🔥 Apple's pivot; blockchain rising; design for everyone; controlling Facebook; politics after truth; Tuna, growth & Kit Kats++ #62

The Exponential View

Apple’s imminent pivot. Why disruption takes a long time. Politics after truth. How to design the world for everyone, rather than just men. The rise of the GAFAs and the likely response. Blockchain continues to emerge from bitcoin’s shadow. A renewable future is increasingly our present reality. A cornucopia of Kit Kats, leadership styles and the growth mindset.

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Dept of the near future

💡 The world is designed for men and the bias is built into our everyday lives. MUST READ

🔥 The anthropocene and the crisis of civilisation. Naomi Klein argues climate change is a battle between capitalism and the planet. (Full lecture, 48min)

🍏 Apple’s R&D spending reveals a pivot & signals their commitment to a new industry: cars.  COMPELLING ANALYSIS

💥 “The fact that disruption is so sweeping is why it takes so long and why it is so difficult for incumbents to respond” A16Z’s Steve Sinofsky. GOOD ANALYSIS

🚀 Because failure is an option, SpaceX can do amazing things. GOOD, SHORT READ

👻 Post-truth politics: “The rise of social media and, in the US, cable TV channels and radio stations defined by political hue, means voters can easily get the entirety of their information from sources tailored to reflect their own views back to them.” ESSENTIAL READING by Jonathan Freedland

Dept of GAFA

Sometimes it seems that Google, Apple, Facebook & Amazon (the GAFAs) are the new trusts.

They control our access to information. They control the news we read. They control the products we buy. They are our communications platforms. They compete with each other and seek to broaden and deepen their influence.

My hunch is that we’re going to see an increasing desire to regulate or curtail their activities. Why? Because that faint sound you hear is the penny is dropping. GAFAs control crucial choke-points in the political economy, much like the oil majors, railway barons and AT&T established oligopolistic positions a century ago. More than half of all online time is spent on a GAFA property.

The Facebook kerfuffle this past week is one such example. Facebook’s trending news feature has a heavy dose of human curation, according to leaked documents. Anyone who has worked in the axis of social media and news aggregation knows this was likely the case. As my former head of data science used to say: “My job is to devise an algorithm that doesn’t always give the answer Justin Bieber.” As we’ve argued many times before, platform neutrality is a myth.

🌟 A bold proposal to regulate Facebook. Explores Jonathan Zittrain’s idea of an ‘information fiduciary’ which would close the “disconnect between the level of trust we place in [online services] and the level of trust owed to us.” (See also Morovoz in EV#54)

How ranking algorithms boost low-credibility conspiracy theories.

Apple invests a $1bn in China’s Uber rival, Didi.

Amazon will become America’s biggest clothing retailer.

Google stops accepting ads from payday lenders.

Kalkis Research, which has a bearish position on Google, releases an investigation: A Real Life Example of Google’s Implication in Ad Fraud and Traffic Laundering

The success of Facebook & Google in dominating online advertising may mean that new services will rely on customers, rather than marketers, paying.

Dept of blockchain

🌟 Blockchain is “the first native digital medium for value, just as the internet was the first native digital medium for information. And this has big implications for business and the corporation.” Don Tapscott in Harvard Business Review. Blockchain could solve IP problems, media business models and improve the sharing economy.

Blockchain is the new Google, argues William Mougyar.

Blockchain funding finally exceed bitcoin funding. But are the partnerships between incumbent banks and blockchain initiatives going to amount to anything much? I’m sceptical about whether these incumbent elephants can dance on the head of the evolving technology pin.

🚨 I feel remiss about my blockchain coverage. So if you know founders, investors, policymakers or academics in blockchain, please connect me (or forward this mail to them). I’d love to strengthen the network.

Dept of renewable energy

A bad week for coal & a good one for renewables.

☀ For the first time since 1882, the UK did not use coal to generate electricity.

In California, coal is ’dead as a doornail’. Last Sunday, 87% of all German electricity was generated by renewables.

😎 This super read identifies the key trends in renewable generation, storage and utilisation changes that suggest moving fully renewable rapidly is possible. “Key climate solutions have been advancing considerably faster than anyone expected just a few years ago thanks to aggressive market-based deployment efforts around the globe. These solutions include such core enabling technologies for a low-carbon world as solar, wind, efficiency, electric cars, and battery storage.” Great graphs, EXCELLENT READ.

Bloomberg on coal’s stranded assets. “Coal companies that aren’t experiencing debt problems are becoming as rare as hen’s teeth.”

Short morsels to appear smart at dinner parties

Tunicorn: global Tuna stocks are worth more than $40bn a year.

A history of bioluminescence. Intriguing long-ish read.

🇯🇵 The dazzling myriad of KitKat flavours available in Japan (purple sweet potato?)

Chinese entrepreneurs are faster & more aggressive than even Silicon Valley.

Leadership styles around the world. 24 varieties (infographic)

Genome loci which determine 20% of variability in educational attainment identified

Panasonic has the world’s best weather forecasting model. (Shocked looks everywhere). Should it share its predictions?

Canon’s new super high ISO camera can take photos in the dark

Realm of scifi : new US army tech can instantly destroy all enemy fire

💎 Maria Popova on Carol Dweck’s Growth Mindset. (Read this & set yourself up for a successful week!)

End note

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Have a great Sunday!