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Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg talks chat bots at the company's F8 conference in San Francisco on April 12, 2016. GLENN CHAPMAN/AFP/Getty Images

Dispatch, Ep 11: Firefly bottoms and bird bones

Molly Wood Apr 14, 2016
Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg talks chat bots at the company's F8 conference in San Francisco on April 12, 2016. GLENN CHAPMAN/AFP/Getty Images

It was a busy week in tech!

There was Facebook’s F8 developer conference, where Mark Zuckerberg announced a platform for building chat-bots that will either put every customer service and retail sales employee out of a job or, based on those bots’ early outings, most assuredly will not.

From the sound of things, Facebook is also getting into the moonshot game. The company snagged certified smart human Regina Dugan from Google’s Advanced Technologies and Projects Lab. Dugan, who’s also the former head of DARPA , will head up Facebook’s new Building 8 research and development division.

(Tangent alert: a mini-argument broke out on Twitter when I originally tweeted that Regina Dugan was “poached” by Facebook. Apparently some folks thought the term has enough negative connotations that it cast aspersions on all. For the record, I agree regarding elephants, but not so much employees. Nevertheless, I’ll consider alternative vocabulary. Oh, Twitter.)

Keep an eye out for Yahoo’s bidding war, because apparently there might be one, when the company accepts offers April 18.

But the main event for me came at Bloomberg Businessweek’s Design 2016 conference.  That’s where I heard a talk by Janine Benyus. She not only wrote the book on the then-emerging field of biomimicry, she helped popularize it, and now runs a consultancy out of my home state of Montana advising companies on how to use designs inspired by nature to build smarter, more sustainable and more effective products.  She laid out how biomimicy will soon lead to new platform technologies that change everything about how we manufacture. Kind of made chat-bot platforms seem a little less interesting. Hear her interview within!

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Follow Molly Wood at @mollywood.

 

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