Dept of the near future
Blockchains are incentive machines. “We need to get incentives right”, argues EV reader, Trent McConaghy. (To add to Trent’s arguments, it may not help that Ethereum’s smart contracts are replete with security holes.)
💈 How to succeed in the gig economy: “People in the gig economy must pursue a different kind of success—one that comes from finding a balance between predictability and possibility, between viability (the promise of continued work) and vitality (feeling present, authentic, and alive in one’s work).”
🔒 The number of devices at edge of the internet is going to get much more numerous, smarter and vulnerable. How can we secure it? (See also: Cyber attacks are getting bigger and badder. Github just survived the largest DDos ever.)
👻 Financing the intangible economy. As the investment shifts towards more intangible goods, the structure of financing will also change favouring venture capital & private equity on the one hand, and firms that stay private for longer, on the other.
Dept of automation & AI
The factory automation market is booming in the US with nearly 35,000 robots shipped at an average sale price of $55k last year. While overall robot sales were only up 0.9% YonY, this masked a growth of a fifth in non-automotive sectors and a decline in orders for robots in car making. (The average price of an industrial robot has declined by about a tenth in the same time period.)
An unappealing choice for workers. The Economist on the rising tensions between workers, labour rights, workplace monitoring and the threat of automation.
Nearly half of APAC firms think they will need fewer employees in three years as they invest in automation.
🤷 A blind test between trained lawyers and a legal AI review system found that the automated system could review NDAs faster and with fewer mistakes than the humans.
Realist fake video is becoming increasingly in reach. Researcher, Sven Charleer, takes a fascinating spin with deep fakes, his wife & Anne Hathaway. (See also, a new paper shows off adversarial attacks on images that can confuse humans as well as machine vision systems.)
😤 Palantir deployed a predictive policing system in New Orleans that even city council members don’t know about.
💥 Tom Standage has put together a special report on autonomous vehicles. A caveat: this is one of the rare instances in EV where I haven’t had time to read the work I’m recommending. I’ve known Tom for >20 years so I’m pretty certain this will be a definitive survey. (I have read the excellent accompanying op-ed.)
China has leapt ahead of the US in patents relating to deep learning.
Dept of internet business
Dropbox is a quintessential information age company. Freemium (2% conversion to premium), self-service (93% of customers self-serve), fast growth (35% annual growth) & high gross margins (67% and growing). Tom Tunguz analyses its business model as it files for IPO.
EV reader, Pete Flint, explains how he built Trulia, a $3.5bn marketplace.
Netflix will spend more than $8bn on original programmes in 2018and produce more than 700 unique shows. (Interesting comparative chart here.)
MoviePass is like ClassPass for Hollywood movies. Can it succeed?
🔑 Amazon really wants to get into your home. It acquired smart doorbell maker, Ring, for $1bn.
Facebook has stopped a newsfeed experiment that increased fake news in six countries.
🔫 Fascinating infographic: How to buy a gun in 15 countries.
A majority of Americans want big tech regulated.
EV reader, Russell Buckley, is looking for a head of talent to join the team at Kindred Capital, an early-stage venture firm in London. Apply or forward to a friend (or an ex-colleague!)
*Community Careers is a paid space within the newsletter, reserved for long-term readers.
Short morsels to appear smart at dinner parties
🐻 China’s digital censors have extended the blocked words list as Xi Jinping prepares for a longer term in office. (Naturally “Winnie the Pooh” is banned.)
If women ruled the world: life amongst the matrilineal Mosuo tribe.
Good essay on behavioural ecology behind lethal violence.
Fermentation has played a significant role in civilization's development.
Security firm Cellebrite (working with the US government) can unlock every model of iPhone.
📚 Money laundering through Amazon Books.
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