human machine is an initiative run by Andre Plaut that seeks to explore the intersection of design, technology, and policy. You can sign up for our newsletter at https://humanmachine.substack.com

What can you believe? What is fact and what is fiction? If something happens right in front of your eyes, can you believe what you’re seeing? If someone plays you a recording, can you believe the audio you’re hearing? Your answer probably depends on the context you’re in and the expectations that have been set for you. If you’re watching a superhero film, you don’t actually believe that the leading actress…


This post is a part of human machine, a weekly newsletter at the intersection of design, technology, and policy. You can sign up for it here: https://humanmachine.substack.com

Last week, New York City took the unprecedented step of capping new vehicle licenses for ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft. Ride sharing services, and Uber more specifically, have taken repeated hits to their reputations over the last 2 years due to a series of scandals and backlash from local governments like New York City and London, who temporarily suspended Uber from operating all together.

The reality is that ride sharing services have…


This post is a part of human machine, a weekly newsletter at the intersection of design, technology, and policy. You can sign up for it here: https://humanmachine.substack.com

Over the last week, there has been a persistent back-and-forth about whether or not services like YouTube, Facebook, Apple, Spotify, Pinterest, and Twitter should suspend Alex Jones’ accounts.

Alex Jones, if you are still blissfully unaware, is a bombastic conspiracy theorist & propagandist who peddles dangerous and insane material over the internet. …


Last night, James Comey failed to fully endorse it. David Axelrod, President Obama’s former Communications Director, has largely cautioned against it. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has said it is“not a place I think we should go.” Republican Senator Jeff Flake has floated it as possibly the“only Constitutional remedy.” To use the“i” word about a sitting President when you hold any sort of political office or influence is to put a heavy stake through the ground and tie your name directly to it.

Impeachment is a serious thing that requires a tremendous amount of political, legal, and practical consideration. It…


Yesterday’s Senate hearing was Exhibit #1 that the US government needs to quickly ramp up its tech fluency. Over the period of 5 hours, 44 Senators(nearly half of the entire legislative body) questioned Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. The hearing was called after a series of deeply troubling news reports revealed how a British data company, Cambridge Analytica, leveraged Facebook’s porous API structures to attain the data of over 84 million Facebook users and use it target political propaganda throughout the 2016 elections. …


Apple’s HomePod would’ve been an interesting product in mid-2016. We’re now looking at an early 2018 launch of a product that’s wildly behind in features, price, and time to market. It’s clear that “smart home assistant” is now a robust product category. The Amazon Echo was groundbreaking, and Google Home improved on the concept. Apple is hardly ever the one to create a new product category, but they’re almost always the ones to define it.

And with the HomePod, it’s difficult to understand what Apple’s play is here.

Revolutionizing an Established Space

Looking back at Apple’s most successful and revolutionary products, you can see…


I’ve been watching Trump campaign rallies now for over 2 years. They all follow the same basic formula: the religious opening speakers, the “Drain the Swamp” signs, the red hats, the bizarre and borderline incoherent improvised speech, the “Lock Her Up” and “Build the Wall” chants, boasting about the crowd, railing against the media. The rambling, venomous speech delivered in Phoenix last week was no different, even though the speaker himself is now the President of the United States and not an inexperienced fringe political candidate.

I find the content & tone of those speeches to be terrifying, shameful, and…


When iMessage was announced in 2011, it offered free, unlimited text messaging, synced across all of your Apple devices. At the time, this was big.

Fast forward to 2016, where unlimited cross-device messaging is ubiquitous. Slack has become a household name and WhatsApp is used by billions of people. Google has just announced their vision for the future of messaging: Allo. iMessage, on the other hand, has barely changed in 5 years.

iOS 10 marks a milestone for the the revolutionary mobile OS. It’s time for iMessage to take another leap forward.

Rich Media

People exchange much more than just text. I…


Suspend your disbelief for just a moment and go on an electoral journey of the imagination with me.

John Kasich, the popular moderate Republican governor of Ohio, just dropped out of the Republican primary handing the candidacy squarely to Donald Trump.

Hillary Clinton, a moderate Democrat, is only 130 delegates away from claiming the Democratic nomination. While head-to-head polls look favorable for Clinton against Trump, she’ll need to fight hard to retain the Rust Belt (Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin) if she hopes to win the general election.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

This is an unconventional…


An Open Letter to Bernie Sanders Supporters with Occasional Hamilton References

To all Bernie Sanders supporters,

Let’s for a moment entertain the idea that Bernie Sanders may lose the primary for the Democratic nomination. I know, it’s a painful thought. I’m not saying it will happen, I’m saying let’s pretend it does happen. Let’s imagine that sometime this summer, Bernie drops out graciously, and vows to not run a third-party campaign. He puts his support behind Hillary Clinton (as he says he would in such a scenario) and we carry forward to a general election.

My question to you is this: what comes next?

Whether or not you decide to support…

Andre Plaut

Founder, human machine. I’m here to help create better products and companies for consumer, employees, and society.

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