Good managers apply radical candor. 

Kim Scott worked for Sheryl Sandberg at Google. After a presentation to triumvirate Larry, Sergey, and Eric, Sandberg wanted to help Scott by offering real-time feedback. Scott was having a hard time hearing it until Sandberg said “You know, Kim, I can tell I’m not really getting through to you. I’m going to have to be clearer here. When you say um every third word, it makes you sound stupid.” This helped Scott define her model for management success – radical candorlearn more

Germany’s Otto uses AI to order inventory. 

Managing inventory efficiently is a challenge that each retailer (and wholesaler) must figure out how to work through. Managing a broad assortment of inventory gets really hard for a team of humans. Otto has applied AI to automatically order over 200,000 items a month from its suppliers without human intervention. “Overall, the surplus stock that Otto must hold has declined by a fifth. The new AI system has reduced product returns by more than 2m items a year.” learn more

Queens of history love a good fight. 

A study by researchers at the National Bureau of Economic Research set out to answer the question, “Are states led by women less prone to conflict than states led by men?” What they found was that between 1480 and 1913, Europe’s queens were 27% more likely than its kings to wage war. learn more

Quick, text 911! 

Chicago is finally making strides to pull its emergency response system into the digital age, with the hopes of enabling texts, photos, and videos. The city is expected to go out to bid for a new system in the next few weeks. learn more

Judge not, lest ye be judged. 

Richard C Cooke funded his own election campaign ($660k) to win an uncontested Cook County judgeship last year. Since then, he’s refused to work in traffic court where judges usually start (even those with hugely successful legal careers). Instead Cook County is paying him his regular $200k salary to preside over weddings in the basement of the courthouse. Obviously, a bunch of other judges are pissed and are trying to do something about it. learn more

The journey to a flying car. 

Larry Page, one of the cofounders of Google, has been investing (over $100mm by some reports) in creating a flying car since 2010. This week the company Kitty Hawk unveiled an early prototype called The Flyer, which can take off vertically and looks like a lot of fun to fly. It’s already permitted by the FAA for flight in uncongested areas, and does not require a pilot’s license. learn more

Google used AI to cut data center energy bills.

While not the most recent news (Summer 2016), it’s worth highlighting that we’re already living in the world of AI. Google tasked it’s DeepMind AI unit to address the challenge of lowering energy usage in its data centers. Rising to the challenge, the machine learning controller achieved a 40% reduction in energy used for cooling, which is one of the largest sources of energy usage in the data center. learn more

Can caterpillars eat away at our plastic problem? 

On the topic of things that last a very long time, polyethylene (the most common plastic) takes hundreds of years to decay. That’s a problem because we produce about 80 million tons of it annually, and much ends up in landfills and oceans. Federica Bertocchini, a scientist in Spain, has observed that wax worms can digest plastic, leaving behind ethylene glycol (the main compound in antifreeze). The discovery aids the search for an enzyme we can produce at scale to address our plastics problem. learn more