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Polymathic Monthly - Issue #14: Irresistible Technology, Deep Work and Talking Monkeys


Polymathic Monthly

October 22 · Issue #14 · View online
A curation of articles, tech, books and innovation strategy to enrich your career and personal lives.

Over the last few weeks,
1. I got to sit and chat with Adam Alter, NYU Assistant Professor of Marketing and author of “Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked”. I’d read his book and watched his TED talk a few days prior and I was pumped to discuss behavioral economics, consumers, and technology product addiction. There is so much happening with mobile tech (including AR/VR) but very little clarity about how the supercomputers in our hands impact kids. What we do know is no other technology has tapped into our curiosity and narcissism quite like the mobile phone. I enjoyed the conversation.
2. I tested an unreleased smart home device. Boasting a combination of all the buzzy tech (image recognition AI, connected home/IoT, edge computing etc.), I found it impressive. It’s not a critical home device but it takes convenience to the next level. And it does so by simply understanding, and taking over, a use case I didn’t even know we had.
The conversation and beta testing the device further convinced me that the perspective we choose to have on disruption determines whether we participate or we become victims. It’ll be better to figure out (for yourself) how to actively participate due to the inevitability of the (present and) coming wave. 
  1. The sentence “I think we are fascinated by technology and innovation, but we come back to things that bring us comfort and help ground us” explains everything about technology/innovation.  Interesting article on the business models for the growing industry of (yes) indie bookstores. 
  2. What anonymous location data says about you. Another reason why we should pay attention and get involved in where our tech is going. 
  3. Fantastic fictionalized account of the possibilities that exist with SuperIntelligent AI. I’m becoming a fan of Nautilus.
  4. After reading the Explainable AI article from a few weeks ago, a friend shared this link to work being done (at Carnegie Mellon) to decode the black box of AI. Thanks, AF!
  5. We’re being left behind and we continue to not pay attention to China’s AI awakening.
  6. Random suggestion of the week: ‘Kubo and The Two Strings’ is a melancholy and delightful telling of the Hero’s Journey. I enjoyed it more than my son who was ‘watching’ it ;)
  1. Irresistible by Adam Alter shares data and anecdotes proving what we already know; we are addicted to our mobile devices. The book could have been shorter.
  2. This short story by Stanley G. Weinbaum, Pygmalion’s Spectacles, from 1935 is an early look at Virtual Reality, nausea and all.
  3. In Deep Thinking by Garry Kasparov we finally get Kasparov’s side of the Deep Blue v Kasparov story. It also discusses how creativity will come to the fore when machines take over.
  4. Machine Platform Crowd by Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson, because it’s worth a read.
  5. I haven’t finished Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari but, halfway through, it’s already claimed the spot of most expansive and paradigm shifting read of 2017. 
  6. Deep Work by Cal Newport was recommended by another friend who hasn’t failed me yet with his recommendations (Thanks, EG!). It’s led to a few decisions that, so far, seem to be for the best. Pair this with his other book ‘So Good They Can’t Ignore You’ or ’Mastery’ by Robert Greene. 
  7. I gave a webinar on personal brand building this past week. A good book, if you are interested, is Bruce Kasanoff’s short read ‘How To Self Promote (without being a jerk). 
  8. Brazillionaires, by Alex Cuadros, is about superwealth in a corrupt developing country. It reminds me of my country of origin and explains the crisis Brazil finds itself in.
  1. Honey automagically finds you the best product deals from (pretty much) every eCommerce website out there. Not sure I’ve paid full price online since I started using the honey app.
Please send any sentient AI’s, industry merging platform startups, IoT products in need of marketing and magical talking monkeys to
Have a great month!
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