🔮 Taming the giants; the iOS economy; beyond the bitcoin bubble; bad UI, sugar & smart speakers++ #149
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DEPT OF THE NEAR FUTURE
🔮 Ark Invest’s data-rich forecast for 2018 is a must read.
Joe Edelman outlines how to design social systems (or apps) that align with human values. (Long read)
🍎 The iOS economy is worth $380bn. iOS developers will receive $25bn this year (more than McDonalds’ 2016 revenue).
EV reader Zia Haider Rahman argues that we are witnessingan assault on reason: “Warping reason and logic and clarity of thought is the holy grail [of those with authoritarian tendencies]."
Steven Johnson: Beyond the bitcoin bubble: “If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the recent history of the internet, it’s that seemingly esoteric decisions about software architecture can unleash profound global forces”. (See also, my former boss, Tom Glocer, on how tokenization might revive the mutual benefit collectives of yore.)
⚡ And excellent analysis: how decentralised are ethereum and blockchain? Not very, but ethereum is marginally more so. And this eye-opening forensic dissection of a crypto pump’n’dump.
🏎️ Steve Sinofsky went to CES so you didn’t have to. Enjoy his 20,000 word rundown of what is new in TVs, fridges, laptops and consumer tech.
DEPT OF INTERNET GIANTS
I’ve raised the questions on societal risks of the dominance of a handful of internet giants from the early days of starting this newsletter. It’s good that it is getting mainstream attention. My friends at The Economist have put together a must-read memo to the bosses of Amazon, Facebook and Google:
You are an industry that embraces acronyms, so let me explain the situation with a new one: “BAADD”. You are thought to be too big, anti-competitive, addictive and destructive to democracy.
Zeynep Tufekci on the emergence of “phantom public sphere”:
Sure, Facebook and Twitter sometimes feel like places where masses of people experience things together simultaneously. [...] Yes, mass discourse has become far easier for everyone to participate in—but it has simultaneously become a set of private conversations happening behind your back. Behind everyone’s backs.
Mark Zuckerberg announces Facebook is going to prioritise local news based on trustworthiness, in turn, based on surveying local residents. It is a start for Facebook to recognise the need to curate sources but the troubling notion of “objectivity” still haunts Zuck’s announcement. I’m not sure if they get it yet.
Journalism professor Gabriel Kahn’s obdurate essay on the lies Facebook tells itself and us, its users:
The platform has probably more power than any company has ever wielded over information (and perhaps even our well-being). And yet it engages in zero public debate about the changes it makes. It simply rolls them out. We are asked to buy Facebook’s version of meaningful.
What we did and didn't learn from Twitter's news dump on Russiagate. Good analysis by Peter Singer, many questions remain unanswered.
Google broadens access to custom machine vision capabilities by launching AutoML for Vision, an API that allows non-specialists to benefit from machine learning. (Interestingly, only 17% of developers worked using machine learning last year, a number expected to rise to 80% this year.)
Voice-activated smart speakers outpace tablet and smartphone adoption rates, as 39 million Americans claim to own one. 11% own Alexa-enabled speaker, which is great news for Amazon if we’re to trust the research that says that Echo users spend more on Amazon than Prime members. A majority of owners of smart speakers have never used more than the basic features.
On the subject of voice, the NSA’s voice recognition is well ahead of any commercial firms.
SHORT MORSELS TO APPEAR SMART AT DINNER PARTIES
Study finds that unequal cardiac care endangers women’s lives.
A widely-used criminal recidivism algorithm is no better than random people guessing.
Fantasy vs. reality in AI. (Joke)
☀️ Visualising planetary warming since 1880. (Video)
Adolescence now lasts from 10 to 24 and puberty is coming earlier.
♂️ The evolution and doom of the Y chromosome.
Insightful analysis of broken UI behind Hawaii’s false missile alarm.
🍽️ Studies suggest we perceive food as sweeter if served on round plates.
What makes the hardest equation in physics so difficult?
Exponential View has had a burst of new readers in the last two weeks, so I thought a brief intro is in order. I do write what I like, based on a subset of what I’ve read in the week. Sometimes it is quite technical (see, for example, my essay on the future of computing that helped me frame my thesis on the new enterprise stack). Sometimes it is more focussed on business and society. Ultimately, it is a personal newsletter, first and foremost. This may make the content quirky, broad, digressive. Perhaps that is part of the point.
We’re exploring ways in which we can make the EV community come alive. Some of our ideas include restarting our Slack community. I’d need to know there would be sufficient demand for this, so please take a moment to answer this form.
In the meanwhile, I’ve also put together a Twitter thread around the 2018 predictions which is updated every once in a while. You might want to check it out. If you're in the mood for podcasts this weekend, you can hear me talk about the predictions with Wired's Rowland Manthorpe here.
Have the bestest of weeks!
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