Five Reads: The Trouble for Juul
What follows is our roundup of five of the most compelling stories discovered over the last few days. Look for this column every week in this space.
Can Vaping Be Saved?
In the December issue of Fast Company, Ainsley Harris details the how Juul became “the most embattled startup of 2018” and asks “can the company innovate its way out of a crisis it helped create?” Now valued at more than $16 billion, Juul Labs is under fire from the FDA and advocacy groups for hooking teens on nicotine and unleashing a firestorm of flavored vaping. The company’s history so far can be read as a cautionary example of the road to hell being paved by good intentions. Its future is hard to predict.
If you want to find out about founders who are disrupting the future, then the “Entrepreneurship & Startups” track at SXSW 2019 is for you.
What’s Wrong with Genetic Editing?
On the face of it, genetically editing babies sounds like a terrible, dangerous idea. But, as Michael Specter writes in The New Yorker, “it is even more dangerous to live in a world where few seem to acknowledge that we are moving rapidly into a future where gene editing will be easy and accessible to millions of people.” While it’s not yet known exactly what the Chinese scientist He Jiankui has done, he claims that he used the gene-editing tool crispr to create two baby girls who are resistant to infection from H.I.V. Specter succinctly explains why we should be very cautious about such “breakthroughs.”
Learn about responsible uses of new health technologies at the Health and MedTech track at SXSW 2019.
Is It Really This Easy to Become an Artist?
Is there anyone out there who doesn’t want to live a more creative life? In Vulture, Jerry Saltz offers 33 (or 34, or 35, but who’s counting) rules that he says can “take you from clueless amateur to generational talent (or at least help you live life a little more creatively).” Some examples: “Don’t be embarrassed. Start with a pencil. Find your own voice.”
How to Thrive with Today’s Tech
In a farewell to the New York Times tech section and his State of the Art column (he’s moving to the NYT Opinion page), Farhad Manjoo reflects on five years of writing the column and changes in the industry and offers suggestions for coping with technology today. In this ever-faster world, he reminds readers of the benefits of slowing down and the vital importance of being mindful about the decisions you make. “The tech industry in 2018 is far more consequential than it was in 2014, when I started this job. It’s bigger, more pervasive and in every way more dangerous,” he writes.
Exploring the Final Frontier
You’ve likely heard about the Insight probe landing on Mars, but it’s worth taking a moment to really let that sink in. Right now, there’s a probe on Mars sending back images — like the one above — so we can see what the red planet looks like, 300 million miles away. It wasn’t at all a given that it would work. Of the 57 missions launched at Mars, only 24 have made it. Read more from National Geographic about the incredible journey and everything that led up to it and what happens now.
And if you just read a headline or heard the news, it’s worth taking a few minutes to actually watch the control room during the final descent and ask yourself: What would it take for you to get that excited at work?
Hear from someone who was pretty excited to actually walk on the moon as part of the SXSW 2019 Intelligent Future track. You never know what might happen. Elon Musk says there’s a 70 percent chance he’s moving to Mars.
Hugh Forrest serves as Chief Programming Officer at SXSW, the world’s most unique gathering of creative professionals. He also tries to write at least four paragraphs per day on Medium. These posts often cover tech-related trends; other times they focus on books, pop culture, sports and other current events.