Tag Archives: Technology


I recently started meditating using the Headspace app.

I knew that I wanted to try meditating, but I didn’t know where to get started. What I did know is that I wanted a guided journey rather than to be my own guide. This would make it easier to get started and stay motivated.

However, I also didn’t want to pay for offline meditation classes. I wanted a low cost way of trying meditation at the location of my choice during the day. As a result, I searched for meditation apps and, sure enough, there are several. I picked Headspace because it had the highest ratings among meditation apps on the Google Play store.

Headspace starts you off with 10 free lessons each consisting of 10 minutes of guided meditation. You can then pay if you want additional lessons.

I’ve completed the first 4 lessons over the last 4 days and am very happy with the results. Although I was initially skeptical about whether you could use a smartphone to meditate (I associate meditation with putting technology aside to focus on your inner self), the smartphone essentially serves as a speaker. Once you push the play button to begin a particular lesson, you just listen to the guided meditation without any further interactions with your smartphone.

My mind is much clearer after the meditation lessons. And it requires just 10 minutes per day at no financial cost for the first 10 lessons, and about $10 per month (or less than $100 for an annual plan) thereafter.

If you’d also like to think more clearly and be more peaceful throughout the day, meditating definitely helps. And Headspace is a great way to get started.


I recently watched the movie The Circle.

The movie tells the story of a fictional global tech company called The Circle¬†that seeks to end people’s privacy. The company reminded me of today’s Facebook or Google, not because these companies are doing the same but because that’s what the director’s choice of the technology produced by the company and the company’s corporate campus suggest. The Circle’s guiding principle behind its motivation to end privacy is that “knowing is good, but knowing everything is better”.

While I believe that this principle is true for scientific information that informs our view of how the world works, it’s not true for information about the lives of people. There are two reasons for this.

The first is that people have emotions resulting from personal preferences which, as long as one does not infringe on the lives of others, we as a society need to respect.

The second reason is that many people do not have the tolerance to accept viewpoints and lifestyles different than their own. Ending everyone’s privacy would result in intolerant people, often in large groups, preying on innocent individuals.

As the movie argues, ending privacy sounds liberating in theory, but produces many bad outcomes in practice.

However, as the movie doesn’t point out, complete privacy isn’t the solution either. There are cases which justify the use of technology to infringe on one’s privacy with the goal of preventing harm. The problem is that giving the right to use this technology to humans can produce bad outcomes if it falls into bad hands.

Rather than adopt a blanket statement in favor of or against privacy, we need to go a level deeper and evaluate specific categories of scenarios on a case by case basis. With the increasing attention which the applications of technology have brought to the issue of privacy, we’ve entered a time period where we’re increasingly doing just that.

Guiding hands

We’re increasingly connected to the virtual rather than the physical world, including at times when we really shouldn’t be. I’m certainly guilty of this.

A friend recently shared the video below from The Conan Show that parodies exactly this behavior. It’s a short segment called Guiding Hands.

Maybe it will make us think twice the next time we consider trading away a physical experience for a virtual one.

16 questions about self-driving cars

Andreessen Horowitz recently shared a presentation highlighting 16 questions about self-driving cars that have yet to be answered. The questions are broken down into 3 categories: technology, business, and social.

Some of the questions overlap with a previous post that I wrote on what our future of accessing autonomous electric vehicles is likely to look like.

Rather than provide specific answers, the presentation shares ways in which to think about the latest developments relevant to each question. This lets you think about and research those questions you find the most interesting in order to come up with your own answers.

Here’s the full presentation.

The human effort behind the technology

What was the most impactful technological advance of 2016?

Some candidates which come to mind are advances in artificial intelligence (an AI beat a human in a complex game like Go), genetic engineering (CRISPR has the potential to allow for human gene editing to prevent disease and enhance humans), and space travel (a reusable rocket landed on a floating barge in the ocean for the first time in human history). Time will show how big an impact each of these technologies has.

However, independent of how impactful each technology turns out to be, the human effort which goes into the development of each is to be applauded.

Here’s a video which shows the emotions experienced by the SpaceX team during the company’s successful earth landing of humanity’s first reusable rocket. The emotion is the direct result of the human effort that went into the technology’s development.

Technology in soccer follow up

I wrote about how technology could be used to improve referee decision-making in an earlier post. In that post, I shared how there was an offside position before England’s goal in a friendly match against Turkey and the goal should have therefore been disallowed. The offside position could have been identified in real-time using video recording and replay technology.

Yesterday night, Turkey beat the Czech Republic 2-0 in the Euro 2016 competition. Turkey needed to win by at least a two goal margin in order to have a chance of progressing from the group stage so both goals were crucial. And this time it was Turkey’s second goal that came from an offside position and should have there been disallowed. You can watch the goal below.

Turkey was unfairly penalized during the England game, and unfairly rewarded against the Czech Republic. As part of the Euro 2016 competition, the Czech Republic game is more important than the friendly against England. So in this case Turkey ended up gaining more than it lost.

But the problem isn’t whether you’re on the winning or losing side of referee mistakes. The problem is that there doesn’t need to be a winning or losing side at all. Using technology, both mistakes could have been corrected and soccer could be a fairer game.

Technology in soccer

Something interesting happened during the friendly soccer game between England and Turkey earlier this week. England scored in the 2nd minute of the game to go up 1-0. However, the goal should have been disallowed by the referee as the scorer was in an offside position at the moment when his teammate passed him the ball. If you’re not familiar with the rules of soccer, this basically means that there was only one opposing team player (in this case the goalkeeper) between the player receiving the pass and the goal at the time when the pass was made. This places the player in an offside position and this is against the rules in soccer.

Video recording and replay technology didn’t exist in the past. It therefore wasn’t possible to identify such infractions immediately after they took place.

However, even after the advent of video recording and replay technology, the world governing body of soccer, FIFA, decided not to use it to correct referee mistakes. Although using it would allow referees to immediately identify the mistakes they made and correct them, FIFA argued that this was against the spirit of soccer. This basically means that FIFA chose to continue letting referees make mistakes rather than promote fairness in the game. The latter is what’s actually against the spirit of soccer, not the former.

But now, in addition to video recording and replay technology, we have smartphones that let you immediately broadcast and watch these videos on platforms like YouTube. As a result, everyone can see whether a referee’s decision was correct or not within minutes of the decision. In the absence of YouTube, you had to wait for the TV channel to show the replay as it saw fit.

Turkey’s soccer coach Fatih Terim took advantage of a smartphone to show the game’s referee a video recording of the offside incident minutes after the goal. You can watch the series of events in the video below.

By not adopting video recording and replay technology to improve the decisions of its officials when the technology first emerged, FIFA used its centralized power to preserve the status quo and delay progress. Now that this technology is available to everyone in the heat of the moment, the power is shifting from FIFA to the fans. I think that the fans will eventually vote to preserve the true spirit of soccer.