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Ep. 49 - Happier Maps, Better Routes, and the Tyranny of Efficiency with Daniele Quercia

Daniele Quercia, Professor of Urban Informatics, talks about his research into what makes a city and a travel route good. Our algorithms aren't measuring things like sights, smells, and ambiance, and these are the things that can affect our mood and overall wellbeing. We discussion: - The change in focus from Efficiency to Exploration - The Political Map (or technically accurate map) versus the phychological mind-map - Making daily habits more inspiring - Ideas for urban planners and for...


Ep. 48 - Chasing the Perfect Voting System with Daniel Kronovet

Today's discussion with Daniel Kronovet is about social choice theory and voting systems. The topics include: - The history of the theory versus the practice which is much older (American founder and ancient Greece) - Multi-party voting, ranked voting, and Condorcet - Arrow's Theorem - Relation to Surveys and Foursquare - Blockchain voting and allocating budget. The notes for this show are on


Ep. 47 - Max on Stage with the Year in Review

Today you'll hear Max's first attempt at newsroom-style standup comedy - taking place at the Foursquare 2018 talent show at Foursquare HQ in Flatiron. Afterwards, a discussion with Aaron about the bit, the previous 2 episodes, and our favorite and memorable episodes throughout the year. Also our hopes for 2019 on the Local Maximum. Have your own hopes for the show in 2019? Email


Ep. 46 - The Audio Internet with Shani Offen

The web was designed for text and images, and all of the interactive elements we use today, and all of the advertising technology backing it up was developed as such. Spotify Machine Learning Engineer Shani Offen asks how we can apply this to audio content like music, podcasts, and audiobooks. We cover: - The role of advertising in driving innovation. - The difficulties of building audio chatbots. - Brainstorming on interactive sound and voice.


Ep. 45 - Inside Google, Engineer Maryam Aly with a Comprehensive Account

A riveting long-form interview with former Google engineer Maryam Aly as she gives us a close-up insight into what it's like to work for the tech giant, and the culture and structures inside. We do not shy away from the hot topics which include: - Google’s Interview and Recruitment Process - Approach to security and privacy - Google's product decision-making and roadmaps - Gravity of search results and the potential for Bias or tampering - Atmosphere during and after the circulation of the...


Ep. 44 - Ranking Foursquare Tips with Enrique Cruz

If you want to know how machine learning is used to solve real world problems (even first world problems like helping you out at restaurants) - then this episode is for you. Max and Enrique Cruz talk about how Foursquare ranks its tips, how we used machine learning in the process, and our takeaways from how content is ranked online generally.


Ep. 43 - Self Driving Cars and the Cycle of Adoption

Self Driving Cars are often in the news, and this month the chatter has picked up! Waymo wants to launch in Phoenix, and GM is investing heavily in it's self driving division. But what does this mean? Will we see true autonomous taxis soon, or will there be a transition period - and what will it look like? We cut through news articles that try to paint a positive or negative story based on the same facts. Aaron joins me today to discuss these issues. Also - Google...


Ep. 42 - Untouched Civilizations, Media Evolution, and GPlus Collections

We discuss the story of an American missionary killed on North Sentinel Island - a forbidden Island off the coast of India which has been isolated for tens of thousands of years. Also: - Complaints about the trains in the northeast US - Some updates on my sabbatical projects - Followup on my discussion with David Pietrusza: Teddy Roosevelt, and the society at the turn-of-the-20th-century. - Answer a listeners question about Google Plus's strategy


Ep 41 - The Presidents and Communication Technology with David Pietrusza

Discussion with political historian David Pietrusza about the Presidents and the changing political landscape. We cover how our political system was affected by the rise of radio, television, film, and connecting it to today's technological trends. - Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, Pre-1920 use of Phonographs. - the Rise of Radio in the 1920s, FDR's fireside chats - Television, late night, JFK, Nixon, and Reagan - Reality TV, Social Media, and targetted advertising in the age of Obama...


Ep. 40 - Charlie Oliver on Tech 2025, Open and Thought Provoking Conversations about our Near Future

Tech 2025's Charlie Oliver stops by the Foursquare office to discuss her approach to engaging and energizing the public with topics on emerging technology. We discuss: - The evolving attitudes of some of the industry leaders and technical experts, and the disconnect between themselves and the people affects by their creations. - How to engage the public on topics like Machine Learning, AI, and Blockchain without going the route of the "technical boring lecture" - How passions and emotions...


Ep. 39 - Paradox

I explore logical paradoxes, especially those ultimately caused by circular logic, or circular definitions. Also includes the Twitter fight about the 2018 midterm elections between Nate Silver, Dinesh D'Souza, and Nassim Taleb. Paradoxes include: - Liar's Paradox - Russell's Paradox - Curry's Paradox - Berry's Paradox


Ep. 38 - Predictions Panel on Virtual Services, Rise of the Outer Suburbs, and Zombie Coins

During the Fall 2018 Local Maximum Tech Retreat, we did a panel on the predictions that we make about the future of technology, consumer applications, and society. Topics and analysis include virtual fitness training, online doctors visits, social media moderation, self driving cars, education, complex voice assistants, and more. Including panelists Aaron and Crystal Astrachan (Amazon).


Ep. 37 - Naomi Brockwell on Blockchain Tech and Producing for YouTube and TV

I talk to Naomi Brockwell about Bitcoin and Blockchain - the technology of freedom! In addition to her work in popularizing this emerging technology, and some of it's implications on human liberty and global human development, we also talk about her media career, moderating debates, interest in video, popularizing this emerging technology, and her work with John Stossel and on the Hard Fork TV series. Includes a promo for Swarm 6.0 and clips of Naomi's YouTube videos!


Ep. 36 - The Google Graveyard

With Google's announcement of the impending demise of Google Plus, we discuss various Google products that have succeeded and failed over the years, and what we can learn from it. Also: the security breaches from Facebook and Google Plus, Amazon's AI hiring program and the bias it sustains, and Tim Berners Lee's dream of a decentralized web.


Ep. 35 - Camille Fournier and the Manager's Path

Camille Fournier joins the Local Maximum today to discuss her book on engineering management, Rent the Runway, company culture, engineering ladders, and more! Plus, learn about Foursquare for Good and Max responds to listener messages about ads and censorship.


Ep. 34 - Data Engineering with Joe Crobak, Foundations of Smart Software

Now with extra mappers and reducers! I talk to Joe Crobak of the Data Engineering Weekly newsletter about data engineering, and it's importance in modern software projects. We cover: - The definition of data engineering - Hadoop, MapReduce, and Spark - How data engineering has evolved over the last decade. - Joe's experiences working in government vs. startups. The US Digital service, and the paperwork reduction act. Remember to check out the new website at, and Joe's site...


Ep. 33 - Ads, Bias, Censorship, Democracy

The Social Media giants can't handle the fact that they can't control the system they've created. Another "smart" podcaster backs us up on the futility of fixing internet moderation through Machine Learning alone. Also - how are our elections affected by new communications technology? It's possible that our current situation has been repeated many times in history - but it's also possible that the pendulum is swinging more wildly. And Facebook's ridiculous ads system finally hits me...


Ep. 32 - Woohoo no work! Cross examining my sabbatical plans

Aaron interviews me about what I plan to work on while I take 6 weeks off from Foursquare. We'll talk about the future of this podcast, several prototype ideas that I want to build, and my reading list. Can I get all this done? Probably not ALL of it - but I hope a good chunk of it!


Ep. 31 - The Problem of Causality with Shirin Mojarad

We do things every in the hope that it will cause something good to happen as a result. And we're also bombarded with information trying to convince us on what to buy, who to vote for, and how to live. But most of the time, it's very difficult to tell whether A causes B, or if they are merely correlated. I talk to subject matter expert Shirin Mojarad of McGraw-Hill to break down how scientists can detect causality and what to look for in a causality study.


Ep. 30 - Entropy is a Decision Tree: Game of Thrones Predictions

Some data scientists are attempting to use data and machine learning to predict the outcome of the next season of game of thrones. In this solo show I discuss the merits of this approach, give an overview of decision trees, adversarial problems, and the role of information theory.