Being WOQE, Selling your Emotions, and 3 Other Stories

Welcome to this week’s Via Waverly, where I expose 5 diverse and unexpected finds that were served to me by Waverly.

Ditching Meat, or Farming Better?

My household eating habits have changed quite a bit since my daughter became a pescatarian. I’m spending a lot of time thinking about the impact of meat eating on climate change. Still, I’m interested in a nuanced debate on the question, that does the hard work of separating veganism-for-climate from veganism-to-reduce-animal-cruelty. Both topics are important, and are often promoted by the same people, but I find that refining my opinion on that question requires me to understand these nuances.

That’s why I was really happy to see this Washington Post article come up on my Waverly hightlights. In it, Kyle Jaster, a creative farmer in the Catskills, talks about inclusive alternative food supply chains that believe the best way to bring change is not to alienate people by proposing solutions they cant relate to. The way in which he describes his pig farm also really makes me want to visit that place:

I run a small, family-operated pig farm in Upstate New York. We believe in practicing agriculture in a way that regenerates the land: Our pigs live outdoors in the woods and eat a diverse diet of nuts, grasses and other forage, supplemented by non-genetically-modified grain grown on a nearby farm using regenerative practices, a system of farming involving reducing or eliminating tillage, cover-cropping fields to increase their fertility instead of spraying fertilizer, and integrating trees and animals into their management plans. […] We don’t raise more than our land can sustain, and we’re preserving habitat for myriad plants, animals and fungi to thrive. Our pigs represent a new life for the farm.

Kyle Jaster

Wave: 🤠 Farmer Phil (Contributed by Phil Telio)

Selling your Emotions

File that under the creepy world I’m decidedly fighting against. A company filed a patent for a system that looks at your face to reads your emotional response to a piece of marketing and then initiate a follow-up action based on that reaction. They say that, to comply with GDPR, creators using the technology will need to obtain consent before reading someone’s face. Hurray for strong privacy laws!

Wave: ⚖️ Policies for People

Remote Work: the Next Fracture Line?

Building a startup during the pandemic means we have never developed a habit around going to the office. How will we work once this is all over? How can we build a work environment that fosters everybody’s best work?

Increasingly I’m finding there’s one variable that seems to correlate with one’s affinity with remote work: age. Young people seem to want to go back to the office while older professionals are perfectly happy in their nice and comfy home office. Some recent surveys seems to show the same thing.

Wave: ✈️ Working Remotely

A Framework for Robots

Artificial Intelligence is quite an abstract concept and to this day people often ask me what does AI actually look like? Robots, on the other hands, are much more obvious! Except they’re not. When you start thinking about them seriously, you quickly realize that they are quite hard to define. Is an autonomous car a robot? Yes? Well then, is a remote-controlled car a robot? What about these gigantic robotic arms that repeatedly perform the same motion in a car factory?

That’s why I was quite happy to see this simple and well explained framework by Sebastian Castro, a software engineer at MIT.

Wave: 🤖 Robots that Work

Being WOQE

One of my goals, with Waverly, is to build a system that makes it easy for people to intentionally open up to diverse opinions that rarely pierce their filter bubbles. My dream is that you could simply write a wave that says: Bring me marginalized voices on topic X and for Waverly to start peppering your stream with such content.

That’s why I was so excited when I saw this article by Regine Gilbert, a black professor teaching user experience design and assistive technology at NYU. In it, she recounts how her first trip to Europe opened her eyes on the fact that there are new things to experience each and every day.

When she came back, she consciously decided to make each day different and she embedded these learnings in here WOQE philosophy: watching, observing, questioning, and exploring.

Wave: 👾 Tech and First Nations (Contributed by Mehdi Benboubakeur)