Find of the Day: 08 September 2016

You’ve probably heard by now, but the new iPhone 7 does not have a headphone jack. This is going to be a pain for all kinds of reasons, but if you pick up a pair of Bluetooth headphones you should do just fine. And hey, what do you know, Apple announced a pair of those! The new “AirPods” are completely wireless!

For the past several years, Bluetooth headphones have been called “wireless,” but there is only one specific wire they’ve eliminated: the wire that goes from the headphones to the phone. This is a good wire to eliminate! It gets caught on doorknobs and sometimes shorts out due to bending around the plug. Another wire, however, has been permitted to stay. Over-the-head Bluetooth headphones still have an obvious band (with a wire inside) connecting the two speakers, and more stripped-down Bluetooth earbud designs usually have a wire running between the two buds, one you can just throw behind your neck.

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An Industrial Designer’s Dream Scenario:

You’re heading up the design team for a technologically-sophisticated, big-ticket item. You got a team of engineers, industrial designers and UX guys all working in the same building, alongside a top-notch prototyping shop. A crucial parts supplier is right down the street. So is the factory. You’ve also got a ready supply of end-users available to test the product out and provide user feedback. You and your team have final call on all design decisions.

An Industrial Designer’s Realistic Scenario:

Your office is in Flagstaff, the crucial parts supplier is in South Korea, the Chinese factory offers to do the engineering for a price your boss can’t refuse. The design research firm you’re using seems more interested in convincing you to keep hiring them than in providing relevant data. And your boss’ spouse, who has no design background and doesn’t work at the company, has both strong opinions and a troubling amount of dinner-table influence.

If that sounds as bad as it can get, the U.S. Government’s military procurement process has just proven you wrong.

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What is a “self,” anyway? What does it mean to be a self? What are the requirements of selfhood?

The nature of self is one of philosophy’s perennial and persistent questions. Self is easy to describe, yet maddening to decipher. Part philosophy of the mind, part biology of the brain, it combines two elusive ideas: the philosophy of continuity (how things persist through time) and the biopsychology of psychic unity (how the brain makes us feel singular). I see; I hear; I feel. How do separate perceptions bind together into a continuing, coherent whole? How do sentient properties congeal as “me”?

Look at an old photo, perhaps from primary school. Then look in the mirror. Those two people are the same person. But how so? They don’t look the same. Their memories are different. Almost all of the cells that composed that child’s body have gone from that adult’s body.

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We all know that men are from Mars and women are from Venus – the former apparently populated by colonies of blokes who can’t multitask to save their lives. But in a shocking twist, it turns out that such evaluations are, in the words of a leading neuroscientist, “trash.”

Traditional beliefs that ladies are hardwired to juggle several things at once are a total “myth,” according to Professor Gina Rippon from Aston University, and if they do appear to have a certain aptitude for it, this has arisen from societal expectations and not biology.

“I’d say to the scientific community, can we please stop talking about sex?,” she told audiences at the British Science Festival in Swansea yesterday. “Stop dividing your data into two categories, you are losing so much information.

“Not only are we feeding the ‘neuro-trash’ industry misunderstanding about what we do, but we are also feeding the inner wimp of people out there who believe they can or can’t do something based on whether they are male or female.”

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