Innovations in 5: Letters for start-up dummies, Tim Cook at D11, and the science of crime

May 29, 2013

Here’s what we’re reading/watching today:

1) In case you missed it, Apple CEO Tim Cook was at D11 — the annual AllThingsD Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. The Apple exec spoke about taxes, declined (repeatedly) to talk about new products and addressed the company’s declining stock price and whether, as Walt Mossberg asked,  Apple is “in trouble.” (Cook’s reply, not surprisingly, is “absolutely not.”)

2) On Medium, there are two open letters by Bonobos CEO and co-founder Andy Dunn — one to the “dumb VC” and another to the “dumb founder.” Both pieces are a fun exploration of the frustrations facing at least two populations in the start-up world. (Not to mention they brought to mind this piece from 50 Kings’s Francisco Dao on the terrifying rise of the political entrepreneur).

In his letter to the “dumb VC,” Dunn, founder of the angel investment firm Redswan, writes:

“Dear Dumb VC, it’s so painful to sit in meetings with you and hear your vision for what the company should do and what’s going to happen in the industry. Just so you know, Dumb VC, the top 2% never do this. They’re too busy using their superb judgment getting into great deals and bowing out graciously from the ones they don’t want to back.”

Ouch.

And to the “dumb founder” Dunn writes:

“When you say that we know you will never start an exciting company. We know because your process is talking not doing. We know because in that statement you show you don’t understand innovation — which by definition is about having a founding premise which is non-consensus.”


An image of the brain (istockphoto)

3) Can we use science to determine who is predisposed to criminal behavior? It may sound like something out of science fiction. But, as Michael Shermer writes for Scientific American, there are benefits to be gained “from a scientific understanding of the true causes of crime.” Shermer reviews “The Anatomy of Violence: The Biological Roots of Crime” by University of Pennsylvania criminologist and psychiatrist Adrian Raine.

4) The graphics processing unit, or GPU, continues to make inroads in the supercomputing world. As we reported last year, it’s currently helping to power the Titan supercomputer — the world’s fastest (at least for now). Now, Wired’s Cade Metz reports that they may be used to power, at least in part, Google’s brain project:

“Your brain is a collection of neurons — tiny cells that use electro-chemical signals to send and receive information. But as Google builds an artificial brain that will help drive everything from its web search engine to Google Street View to the voice-recognition app on Android smartphones, it’s using very different materials. Among them: graphics microprocessors, the same sort of silicon chips that were first designed to process images and videos on your desktop computer.”

5) Can this camera tell you how well (or not) your plants are growing? Public Lab, the team behind Infragram, an affordable DIY infrared camera, says it can, and they’re appealing for funding on Kickstarter. The camera would, claims the team, allow small-scale farmers and others to monitor the health of plants in their surrounding area.

(via Mashable)

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