Matt B

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On November 14, 2018, Matt B commented on 3-D Printing: Disney’s Latest “Wow Factor” :

Great post. I think you bring up a lot of interesting points that ultimately paint a picture of Disney being in a challenging position for determining how to move forward. On the one hand, if Disney doesn’t invest in 3-D toy printing R&D work, other companies will and Disney will be left in the dust. On the other hand, in the long-run, Disney’s investments in 3-D toy printing could move the industry forward significantly but ultimately backfire if parents simply become able to 3-D print free designs they’ve found online at home (e.g. for a Mikey Moose doll instead of a Mickey Mouse doll). The challenge in front of Disney is finding the best way to thread that needle between innovation and democratization in the 3-D toy printing space.

On November 14, 2018, Matt B commented on Can We Live Forever? :

I found your post to be simultaneously insightful and thought-provoking.

In particular, after reading it I can’t stop thinking about the thought experiment about the Ship of Theseus (, which gets to the question of at what point an object that has its individual components gradually replaced over time ceases to be the original object. In this context, at what point do I stop being me if each of my individual organs are gradually replaced? Conventional wisdom would probably suggest that once my brain is replaced, I cease being me and instead take on some alternate identity. But, given recent research on things like the gut-brain connection (e.g., perhaps this conventional wisdom is somewhat myopic. Interesting stuff.

Very interesting piece! I am impressed with the advanced and multi-faceted approach that Spotify has taken to date to model and predict customer song preferences. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t be surprised if at this point they will only be able to achieve diminishing returns on efforts to further refine customer song recommendation engines, primarily because human song preferences are complicated and vary pretty wildly on a song-by-song basis in a way that is more art than science.

However, I believe the point you touched on briefly about Spotify beginning to explore applying machine learning to the other side of the market is a critical one. In addition to influencing the content creation process for artists as you mentioned, I think Spotify could also explore things such as recommending the optimal timing and locations for a particular artist to go on tour due to their popularity or lack thereof in certain geographies or demographics.

While I think Spotify is probably nearing the peak of the mountain of consumer music preference recommendations, they’ve only recently left base camp on the mountain of applying machine learning to aid in content production and value creation for record labels and artists.

Excellent article on a very serious issue. This technology is certainly impressive and its need apparent. I worry, though, about the challenge of automating only one link in a long chain of processes across the whole system. Specifically, if the automated system on the provider side is still sending its output to a manual system on the payer side, could this just result in more confusion and back-and-forth between the two parties, perhaps ultimately requiring escalation to human intervention on the provider side to resolve? That is, while I think it’s clear that an automated->automated system would be strictly better than a manual->manual system, I wonder where the automated->manual system falls on this spectrum. It could be the case that true efficiency gains are only achieved when both sides of the process are automated.

On November 14, 2018, Matt B commented on Citizen by Day, Scientist by Night? :

Very interesting concept.

One thought I had reading this: right now, everyone participating in this project is well aware that they are contributing to scientific research, meaning the project is only able to access a relatively small subset of the overall population (after all, how many people are willing to spend countless hours of their leisure time doing something simply because of their “amazement about the vastness of the universe”?). I think the folks behind the Zooniverse community should think about trying to reach a broader user base by capturing users who are completely unaware they are contributing to scientific research. Sound crazy? Similar things have been done before: the data from reCAPTCHAs (those annoying human vs. bot tests required to access many web pages) are actually used to digitize books [1], all without the vast majority of people who use them having any idea of this dual-purpose. Although it would be tricky to design, I think a similar model could be applied here.


On November 14, 2018, Matt B commented on Open Innovation at NASA: Impact in Culture :

Great article. One interesting feature of NASA in particular vs. other organizations is that its work is simultaneously (a) incredibly complicated and challenging and (b) extremely exciting and inspiring (who doesn’t love the idea of sending things to space?!). As a result, I imagine it is relatively easy for them to encourage people to participate in their open innovation programs to feel connected to something as emotionally powerful as NASA’s mission (pun intended). I’m left wondering how other organizations that are working on equally important but less sexy projects could optimally position open innovation programs to encourage involvement from the broader public.