An optimistic energy outlook; the myth of super-human AI; surveillance capitalism; computer science needs humanities; music as medicine; the changing economy and much more.
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Dept of the near future
💡 Michael Liebreich’s annual overview of global energy trends is always a must read. Plenty of good news: unsubsidised solar below 2.7c/kWh; c. 10% annual decline in Li-ion battery packs to 2030 & increasingly flexible power markets.
🎥 Maciej Ceglowski argues: “The economic basis of the Internet is surveillance. Every interaction with a computing device leaves a data trail, and whole industries exist to consume this data… we [must] build a better monster.”
🎷 Can music be a therapeutic intervention to rival pharmaceuticals? A conversation between Marko Ahtisaari, CEO of SyncProject, and me.
🏭 Companies are not startups. Timely reminder from Steve Blank on the different cultural and management ecologies that nurture startups and incumbents.
🙏 Pope Francis: The only future involves all of us.
Dept of the next economy
What is causing the shift of income from labour to capital? asks Noah Smith. Competing theories suggest “monopoly power, robots and globalization might all be part of one unified phenomenon - new technologies that disproportionately help big, capital-intensive multinational companies.”
I was keen on Juno, the car-sharing company, that shared ownership with its drivers. Network participants, after all, create the value of the network. Yet, as we’ve discovered with Uber, Facebook and Google, the platform operators accumulate the bulk of the value. Juno stood out with a stock-ownership plan for its drivers… until it was acquired by hailing firm, Gett, leaving drivers with close to nothing.
Diane Coyle: “the outcome [our economies achieve] reflects the framework of economic statistics and their underpinning theory.” Or, you can only manage what you measure. EXCELLENT, brief and thought-provoking.
Farm-robots look to step in to fill in for Britain’s Brexit labour shortage.
Is there any apocalypse in store retail? Retail employment in the UK is falling. Several US retailers are struggling to stay solvent.
Elsewhere in dominant platforms:
- Facebook admits fake accounts sponsored by foreign governments were used to influence US elections. (See also: A ‘stranglehold’ on data that could explain political extremism).
- Instagram surpasses Snapchat’s user base. (This chart sums it up.)
- Apple cuts affiliate fees on the Apple Store.
- Latest data confirms Facebook and Google handle 77% of gross digital ad spending.
- Media companies are teaming up coordinated responses to the dominance of Facebook and Google.
Dept of AI
Profiles of five different artificial intelligence trainers. Says one: “It made me feel competitive, that I need to keep up and stay ahead of the A.I.”
Review of the documentary, AlphaGo
Inexplicable AI, the so-cold “black box problem” will not be an issue in healthcare. After all “the mechanism behind aspirin, the most widely used medicine of all time, wasn’t understood for 70 years.”
A British survey shows what people fear in AI and robots. Mostly physical harm, while under-estimating the impact of poorly designed prediction systems.
In praise of the humanities. Computer science is not enough in an age of AI, argues Emma Pierson.
If surviving technological unemployment, means a return to craft and appreciating the artisan, perhaps it is no surprise Lovecraft, a craft community, raised £26m.
Small morsels to appear smart at dinner parties
👀 Rare footage of an ordinary day in Pyongyang. Its normalcy is striking.
🚡 Google, Uber and Airbus trust these startups will bring flying cars to life. (See video.)
Gender roles and text mining: She screams, cries and rejects. He kidnaps, rescues and beats. 😶
U.S. has regressed to a third-world nation for most of its citizens.
⛏️ El Salvador is the first country to ban metal mining.
Artificial wombs could be tested on pre-term babies in three years. 🤰
Genes pass down ‘environmental memory’ for 14 generations. 😲
As exoplanets abound, alien life may be close. How will religion cope?
🦏 💌Are you on Tinder? The last northern white rhino is, too. “I don’t mean to be too forward, but the fate of my species literally depends on me. I perform well under pressure. I like to eat grass and chill in the mud. No problems. 6 ft tall and 5,000 pounds if it matters.”
- 🔥🔥 We’re hosting an Exponential View salon on Hacking Democracy with Professor Luciano Floridi, journalist Carole Cadwalladr, cultural commenter and novelist Hari Kunzru, and civic tech pioneer, Tom Loosemore in London of May 24th. Sign-up to attend here.
- EV reader and author of The Business Blockchain, William Mougayar is hosting the inaugural Token Summit at NYU Stern in New York, May 25th. 40 speakers and 350 attendees will explore the emerging models behind the explosion of cryptocurrency tokens. Use this link to register and receive an 18% discount on tickets
I would love to get hold of the AlphaGo documentary (discussed above), if anyone can help with an intro, I’d be grateful.
If you happen to be in London this week, I’m giving an introductory talk on the business and economic implications of artificial intelligence on Thursday evening. If you are in London, you should try to make it to our evening salon on Hacking Democracy too.
P.S. You can find me on Twitter here.
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