CoolNews is my stab at a fluff-free almost-weekly newsletter of links curated for recent engineering / design articles and videos I find interesting.
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Hello everyone, hope you’re all off to a great 2018.  It’s been a while as I’ve been busy traveling for some of both work and play as well as trying to piece together some type of year-end roundup.  I’m working on pulling together interesting / informative links (some old + new) into clusters of the biggest overarching trends of the past year, but trying to consolidate everything into a single post was getting too long-winded, so this will be Part 1 of series that I hope will be more cohesive than previous editions while still keeping a good mix of random interesting things.  

Today’s topics are AI, Drones, 3D Printing / Manufacturing, and a Roundup of 2017 Roundups largely just because they happened first, but I do plan to discuss cool topics around medical, robotics, VR/AR, automotive, hardware / product design, transportation / urban planning domains soon so stay tuned.

Also to that end of milestones, this also happens to be the 50th edition of CoolNews (since porting over to MailChimp) so I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least ask what things you all would like to see more of and/or less of?  I’ve also been thinking a lot about what I want to do with CoolNews more broadly in terms of content, frequency, audience, voice, etc… so please let me know, and if you’ve been enjoying CoolNews, feel free to pass the word on to any friends.  Thanks to those who have been sending thoughts and links, keep them coming!  As always, you can just reply to this email.

Onto the links:

☁️🧠 AI

Artificial intelligence is certainly receiving a lot of hype these days as it’s easy to make compelling cases anywhere along the doomsday-utopia spectrum.  From my point of view, “AI” and “software” are simply becoming synonymous, and as software creates more and more tools in any given field, these will inherently be laid with machine learning foundations and plug-ins.


I’m a big fan of the analogy of AI functioning as an add-on to electricity, in that AI will “cognify” objects in the same way that motors “electrify” machinery to provide additional power and precision.  Some tasks will require only minor boosts, or you may opt for more expensive turbocharged performance.  Similarly to how electricity didn’t immediately revolutionize manufacturing, it will undoubtedly take some time for the majority of our infrastructure to take full advantage.


From Stratechery, here’s a great article discussing How Aristotle Created the Computer — tracing AI’s origins back to connecting the philosophical / physical components of boolean logic gates and how machine learning is a natural extension of humans’ tool-building prowess.  While artificial general intelligence is certainly far off, it’s already pretty much impossible to see AI:

and argue that it’s not becoming quite well-rounded.

Here are a couple great “state-of-AI” overview videos from a16z: When Machine Learning Becomes AI and a longer AI: What’s Working, What’s Not



🚁🛸 Drones 

Drones are relentlessly advancing on many fronts, able to now race crazy fast through soccer stadiums, lift heavy cargo, cooperate to carry packages for future delivery optimization, or miniaturize to the point of hijacking dragonflies’ nervous systems.


And they continue to be awesome for shooting amazing nature films, timelapses, and aerial photos.



🛠🖨 3D Printing / Manufacturing

3D printing has certainly established itself as a legitimate production process, with development predominantly focusing on expanding / improving material choices and speeding-up print times.  See The Five Most Amazing Things 3D-Printed This Year.


Not only taking the sneaker industry by storm, other cool 3D printing projects include this 965-part functional scale jet engine, complexly curved steel bridge, and a beating artificial silicone heart.


That being said, 3D printing never quite be a full replacement for other manufacturing approaches, such the jewelry design and production process, making a warehouse-sized gear, or designing a deceivingly clever ball valve for injection molding.



🌎💫 Roundup of 2017 Roundups

Best of Furniture Design and more specifically, Best of Transforming Furniture.

Astounding Space Images and Discoveries.

10 Data Visualization Projects.

Insane ping-pong points.

Until next time,

Please share any thoughts / cool links here!

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