May 13, 2016

sheep

Just trying out a new look. Credit: Alan O'Dowd / Geograph Creative Commons

Modify. Modify. Modify.

Sometimes, things just aren’t working out. Your product isn’t catching on, your webcomic isn’t that popular, your baby isn’t a super-genius. That’s when you have to change stuff up, get a new perspective, shift everything around.

That’s when you have to modify.

This week on Innovation Hub, we’ve got stories about modification, in all its forms.

First up… body modification. And we aren’t just talking about earrings or tattoos. Vanderbilt Professor Michael Bess says that we might someday be modifying our genetics, both before we’re born and after. It might seem like Orphan Black or Gattaca, but Bess believes that this future isn’t far off. He thinks that, with recent technological advancements in epigenetics, before-birth and after-birth enhancements may become mainstream in the next twenty years. And if you think this would have enormous implications for our society, well, you’re right.

From body modifications to behavior modifications. Have you ever wondered why everyone suddenly bought an iPod? Or why certain names catch on? Or why Crocs became popular? Jonah Berger, author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On, has made a career of studying popularity, and how advertising can modify our behaviors. And he tells us the three ways that certain products can rise to the top:

And from modifying the behavior of humans, to modifying the behaviors of robots: yes, the robots are coming, but before they do, we need to make sure that your robotic chef doesn’t accidentally put your cat in the oven. To do that, we need ethics. Robot ethics. Queena Kim reports on why “moral philosophy” will mean big business in the tech world.

Finally, we talk to XKCD artist Randall Munroe about modifying the complex into the simple. He wrote a book explaining the most complicated concepts in the universe… using only the 1000 most common words in the English language. And he’ll explain how he came up with the idea, and how his super-popular webcomic got off the ground.

Body and Mind, Business, innovation hub, science and tech, Education

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