Uber vs regulation. The rise of marketplace models. How technology give us super powers. Was Brexit the will of the people? Media in 2017. Can we understand exotic minds? Microsoft and AR. And much more.
Hope this stimulates some great discussion.
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Dept of the near future
😃 “Technology gives us superhuman powers” argues AI and education pioneer, Sebastian Thrun. EXCELLENT READ.
🔮 Media in 2017: Epic forecasts from Michael Wolff on the digital media landscape. **MUST READ **
🌟 Refugees should be allowed to build their own vibrant refugee cities. BIG IDEA (h/t @yannick). Separately, a recent IMF study shows migration to advanced economies brings benefits with are broadly shared across the population.
🇬🇧 Brexit was not the will of the people. Adrian Low argues that “the UK public actually did not, does not and will not want a Brexit in the foreseeable future.” PROVOCATIVE
🤖 What would exotic minds be like and could we even understand them? EV subscriber, Murray Shanahan, on a typology for exotic and alien intelligence. LONG READ
Dept of Uber, innovation & regulation
Uber lost an Employment Tribunal over the employment status of its drivers.
My take: this is an important decision which should seek to remind entrepreneurs that laws have a useful part to play in creating functioning societies. Those functioning societies support entrepreneurship. You can read my short essay here. RECOMMENDED
The Guardian’s coverage of the Uber case is worth reading.
McKinsey published an excellent piece of research on employment opportunities in the gig economy. While 70% of gig economy workers in Europe participated out of choice, 30% participated out of necessity. So while expanding labour force participation (a good thing), gig work also identified that
key challenges still must be addressed for this shift to be a feasible and satisfying development for workers. Issues such as benefits, income-security measures, and training and credentials offer room for policy makers, as well as innovators and new intermediaries, to provide solutions.
It isn’t just gig work, of course. Entrepreneurs often focus on their solution without regard to external forces, like consumer protection or regulation. Just this week, three stories that in some way draw attention to this:
- George Hotz, who was making a self-driving add-on to cars, has decided to cancel his Comma One after a regulator sent a seemingly innocuous letter to him.
- Soylent, a startup makes meal replacement products, pulled a number of them after people started to get sick.
- Brain-training apps have been under regular scientific attack for not actually training the brain. Apparently, learning to play an instrument does more for you. (Working out in the gym will also improve cognitive function.)
- Facebook released a feature allowing advertisers to exclude particular racial groups from ad targeting.
The big challenge is to find the Goldilocks zone of regulation. Enough to foster and support innovation, and protect consumers and civil society. But not so much as to protect entrenched prejudices or interests. Seems law and politics still matter.
Dept of marketplaces
Two-sided marketplaces are fascinating businesses. They promise to reframe the fundamental organisation and coordination attributes of firms. Harvard Law Professor Yochai Benchler wrote a seminal paper, Coase’s Penguin, 14 years ago. We’re just starting to see the returns on those ideas. I read that paper in preprint form nearly 15 years ago. It had a great influence on my thinking, so I include it for reference.
Tren Griffin sums up recent platform thinking in “A dozen things I’ve learnt about Multi-sided markets”
Accel on 10 Marketplace KPIs that matter.
🚘 Elon Musk talks about the forthcoming Tesla Network, a ride marketplace. He describes this as the “people vs Uber” where the majority of the value will go to the owner of the car not to the operator of the platform. Will some of the value ended up being embedded into the price of the car?
Details on Uber Freight, Uber’s marketplace for trucking.
Short morsels to appear smart at dinner parties
😃 Tesla’s amazing new solar cells look like roof panels.
Light has developed a DSLR-beating camera using cheap lenses and software. (Not short, but a fun gadget story.)
Scientists: Having more sex improves your happiness.
Google’s AI develops its own encryption algorithm.
⚽️ Dives aplenty in the robotic football world cup.
Twitter shut down Vine. Details on the secret meeting that triggered it all.
Microsoft could be the force that ushers in widespread adoption of augmented reality.
Gaetan Dugas was not Patient Zero for AIDS.
💀 I am going trick-or-treating with my kids tomorrow night. Still to decide whether to dress as a scary venture capitalist wielding a hideous term sheet, a deranged entrepreneur with an incredulous business plan, or a kill-joy regulator.
Have a spooky week!
P.S. Please add me to your Gmail address book! Still having deliverability issues.