Cracked runs Photoshop contests where readers are invited to send in funny submissions based on various prompts. Yesterday’s prompt was “Shocking Comparisons That Change How You Think of Money”. Some of the more interesting entries included:
- German hyper-inflation meant that in mid-1922 it cost 2 marks to send a domestic letter. At the end of 1923 it cost 100,000,000,000 to send the same letter.
- Russia spent $8.7 billion to build a highway to a mountain in Sochi. This was more than the budget of the entire 2010 winter Olympics.
- The band Aerosmith made more money from Guitar Hero royalties than it did from any of its albums or world tours.
- Producing a gram of anti-matter costs $62.5 trillion dollars.
- One drug lord was smuggling so much money he had to spend $2,500 a month on rubber bands for his cash.
The full article has 23 of these facts and includes points about Bill Gates’ incredible philanthropy, thoughts about the richest sports person in history, and more over here.
February 26, 2014 in Daily Bulletin
The verdict seems to be that Glass is a fun toy for the pretentious. But Google’s wearable tech has nothing on what one US military contractor is developing:
- Q-Warrior is a helmet mounted heads up display for combat soldiers.
- The helmet highlights allied forces in blue and enemy forces in red.
- It can help soldiers navigate by showing digital waypoints, areas of interest, and targets.
- Through the helm soldiers will be able to see video feeds from nearby drones.
- The height, altitude and speed of allied aircraft can be marked on screen to increase situational awareness.
Read more about the technology, what it can do, how it works, and its possible future over here.
February 25, 2014 in Daily Bulletin
Max Nisen reported on the principles that Google uses to hire employees:
- Ivy League graduates are overrated. They lack intellectual humility and don’t know how to deal with failure.
- In fact graduates in general are overrated. Those who can make it without college really know how to be successful.
- Intelligence is overrated. It’s not about what potential hires know, rather, it’s about how fast they can learn.
- This is why behavioural interviews are popular. By asking about past experiences through questions such as how an individual dealt with difficult circumstances, they provide insights into the individual’s ability to react to new circumstances.
Read more over here.
February 24, 2014 in Daily Bulletin
The Economist covered in flight apps:
- Virgin Atlantic is launching what it calls the world’s first airline social networking app.
- The app allows individuals to connect with their social media accounts and see if any of their contacts are on the same gate or plane – or even another Virgin Atlantic flight.
- The app allows business travelers seated far from one another to chat with each other through instant messaging.
- Attendees to a conference could get to know each other before they arrive at their destination.
- Travelers could also send a message to passengers in the flight ahead of them and ask how long they’ve been delayed by weather.
- Other apps allow passengers interested in midair romances to find each other.
- Younger travelers might soon have apps they can use to play games with others on their flight.
- Airlines may use all the data they gather from this to improve their marketing.
You can read more about the app, why Virgin Atlantic is leading the way, and more over here.
Source: The Economist