Carmen Sandiego

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I’m not surprised to hear that the military is dipping their toes into 3D printing. Makes lots of sense for teams who need quick repairs to standardized equipment in hard-to-reach areas. The point you raise about security does seem like a huge issue they’ll need to tackle. However, I have to imagine that all kinds of super confidential information finds its way over similar channels, so this should be solvable (with the exception of certain equipment).

I do wonder what this shift means for the massive defense contractor industry, as it will require a shift from supply chain to intellectual property provider (ie. design plans). Will existing partners embrace this shift, or will major lobbying efforts stymie innovation in this space? How do AM costs compare to traditional manufacturing so far?
The article above talks about 3D printing using recycled materials that are already in the field, such as water bottles and bags. Based on what we learned in the Nike case this week, where sustainable materials are often less trusted on quality, do you think this “green” initiative will help or hurt the mainstream movement towards AM in the military?

On November 13, 2018, Carmen Sandiego commented on Open Innovation at Tesla – Time for a Change? :

I’m shocked that Tesla is so open with their innovative technology. How are they able to convince shareholders that this is in the best interest of the company? This essay does a solid job of laying out Tesla’s reasons for open innovation. It does leave me wondering a) which companies are taking advantage of this collaborative offering b) how is the information actually shared c) what does disruptive technology mean in this context?

In this semi-competitive environment, it seems to me like Tesla would want to partner with production partners rather than go free-for-all with its IP. If production capacity is their greatest limitation, their capital and labor should focus there. If their innovation is plateauing, it would seem to be that you’d want to do more than open up to outside innovation. Targeted contests that would energize the public around tackling certain pieces of the puzzle could greatly benefit R+D at Tesla.

Gabe-cool topic! As someone who had to deal with traditional braces, I’m only jealous these didn’t come along sooner. Were these retainers always 3D printed, or was that a more recent innovation? It’s crazy to me that Align can hold 420 patents and still face such extreme cannibalization. This company is going to need to think about the role of the orthodontist/dentist very carefully as an essential ingredient in their value proposition. I know I wouldn’t trust myself to go through a teeth-straightening routine without supervision. I think you’re right that they have a lot of wiggle room on price, so they should get less greedy in order not to be left behind.

On November 13, 2018, Carmen Sandiego commented on Can AI save brick-and-mortar retail? :

KMS-I hadn’t heard of Neiman Marcus innovating in this space, so thanks for choosing such a cool topic! I think you’re right that the future of retail absolutely depends on seamless integration of the omnichannel experience. The technology that allows a consumer to find things in their daily life and bring it back to Neiman’s suggested purchases seems like a very powerful tool against retail irrelevance.

I do wonder how this angle at confronting the future stacks up against other retailers’ approaches. I know that other stores are focusing less on digital and more about making the brick-and-mortar a destination full of value-add services (ex. nails, coffee, etc.) I also wonder if this AI investment engenders real brand loyalty to Neiman’s, as the brands they carry can easily be found at other outlets. I’m not convinced their AI investment, as laid out here, will be strong enough to justify brick-and-mortar survival.

On November 13, 2018, Carmen Sandiego commented on Grand Challenges at Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation :

Open innovation makes great sense in resource-constrained, audacious organizations such as the Gates Foundation. I love the “impatient optimists” mentality and applaud the foundation for opening its doors to speed up innovation. Despite hearing snapshots of past Grand Challenge successes, I do not have clear insight into the scale of this initiative or how it is implemented. Are the contests targeted or open-ended? How are winners rewarded? How does the Grand Challenge interact with existing foundation initiatives? I would have loved a more nuanced analysis of how open innovation coexists with the foundation’s existing framework. That being said, I do think this essay shines a positive spotlight on the Gates Foundation’s creative approach to social impact.

Lastly, I would push back on the author’s question about whether or not non-medical professionals can contribute to global health challenges. Comprehensive solutions require professionals from all academic disciplines. Of particular value to global health are those who have spent time in the field, rather than solely in medical conferences. For this reason, I’m supportive of the Grand Challenge as it is applied to healthcare.

On November 13, 2018, Carmen Sandiego commented on Square Inc.: Demystifying the Black Box of Small Business Lending :

Interesting topic and very well written. It’s great to see Square (and Paypal, eBay, BlueVine) extend lending to small business owners in need of alternative cash sources. The machine learning aspect of the evaluation process here makes a lot of sense. The granularity of consumer behavior captured by Square seems to lead to much more informed credit judgments.

Worth pointing out that these loans are only available to merchants who use the Square POS system, so it’s a clever loop they’ve created. I think that the data security concern is a real one, and I’d be curious to learn more about how is addressing these concerns. One thing that’s missing from this piece is the structure of the loan itself and how it compares to other types of financing. How do the financing rates and repayment terms compare to other small business offerings? My research shows that repayment occurs as a fixed percentage of daily sales, so I would love to learn more about how merchants respond to this fluctuating obligation. I also see that Stripe is preparing to enter the space, so we shall see how this small business lending space changes over time due to competition.