Thanks for highlighting this site – I had never heard about it.
I think it is a phenomenal tool to structure debate. I am however concerned about its practical applications. I fear that it is designed to preach to the choir. The people that will take the effort to seek out the site, find the debate they are interested in, read all the contributions, and then comment (ideally with a source) are probably people who are already engaged in public discourse and have fact-based view points. As such, I am not sure it can succeed in trying to change the way most commenting works in the internet.
I am, however, much more positive about its application in the education space. Especially in a classroom environment like HBS, where there are more arguments and opinions than we could ever get to in class, it would be a great way to collect input the night before class that we can then build on!
Interesting article – however, I think the call to abandon a for-profit infrastructure is too extreme, especially for a company that only relies on monetizing technological advances.
However, IBM has actually already made large strides into the open innovation space just in the last few days. They acquired Redhat for 34bn dollars and have announced that they will stay true to the open innovation background of Redhat to provide an open approach to cloud.
This article was eye-opening as I had never considered the idea of semi-mobile 3D printing. I wonder how the actual logistics of this would work. I can only imagine that it would be very difficult to have these 3D printers with a unit at all times. As such, I agree with Michael’s comment about the potential to combine this idea with some sort of transportation technology like drones.
I would also posit that very strict rules for modifying any of the plans for the products would have to be implemented. I would want to make sure that no alterations can be made after a design is signed off (e.g. no tinkering with a design on the front-lines) because of the potential security concerns if there were to be a malfunction.
I was surprised to learn how far advanced the 3D printing applications are in this field. My biggest question is how a 3D printed prototype compares to the traditionally manufactured version of that part. You mention that the parts are safer, lighter and more cost effective. However, it would be the 3D printed versions of parts that are for instance crash tested, while the traditionally manufactured version of the part are installed in a vehicle. How can we guarantee that there is no difference in how the parts behave upon impact? I would want to make sure there are sufficient safe-guards in place that this novel technology is tested and implemented correctly without creating any negative side-effects.
To your question about customizable parts, I do believe it would fall more in the gimmick category for the vast majority of consumers. I am interested in its potential application in customizing cars for people with special needs. There are examples of cars being customized because of amputated limbs, unusual body proportions etc. – I reckon 3D printing has the power to make customization in these cases much simpler and cheaper.
Educating women about reproductive health is an immensely noble and necessary service and as such I applaud the focus of the company on this. I am very concerned about the potential of incorrect answers though. I was wondering what the behavior of the service is if a woman writes a question that is unclear or where the answer is uncertain. Will the service actually say that it cannot provide an answer or would it go with it’s best “guess” like the Toronto answer in the Watson case? The company would have an incentive to have it provide an answer no matter the certainty to not expose weaknesses. I hope that there is enough oversight to not allow for this to happen.
More fundamentally though, I question the choice of a subscription pricing model. This places a continued financial burden on the women when they might only have questions occasionally. If the mission of the company is to truly reach the most women possible and provide them with information, I wish they had a pay-per-use model in which a certain price is charged on the phone bill each time a text message is sent.
I could not agree with you more that Amazon will never be anything but reactionary in using machine learning to create products. Using machine learning would only ever enable Amazon to become a leader in fashion in terms of quantity sold, but never in terms of shaping the next look or defining fashion trend. I do not think that Amazon could ever become a real threat in terms of quality or design to established fashion brands that have been known for their superior fit and fashion-forward thinking. However, Amazon can be very successful just becoming a mass fast-fashion retailer. In the end, I think Amazon’s play is more about reach and profit rather than gaining a name in the fashion industry.
The part that I find most interesting is the point you raise about Amazon being able to use the algorithm to potentially decrease waste in fashion. Fast fashion has caused immense waste and contributes hugely to global warming. If Amazon could find a way to more accurately produce the right quantity of items, this would be a huge savings driver for them and it would benefit the world greatly. I wonder if there is a business model in which Amazon could sell this prediction service to other fashion retailers and try to leverage this advantage, while also doing something good for the planet.