Should designers... design?
This morning a team of researchers at Airbnb released something quite incredible: a machine learning algorithm that can take photos of wireframe sketches and render them into real code.
That's right, Airbnb has figured out how get computers to produce a prototype of the idea you're collaborating on once it knows how the design should look.
It's an impressive peek at the future of both the web development and design industry, which will likely have these types of "auto code" tools built-in so that you can go from zero to validation with just a napkin sketch.
Why it matters: This type of innovation means less time in the weeds of web development and more just showing the computer what we want.
It's rough right now, but it's easy to imagine a Webflow-style tool in a few years where you just sketch out what you want and it gives you a bunch of design options and your entire site. The tech would be especially impactful inside an Airbnb-scale company where their design language is well defined, and the computer could easily learn it.
Heads up: It's easy to react to this that "design is dead" or similar, but I see this more as an enhancing tool in designs' arsenal, where designers are free to explore faster rather than disappear from the industry.
Mozilla's incredible Firebug development tool is being sunset this week as the company moves to reboot the Firefox browser in the coming weeks with a new performance-focused engine under the hood.
Firebug was the first ever developer tool that let you right click on any web object and look at its guts in real-time back in 2006. "Inspect Element" is now a feature of every browser and being able to quickly jump in and see how something is made on the web is something Firebug made 'normal.'
Every single Mozilla Firefox extension needs to be rewritten for Firefox Quantum, which will be released by the end of the year, meaning Firebug will no longer work, but Mozilla's built all of the tool's features right into the browser now.
Why it matters: I sorta miss the old days of "browser wars" where everyone didn't just default to Chrome or Safari, and Firefox's reboot is an interesting development with many casualties like this one.
Mozilla's reboot is reported to challenge Chrome in speed, but I do wonder if anyone cares to switch browsers.
Alexa, can you prevent suicide? (Paywall)
This piece details Amazon's efforts to handle queries that indicate someone might be at risk of harming themselves. Amazon found early on that people tended to ask Alexa quite personal questions like "Will you marry me?" because it "feels" human.
The company spotted very early on that people would tell the assistant they were depressed and decided to create very specific responses for queries where Alexa might be able to help get them to find help.
(The WSJ Paywall is tricky if you don't have a subscription, there are some ways into it still).
New ransomware spreading through Russia
An aggressive new piece of ransomware is hitting Russian media and other targets right now, demanding cryptocurrencies to unlock the hard-drive. These attacks are becoming surprisingly common (and are a great reminder to keep offline backups!).
Engineer makes $86 million license scanner in 57 lines of code...
...then actually catches someone with a cancelled plate. This is a pretty impressive project with even better results which demonstrates what's possible even from home with just a camera and an algorithm now.