Amazon’s Grocery Store Lets You Grab What You Want And Leave

The future of shopping is here.

Online shopping giant Amazon rolled out Amazon Goon Monday,enabling customers to walk into its Seattle-based grocery store, grab whatever they want and leave.

The store uses deep learning technology, sensors and computer vision to keep track of what you take off and place back on the shelves. It’s similar to the kind of technology used in self-driving cars.

To start shopping, you use a free app to scan yourself in when you enter the store.

The app keeps a running tab of what you pull off the shelves.Shortly after you leave, Amazon will charge your account for the items and send you a receipt.

At the moment, Amazon Go seems more like a corner store or convenience store than a full-fledged grocery store. It offers an array of ready-to-eat, grab-and-go meals prepared by Amazon Go’s staff, plus items such as bread, cheese, milk and chocolate. It also sells Amazon Meal Kits, which include ingredients to cook a meal for two at home in under 30 minutes.

The store is currently in its beta phase, and only Amazon employees can shop there for the time being. It will open to the public in early 2017.

Amazon Go seems to be the next step in Amazon’s quest to expand its influence in the grocery business, as well as its brick and mortar presence. In 2007, the company rolled out the grocery delivery serviceAmazon Fresh, and in 2015, it opened a physical bookstore.

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HSBC trialling app that automates your savings

While all the major banks have pretty good online facilities, there's a whole breed of nimble startups using mobile apps and bank account data to create new, more personalised money management services. Hoping to learn some new tricks, HSBC announced...

The 11 best tech gifts for workaholics

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Watch Boston Dynamics’ founder and his robot SpotMini join us on stage to discuss the company’s future

marc-raibert-boston-dynamics-5-of-9What is Boston Dynamics? The easy answer for that: a company that makes crazy advanced robots that can walk — be it on two feet or four — better than just about any other robot in the world. We’ve seen this in countless YouTube videos of the company’s robots stomping its way across countrysides, opening doors, and traversing up and down stairways. But what is the… Read More

Ex-GV CEO Bill Maris said to be launching health care investment fund, Section 32

bill-maris12Section 32, the new healthcare-focused venture fund reportedly being launched by Bill Maris, was apparently named in homage to Section 31, an intelligence agency from the Star Trek universe. If that’s not a bit of pre-emptive nerd cred, I don’t know what is. According to a report from Recode, the GV (nee Google Ventures) founder/former-CEO is raising $230 million for the project… Read More

With Station F, Paris will have the world’s biggest startup campus

roxanne-varza3Station F (formerly known as la Halle Freyssinet) is quite an ambitious project and is bound to change the face of the tech ecosystem in Paris. Financed by Xavier Niel and directed by Roxanne Varza, Station F is going be the world’s biggest startup campus with companies like Facebook and TechShop opening offices there. “We’re talking about a startup campus because… Read More

Computer vision may help the blind see the world

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StrongDM raises $3M to keep database info from leaking out

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The best Christmas lights

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The Last Guardian is a classic solo game with charm and challenges

tlg_screens_review_01If you’ve played games designed by Fumito Ueda before, then you’ll feel right at home in The Last Guardian, the new release published by Sony for PS4, and developed by genDESIGN and SIE Japan Studio. The world feels like a natural extension of the worlds created for both 2001’s Ico and 2005’s Shadow of the Colossus, and the most interesting question it brings up is… Read More

The Amazon Go store will replace checkout lines with advanced sensors

Amazon Go Shopper Technology

A completely frictionless (and perhaps somewhat dystopian) shopping experience.

The Amazon Go brick-and-mortar store uses technology to make an effortless shopping experience and probably employ fewer people.

We Finally Know the Immense Weight of Humanity’s Footprint

It should be obvious to everyone at this point that humans are having an enormous impact on the planet. But how much, exactly, does our collective footprint weigh? It may sound odd, but a new scientific paper is offering an answer to that very question: a staggering 30 trillion tons.


Why It Was So Worth It To Stick With STEAM

When I began studying computer science in the 80s at Berkeley, I found the first quarter of my studies incredibly challenging. Evening after evening, I spent time in a basement computer lab, creating Fortran punch-cards in order to run programs. We created these cards by hand on one machine before submitting them to another machine for testing, at which point we’d learn if our program worked or if we had to debug them, which involved creating more punch-cards. In those days, computer programming involved quite a bit of manual labor!

It was lonely and uninspiring work, and I wasn’t very happy. I spent quite a bit of time questioning whether or not I had chosen to study the right thing. Especially surrounded mostly by men, I didn’t have a lot of people with whom to talk to about my frustrations. Not only new to the school, I’d only been in the country for a few years, too, and computer science itself as a field of study was so fresh and new at the time that there weren’t role models to which we could turn for advice. Without such examples, I found it hard to see how my lonely work making, testing, and debugging punch-cards could translate into a meaningful or inspiring career.

Seeking advice, I approached my father. He had urged me to study CS, while my mother wanted me to be a doctor. In fact, every time I became frustrated with my CS studies, she’d urge me to study more chemistry. (I really didn’t like chemistry.) To keep me motivated, my father gave me a classic set of computer science books that showcased concepts beyond those covered in my introductory class. With the ability to see beyond my immediate, lonely punch-card work, and knowing that I wouldn’t drop the class, I chose to power through. With the basics of programming under my belt, things quickly started looking more interesting.

My “a-ha!” moment came in the following quarter as I took the next set of CS classes, which related to discrete math. A prerequisite for certain CS classes at the time, discrete math is a lot like solving puzzles. I’ve written before of my love for and skill at chess, and, finally, I found a hook for my interest in CS that felt much like that familiar enthusiasm for chess. Relating to computer science through math and seeing patterns with which I was familiar, I felt more confident.

It’s long been my belief that good computer science requires good visualization -- that good programmers can visualize good code like one might visualize moves in a chess game. I’m good at that, and I began to enjoy CS quite a bit with that connection made. And it helped that my future classes no longer involved punch cards as we moved on to interactive terminals. Classes also got a bit more competitive as the program progressed, and competition is something that always has motivated me to do my best work.

Also, that same semester, we learned about Turing machines, which totally fascinated me. From books, I had heard of Enigma, the machine that Turing build to crack the Nazi crypto-codes during WWII. With more context, I began to have an appreciation for the power, beauty, and elegance of Alan Turing’s invention, which lies at the foundational principles of modern computers. The ongoing centrality of Turing’s model to computational complexity theory is something I’m glad I came to understand before the evolution of modern technology.

I look back on the lessons of my early days in CS often -- really, anytime I start something new. The beginning may not be exciting. As time goes by, however, I get more excited about learning deeply via the “outliers” method, Malcolm Gladwell’s theory that you have to put in 10,000 hours to get really good at something, especially if you’re going to be a trailblazer in it. If you get through the basics and if you have confidence in yourself and in your choices, you’ll go much farther than you will if you allow your focus to be on speed. Rather, when you start something new, give it time to gestate. Stick with things. Persist. Work hard. Find your connection, and foster it so that it deepens. Anything worth building a career in is going to require commitment to develop richly. If you make that commitment resolutely, you’ll reach a point from which you won’t look back.

The Moment I Knew I Could STEAM Ahead is a new blog series geared towards encouraging the next generation of leaders in science, tech, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM). When did you achieve confidence in your ability to master a discipline in STEAM? Let us know at

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Google’s new “Trusted Contacts” app lets you keep tabs on family – Ars Technica

Ars Technica
Google's new “Trusted Contacts” app lets you keep tabs on family
Ars Technica
If someone is sharing their location with you, you'll see a map on the main page of the app. Setup is easy: just pick which contacts to add as "trusted." Share your location with other people on demand. You'll get a sweet notification with a map in it ...
Google's new Trusted Contacts app lets you share your location during emergenciesThe Verge
Google Trusted Contacts App Lets You Tell Loved Ones You're SafePC Magazine
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all 35 news articles

Google’s new “Trusted Contacts” app lets you keep tabs on family – Ars Technica

Ars Technica
Google's new “Trusted Contacts” app lets you keep tabs on family
Ars Technica
If someone is sharing their location with you, you'll see a map on the main page of the app. Setup is easy: just pick which contacts to add as "trusted." Share your location with other people on demand. You'll get a sweet notification with a map in it ...
Google's new Trusted Contacts app lets you share your location during emergenciesThe Verge
Google Trusted Contacts App Lets You Tell Loved Ones You're SafePC Magazine
Google's Trusted Contacts app lets people know you're safeEngadget
Digital Trends-Fortune-Greenbot-Network World
all 35 news articles

There’s an app for in-flight ‘flirting’

AirDates is a new app, currently in testing, that is positioning itself as Tinder for air travel, although it'll work on all forms of public transport. Users are encouraged to post their travel itinerary ahead of time so that they can potentially hoo...

The Story Behind the Viral Video of That Dude Who Socked a Kangaroo

It seems like just yesterday we were all watching that viral video of a hardcore Australian dude punching a kangaroo to save a dog. (Oh, it was.) But now, the backstory has allegedly come to light.


Meet Aiden, your new AI coworker

img_9322-1Let’s say you want to know where one of your digital marketing campaigns is getting the most traction: Twitter or Facebook. You might need to check several dashboards across your social accounts and Google analytics to compile the data — and even if you conclude that one platform is outperforming the other, that might change next week as users shift their attention to… Read More

Tim Peake’s space shuttle will live on at London’s Science Museum

Tim Peake's voyage to the International Space Station (ISS) made plenty of headlines over the past year for good reason: he was the first British astronaut to explore space in over 20 years. While floating 220 miles above the earth, Peake took some t...

NYC Big Data Startups – Game-Changers Across Industries

The hardest trend this century is big data analytics--analysis of highly voluminous, various, veracious, rapid data--to produce high-quality insights into practically anything previously thought impossible to do so in short periods of time. These insights are valuable to companies across industries both because of their real-time nature, reflecting changes in a specific market, government regulation, or pieces of legislation that can either make or break a company's bottom line. More to the point, big data analytics focuses on formulating insights around pain points in any industry in days to weeks, which would otherwise take years, through the analysis of data of all types--structured (like text in a Word document), semi-structured (like an Excel document), or unstructured (like pictures or radar) data.

More than ever, companies of all sizes are looking for greater and more reliable information to use to undergird their cashflows and execute on their goals. A $122 billion market as of 2015, investment in big data companies by venture capitalists alone last year reached $6.64 billion, indicating both the strength of these technologies, and the idea that big data isn't going anywhere anytime soon. It also suggests that startups are the leaders of innovation in this area.

Big Data analytics is a hard trend, and huge recent investments in technologies it powers shows that companies will only continue to adopt big data technologies as time goes on. Yet despite this, since the beginning of this trend, large companies have found it difficult to integrate such advanced technologies into their often clunky legacy systems. And, while some engineering labs are excelling in this area, it's mainly big data startups that are driving the majority of the innovation in this area. Unsurprisingly, New York City is a haven for these types of entrepreneurs, and the fact that VC investment in big data trumps investment by everyone else is telling.

New York-based CB Insights, the leading venture capital database backed by the National Science Foundation, sloughs all things financial data from the web and makes it accessible to venture capitalists, private equity professionals, entrepreneurs, corporate strategists, and beyond. With products like Bloomberg, Thomson Reuters, FactSet taking up most of the market share in the data analytics space, though, it's easy to expect CBI having a hard time delivering valuable solutions that finance professionals don't already have access to. Yet Anand Sanwal and Jon Sherry have a different way of going about things. Instead of just delivering real-time analytics, CBI has created a blue ocean by delivering predictive analytics on imminent technology trends, allowing VC firms, investment banks and funds to stay on top of trends to make targeted investment decisions based on predictive information. Indeed, since its inception, CBI has racked up $10 million just in its Series A round, allowing it to expand while steadily increasing its product offerings to circumvent otherwise stifling competition.

Where CBI is focused on data insights, Beta NYC is focused on community empowerment by providing data science, civic tech, and open data for the NYC tech community. More and more, entrepreneurs are incorporating social good into their missions and Beta NYC has capitalized on that trend to bring together data companies that empower local communities.

Some companies, while not currently headquartered in New York, do business here that affects everyone, and New York companies are taking notice of not only they themselves, but the value they can add as well. Washington, D.C.-based Quorum, a government data analytics platform, has quantified the relationships between elected officials on every level--local, state, and federal--and builds software based on those data analytics to enable anyone to influence the legislative process with powerful tracking, targeting, and outreach tools. Users can track legislation and dialogue in Washington D.C. as well as in all 50 states, leverage quantitative analytics to identify potential champions, and help advocates easily contact legislators and their staff. They recently unveiled Quorum Grassroots, a suite of grassroots advocacy tools that help organizations to identify their most active supporters, educate advocates on the issues that matter most, and provide them opportunities to take action by easily writing, calling, or tweeting their legislator from any device.

Quorum has several clients in New York City who use these tools to track legislation, identify champions, and empower advocates to take action. One such client, All In Together, uses Quorum to track federal legislation and to organize grassroots actions among female leaders. Any advocate can sign into All In Together's Action Center to learn about specific policy issues and then take action, supporting All In Together's vision to see more women engaged in politics. Altogether, Quorum's mission is to make it easier for anyone to influence the legislative process. As innovators in the government technology space, Quorum continues to gather new data and build additional tools to help both professionals and everyday citizens understand what is going on in legislative bodies across the country, and become more effective at influencing policy.

Stay posted as we dive deeper on some of these companies in the coming weeks!

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Is HR missing out on the benefits of data?

Business analysisIf awards were given out for the most disliked workplace ritual, I dare say the annual performance review would be up there among the front runners. It's an ordeal that neither manager or employee ever seems to enjoy, yet they largely persist, it seems through no other reason than there are few feasible alternatives.

It's perhaps no surprise therefore that recent data from the Institute for Corporate Productivity suggests that just 10% of companies have discontinued their annual performance appraisals in the last year.

What is equally clear from the data however is that few companies are entirely satisfied. If they were reviewing the reviews, they would score a firm 'could do better'. The stats reveal that 66% of companies plan to tinker with their performance reviews as a priority in 2017.

When quizzed as to just what these reforms might be, respondents said that it would be more frequent reviews together with more training on how to conduct reviews for managers. There was no real perception that data could play a major role in how performance is judged.

In HR we trust, all others use data

This reluctance to take advantage of data when making decisions should perhaps come as no surprise. A recent study found that the HR department was the main laggard when it came to adoption of data driven technologies in the workplace. It reminds me a bit of this famous scene from Moneyball.

Just as with the scouts and coaches at Oakland, the study suggests a distinct lack of data literacy in most HR departments. Now we all know the stories of data science skills gaps across companies as a whole, but this is a particular problem in HR. Finance might get some data people, IT probably will, marketing almost certainly, but HR?

That's not to say the solutions providers are blameless either. Not only are many solutions expecting a level of skills that don't exist, they also often develop solutions with so many unwanted bells and whistles that simultaneously manage to miss the things that HR want most of all.

Improving perceptions

Of course, a big part of the problem is one of perception, with HR people regarding any kind of meaningful data science as being hugely complicated and requiring vast databases. The reality that quite simple solutions can be a good first step is not one held in enough HR departments.

What's more, even if companies do have good data, the skills shortage in HR tends to mean a stark gap between the technicians managing the database, and the HR staff who hope to derive insights from it. As you can imagine, this can rapidly create a kind of data divide, with departments who get it streaking ahead, and those who don't left behind.

It really does underline the core value in growing your data science capabilities throughout the organization, even in the HR team, as it's an area where data is increasingly valid, and therefore increasingly crucial to your ability to do a good job.

I've written previously about the power of building a data driven organization, with a recent report from EY revealing that 81% of organizations want to place data at the heart of all that they do. Whilst much of this desire is to better understand ones customers, HR should not be sat on the outside looking in, and should strive to do all it can to ensure data plays an active role in performance management too.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

An In-Depth Interview With Stephan Tual Former CCO of Ethereum and founder of & The DAO

Stephan is the Founder and COO of, a project at the intersection of the IoT and blockchain that aims to address security, identity, coordination and privacy over billions of devices.


Q: What's the current status of cleaning up the whole DAO situation?

A: We dedicated all our resources to help out with the clean up effort until very recently. Obviously WHG did some amazing work, and so did the rest of the Ethereum Community. In the end everyone who took part in that experiment was made whole, thankfully.

Q: What were your main lessons you learned from the DAO and if you could go back, what would you change? Thanks Stephan

A: I can't go back, but I'm really proud of the work we accomplished on the DAO. It was always an open source project with the best minds in the field as curators. It raised massive awareness around the platform, became the #1 crowdfunded in the world, demonstrating unequivocally the need for a decentralized structure of this nature. That need is still here today, and I'm sure it will be addressed one way or another -- stay assured many have noticed.

As for us, well, I remember telling a journalist this was indeed all open source, and something we were supporting because we believed in the concept, and yes, there was a chance a big enough DAO wouldn't even be spawned, or if it was spawned, that it might not even support the Universal Sharing Network and the Ethereum Computer as projects. But that's the whole point of decentralization!

Q: Thanks Stephan,, which industries do you believe will be helped the most with a DAO like platform?

A: Supply Chain, Logistics, M2M. Everything that's shared could benefit from becoming part of a genuinely public infrastructure we all control as part of the "World's computer". Vitalik briefly touched on it a year ago at the London meetup

Q: If you are using ethereum to unlock a smartlock with, will it take 12-30 seconds to unlock, or will it open right away?

A: It opens right away because only the 'renting' part of the transaction is done on chain. Opening and closing is done via BLE or similar and just queries the local copy of the chain to check if the user being identified is indeed authorized to open/close the lock. We're still looking at eventually using Whisper for this.

Q: Are you worried about ransom-ware slocks, where people put locks on real world objects and only release the lock when the ransom is paid?

A: Not worried, no. You'd need physical access to the object, and this erm, 'business model' wouldn't scale very well. For example, if you went around slapping slocks on random bikes, the legitimate owner would have all the time in the world to dismantle it (and contact the authorities). Pretty tough to make a living out of that. (Thankfully!)

Q: What fundraising has done in the past? Was it self funded, angel money or? What is the primary advantage of raising funds from DAO vs Traditional Angel, VC routes?

A: was and still is entirely self-funded. It's a profitable startup now, although we are currently well into the process of seeking private capital in order to scale more efficiently. Your second question, "what is the primary advantage of raising funds from a DAO", is interesting. If a DAO is spawned and sponsors projects, the said projects would IMHO benefit from a much faster due diligence period as it would be executed by experts in the field that are naturally drawn towards new technologies. I think you'd also find the people sponsoring projects much more likely to get involved with 'helping out' the sponsoree than in traditional crowdfunding models, as they would benefit directly from the success of the various proposal they backed.

Q: How do the recent hacks on ethereum and the dao influence your company and have you taken any special precautions or measures against something similar happening to ?

A: So it's important to understand there was never a hack on Ethereum. There's been a few DDoS recently, though, something that will be mitigated by having a healthy client implementation distribution.

A: As for the hack on the DAO, it highlighted we're dealing with a very young platform (given that everyone in the industry had had a look through the code, and didn't spot the fateful issue). I look forward to formal verification, something I know Yoshi @Foundation is looking into. In the meantime, I think we're finding developers are keeping their smart contracts really simple in nature and sometimes foregoing decentralisation as a whole. That's a bit of a shame, because the whole point of young platform is experimentation! So go out, be brave and develop on Ethereum

Q: How are you dealing with repeated forks in Ethereum, including the newest one announced yesterday?

A: Good question! Ethereum forks do not affect application developers like ourselves -- ultimately we decide where we deploy our smart contract and that's where the network effects are.

Q: What is the current state of Can you mention any important milestones?

A: Keeping busy We just announced the live beta of Share & Charge ( and are booked until January running workshops of various kinds for corporate clients looking to pre-empt dis-intermediation. We're also looking at private capital in order to scale more effectively.

Thanks Stephan really appreciate your time!

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Infltr lets you filter your photos directly in the iMessage app

screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-11-23-09-amPhoto-editing app Infltr is best known for giving Instagram a run for its money with an app that lets you choose from an infinite number of photo filters – well, technically, it’s just over 7 million. The idea is that you can use color combinations to give your photo a unique look, instead of relying on built-in filter presets. Now, Infltr is bringing its photo editor to the… Read More

Google’s new Trusted Contacts app is all about your personal safety

Google Trusted Contacts Android app

Google today launched a new Android app focused on safety.

Trusted Contacts asks you to name your closest friends and family, and then those people will be able to see when you’re online and have moved around recently. If you feel unsafe or are in an emergency, you can quickly and easily share your location with them.

Those people can also request your location at any time. When they do, you’ll get a full-screen notification that’ll let you approve or deny the location request. If you don’t respond to this alert within five minutes, your location will automatically be shared with the person that requested it.

If you do share your location with someone, you can continue sharing it with them as you move around. This way, someone call follow your path as you walk home in the dark, while you’re running a race, or for some other reason.

Trusted Contacts even works when you’re offline. If someone requests your location when you’re offline, like if your phone died, they’ll be notified of your last known location.

Google’s new app looks like a good one. With it, you can quickly and easily let your loved ones know that you’re safe, and if you’re not, you can tell them exactly where you are or the app will tell them if you’re not able to. There’s no word on an iOS version of the app, but it’d be nice to see something similar for iPhones, too.


ExoMars rover will attempt Mars landing in 2021, despite recent lander crash

exomars rover Space

If at first you don't succeeed...

During a meeting last week, ESA's member states agreed to cough up $464 million to try to land the ExoMars rover on the red planet in 2021.

Leap Motion will bring your hands into mobile VR

Leap Motion has been working on making your interactions in VR as realistic as possible, but it's only been available to desktop or console systems. Now, the company has expanded its scope to mobile devices with its new Mobile Platform, designed for...

Apple Watch Drops to Just 5% Share of Wearables Market as Basic Fitness Trackers ‘Reign Supreme’ – Mac Rumors

Apple Watch Drops to Just 5% Share of Wearables Market as Basic Fitness Trackers 'Reign Supreme'
Mac Rumors
While the Apple Watch remains the world's best selling smartwatch, the latest data from market research firm IDC reveals basic wearables "reign supreme" as consumers gravitate towards simple, dedicated fitness devices—which also typically cost less ...
Apple Watch sales plunge as Fitbit continues to rule wearablesBusiness Insider
IDC: Apple Watch sales estimated at 1.1 million units in Series 2 launch quarter, falling 70% YOY9 to 5 Mac
Are smartwatches winding down?TechCrunch
The Mac Observer (blog)-Business Wire (press release)-Barron's-LearnBonds
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How Do You Write About A Man Who Doesn’t Know Who He Is?

NEW YORK ― Here’s a mystery. In 2004, a Burger King employee discovered a naked man lying unconscious near the restaurant’s dumpsters. The police brought him to a nearby hospital in Savannah, Georgia. But when the man regained consciousness, he didn’t know who he was.

There were some clues. He had cataracts and signs of previous physical trauma to his skull, as well as scars on his neck and arms. Yet a database search of his fingerprints and appearance yielded no results. It seemed no one was looking for him. Who was this “Burger King Doe?”

That’s the mystery Matthew Wolfe, a Ph.D. student in sociology at New York University, wrote about in his story “The Last Unknown Man,” which ran in The New Republic in November. The Huffington Post sat down with Wolfe last week to find out more.

Your specialty at NYU is missing persons. Why this case?

I was interested in the subjective experience of someone who is conscious, but unaware of who they are,where they came from or what their name is. I wanted to know what identity is left at that point. What remains?

I also had a more scientific and technological interest. If you can look at someone’s fingerprints or their DNA or hear their accent, can you figure out where they came from?

Also, his case was just so weird. There was a mystery there. It’s a spine you can hang things on. Readers will stay engaged because there is a central question that needs to be answered. Who was this guy?

Talk about the seed of the story.

I read an article on “living John Does,” people who were alive but couldn’t be identified. And the most prominent case was Benjaman Kyle [Burger King Doe].

How long did the reporting process take?

I started reporting in February 2014, then continued to work on it until September of this year. When I started reporting, I was working for a private investigator. Not as exciting as it might sound! It was for civil cases involving companies. There was very little slouching in a car with a camera, but I made a lot of phone calls. It’s a great journalistic skill to be able to look up phone numbers and addresses.

Initially I got in touch with Josh Schrutt, the guy Benjaman was working for in Florida. A few days later, I bought a plane ticket and flew down to talk to him. To be honest, I was suspicious of his story. I thought it was a hoax. But I thought even if it was a hoax, and even if he was lying, there was still the fact that for 10 years people tried to figure out who he was, and they failed.

You’re a freelance writer. Talk about how you pitched the story.

I got very lucky. I ended up having a meeting with an editor at one media organization. He liked the story and greenlit it. Then he moved to The New Republic and the story followed him there.

There was no third act at that point. Benjaman’s identity had not been revealed, but the editor took a chance in hoping that I’d be able to figure out a third act that satisfied the audience even if his identity wasn’t found.

I remember we had a conversation about “Serial,” the podcast, which also didn’t solve the case. If Benjaman’s identity wasn’t figured out while I was working on the story, I’d have to do a “Serial”-like ending where the audience didn’t feel cheated.

The story reads like a mystery novel. Did you turn to other writers for narrative inspiration?

I am a huge fan of David Grann, who is a New Yorker staff writer. He’s phenomenal at constructing narratives the reader wants to keep reading, but he’s also good at using the stories as spines on which to hang other questions. His stories are written in classic New Yorker fashion: There’s a central narrative that holds the reader, but then there are diversions into areas or topics that a reader might not read on their own.

In the case of Benjaman, I had this central narrative about this man whose identity is a mystery, but also an exploration of the history of human identification, retrograde amnesia and biometrics.

Along with David Grann’s The Devil and Sherlock Holmes, the other collection I kept handy when writing this piece was David Samuels’ Only Love Can Break Your Heart. Samuels’ stories are extraordinary models for how to make your own personal obsession about a subject compelling and readable to others.

So much of long-form is just trying to get readers through a huge amount of material so they don’t get bored and keep reading. This is done on the sentence level, the paragraph level, the structure. I also read a bunch of screenwriting books on story structure and how you set up a narrative with a character. I found them enormously helpful as far as figuring out what you need to do to keep the reader reading.

There was no third act at that point. Benjaman’s identity had not been revealed, but the editor took a chance in hoping that I’d be able to figure out a third act that satisfied the audience even if his identity wasn’t found.
Matthew Wolfe, sociologist

How many drafts did it take to get to the finished story?

This story went through a bunch of different drafts. I think a good story, by the end, it looks natural, where it doesn’t suggest the writer had to write and rewrite and restructure a bunch of different times. But my story went through eight or 10 big drafts before it began to look like it looks.

I also read Story, by Robert McKee, and David Mamet’s Three Uses of the Knife. Screenwriters do this thing where they do “setups and and payoffs.” It’s like foreshadowing. They’ll drop something in a story and it will come up later on. All good narratives do this. It creates an engine of interest. You have to create the illusion of a universe. If something jumps out of nowhere, even in nonfiction, it can feel unjustified. You have to establish that things exist.

Want to know who Benjaman Kyle really is? Read the story.

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Could Underwater Farming Feed the World?

kelp Environment

Ocean-bound entrepreneur envisions ecological restoration and economic revival.

American entrepreneur Bren Smith says he can feed the world with an area roughly the size of Washington State. And he wouldn’t need one inch of farmland to do it.

#FredinChina: ‘Circles’ newest feature turns Alipay into a hook-up app

I'm Fred Raillard, Creative CEO, Co-founder and Creative Chief Officer with Farid Mokart of FRED & FARID, a social, content, tech solutions for brands company based in New York, Paris and Shanghai. #FredinChina is an essential social media podcast to know and understand the world's largest economy.

I fell in love with China, and live in Shanghai with my wife and three sons since September 2012. With my teams at the FRED & FARID Shanghai agency we monitor, analyze and decrypt this ultra-connected China with nearly 800 million netizens by sharing what we see, hear and read on Weibo, WeChat, Huaban, Youku. I prepare this column with Zhuomin Qin from FRED & FARID Shanghai.

Thanks to Zhuomin Qin, Feng Huang, Jalila Levesque, Jules Chaffiotte, Radouane Guissi, Yi Zhang, Ying Zhang, Aliou Maro, Tina Liu, Louis Caudevilla, Dushan Karageorgevitch, Jing Qian, Jonathan Roy, Maxime Aubanel and Antoine Robin for their participation to this chronic.

Click here to listen to all the podcasts.

'Circles' newest feature turns Alipay into a hook-up app

The HotBrand of the week is Alipay, the payment system of Alibaba.
Alipay publicly announced the launch of a new social media service called 'Circles'. 'Circles' is similar to 'Groups', where people can post pictures and content to 21 different 'Circles'. 18 of these 'Circles' are extremely normal where anyone can post content, but 3 of them are very special as only women can post content, and only rich men can like, comment and reward those women for posting content.

This became very viral as sexy, half-naked women invaded those 3 special 'Circles', and posted extremely sulfurous content. The comments were pretty crazy as well, coming from crazy and very excited men! Alipay then went public to say that they will cancel this service in the future.


WeChat fundraising for girl's leukemia treatment sparks controversy amid claims family owns 3 apartments

The HotTopic this week is Luo Yi Xiao, a 5-year-old girl who has leukemia. The story made 90 million media impressions on one hashtag, and 60 million on a second hashtag, and 55 thousand discussions.

Now the father of this little girl launched an operation on WeChat to touch people's hearts, and raise money to help his daughter. He told the story of how he lost his job a year ago, and how he just does not know how to help his daughter. A financial company called Xiao Tong Ren decided to help the father, by saying that they would give him 1RMB for every re-post of the story. The father ended up raising 2 million RMB ($400,000) for his daughter, but some people started an investigation into him, and discovered that he was not at all poor, owning 3 apartments! They also discovered that social security was actually covering 82% of his daughter's expenses, so he only had to pay 36,000 RMB to help her. They even discovered that the father was a personal friend of the financial company, Xiao Tong Ren who became involved in this operation for the sole purpose of looking good PR-wise.

This was all very shocking for the Chinese, and the father had to go on social media and apologize, saying that he would give this money to an established leukemia fund.


An old Chinese famous legend turned in a Hollywood manga on social media

The HotPost of the week is Water Margin. This is an old and famous legend in China during the Song Dynasty. It's also a very popular book about 108 outlaws who went up into the mountains (Mount Li On), to form a kind of army. Now the Government at that time, decided to hire the outlaws to help them fight foreign invaders, instead of killing them. The outlaws went on to become very famous popular heroes.

This went viral this week because some young people took some original pictures of some of those outlaws and used Photoshop to insert the heads of some famous Hollywood actors. It was very funny and really well done. Even the choice of actors in relation to the outlaw was very appropriate.


More podcasts on #FredinChina website
Follow Fred on Twitter: @FredFarid or FRED & FARID: @FredFaridGroup
FRED & FARID website:

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

This Handheld Scanner Was Supposed to Change My Life, But I’ve Never Been More Disappointed In a Gadget

Do you ever want a gadget to be good, and it’s not good? Like it’s bad? That’s the Dacuda Pocketscan, a $95 handheld scanner that looked like my dream tool. Instead, it proved to be a disappointing hunk of plastic that made me wish I lived 30 years in the future.


Sprint extends unlimited data Black Friday offer – Phone Arena

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Sprint extends unlimited data Black Friday offer
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Uber creates an AI lab to help fuel its self-driving dreams

If Uber is going to make its dreams of self-driving ridesharing cars a reality, it's going to need a lot of expertise in artificial intelligence... and it's taking big steps to make that happen. The company has created Uber AI Labs to fuel its resear...

Google’s Trusted Contacts app lets people know you’re safe

In the event of an emergency, it's not always easy to notify people that you are safe. Google knows that, so it's created Trusted Contacts, a new app that can automatically share your status and location with friends or loved ones. It's available tod...

Apple’s greatest weakness: iPhone continues to underperform the market as a whole – Business Insider

Business Insider
Apple's greatest weakness: iPhone continues to underperform the market as a whole
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Apple may have the single best-selling smartphone model in the world, but there is one aspect of its business that you'll never hear CEO Tim Cook mention: The fact that iPhone sales consistently underperform the global market as a whole. iPhone may be ...
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Amazon launches a beta of Go, a cashier-free, app-based food shopping experience – TechCrunch

Amazon launches a beta of Go, a cashier-free, app-based food shopping experience
The straight-forwardly named “Just Walk Out” technology ought to give you a pretty good idea of what Amazon Go is all about. Launching in beta this year to Amazon employees at a single 1,800 square foot location in its native Seattle, Go is a “new kind ...
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Digital chief-of-staff app Accompany raises $20M and launches a UK Beta

amy-chang-accompany-3-of-5Accompany, an app that Amy Chang bets will be able to replace the chief-of-staff or personal assistant of an executive, launched just a few months ago. The app had been in the works for a while, and now that it’s finally out the door, it’s time to step on the gas — so it’s launching in the U.K. in a beta. Chang’s bet is that there’s a slot for an app that… Read More

Oculus Touch review: the Oculus Rift is finally complete – The Verge

The Verge
Oculus Touch review: the Oculus Rift is finally complete
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When the Oculus Rift reawakened our fascination with virtual reality in 2012, it was largely a visual medium. People imagined their average VR experience as a more exciting and immersive version of a traditional game or movie, something that gave the...
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Shopify acquires digital studio Tiny Hearts, makers of Wake Alarm, Next Keyboard & more

screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-9-51-41-amE-commerce company Shopify is doubling down on its mobile product ambitions with today’s acquisition of digital product studio Tiny Hearts. The studio has released a number of mobile apps, games and bots over the past several years, including popular consumer-facing apps like Quick Fit, Next Keyboard, InstaMatch, and Wake Alarm. Prior to the deal, the team had also worked with… Read More

Review: Oculus Touch VR motion controllers

img_3301While this year undeniably saw the entrance of quite a few major hardware initiatives from the major players (Google, Oculus, HTC, Samsung and Sony to name a few), 2016 still had quite a tough time grappling with some of the virtual reality industry’s most burning questions. Making VR cheaper and making sure it works on a device you already own have been a couple of those issues. Read More

The Last Guardian has a lot of problems, but a lot of heart – The Verge

The Verge
The Last Guardian has a lot of problems, but a lot of heart
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For the last 30 minutes, I've been trying to get a giant German Shepherd with wings and glowing blue horns to dive into a pool. The creature has other ideas. I can get it in the water, leaping from a rocky outcropping into the pool, but it won't do it ...
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MIT’s DIY design system lets you make the right drone for the job

phd-student-tao-du-watching-the-bunnycopter-take-off-credit-jason-dorfman-mit-csailDrones are fairly off-the-shelf affairs for most people; there’s a wide range of companies making them for both commercial and consumer uses, but ultimately these are all remarkably similar. They tend to favor a quadcopter structure, and are often configured with photography in mind as a primary use. But MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence lab has come up with a… Read More

Oculus’ Touch controllers are well worth the wait

The Oculus Rift proved that high-end VR has a place in your home, but so far it's lacked one major feature: motion controls. That's something both the HTC Vive and Sony PlayStation VR offered from the start, and it's gone a long way toward helping th...

Amazon launches a beta of Go, a cashier-free, app-based food shopping experience

bottle-grab-desktop-_v523327232_The straight-forwardly named “Just Walk Out” technology ought to give you a pretty good idea of what Amazon Go is all about. Launching in beta this year to Amazon employees at a single 1,800 square foot location in its native Seattle, Go is a “new kind of store with no checkout required.” Customers use the Go app to enter the store, and once inside, some combination… Read More

Amazon Go is a grocery store with no checkout lines

It looks like those rumors of Amazon convenience stores were true. The online shopping giant unveiled Amazon Go today, its spin on brick and mortar retail. It uses computer vision, a whole bunch of sensors and deep learning to let you walk into a sto...

Seeds helps developers make more money through in-app social good purchases

seedsSeeds unveiled its drag-and-drop SDK for developers to integrate social good contributions directly into their apps today at TechCrunch Disrupt London 2016. Seeds also announced a partnership with Amazon app store, in which Amazon markets Seeds directly to its roughly 600,000 app developers. The idea is that people are incentivized to spend money inside an app if they know it’s going to… Read More

Google and Elon Musk open their AI platforms to researchers

Artificial intelligence got a big push today as both Google and OpenAI announced plans to open-source their deep learning code. Elon Musk's OpenAI released Universe, a software platform that "lets us train a single [AI] agent on any task a human can...

Iris is an AI to help science R&D

iris-aiMost startups have a pitch. The team behind Iris AI has two: right now they’ve created an AI-powered science assistant that functions like a search tool, helping researchers track down relevant journal papers without having to know the right keywords for their search. But in future their big vision is their artificially intelligent baby grows up to become a scientist in her own right… Read More

Are smartwatches winding down?

wearables-businessWith the coming destruction of Pebble and the announcement by Motorola that it doesn’t “see enough pull in the market to put [a new smartwatch] out at this time,” you would be excused for thinking the smartwatch world is contracting. This is correct, but this is not the end of for wearables. Apple sold 1.1 million Apple Watches in 2016, 73% less than it sold in 2015. The… Read More

Seenit turns your company’s community into a film crew

seenit1Let’s say you’re hosting an event. Maybe it’s a marathon or a fundraiser or a concert. You want a video recapping the event, be it for promotional reasons or just for the memories. Tradition would have you hire a film crew, but film crews — or at least, film crews alone — might not always be the best answer. They tend to be pricey — and unless you get crazy… Read More

LiftIgniter wants to rid the web of garbage link recommendations

liftigniter2LiftIgniter is a startup that wants to banish content recommendation engines like Outbrain and Taboola, which serve up low-grade, garbage links on websites to keep users engaged, from the internet. Read More

Scientists confirm twisty fusion device’s odd magnetic fields

Now that the first large version of a extraordinarily complex, cruller-shaped stellarator fusion device is up and running, there's an overriding question: is it behaving the way scientists expected? Thankfully, the answer is yes. Researchers have c...

Uber acquires Geometric Intelligence to create an AI lab

screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-5-33-24-amRide-hailing requires a lot of machine smarts to maintain a competitive edge, so it’s not surprising to see Uber make a strategic acquisition in the artificial intelligence space. The company has acquired Geometric Intelligence, a startup co-founded by academic researchers with AI experience, and its team will provide the core for a new central AI lab being established at Uber’s… Read More

Plume’s plug-in WiFi pods are now available

Plume WiFiThe home WiFi network extender space sure got real crowded, real fast. Startups Eero and Luma have been battling it out for some time before Google elbowed its way in, earlier this fall. All of the devices offer different somewhat different solutions to the problem of spotty home wireless networks. Like those offerings, Plume takes a similar approach of arriving solo on in a bundle, so users… Read More

The ‘Death Stranding’ trailer music is headed to vinyl

Hideo Kojima has the video game industry in a frenzy. The Metal Gear creator released a new teaser for his latest project, Death Stranding, to rapturous applause on Friday night at The Game Awards. It's deliciously weird, featuring one-time Silent Hi...

Fears and questions over Brexit’s impact on talent

stopping-the-brexit-brain-drain-with-matt-hancock-uk-digital-director-axelle-lemaire-french-government-and-james-wise-balderton-capital2While UK tech founders continue to try to second guess what ‘Brexit means Brexit’ actually means for the future of immigration and access to talent, the UK’s digital minister, Matt Hancock, has confirmed it will not mean a clone of the Australian points-based immigration system – despite politicians frequently citing this system as a possible model for the UK to… Read More

Android Pay helps Brits keep track of their Tube spending

It might have been late to the party, but Google is determined to make Android Pay the de facto payment solution for non-iPhone users in the UK. An update going out "this week" will add some deeper integrations with Transport for London (TfL), includ...

PhenixP2P helps developers add real-time video to their apps

phoenix4When you are watching the live video stream of a football game or any major event online, chances are that the stream usually isn’t really as “live” as you’d like it to be. Instead, it’s often a minute or more behind what’s happening in the real world because all of the tech that’s needed to transmit the signal to thousands (and sometimes millions)… Read More

Foodstantly is transforming how people shop for food in Nigeria

foodstantly35Operating a service delivering food to both consumers and hotel chains and restaurants, Foodstantly is hoping to make the process of shopping for food more transparent and safer for all Nigerians (and ultimately across Africa). Read More

Climate change could explain Mars’ imposing topography

Mars has lots of water, but future astronauts won't exactly be able to scoop it into bottles -- it's generally trapped in ice deposits below the surface. Scientists from Penn State think climate change lasting millions of years once warmed it enough...

Blink’s home security camera gets an outdoor version

blink_outdoorv2_front-hero_logo_36in_jpgCES is still a full month away , but consumer security startup Blink is getting a jump on things with the announcement of a new outdoor camera designed to slot into the company’s home surveillance ecosystem. The Blink XT will be making its in-person debut at CES in January and will start shipping the following month, but company’s offering up pretty much all you need to know about… Read More

Google’s new Trusted Contacts app lets you share your location in emergencies

screenshot_20161204-214847-2With Trusted Contacts, Google is launching a new personal safety app for Android today that allows others to ping you for your location when they think you may have been in an accident or in danger. The idea here is that you define who these trusted contacts are and by doing so, you allow them to see where you are when they ping you. The twist here is that you can always decline to share… Read More

Leap Motion demos its excellent hand tracking technology on Samsung’s Gear VR

img_0418When Leap Motion debuted in 2010, it felt like a technology in search of a platform. The startup demoed some truly impressive motion tracking technology as a means of interacting with two-dimensional computer interface. “We always thought of the PC as the first touch point on a journey that would be about five or six years,” explains cofounder, Michael Buckwald. The startup managed… Read More

Find free stopover vacations with AirWander flight search

airwanderFlying to London? You could spend three days in Amsterdam on the way for free or cheap. That’s the promise of AirWander, a new flight search engine for the adventurous. AirWander finds you inexpensive stopovers — essentially multi-day layovers when you can explore a connecting city between other flights. It can also help you plan multi-city excursions, stringing several flights… Read More

A new tool can crack a credit card number in six seconds

Credit Card PaymentIn what amounts to a very clever brute force attack, a group of researchers has figured out how to find credit card information – including expiration dates and CVV numbers – by querying ecommerce sites. The process, which was outlined in IEEE Security & Privacy, involves guessing and testing hundreds of permutations of expiration dates and CVV numbers on hundreds of… Read More

InsideDNA looks deep into your DNA to determine the best drugs to cure what ails you

insidednaUsing a computational platform and your DNA, bioinformatics startup InsideDNA aims to determine the right drug interaction for your body. The startup began three years ago as a cloud-based platform for genomics analysis called InsideDNA Research, which brought optimized storage and reproducible research to scientists through cloud computing. But it soon saw a broader problem in the… Read More

CENTURY dives deep to track student performance and help teachers build custom curriculua

century1When Priya Lakhani went to pick up her daughter from school one day, she asked her teacher how her daughter was doing. It was when she was walking home with her daughter that same day that she realized she wouldn’t always be able to have those types of opportunities to engage with teachers. That prompted her to start a company called CENTURY, a tool that gives students a tailored… Read More

The AWS juggernaut

aws-logo-reinventAfter last year’s AWS re:Invent conference, we posed the question, “Is Amazon the Most Important Enterprise Company?” Having just returned from re:Invent 2016, we can say the answer is a resounding “Yes”.  In terms of both enterprise adoption and the pace of innovation, AWS is a juggernaut. This year again the company highlighted several organizations… Read More

European VCs say Brexit is already impacting where new founders base their startups

euro, calculator and pen on deskThis afternoon, at TechCrunch Disrupt London, Frederic Court of Felix Capital, Sonali De Rycker of Accel and Reshma Sohoni of Seedcamp didn’t mince words when it comes to whether Brexit will have an impact on the U.K.-based startup industry. They said they expect that it will, and that sucks. Sohoni was among the first to speak on the issue, and she tried to sound an optimistic note… Read More

WorldRemit’s Ismail Ahmed thinks mobile money accounts are the future

ismail-ahmed-worldremit3WorldRemit founder and CEO Ismail Ahmed took the stage at TechCrunch Disrupt London to talk about his company and his views on the future of remittances. While you might be more familiar with companies like Western Union, MasterCard and TransferWise, WorldRemit has become an essential service when it comes to sending money to developing countries, and helping the unbanked receive that money.… Read More

EU to tech industry: Remove hate speech faster or we’ll make you

Despite agreeing to crack down on the spread of hate speech across their networks earlier this year, four of the world's biggest technology companies aren't delivering on their promises, Reuters reports. A review conducted by EU Justice Commissioner...

Facebook, Twitter, and Google are still failing to curb hate speech, EU says – The Verge

Facebook, Twitter, and Google are still failing to curb hate speech, EU says
The Verge
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DeepMind CEO Mustafa Suleyman says general AI is still a long way off

deepmind2mustafa-suleymanMustafa Suleyman, the CEO of the well-known AI company DeepMind, which Google acquired in 2014, took the stage at our Disrupt London event today to talk to our Special Projects Editor Jordan Crook about his company, its relationship with Google, and the future of AI. The goal of DeepMind, Suleyman said, is to “solve intelligence and make the world a better place.” The company, he… Read More

European VCs are going to make flying cars a reality

niklas-zennstrom-atomico4Despite a large funding gap at the later stage, the state of technology investment in Europe is strong, according to Skype’s billionaire founder and the founder of the global venture capital firm Atomico, Niklas Zennstrom. Read More’s third annual Hour of Code includes star athletes and a new sports-themed coding tutorial

hour of codeJocks and nerds haven’t always gotten along in years past, but aims to bring them together for the third annual Hour of Code with a sports-themed coding campaign. The campaign, which kicks off today, will feature support from superstar athletes like Kobe Bryant, the Golden State Warriors Draymond Green, Serena Williams, Neymar Jr, Sergio Ramos and Marcelo Vieira from Real… Read More
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