Startup Watch: How to save your job from a robot, bringing back the cubicle, and meatless shawarma

The world of entrepreneurship news is a complex one, with people ever ready to give their two cents on how you should be running your business/VC fund/incubator. Here’s our wrap of what we’re reading on robots taking your job, meatless meats, undemocratic democratic office spaces, and a little something to lighten the end of the working week.

Smile, or lose your job to a robot. If Moore’s Law is any indication, supercomputers are close to meeting, and soon exceeding, human intelligence. So if you haven’t wondered what your value will be five to 10 years from now, yesterday was the right time to start. The good news is that there is in fact still a place for us, fellow human, and it’s in doing what robots cannot do: empathize. Robots will never be able to look into your eyes, and relate. It won’t be able to pick up on the gentle nuances of your beautiful face. So while the world shoves down our throats that we need to “become a data scientist ASAP” and “learn to code or never find a job”, perhaps what we really need be focusing on is smiling - and improving our human-human relationships.

Stuffed lamb without the lamb. By 2050, nearly 10 billion people will need to be fed. At the rate we’re at, it’s not looking too good. This is particularly troubling for the MENA region, as its population growth outpaces the rest of the world. If we want to keep the kibbeh coming, we need to start thinking about more sustainable solutions to our meat-centered food habits. This podcast addresses a less-than-appetizing-but-needed solution: 'clean meats'. Clean meat is real meat grown in a lab without animal slaughter. It is not only more sanitary, but it is also more eco-friendly, and humane. So now, our next question would be: is clean meat halal?

Wamda of the Week: I needed the money, so I just signed. Recently, we’ve been noticing a trend among both entrepreneurs and VCs and to put it simply, it’s unacceptable. We hear so many stories of entrepreneurs signing terms that they don’t understand, only later to discover in their next funding rounds, the real impact of signing on the dotted line. Such lack of awareness can cost everyone time, motivation, and most importantly: $$$. So friends, here’s part one of a four part series to help both entrepreneurs and VCs get to know each other just a bit better.

Yea... that’s not really funny to me. It can be charming to be cheeky with your online users. A picture of a cute animal apologizing for a 404 error, or Google animating its logo to celebrate your country’s independence day. That’s cute. But sometimes, cheekiness doesn’t translate from one culture to another, or from one personality to another. A crude reference to South Park in an 404 error message won’t cut it in a more conservative Arab culture. So designers, remember, if content is king, context is supreme leader.

Can we go back to cubicles now? Office workplaces have transitioned a lot over the past decade. We’ve gone from closed, solo cubicles, to short dividers where I can see my colleague’s face, but not screen, to completely exposed open office spaces. “Open layouts have been shown to invite collaboration, but at the same time can make people feel like they don’t have privacy or spaces where they can go to do focused and reflective work,” says Tonya Smith-Jackson, researcher at the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. While we don’t actually advocate for the return of disgusting gray felt cubicles, having privacy and a space for expression can greatly improve an employee’s productivity and wellbeing.

Speaking of supercomputers, hello there Tokyo. Nice to see you again. Japan is on schedule to build the world's fastest-known supercomputer. Jumping on the robotics and AI bandwagon, the Asian country will spend 19.5 billion yen (US$173 million) to reclaim its spot as one of the world’s tech leader. According to Reuters, the engineers are building a machine that can make 130 quadrillion calculations per second. The machine is expected to aid companies improve driverless cars, medical services, industrial design and pretty much everything under the rising sun.

And since we’re now in December… the mandatory startup gift guide. It would be much less painful for your wallet to scroll through this list of 35 items compiled by CB insights than to actually purchase these. While we’d love a stylish wallet with a built-in charger, who really needs yet another fitness tracker or smartwatch. Snore. Leave us a comment below on what you’d would want to be gifted this holiday season.

And finally, can Amazon just buy Souq.com already?

Feature image via Flickr.

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