Dept of the near future
📍 AI is really upending the old tech industry. Ben Thompson on how last week’s Microsoft reorganisation around AI means the end of Windows.
💼 Walmart’s new workforce: robots and the gig economy. A “sign that the U.S. economy is tilting further toward jobs that give workers less market power” or will the switch allow workers to “to take advantage of higher-paying offers” from other employers? (More evidence here.) See also:
- Socioeconomic sorting is making the United States more polarised (real-life filter bubbles; and possibly relevant to Brexit and other rural/urban divides).
- Laura Tyson: Don’t worry about technological unemployment. Do worry about inequality. AI is rapidly changing the types and location of the best-paying jobs.
- RSA's Benedict Dellot: Advocates of good work need to start thinking about the distribution of capital.
📢 Alex "Sandy" Pentland on fixing digital identity with community-based trust networks: "We should [...] be talking about identity credentials being issued by members of our community and certified by a set of people and institutions with whom we regularly interact."
📈 AI and the end of scale as an advantage. How the next decades will see the growth of businesses with, what the authors call, economies of unscale.
Dept of China
The social credit system is often vilified, [but can it do any good for China](http://foreignpolicy.com/2018/04/03/life-inside-chinas-social-credit-laboratory/ )?
"[T]he most startling thing is that cars yield to pedestrians at the crosswalk — a sight I’ve never seen in another Chinese city. “I feel like in the past six months, people’s behavio[u]r has gotten better and better". ” EXCELLENT (For comparison, read this on India's Aadhar national ID database which is turning increasingly into a gatekeeper for access to government and commercial services.)
🛒 Chinese online retailers are investing in going offline. Alibaba plans to open 2,000 supermarkets next year.
The Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment report is out, and it's a must-read. Among other things, “[t]he ‘big three’ of China, India and Brazil accounted for just over half of global investment in renewables excluding large hydro last year, with China alone representing 45%, up from 35% in 2016.”
Despite this, China bets heavily on coal abroad, with involvement in 240 coal-fired power projects in 25 countries of the Belt and Road.
Elsewhere in China:
- Great data on the bike sharing showdown in China — 70m MAU across the different platforms.
- Donors to a major sperm bank in Beijing must pledge loyalty to the Communist Party.
- China bans online Bible sales.
Short morsels to appear smart at dinner parties
Cellular traffic makes up a sixth of all internet traffic, skewed higher in Asia and Africa. (Fascinating study.)
EV reader, Jason Pontin, on one of our favourite theories of consciousness, Integrated Information Theory.
✊ The record number of women run for the US House seats!
Reputation inflation and why gig economy ratings systems become useless.
Japan will place accident liability on owners of autonomous vehicles. 🏁
Black Panther will be the first film to show in Saudi Arabia theatres in 35 years.
Killer robots: AI experts call for a boycott over a lab at South Korea university.
🎨 The story of the insect that painted Europe red.
Exponential View is abbreviated this week. I had a number of days off and was in the depths of a national park with minimal phone signal. If you haven't gone even slightly off-grid recently, I strongly recommend it.
Thanks to the great founders who emailed me last week about their AI startups. As I mentioned, I’m actively looking for investments — particularly in AI and other frontier domains — anywhere in the world at Seed, Series A or Series B stage. I’m particularly interested in Enterprise tech firms, enabling technologies lower in the stack (such as hardware & novel compute architectures, tooling, pipelines & workflow) and specific capabilities (machine vision, reasoning, natural language).