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Decentralisation: the next big step for the world wide web | Technology | The Guardian
The decentralised web, or DWeb, could be a chance to take control of our data back from the big tech firms. So how does it work and when will it be here?
#t#next  #techpol  #$#monopoly  !write!technologist 
5 weeks ago by lemeb
Waymo’s Robot Cars, and the Humans Who Tend to Them - The Atlantic
In some ways, these humans are the answer to some of the long tail of what-ifs that come up when people think about robot cars. How could they possibly know what to do in every situation? What if a streetlight is out? What if there’s construction? In those cases, the car can simply dial a human and have them verify the road conditions, then replan its route. I imagine they sit there like security guards, in front of a bunch of screens, waiting for the pings from the robots. Or perhaps they are served up serially: What about this situation? How about this intersection? What’s going on here?
!write!technologist  #t#selfdriving 
8 weeks ago by lemeb
Children 'at risk of robot influence' - BBC News
What our results show is that adults do not conform to what the robots are saying. But when we did the experiment with children, they did. It shows children can perhaps have more of an affinity with robots than adults, which does pose the question: what if robots were to suggest, for example, what products to buy or what to think?"
!write!dystopia  !write!technologist  #techpol  #t#robot  %econ%behav 
9 weeks ago by lemeb
Jonathan Gold wrote about food, but his approach was universal - Vox
For a critic in any medium — even, say, a New York-based film critic like myself — City of Gold is also a kind of master class in the things that good critics do. As many noted over the weekend, a hallmark of Gold’s writing is that he wrote not just about eating but also about culture and about being a person, and that’s what the film underlines well.

That’s why, watching City of Gold, I actually fist-pumped a few times, as the film pointed to a lot of what made Gold such an important critic. Two in particular stuck with me, qualities that good critics aspire to, no matter what they’re writing about.

%criticism  %words  %😃  !write!technologist 
july 2018 by lemeb
Google Leads Series A Investment Round in KaiOS to Connect Next Billion Users - KaiOS
KaiOS Technologies Inc., developer of the emerging operating system for smart feature phones, KaiOS, today announced a $22M Series A investment from Google to help bring the internet to the next generation of users.

“This funding will help us fast-track development and global deployment of KaiOS-enabled smart feature phones, allowing us to connect the vast population that still cannot access the internet, especially in emerging markets,” said Sebastien Codeville, CEO of KaiOS Technologies.
!write!technologist  #t#hack  #t#beyondsv 
june 2018 by lemeb
IBM pitched Watson as a revolution in cancer care. It's nowhere close
Breathlessly promoting its signature brand — Watson — IBM sought to capture the world’s imagination, and it quickly zeroed in on a high-profile target: cancer.

But three years after IBM began selling Watson to recommend the best cancer treatments to doctors around the world, a STAT investigation has found that the supercomputer isn’t living up to the lofty expectations IBM created for it. It is still struggling with the basic step of learning about different forms of cancer. Only a few dozen hospitals have adopted the system, which is a long way from IBM’s goal of establishing dominance in a multibillion-dollar market. And at foreign hospitals, physicians complained its advice is biased toward American patients and methods of care.
#t#oops  #$#cons  #t#ml  #t#bio  #t#beyondsv  #t#automation  #$#pharma  !write!technologist 
june 2018 by lemeb
Amazon’s Clever Machines Are Moving From the Warehouse to Headquarters - Bloomberg
Amazon began automating retail team jobs several years ago. Under an initiative called “hands off the wheel,” the company shifted tasks like forecasting demand, ordering inventory and negotiating prices to algorithms, people familiar with the matter say. At first, humans could easily override the machine’s decisions. For instance, if a brand notified Amazon about an upcoming marketing blitz for a product, an Amazon manager could increase the order in anticipation of demand the algorithm didn’t expect. But such tinkering was increasingly discouraged as the machines proved their precision, the people say. Anyone overriding the machines had to justify their decision, and the push to automate made them reluctant.
A key turning point came in 2015 when the value of goods sold through the marketplace exceeded those sold by the retail team, the people say. The retail team, which had far more employees, watched its importance fade and money funneled into projects like Amazon Web Services and Alexa. It didn’t help that the marketplace generated twice the operating profit margin of the retail business—10 percent versus 5 percent, according to a person familiar with the company’s finances. In many international markets, the retail team has never turned a profit, the person says.

in the “biz relationships don’t matter that much when you got massive scale” storyline
!write!scale  %stats  #t#automation  !write!technologist  !write!utopia  #$#labor  #$#logistics  #t#ml  !write!dystopia 
june 2018 by lemeb
The Netflix Binge Factory
Netflix doesn’t necessarily care if you binge-watch an entire season of a show within a couple days of it launching. “We’re not trying to encourage that,” Sarandos says. “The completion of a single episode is a more important trigger. We wouldn’t be looking at, ‘Are people plowing through it in the first weekend?,’ because the number of people who do that is pretty slim.” But one metric I heard repeatedly during my visits to Netflix was 28-day viewership — basically how many people completed a full season of a show within the first four weeks it’s on the service. Sarandos also tells me the company looks at which shows new subscribers watch first: It lets them know if a show is driving people to sign up for Netflix.
#$#entertainment  !write!technologist  #$#innov  %stats  %longform  %journalism 
june 2018 by lemeb
Inside Anduril, Palmer Luckey's Bid to Build A Border Wall
As Luckey and his team see it, Lattice will become not just a system for securing the border but a general platform for geographic near-omniscience. With the aid of artificial intelligence, it aims to synthesize data from potentially thousands of sensors and local databases

It struck me after I’d wrapped up my visits with Anduril that, aside from the drug smugglers they helped intercept on the border, I had not heard the founders mention the people who might get caught in their omniscient zone. What is the right way to treat those individuals? What of the children and parents who are now being torn apart while crossing? Those are social and political questions, not technical specifications. But it is increasingly the case that the people who build new technologies trigger political consequences.

Though tech companies have been taking their knocks lately, even the ones now under the most scrutiny were launched in a glow of idealism. We once dreamed that an era of ultraconnected and infinitely empowering tech would solve the kinds of problems that lead people to flee their own countries or that propel terrorists or nations to attack. Those problems didn’t end. It now seems obvious that tech was never going to make us better human beings; we are still our flawed selves. Instead, those same technologies that once seemed full of promise are finding their way into all-too-human clashes—led by a company named after an avenging sword.
%longform  #surveillance  !write!technologist  !write!dystopia 
june 2018 by lemeb
This Man Is Building an Armada of Saildrones to Conquer the Ocean - Bloomberg
Engineer and adventurer Richard Jenkins has made oceangoing robots that could revolutionize fishing, drilling, and environmental science. His aim: a thousand of them.

every industry is revolutizonized by smartphone, one at a time. what a time to be alive.
!write!utopia  !write!technologist  *whatatime  #t#beyondsv 
may 2018 by lemeb
Google’s Selfish Ledger is an unsettling vision of Silicon Valley social engineering - The Verge
Google has built a multibillion-dollar business out of knowing everything about its users. Now, a video produced within Google and obtained by The Verge offers a stunningly ambitious and unsettling look at how some at the company envision using that information in the future.

The video was made in late 2016 by Nick Foster, the head of design at X (formerly Google X), and shared internally within Google. It imagines a future of total data collection, where Google helps nudge users into alignment with their goals, custom-prints personalized devices to collect more data, and even guides the behavior of entire populations to solve global problems like poverty and disease.

!write!dystopia  !write!technologist 
may 2018 by lemeb
Father John Misty rates the Red Hot Chili Peppers, marriage and smartphones - YouTube
there is definitely going to be like... one or two generations from now... they're like "wanna see an impression of my parents? uuuh *air-types on his fake smartphone*"
april 2018 by lemeb
Watching the watchers in Silicon Valley
I have rarely in my career encountered so much secrecy. Sometimes a PR person emails to gauge my interest in writing about a company even before revealing its name or exactly what it does. I have interviewed startup founders who refuse to disclose details about their business model. This kind of stealth hampers public accountability. Firms that are unwilling to share details about their technology have been known to lure journalists into overhyping their potential. The media dubbed Elizabeth Holmes at Theranos the “next Steve Jobs”: she sat for interviews and photo shoots without ever revealing many details about her firm’s technology. Earlier this year America’s securities regulator charged her with deceiving investors. When visiting tech firms, reporters are asked to sign non-disclosure agreements on iPads as they check in. I used to remind the receptionists that the very purpose of my visit was to disclose information, but they couldn’t care less. After they let us in, most tech companies make us wear badges around our necks to alert everyone to our presence (danger! Journalist on the loose!). At Facebook, the lanyard is red. It feels like a scarlet letter.
!write!readthenews  !write!technologist 
april 2018 by lemeb
How Slack Got Ahead in Diversity - The Atlantic
how has slack gotten 34% of women in technical roles without a head of diversity?
For one thing, the company has, since 2015, proactively sought out candidates from outside traditional programmer pipelines like Stanford and MIT, recruiting through all-women’s coding camps like Hackbright, as well as programs that focus on training black and Latino programmers such as Code2040. Recruiters are trained to look at skills rather than a candidate’s university pedigree. In 2015, Slack worked with Textio, a company that analyzes job descriptions to ensure they appeal to the widest possible audience. (Slack’s job descriptions feature phrases like “care deeply” and “lasting relationships,” which statistically draw more applications from women. Microsoft’s, by contrast, feature words like “insatiably” and “competing.” Amazon’s keywords: “maniacal” and “wickedly.")
!write!technologist  !write!utopia  #techpol  #diversity 
april 2018 by lemeb
(paywall) The Tech Company Comcast Should Buy Instead of Sky — The Information
Instead of pursuing European pay TV firm Sky, Comcast should go after Spotify, whose subscription business fits with the cable business and which could help Comcast compete better with Amazon

i... am not sure anything will help comcast get sustainable. it’s hard to disentangle yourself from a predatory biz model.
!write!technologist  #$#innov  #t#cable  #$#monopoly 
april 2018 by lemeb
Security Researcher on FB
“In many ways, Facebook is like the Exxon of our time — an indispensable tool that everyone despises — Exxon, maybe Comcast, and now Facebook; there’s not a lot of brands like that.”

Marlinspike compared Facebook’s latest plans for protecting privacy to an underwater camera that an Exxon might use to show an offshore rig leaking oil into the ocean. “After enough oil spills, we started investing in solar and battery technology … now we need to find our digital solar and batteries to invest in,” he said.

good take. the damage of the fb scandal is not a short-term but a long-term one.
!write!technologist  ~fb 
april 2018 by lemeb
The Abolition of Boredom
Today, I open more apps in a day than I am able to close—and they keep accumulating like digital equivalents of New Yorkers massing on the coffee table. In addition to reading, I communicate through iMessage, email, Facebook messenger, Twitter, Instagram, and countless other platforms with everyone from old classmates to best friends and families to perfect strangers. I am never lonely. There is simply too much content, let alone contact, to ever again feel bored again. I know that this comes at a steep price, but I am also grateful. There is so much interesting stuff out there. We cannot begin to engage with it fully, and all in all, this is a good problem.
!write!technologist  %contrarian 
april 2018 by lemeb
Mark Zuckerberg’s long game: the next billion
filloux on how facebook will be ok: (1) it has a lot of new users to tap into and (2):
unlike in Western countries, these regions [facebook’s new markets] are likely to remain regulation-free for quite a while. Exactly in the same way that Big Tobacco has been free to fill the lungs of Asian of African populations, with little interference from local health administrations, Facebook will have a free hand to lock up these markets. (If you find my comparison with the tobacco industry exaggerated, just ask the Rohingyas or people in the Philippines about the toxicity of Facebook to democracy — or read this Bloomberg Business Week piece, “What happens when the government uses Facebook as a weapon?”)

yeaaaah! the following paragraph begins by mentioning fb management’s “moral flexibility”, especially wrt/ china. what an understatement.
!write!technologist  ~fb 
april 2018 by lemeb
It's time to rebuild the web - O'Reilly Media
The web was never supposed to be a few walled gardens of concentrated content owned by Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and a few other major publishers. It was supposed to be a cacophony of different sites and voices. And it would be easy to rebuild this cacophony—indeed, it never really died. There are plenty of individual sites out there still, and they provide some (should I say most?) of the really valuable content on the web. The problem with the megasites is that they select and present "relevant" content to us. Much as we may complain about Facebook, selecting relevant content from an ocean of random sites is an important service. It's easy for me to imagine relatives and friends building their own sites for baby pictures, announcements, and general talk. That's what we did in the 90s. But would we go to the trouble of reading those all those sites? Probably not. I didn't in the 90s, and neither did you.

and then:
Could someone build an RSS reader that made the web of independent sites as approachable as Facebook? I don't see why not—and users would have complete control over what they see.
!write!utopia  !write!technologist 
april 2018 by lemeb

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