An Assistant That Helps You Text Message

5 Intriguing Things is a daily curated collection of links that help us think about the future. 

1. WhatsApp + Siri = Emu.

"If you text a friend to ask if she’d like to grab lunch, you’ll both see a little bubble you can tap to make a calendar appointment. If your friend suggests a restaurant, Emu will bring in a snippet from Yelp and options to call or map directions to the restaurant from your location, as well as the option to make a reservation. Likewise, if you ask a friend if she wants to see a movie on Friday, Emu will show a bunch of tiny movie posters below your text that you both can scroll through (a query about a specific film will bring up that movie); tapping on one brings up a summary of that film, along with show times near you on Friday. Your friend could click on one of those show times to buy tickets online via Fandango."


2. Matt Taibbi and illustrator Molly Crabapple team up for a book on "injustice in the age of the wealth gap."

"Taibbi: That’s a good question. What is work in modern America? A striking thing about the group of people that I write about is their utter non-productivity. A lot of people compare them to robber barons, but the robber barons built railroads, they built this country. This whole group of people is about wealth extraction. That’s all they do. They come up with ways to take shit from people. And they’re very good at it. The things that they build are devices for separating people from their money. I think that’s one of the reasons why there’s so much resentment towards this class of people... 

"Crabapple: I totally agree. The flipside is that working-class jobs where people used to make things are largely outsourced, and those jobs are being replaced by service jobs. What you’re selling, in addition to your labor, is your ability to project certain sorts of feelings, to smile and pretend that you like it. On both ends, you’re far away from building anything real."


3. Hilary Clinton's 2010 speech on Internet Freedom.

"We are also supporting the development of new tools that enable citizens to exercise their rights of free expression by circumventing politically motivated censorship. We are providing funds to groups around the world to make sure that those tools get to the people who need them in local languages, and with the training they need to access the internet safely. The United States has been assisting in these efforts for some time, with a focus on implementing these programs as efficiently and effectively as possible. Both the American people and nations that censor the internet should understand that our government is committed to helping promote internet freedom."


4. The Mars Curiosity rover has arrived at a major scientific destination, the Kimberley

"On Wednesday, NASA's Curiosity Mars rover drove the last 98 feet feet (30 meters) needed to arrive at a site planned since early 2013 as a destination for studying rock clues about ancient environments that may have been favorable for life. The rover reached a vantage point for its cameras to survey four different types of rock intersecting in an area called 'the Kimberley,' after a region of western Australia."


5. A motivational app that tries to nudge you into focusing on meaningful things.

"Full asks you to input 'goals you want to accomplish' for each month, and then gives you reminders and tracks your progress. Its user interface isn't particularly snazzy, and there are no surprising features. It isn't free to download, either. Everything about it is designed to encourage 'building toward your goals,' says John T. Meyer of Lemonly, the studio behind Full. 'That is all it does, but it does that very well.'


Today's 1957 American English Usage Tip

bamboozle. First mentioned in the Tatler as current slang, c. 1700, along with banter, sham, mob, bully, &c. The OED defines it 'to trick, hoax, impose upon, mystify, & confound,' and uses it in defining other terms.


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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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