Uber’s run rate; why government is not Silicon Valley; energy storage and corporate debt; Apple’s car prang; Facebook’s inchoate editorialising; AI generated music; the IOT hack; Brexit and McMansions.
Hope this stimulates some great discussion.
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Dept of the near future
🔋 The coming death spiral in the credit markets. Improved battery storage could tip a quarter of corporate debt into troubled territory. Why? They are linked to auto- and fossil-assets at risk as battery storage technologies improve. MAKES YOU THINK (Also; Joe Romm’s great analysis.)
Fooling the machine: how to confuse AI systems. GOOD READ
❡ Exponential thinking and the Anthropocene effect. THOUGHT PROVOKING
🍏 Will Apple ship a radical 10-year anniversary iPhone to kickstart mainstream augmented reality adoption? Robert Scoble thinks so. (See also this tale of sexual harassment in VR environments, hopefully VR designers will learn from Twitter’s calamitous approach to trolling.)
🔥 The return of the inequality gap means a rough ride ahead. GOOD HISTORY (article is three years old)
🌟 “We’ve stopped trusting institutions and started trusting strangers” GREAT INSIGHT from Rachel Botsman in a TED Talk.
🍮 Obama on why government is not like Silicon Valley: “Part of government’s job…is dealing with problems that nobody else wants to deal with” EXCELLENT. See also how government can play in role in innovation.
Dept of Facebook, Google, Apple
Facebook, Google & Apple, our new digital overlords, with their penchant for a double Irish with a double Dutch sandwich, had a week which exposed some failings. These companies are remarkable but far from perfect.
On the Apple car project: “Apple has drastically scaled back its automotive ambitions, leading to hundreds of job cuts and a new direction that, for now, no longer includes building its own car.”
Google’s privacy reversal: the advertising company will now associate real identity with web tracking data. (See also, Cambridge Analytica has psychological profiles on every US adult.)
Facebook has often claimed that it is merely a neutral platform and doesn’t vest editorial functions, this despite 44% of Americans relying on it as a source of news. I argued in EV#78 that Facebook’s position was disingenuous:
Facebook makes “editorial” decisions every day. Not on a post-by-post basis, that would be absurd. But it does in its overall selection of goals, and what tradeoffs it is willing to accept to pursue these. Just because they don’t read each post, they cannot claim they are not making an editorial judgement
This week it emerged that Mark Zuckerberg personally made a ruling that Donald Trump’s messages should be published without censorship despite employees arguing that “they should be removed for violating the site’s rules on hate speech.”
The point is less whether Trumps’ words are or are not hate speech, but rather to illustrate Facebook’s inchoate position on whether it does or does not undertake an editorial function.
See also: Buzzfeed analyses the scourge of hyperpartisan Facebook pages.
Also, Microsoft speech recognition has achieved human-level performance.
Dept of future transport
🚗 Uber has more than 40m monthly riders, each spending about $50. Suggesting a monthly revenue of $2bn. The firm takes about 20% of this. Uber’s growth has been staggering. Quite the fearsome achievement in scaling their technology to accommodate that growth. Read how here.
🔮 EV reader, John Battelle: Self-driving cars are more than five years away. “We need an entirely new plan for transit, one that deeply rethinks the role automobiles play in our lives.”
Elon Musk is putting an advanced sensor package into all new Teslas. It costs around $8k today (or about $2k in 2020 terms.) But at the same time, Bloomberg spotted they were removing some semi-autonomous driving capabilities from new cars.
Exponential View Dinner Salon: Wealth of Humans
😋 We are very excited to be hosting an intimate dinner salon with Ryan Avent, author of The Wealth of Humans. Exponential View events are small and intimate, designed to foster interaction, connection and participation.
Ryan will be in conversation with me as we discuss automation, globalisation and the future of work. This event will feature a fireside chat, audience participation and lovely food.
November 1st, 6.30pm in Central London. The price is £65.
BGF Ventures have been kind enough to host us at their fab new offices and will ensure all participants have enough to drink. 🍷
We’re releasing the last handful of tickets this week, so apply straight away.
Short morsels to appear smart at dinner parties
🎷 An AI band prepares to launch its first album. Japanese electronics firm, Sony, is also experimenting with AI generated pop hits. (I tweet stormed around the questions of copyrights and IPR in an era of generative AI. Would love comments.)
Nice explanation of the Deep Reinforcement Learning paper co-authored by EV reader, Murray Shanahan.
🏚 What makes McMansions so hideous
A quarter of British homes subscribe to Netflix. The firm has 13 employees in the UK. (cf, Sky TV in the UK, about half of British homes and more than 25k employees)
🤖 Hacked IOT devices, like cheap webcams, were responsible for the huge Internet outage earlier in the US this week. Many of them were apparently built by a single Chinese manufacturer, called XiongMai. (Shades of the Cylon’s attack storyline in the 2004 remake of Battlestar Galactica.)
More details on China’s plans to use ‘social credit’ scores from online activity to organise society and access to resources.
IBM uses more Macs than any other company. Discovers they are cheaper to maintain than PCs.
Facial expressions may not be as universal as we thought. (Which ones should robots learn?)
😮 Brexit and the coming death of British business. Good read
I am in Oslo at the end of next week. If you want to meet for breakfast on Friday morning, drop me a line.