🔮 iPhoneX & vertical integration; how robots change work; human evolution; blockchain & VC; voting dogs, vengeful politicians, rude mothers ++ #131

The iPhone X and vertical integration. New roles for redundant workers. China's ban on the combustion engine. Blockchain may be taking over Silicon Valley. The Average British MP according to machine vision. An Art history lesson in medieval execution.

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DEPT OF THE NEAR FUTURE

👣  Om Malik on the iPhone X, Steve Jobs legacy and the critical need for vertical integration:

Don’t depend on a third party to be enabler of your key innovations and capabilities.

The iPhone X is flawless because of

the ability of the A11 chip to use neural networking technology to utilize the facial recognition algorithms and then seamlessly hide them inside the operating system and the device design. One doesn’t need to know any of that— as long as it feels like magic.

It almost is magic. In this interesting analysis, Brad Delong estimates an iPhone X would have cost nearly $150 trillion and required 30x the world's power output if it were built in 1957.

🎰  As the robots arrive, Amazon workers’ roles change. MUST READ photo-essay. (See also: Deutsche Bank CEO, employees who “spend a lot of the time basically being an abacus” will have to find other things to do. And a very interesting 2-min video with office workers who are losing their jobs to automation.)

💡 Are big ideas getting harder to find? “The thought now of somebody inventing something as revolutionary as the locomotive on their own is inconceivable” as increasing specialisation means research productive declines rapidly and must be offset by larger increases in overall research spend.

“The constant exponential growth implied by Moore's Law has been achieved only by a staggering increase in the amount of resources devoted to pushing the frontier forward.”

(Full paper, which I haven’t read.)

🍌  Humans are evolving. Variants that shorten life are being selected against.

🚗💨  China’s ban on the internal combustion engine is another sign that the EV revolution is taking hold. Great overview of recent breakthroughs.

🗑️  Geoff Hinton, one of the academics behind key deep-learning breakthroughs, thinks we are reaching the limit of the key learning modality for today's neural nets: back propagation:

My view is throw it all away and start again.

🐍  Machine learning and data science have turned Python into the fastest-growing computer language.

💸  Boris Wertz on why the blockchain will be the biggest disruptor to hit the venture capital industry over the next decade. (And if by magic, here is an ICO for Spice, a new blockchain-based VC firm.  Silicon Valley is chockful of VC-meets-blockchain events right now. The cryptocurrency market’s speculators took fright this week, as the Chinese regulators announced the shutdown of many exchanges. but values of BTC & ETH are recovering. My quick take: regulators will work with key players to established more adherent platforms for cryptocurrency trading and ICOs in the coming weeks and months. PIIE has good analysis on the rationale behind the Chinese crackdown.)

DEPT OF RENEWABLES AND ELECTRIC TRANSPORT

As mentioned above, the  Chinese government has indicated it wants to shift to electric vehicles. But it also plans to build the world’s largest network of electric vehicle chargers, 167k in total. Today the US has about a tenth of that number.

🍃 The Hornsea Two wind farm in the UK will be cheaper than natural gas when it goes on stream. Great data here shows the cost per kWh for wind has declined 50% in about two years.

Audi will take the insurance liability of accidents caused by its Level-3-enabled A8 “[w]hen the function is operated as intended… and uses it as intended, and the car was in control at the time of the accident.”

Alphabet has ploughed some $1bn into self-driving technology so far, says Mark Harris. This is a small sign of how large the prize to reinvent transport is.

Tesla’s Autopilot must bear some responsibility for its first fatal crash:

Tesla allowed the driver to use the system outside of the environment for which it was designed, and the system gave far more leeway to the driver to divert his attention to something other than driving.

DEPT OF SOCIAL MEDIA

Umair Haque: [H](http:// https://eudaimoniaand.co/is-social-media-a-failure-f4f970695d17)as social media failed?

👎 Russian info-ops organised anti-immigrant rallies on US soil using Facebook.  Also, the adverts bought by Russian front companies on Facebook might have been visible to 70m Americans.

A ProPublica investigation found that you could easily buy ads to target neo-Nazi and anti-semitic audiences on Facebook. BuzzFeed finds that you can buy campaigns with anti-semitic targets on Google.

Manipulating Twitter is cheap. 1000 bot accounts for $45 kind of cheap.

🆘  Virginia Heffernan: the Twitter “thread has emerged as this year’s ascendant form of argument.” For a great example of a Tweetstorm, read Mike Stuchbery's analysis of plagues, disasters and violence that have plagued London through history.)

Snapchat influencers fleeing to Instagram for $$$.

WHAT YOU ARE UP TO

We have a unique opportunity for EV readers to attend the second edition of NewCo Shift Forum in San Francisco. To get $500 off, use code EXPVW when you register. This event is hosted by long-time EV reader, John Battelle. Last year's was excellent.

SHORT MORSELS TO APPEAR SMART AT DINNER PARTIES

Only 802 people paid taxes on bitcoin profits in the USA.

🤧 African wild dogs coordinate their pack by voting (through sneezes).

🌳 Some trees are shy.

The Pentagon keeps preparing for the consequences of global warming.

💔 A study at Penn State University suggests that conservatives are more likely to hire sex workers, while liberals tend to cheat on their partners more.

🕹️ VR on Commodore 64. (See also, using less than 2 minutes of video game footage, AI recreates game engine).

George Osborne’s revenge. Britain’s former chancellor has his political enemies in his sight. (Eye-popping profile, very useful for non-Brits to get a sense of our political scraps.)

What does the average British MP look like? Machine vision has the answer.

😶 Foul-mouthed mums are frightening off advertisers on Britain’s Mumsnet.

Why do characters in medieval art look bored when being killed? Fascinating art history thread.

END NOTE

I had a chance to watch some of the final stages of the Cassini mission. What a stellar (planetary?) achievement. I do think our news media needs to spend more time covering, discussing and engaging with the impact of science, technology and collaboration. Those things tell us more about where humanity is heading than crime or the lurid exploits of the Instagram-popular.

Do yourself a favour and watch the last few minutes of the 20-year mission from the perspective of Flight Control.

Have a great week,
Azeem

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