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jerryking : big_tech   40

Tech innovation needs a level playing field
January 19, 2020 | Financial Times | by Rana Foroohar.

.........Creating an even playing field will require both monopoly scrutiny and a close examination of whether the pendulum in the patent system has swung too far towards benefiting tech companies that depend more on data and networks than patents, or have an interest in making it tougher to obtain patents.

Because their own products (for example, smartphones) require so many different bits of technology, the companies have an interest in keeping these inputs as cheap as possible. They can deploy legions of lawyers to protect any crucial IP of their own while “efficiently infringing” on the patents that belong to others (that’s the term for violations done knowingly by big companies as a cost of doing business).
......The US, in particular, has work to do there. “Our leadership on the global stage depends on our ability to promote and protect the innovations of American creators, engineers, and scientists,” said Democratic Senator Chris Coons, who has sponsored bipartisan legislation to strengthen America’s own IP protection. “I’m concerned that while our competitors — like China — strengthen their intellectual property regimes, we have been weakening our own innovation ecosystem.”
.......But the US has another problem — that of trying to compete with a state-run economy like China’s when it has no national innovation strategy. While large American companies are busy fighting each other in expensive legal battles to see who gets to set standards for smart speakers (or 5G, or AI, or a host of other areas), China is using its Belt and Road Initiative to roll out its own equipment, technology standards and interests across nations from Asia to Southern Europe. That’s not duplication. It’s just smart.
Big_Tech  China  cross-licensing  entrepreneurship  Google  industrial_policies  innovation  innovation_policies  intellectual_property  national_interests  One_Belt_One_Road  patents  patent_infringement  Rana_Foroohar  smart_speakers  Sonos  technical_standards  U.S.-China_relations 
2 days ago by jerryking
The regulatory woes of Big Tech multiply - In the crosshairs
In a twist, Microsoft, the world’s most valuable listed firm, with a market capitalisation of over $1trn, has hardly been touched by the techlash. It has learned hard lessons from going through the regulatory wringer at the turn of the century: look beyond the cash cow (Windows); rapaciousness ultimately does not pay; and work with regulators. Another Hemingway quote is less well-known among geeks: “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.”
'90s  antitrust  Big_Tech  cash_cows  lessons_learned  Microsoft  rapaciousness  regulators 
october 2019 by jerryking
Opinion | America’s Risky Approach to Artificial Intelligence
October 7, 2019 | The New York Times | By Tim Wu
Mr. Wu is the author of “The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires.”

The brilliant 2014 science fiction novel “The Three-Body Problem,” by the Chinese writer Liu Cixin, depicts the fate of civilizations as almost entirely dependent on winning grand races to scientific milestones. Someone in China’s leadership must have read that book, for Beijing has made winning the race to artificial intelligence a national obsession, devoting billions of dollars to the cause and setting 2030 as the target year for world dominance. Not to be outdone, President Vladimir Putin of Russia recently declared that whoever masters A.I. “will become the ruler of the world.”..... if there is even a slim chance that the race to build stronger A.I. will determine the future of the world — and that does appear to be at least a possibility — the United States and the rest of the West are taking a surprisingly lackadaisical and alarmingly risky approach to the technology........The plan seems to be for the American tech industry, which makes most of its money in advertising and selling personal gadgets, to serve as champions of the West. Those businesses, it is hoped, will research, develop and disseminate the most important basic technologies of the future. Companies like Google, Apple and Microsoft are formidable entities, with great talent and resources that approximate those of small countries. But they don’t have the resources of large countries, nor do they have incentives that fully align with the public interest...... The history of computing research is a story not just of big corporate laboratories but also of collaboration and competition among civilian government, the military, academia and private players both big (IBM, AT&T) and small (Apple, Sun)......Some advocates of more A.I. research have called for a “Manhattan project” for A.I. — but that’s not the right model. The atomic bomb and the moon rocket were giant but discrete projects. In contrast, A.I. is a broad and vague set of scientific technologies that encompass not just recent trends in machine learning but also anything else designed to replicate or augment human cognition.....the United States government should broadly fund basic research and insist on broad dissemination..... the United States needs to support immigration laws that attract the world’s top A.I. talent. The history of breakthroughs made by start-ups also suggests the need for policies, like the enforcement of antitrust laws and the defense of net neutrality, that give small players a chance.... the computer scientist and entrepreneur Kai-Fu Lee, in his book “AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order,” describes a race between China and Silicon Valley, as if the latter were the sum total of Western science in this area. In the future, when we look back at this period, we may come to regret the loss of a healthy balance between privately and publicly funded A.I. research in the West, and the drift of too much scientific and engineering talent into the private sector.
antitrust  ARPA  artificial_intelligence  Beijing  Bell_Labs  Big_Tech  China  China_Rising  FAANG  high-risk  immigration  industrial_policies  Kai-Fu_Lee  Manhattan_project  publicly_funded  R&D  risks  science_fiction  Silicon_Valley  talent  Tim_Wu  Vladimir_Putin  Xerox 
october 2019 by jerryking
The last days of the middle-class world citizen
October 3, 2019 | Financial Times | Janan Ganesh.
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what I think Janan Ganesh is talking about; the divide between the globally mobile elite and the locally restricted peasantry is getting increasingly stark, and the middle class is being hollowed out.
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'10s  Big_Tech  climate_change  decline  deglobalization  disposable_income  downward_mobility  dystopian_futures  frictions  future  globalization  Janan_Ganesh  lifestyles  middle_class  millennials  pessimism  societal_choices  subtractive  The_One_Percent  thought-provoking  travel 
october 2019 by jerryking
Toronto’s tech boom is transforming the city
July 26, 2019 | The Globe and Mail | MARCUS GEE.

the tech industry that is transforming Toronto. The city is in the midst of a spectacular tech boom. Big firms such as Microsoft, Twitter, Uber, Google and Netflix are setting up shop or expanding here. Thousands of workers are coming to live and work in the city. Thousands of startup companies are revving their engines.

The pell-mell growth of the city comes in part from the rise of tech. Patrick Fejér of B+H Architects says 10 million square feet of new office space is due to open by 2024, more than was built from 1992 to the present. Toronto, he says, has more than 120 construction cranes in the air, compared with 65 in Seattle and 35 in New York.

CBRE, a real estate consultancy, says that Toronto is the fastest-growing market for tech talent in North America, “adding an eye-popping 80,100 tech jobs in the past five years, a 54-per-cent increase.” It now ranks third, just behind San Francisco’s Bay Area and Seattle.
Big_Tech  creative_class  downtown_core  housing  King-Spadina  Kitchener-Waterloo  livability  Marcus_Gee  millennials  neighbourhoods  Port_Lands  property_development  Sidewalk_Labs  talent  Toronto  transformational  transit  walkability  technology 
july 2019 by jerryking
Opinion: Why economics must go digital - The Globe and Mail
DIANE COYLE
CAMBRIDGE
CONTRIBUTED TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL
PUBLISHED JUNE 9, 2019

But economists’ benchmark mental world – particularly their instinctive framework for thinking about public policy questions – is one where competition is static, preferences are fixed and individual, rival goods are the norm, and so on.

Starting from there leads inexorably to presuming the “free market” paradigm. As any applied economist knows, this paradigm is named for a mythical entity. But this knowledge somehow does not give rise to an alternative presumption, say, that governments should supply certain products.......Having led a review of the spread of anti-microbial resistance – which will kill millions of people if new drugs are not discovered – O’Neill is dismayed by the lack of progress made by private pharmaceutical companies.

Drug discovery is an information industry, and information is a non-rival public good which the private sector, not surprisingly, is under-supplying. That conclusion is not remotely outlandish in terms of economic analysis. And yet, the idea of nationalizing part of the pharmaceutical industry is outlandish from the perspective of the prevailing economic-policy paradigm......Or consider the issue of data, which has lately greatly exercised policymakers. Should data collection by digital firms be further regulated? Should individuals be paid for providing personal data? And if a sensor in a smart-city environment records that I walk past it, is that my data, too? The standard economic framework of individual choices made independently of one another, with no externalities, and monetary exchange for the transfer of private property
Big_Tech  digital_economy  drug_development  economics  increasing_returns_to_scale  market_power  network_effects  personal_data  pharmaceutical_industry  platforms 
june 2019 by jerryking
Lina Khan: ‘This isn’t just about antitrust. It’s about values’
March 29, 2019 | Financial Times | by Rana Foroohar.

Lina Khan is the legal wunderkind reshaping the global debate over competition and corporate power......While still a student at Yale Law School, she wrote a paper, “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox”, which was published in the school’s influential journal..... hit a nerve at a time when the overweening power of the Big Tech companies, from Facebook to Google to Amazon, is rising up the agenda......For roughly four decades, antitrust scholars — taking their lead from Robert Bork’s 1978 book The Antitrust Paradox — have pegged their definitions of monopoly power to short-term price effects; so if Amazon is making prices lower for consumers, the market must be working effectively.....Khan made the case that this interpretation of US antitrust law, meant to regulate competition and curb monopolistic practices, is utterly unsuited to the architecture of the modern economy.....Khan's counterargument: that it doesn’t matter if companies such as Amazon are making things cheaper in dollars if they are using predatory pricing strategies to dominate multiple industries and choke off competition and choice.....Speaking to hedge funds and banks during her research, Khan found that they were valuing Amazon and its growth potential in a way that signified monopoly power..." I’m interested in imbalances in market power and how they manifest. That’s something you can see not just in tech but across many industries,” says Khan, who has written sharp pieces on monopoly power in areas as diverse as airlines and agriculture. " Khan, like many in her cohort, believes otherwise. “If markets are leading us in directions that we, as a democratic society, decide are not compatible with our vision of liberty or democracy, it is incumbent upon government to do something.” Lina Khan has had a stint as a legal fellow at the Federal Trade Commission, consulted with EU officials, influenced competition policy in India, brainstormed ideas with presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren and — recently joined the House Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law. The 2008 financial crisis she thinks “about markets, and the government’s response to them, and certain forms of intervention that they do take, and that they don’t take”.....Khan, Lynn and others including the Columbia academic Tim Wu have developed and popularised the “new Brandeis” school of antitrust regulation, hearkening back to the era in which Louis Brandeis, the “people’s lawyer”, took on oligarchs such as John D Rockefeller and JP Morgan.....Lina sees Amazon as not just a discount retailer but as a marketing platform, delivery and logistics network, a payment service, a credit lender, auction house, publisher and so on, and to understand just how ill-equipped current antitrust law was to deal with such a multi-faceted entity......a Columbia Law Review paper out in May 2019 will explores the case for separating the ownership of technology platforms from the commercial activity they host, so that Big Tech firms cannot both run a dominant marketplace and compete on it. via a host of old cases — from railroad antitrust suits to the separation of merchant banking and the ownership of commodities — to argue that “if you are a form of infrastructure, then you shouldn’t be able to compete with all the businesses dependent on your infrastructure”....“The new Brandeis movement isn’t just about antitrust,” .... Rather, it is about values. “Laws reflect values,” she says. “Antitrust laws used to reflect one set of values, and then there was a change in values that led us to a very different place.”

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21st._century  Amazon  antitrust  Big_Tech  digital_economy  financial_crises  FTC  lawyers  Lina_Khan  monopolies  multifaceted  paradoxes  platforms  policymakers  predatory_practices  Rana_Foroohar  regulators  Robert_Bork  Tim_Wu  wunderkind  Yale  values  value_judgements 
march 2019 by jerryking
Five things we learnt from Apple’s latest launch
March 27, 2019 | | Financial Times | Richard Waters 3 HOURS AGO.

(1) With its move to services, Apple's balance sheet and installed base of users have taken over as the main source of competitive advantage....Apple has barely scratched the surface in selling content and services for the 1.4bn iPhone, Macs and other devices in active use.
(2) there is a chance to carve out a trusted position at a time when other internet giants are under fire. Think of it as a Disney for digital services: a trusted brand built around a set of values that stand above the crowd.
(3) there is still room for innovation at the margin, which should have a halo effect for the brand. The new credit card with Goldman Sachs is a case in point.
(4) Apple’s main way to make money — selling hardware — leaves it with a dilemma as it makes the move into services. .... it will be hard to get a return on the huge spending on entertainment unless it spreads that investment across the largest possible audience — which means reaching beyond its own hardware. This tension between vertical and horizontal business models — capturing more of the value from its own devices on the one hand, selling a service for everyone on the other — is not new for Apple.

(5) after more than a decade of the App Store, Apple’s relationship with many of the companies that have relied on the digital storefront to reach their own customers is about to change utterly...How will Apple promote its own services to its users, and what will this mean for iOS as a platform for third party apps? Spotify’s antitrust complaint to the EU this month is likely to be the harbinger of more challenges to come.
antitrust  Apple  Apple_IDs  App_Store  balance_sheets  Big_Tech  competitive_advantage  consumer_finance  credit_cards  cross-platform  EU  halo_effects  hardware  iOS  Richard_Waters  services  Spotify  streaming  subscriptions  turning_points  user_bases  web_video 
march 2019 by jerryking
Regulatory showdown awaits for Big Tech — but who gets the job?
March 1, 2019 | Financial Times | Richard Waters.

Wanted: an antitrust enforcer to lead the charge against Big Tech. Must be able to invent novel applications of competition theory to digital markets.

There is a growing list of candidates for this job — but it isn’t at all clear who is best placed to jump into the hot seat.

The US Federal Trade Commission has just volunteered itself, setting up a task force to examine the dominant tech companies. Among the agency’s promises: it will consider new theories of harm that until now haven’t made it out of academia, and it won’t hesitate to push for the court-ordered unwinding of past mergers if it turns out they’re hurting competition.

One problem for competition regulators in the US is that they have taken too narrow a view of their roles, according to Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School. They are concerned almost exclusively with protecting consumers from higher prices — something that doesn’t apply to “free” (advertising-supported) internet services. In his latest book, The Curse of Bigness, Wu calls for a return to a much broader interpretation of the US antitrust statutes, treating market concentration itself as an evil needing be to rectified.
antitrust  Big_Tech  books  FTC  regulation  regulators  Richard_Waters  Tim_Wu 
march 2019 by jerryking
Roger McNamee on how to tame Big Tech
February 7, 2019 | Financial Times | Roger McNamee.

Government intervention of this kind is a first step on the path to resolving the privacy issues that result from the architecture, business models and culture of internet platforms. But privacy is not the only problem we must confront. Internet platforms are transforming our economy and culture in unprecedented ways. We do not even have a vocabulary to describe this transformation, which complicates the challenge facing policymakers....Google, Facebook and other internet platforms use data to influence or manipulate users in ways that create economic value for the platform, but not necessarily for the users themselves. In the context of these platforms, users are not the customer. They are not even the product. They are more like fuel.....Google, Facebook and the rest now have economic power on the scale of early 20th-century monopolists such as Standard Oil. What is unprecedented is the political power that internet platforms have amassed — power that they exercise with no accountability or oversight, and seemingly without being aware of their responsibility to society......When capitalism functions properly, government sets and enforces the rules under which businesses and citizens must operate. Today, however, corpor­ations have usurped this role. Code and algorithms have replaced the legal system as the limiter on behaviour. Corporations such as Google and Facebook behave as if they are not accountable to anyone. Google’s seeming disdain for regulation by the EU and Facebook’s violations of the spirit of its agreement with the US FTC over user consent are cases in point......AI promises to be revolutionary. That said, it will not necessarily be a force for good. The problem is the people who create AI. They are human...McNamee recommends two areas of emphasis: regulation and innovation. As for the former, the most important requirement is to create and enforce standards that require new technology to serve the needs of those who use it and society as a whole. ...... The IoT requires our approval. Do not give it until vendors behave responsibly. Demand that policymakers take action to protect public health, democracy, privacy, innovation and the economy.
accountability  Alexa  antitrust  artificial_intelligence  biases  Big_Tech  consent  dark_side  Facebook  Google  Industrial_Internet  monopolies  personal_data  platforms  political_power  privacy  Roger_McNamee  sensors  surveillance  unintended_consequences 
february 2019 by jerryking
Big Tech in hiring spree for looming antitrust battles | Financial Times
Kiran Stacey in Washington DECEMBER 23, 2018 Print this page6
Big technology and telecoms companies have embarked on a hiring spree of former antitrust officials as their industries gear up for what experts warn could be an “existential” battle over whether they should be broken up.

In the last few months, Facebook, Amazon and AT&T have all hired senior antitrust officials from the US Department of Justice as they confront a new generation of regulators who are interested in preventing concentrations of economic power......Many of the biggest US technology companies have endured a difficult year, facing allegations of not protecting customer data, failing to prevent Russian interference in American democracy and showing political bias.

In response, several have beefed up their lobbying operations in Washington as they look to engage more with politicians, having previously preferred to operate under the radar. .....Experts say the hirings reflect a growing belief that competition policy could become the next significant political battleground....The European Commission has investigated US technology companies for alleged anti-competitive behaviour. Margrethe Vestager, the European Commissioner for Competition, is bringing cases against Google and is looking into Amazon.

Such cases have been more difficult to pursue in the US, where the law is focused more on whether anti-competitive behaviour is keeping prices artificially high.

A group of younger progressive regulators and politicians have argued in recent years, however, that technology companies that give their services away for free but dominate their markets should come in for as much attention.....Rohit Chopra, a Federal Trade Commissioner in his mid-30s, for example, recently hired Lina Khan, a 29-year-old policy thinker who has argued that large technology companies can both bring prices down and be harmful to society in general.
Amazon  antitrust  AT&T  Big_Tech  competition_policy  corporate_concentration  Department_of_Justice  FAANG  Facebook  FTC  hiring  Lina_Khan  lawyers  lobbying  market_power  market_concentration  monopolies  platforms  regulation  regulators  revolving_door  under_the_radar 
december 2018 by jerryking
The quant factories producing the fund managers of tomorrow
Jennifer Thompson in London JUNE 2, 2018

The wealth of nations and individuals is ever more likely to be influenced by computer algorithms as investors look to computer-powered quantitative trading strategies to generate returns. But underpinning those machines and algorithms are real people, namely the world’s sharpest mathematicians and data scientists.

Though not hard to identify, virtually every industry — and especially Big Tech — is competing with the financial world for their skills....Competition for talent means the campuses of elite universities have become a favoured hunting ground for many groups, and that the very best students and early career academics can command staggering starting salaries should they join the investment world......The links asset managers foster with universities vary. In the UK, Oxford and Cambridge are home to dedicated institutes established and funded by investment managers. Although these were set up with a genuine desire to foster research in the field, with a nod to philanthropy, they are also proving to be an effective way to spotting future talent.

Connections between hedge funds and investment managers are less formalised on US campuses but are treated with no less importance.

Personal relationships are important,
mathematics  data_scientists  quants  quantitative  hedge_funds  algorithms  war_for_talent  asset_management  PhDs  WorldQuant  Big_Tech 
june 2018 by jerryking
Why tech titans need an empathy handbook
April 4, 2018 | Financial Times | Gillian Tett
..........if engineers want to be better understood by consumers, they need to learn empathy for mindsets that were different from their own, or hire non-engineers. .....These days, Silicon Valley executives need to relearn these lessons — not only to make their gadgets more user-friendly, but also to create a better social contract to underpin technology in a wider sense. As criticism of the tech sector — in particular, concerns about the power of Silicon Valley — gathers momentum, the response of most of its executives has been very defensive......there is an epistemological angle too. Most of the people running the big tech companies today have come from engineering, computing or mathematical backgrounds. They are used to working by deduction and logical steps, not always prioritising emotion or empathy. They want to assemble the facts before jumping on to a public stage or making a strategic policy decision.

That works well if you are designing code or running a fast-growing team of engineers. After all, one of the striking features of the employee base at places such as Google or Facebook is just how homogenous this tribe tends to be......The problem is that what might seem routine from a software-engineering standpoint is not necessarily normal or acceptable for the wider world, and tech companies are now having to confront angry politicians, journalists and consumer groups, all of whom operate within different frameworks.....Tech executives now need to go further, not just listening to outside voices but actively trying to empathize with and understand them. .......we are all creatures of our own cultural environment, saddled with endless biases and assumptions. But, somehow, those titans of tech need to get a lesson in empathy, and see the world through non-tech eyes.
empathy  Silicon_Valley  engineering  mindsets  Gillian_Tett  empathy_vacuum  homogeneity  Big_Tech  tribes 
april 2018 by jerryking
Investors should bet on smaller nimbler companies and countries
March 25, 2018 | FT | Rana Foroohar.

The assets that seem undervalued and safer are all smaller things. Southeast Asian “countries, as well as Southern Europe and parts of Latin America have lots of slack relative in particular to the US, but also core Europe and even China”, says Jay Pelosky, head of the investment advisory firm Pelosky Global Strategies. “They have more room for growth, profit expansion, investment, and a lot more political breathing space.”....Meanwhile, if the US and China really do end up engaging in a full-blown trade war, it may be the smaller Southeast Asian nations that will benefit, since they will continue to be open for business with both. The Association of South East Asian Nations could become an alternative supply chain and preferred trading partner for either region......It may be that Big Tech companies, like big banks, have simply become too sprawling for their own good. Smaller, more localised players will probably also avoid the worst effects of tariffs......Aside from being a less visible target for protectionism, small firms with lower debt levels are better positioned to cope with rising interest rates. Research group Strategas notes that small-cap stocks are the only asset class that has outperformed inflation in every decade from the 1930s onwards. 
investors  Rana_Foroohar  nimbleness  small_cap  ASEAN  asset_classes  supply_chains  Big_Tech 
march 2018 by jerryking
Cry revolution if you like, Alexa is not listening
FEBRUARY 16, 2018 | FT | Henry Mance.

We know that a revolt against Big Tech is coming. All the ingredients are there: unaccountable elites, wealth disparities, popular discontent......We should be drawing the opposite lesson. We should be grateful for these moments when technology fails: they remind us that we are relying too much on algorithms.

Silicon Valley has created such gloriously useful products that we mostly overlook their limitations. We don’t notice that Google inevitably has a bias towards certain sources of information, or that Amazon directs us towards certain products. We forget that messaging apps draw us away from other forms of interaction. Already Snapchat has over 100m users who use it for more than 30 minutes a day on average. Already you can have Alexa listen attentively to everything you say at home, which is more than any member of your family will. 

Occasionally, however, we are confronted with the imperfections of technology. We are shown online ads for products we have already bought or for which we are biologically ineligible. We are invited to connect on LinkedIn with people we’ve never met, but who have the same name as our first line manager.....It is these moments which allow us to see that the emperor has no clothes. They demonstrate that the software is only as clever as the humans who have designed it. They remind us that the real revolutionary act is to switch off.
backlash  platforms  Snapchat  imperfections  algorithms  biases  limitations  Big_Tech 
february 2018 by jerryking
This is the age of the Microsoft and Amazon economy
Tim Harford

the big digital players: Google dominates search; Facebook is the Goliath of social media; Amazon rules online retail. But, as documented in a new working paper by five economists, American business is in general becoming more concentrated.

David Autor and his colleagues looked at 676 industries in the US — from cigarettes to greeting cards, musical instruments to payday lenders. They found that for the typical industry in each of six sectors — manufacturing, retail, finance, services, wholesale and utilities/transportation — the biggest companies are producing a larger share of output..... “superstar firms” tend to be more efficient. They sell more at a lower cost, so they enjoy a larger profit margin. ....Superstar firms are highly productive and achieve more with less. Because of this profitability, more of the value added by the company flows to shareholders and less to workers. And what happens in these groups will tend to be reflected in the economy as a whole, because superstar firms have an increasingly important role.
Amazon  Big_Tech  corporate_concentration  David_Autor  economics  economies_of_scale  Facebook  Microsoft  monopolies  monopsony  network_effects  platforms  retailers  superstars  Tim_Harford 
january 2018 by jerryking
What the Tax Bill Fails to Address: Technology’s Tsunami -
DEC. 20, 2017 | The New York Times | Farhad Manjoo.

Manjoo posits that the Republican tax bill is the wrong fix for the wrong problem, given how tech is altering society and the economy....The bill (the parachute) does little to address the tech-abetted wave of economic displacement (the tsunami) that may be looming just off the horizon. And it also seems to intensify some of the structural problems in the tech business, including its increasing domination by five giants — Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook and Alphabet, Google’s parent company — which own some of the world’s most important economic platforms.....some in Silicon Valley think the giants misplayed their hand in the legislation. In pursuing short-term tax advantages, they missed a chance to advocate policies that might have more broadly benefited many of their customers — and improved their images, too......This gets back to that looming tsunami. Though many of the economy’s structural problems predate the last decade’s rise of the tech behemoths, the innovations that Silicon Valley has been working on — things like e-commerce, cloud storage, artificial intelligence and the general digitization of everything and everyone around you — are some of the central protagonists in the economic story of our age.

Among other economic concerns, these innovations are implicated in the rise of inequality; the expanding premium on education and skills; the decimation and dislocation of retail jobs; the rising urban-rural divide, and spiking housing costs in cities; and the rise of the “gig” economy of contract workers who drive Ubers and rent out their spare bedrooms on Airbnb....technology is changing work in a few ways. First, it’s altering the type of work that people do — for instance, creating a boom in e-commerce warehouse jobs in large metro areas while reducing opportunities for retail workers in rural areas. Technology has also created more uncertainty around when people work and how much they’ll get paid.
Farhad_Manjoo  preparation  job_loss  job_displacement  Silicon_Valley  tax_codes  corporate_concentration  platforms  income_inequality  short-sightedness  e-commerce  cloud_computing  artificial_intelligence  gig_economy  precarious  automation  uncertainty  universal_basic_income  digitalization  Apple  Amazon  Netflix  Microsoft  Facebook  Alphabet  Google  inconsistent_incomes  Big_Tech  FAANG 
december 2017 by jerryking
The Ivory Tower Can’t Keep Ignoring Tech
NOV. 14, 2017 | The New York Times | By Cathy O’Neil is a data scientist and author of the book “Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy. Follow her on Twitter at @mathbabedotorg.

We urgently need an academic institute focused on algorithmic accountability.

First, it should provide a comprehensive ethical training for future engineers and data scientists at the undergraduate and graduate levels, with case studies taken from real-world algorithms that are choosing the winners from the losers. Lecturers from humanities, social sciences and philosophy departments should weigh in.

Second, this academic institute should offer a series of workshops, conferences and clinics focused on the intersection of different industries with the world of A.I. and algorithms. These should include experts in the content areas, lawyers, policymakers, ethicists, journalists and data scientists, and they should be tasked with poking holes in our current regulatory framework — and imagine a more relevant one.

Third, the institute should convene a committee charged with reimagining the standards and ethics of human experimentation in the age of big data, in ways that can be adopted by the tech industry.

There’s a lot at stake when it comes to the growing role of algorithms in our lives. The good news is that a lot could be explained and clarified by professional and uncompromised thinkers who are protected within the walls of academia with freedom of academic inquiry and expression. If only they would scrutinize the big tech firms rather than stand by waiting to be hired.
algorithms  accountability  Cathy_O’Neil  Colleges_&_Universities  data_scientists  ethics  inequality  think_tanks  Big_Tech 
november 2017 by jerryking
From climate change to robots: what politicians aren’t telling us
OCTOBER 26, 2017 | FT| by Simon Kuper.

Most politicians bang on about identity while ignoring automation, climate change and the imminent revolution in medicine. They talk more about the 1950s than the 2020s. This is partly because they want to distract voters from real problems, and partly because today’s politicians tend to be lawyers, entertainers and ex-journalists who know less about tech than the average 14-year-old....Ironically, given the volume of American climate denial, the US looks like becoming the first western country to be hit by climate change. Each new natural disaster will prompt political squabbles over whether Washington should bail out the stricken region. At-risk cities such as Miami and New Orleans will gradually lose appeal as the risks become uninsurable......American climate denial may fade too, as tech companies displace Big Oil as the country’s chief lobbyists. Already in the first half of this year, Amazon outspent Exxon and Walmart on lobbying. Facebook, now taking a kicking over fake news, will lobby its way back. Meanwhile, northern Europe, for some years at least, will benefit from its historical unique selling point: its mild and rainy climate. Its problem will be that millions of Africans will try to move there.

On the upside, many Africans will soon, for the first time ever, have access to energy (thanks to solar panels) and medical care (as apps monitor everything from blood pressure to sugar levels, and instantly prescribe treatment). But as Africa gets hotter, drier and overpopulated, people will struggle to feed themselves, says the United Nations University. So they will head north, in much greater numbers than Syrians have, becoming the new bogeymen for European populists....The most coveted good of all — years of life — will become even more unfairly distributed. The lifespans of poor westerners will continue to stagnate or shorten, following the worldwide surge in obesity since the 1980s. Many poorer people will work into their seventies, then die, skipping the now standard phase of retirement. Meanwhile, from the 2020s the rich will live ever longer as they start buying precision medicine. They will fix their faulty DNA and edit their embryos, predicts Vivek Wadhwa, thinker on technology. ...Troubled regimes will also ratchet up surveillance. Now they merely know what you say. In 10 years, thanks to your devices, they will know your next move even before you do.
2020s  Africa  automation  Big_Tech  climate_change  climate_denial  imperceptible_threats  life_expectancy  mass_migrations  migrants  politicians  precision_medicine  refugees  Simon_Kuper  slowly_moving  surveillance_state  unevenly_distributed  uninsurable  Vivek_Wadhwa 
november 2017 by jerryking
Can the Tech Giants Be Stopped? -
July 14, 2017 | WSJ | By Jonathan Taplin.

Google, Facebook, Amazon and other tech behemoths are transforming the U.S. economy and labor market, with scant public debate or scrutiny. Changing course won’t be easy....."we are rushing ahead into the AI universe with almost no political or policy debate about its implications. Digital technology has become critical to the personal and economic well-being of everyone on the planet, but decisions about how it is designed, operated and developed have never been voted on by anyone. Those decisions are largely made by executives and engineers at Google, Facebook, Amazon and other leading tech companies, and imposed on the rest of us with very little regulatory scrutiny. It is time for that to change.

Who will win the AI race? The companies that are already in the forefront: Google, Facebook and Amazon. As AI venture capitalist Kai-Fu Lee recently wrote in the New York Times , “A.I. is an industry in which strength begets strength: The more data you have, the better your product; the better your product, the more data you can collect; the more data you can collect, the more talent you can attract; the more talent you can attract, the better your product.”".....How did we get here? I would date the rise of the digital monopolies to August 2004, when Google raised $1.9 billion in its initial public offering......This shift has brought about a massive reallocation of revenue, with economic value moving from the creators of content to the owners of monopoly platforms. Since 2000, revenues for recorded music in the U.S. have fallen from almost $20 billion a year to less than $8 billion, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. U.S. newspaper ad revenue fell from $65.8 billion in 2000 to $23.6 billion in 2013 (the last year for which data are available). Though book publishing revenues have remained flat, this is mostly because increased children’s book sales have made up for the declining return on adult titles.....The precipitous decline in revenue for content creators has nothing to do with changing consumer preferences for their content. People are not reading less news, listening to less music, reading fewer books or watching fewer movies and TV shows. The massive growth in revenue for the digital monopolies has resulted in the massive loss of revenue for the creators of content. The two are inextricably linked......In the third quarter of 2016, companies owned by Facebook or Google took 90% of all new digital ad revenue. ....The history of Silicon Valley itself offers some guidance here. The astonishing technological revolution of the past half-century would never have occurred without the impetus of three seminal antitrust prosecutions. ....The clear historical lesson, which is waiting to be rediscovered in our own day, is that antitrust action has often served not to constrain innovation but to promote it.
Apple  Alphabet  Big_Tech  Google  Amazon  Microsoft  Facebook  artificial_intelligence  privacy  antitrust  Silicon_Valley  content  platforms  virtuous_cycles  content_creators  public_discourse  oligopolies  oversight  value_migration  regulation  innovation  seminal  no_oversight  imperceptible_threats  FAANG  backlash  Kai-Fu_Lee 
july 2017 by jerryking
Livable, booming core stirs envy, but raises infrastructure worries - The Globe and Mail
MARCUS GEE
The Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, May. 14 2014

Young people are flocking to inhabit the lively, walkable neighbourhoods springing up downtown. In some, such as King-Spadina and Waterfront West, seven out of 10 residents are ‘echo boomers,’ 20 to 39 years old.

The number of people working downtown has been soaring, too. Downtown gained more than 43,000 office jobs in the five years to 2011. A host of big companies, from Google to Telus to Coca-Cola, have moved into new downtown offices. Although downtown contains just 3 per cent of the city’s land area, it accounts for half of its GDP, a third of its jobs and a quarter of its tax base. More than a quarter of a million people commute into downtown each morning by public transit.
Marcus_Gee  Toronto  urban  urbanization  urban_intensification  urban_planning  downtown_core  Big_Tech  millennials  neighbourhoods  King-Spadina  Port_Lands  livability  walkability 
june 2014 by jerryking
Invest like a legend: Peter Thiel
Jan. 30 2014 | The Globe and Mail | Alec Scott.Special to The Globe and Mail.

Is tech investing different from other sorts of investing?

It’s incredibly hard to get people to adopt new tech solutions, and you only get adoption of something if it’s 10 times as good as the next best thing. Amazon had 10 times as many books. PayPal was at least 10 times as fast as cashing a cheque....How do your years of competitive chess-playing help you invest?

Chess champion José Raúl Capablanca said, “In order to improve your game, you must study the endgame before everything else.” Successful businesses have a very long arc. In 2001, we concluded that three-quarters of PayPal’s value would come from 2011 and beyond. The same thing applies to all the big tech companies currently—LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. Most of their value comes from the 2020s, 2030s and beyond. And so one of the critical questions is, what does the endgame look like, not how they will do in the next month.
Peter_Thiel  endgame  chess  Palantir  start_ups  long-term  market_risk  strategic_thinking  customer_adoption  personal_finance  orders-of-magnitude  Big_Tech  10x 
february 2014 by jerryking
U.S. political debate stuck in the past -
Aug. 30 2012 | The Globe and Mail | CHRYSTIA FREELAND.

The argument between the Democrats and the GOP about the size of the state comes with little regard for the economic realities of this era. Like generals fighting the last war, U.S. politicians are solving the economic challenges of the past century....Thanks to smart machines and global trade, the well-paying, middle-class jobs that were the backbone of Western democracies are vanishing. The paradoxical driver of this middle-class squeeze is not some villainous force – it is, rather, the success of the world’s best companies, many of them American (i.e. Big Tech, the major platforms)....the knottiest economic problem of our time: Figuring out how to manage an economy whose engines of growth are enriching the few but squeezing the many....It took more than the spinning jenny or the steam engine to transform local, agrarian, family-based communities into national, urban, individualistic ones. New political and social institutions will be needed to midwife the latest shift into global and virtual communities. Inventing those institutions is difficult, and talking about them can be frightening, but that is the political conversation the Western world should be having.
Big_Tech  Chrystia_Freeland  Campaign_2012  globalization  Outsourcing  institutions  middle_class  job_destruction  job_displacement  job_loss  institution-building  downward_mobility  hollowing_out  backward_looking 
august 2012 by jerryking
Start-Ups Emerge as Tech Vendors of Choice - WSJ.com
August 23, 2012 | WSJ | by BEN WORTHEN.

A new crop of business-focused tech companies such as Splunk Inc. SPLK -0.23% and Palo Alto Networks Inc. PANW +0.98% have recently made successful public-market debuts, fueled by strong revenue growth.

Old-line tech vendors have taken notice. Microsoft in July paid $1.2 billion for Yammer Inc., which makes social-networking tools for businesses. IBM, Oracle and SAP AG SAP.XE +0.60% have all spent billions for younger online software makers. And H-P executives talk about reinventing the company by expanding into three hot businesses that aren't among its main ones today.

"That is a challenge to big companies to show that we can innovate," said Sanjay Poonen, president of global solutions at SAP.
Ben_Worthen  Big_Tech  Box  CIOs  HP  large_companies  Microsoft  Oracle  start_ups 
august 2012 by jerryking
Garnett & Helfrich Capital
Formed in March 2004, Garnett & Helfrich Capital, The
Venture Buyout Firm™ is a $350 million fund for mid-sized technology
spinouts. Garnett & Helfrich Capital specializes in spinning out
businesses from large global technology companies and growing them as
focused, standalone businesses.
Big_Tech  spin-offs  vc  venture_capital  silicon_valley  technology  standalone 
september 2011 by jerryking
Big Patent Firm Sues Nine Tech Firms - WSJ.com
DECEMBER 9, 2010 | | By DON CLARK And DIONNE SEARCE.
Intellectual Ventures LLC has started suing. The secretive firm
co-founded by former Microsoft Corp. CTO Nathan Myhrvold has raised $5
billion to amass thousands of patents over the past decade.

Unlike most specialists in the field, Intellectual Ventures has avoided
litigation, persuading big tech companies to become investors in his
firm—along with payments that sometimes came to hundreds of millions of
dollars....unable to secure payments from nine companies, Intellectual
Ventures announced three patent-infringement suits....Intellectual
Ventures, which is based in a Seattle suburb and claims 30,000 patents
and patent applications, is believed to have the largest portfolio among
firms that don't make or sell products. It claims to have earned nearly
$2 billion from licensing its patents
licensing  patents  Intellectual_Ventures  Nathan_Myhrvold  patent_trolls  Big_Tech 
december 2010 by jerryking
Gap Widens Between Tech Richest and the Rest - WSJ.com
MARCH 16, 2010 | Wall Street Journal | Ben WORTHEN. A handful
of cash-rich companies are consolidating power in the technology
industry, using their wealth to expand into new businesses and making it
harder for small and midsize competitors to break through. Why the
industry is evolving this way is rooted in balance sheets. Over the past
2 years, Apple Inc., Oracle Corp., Google Inc., Microsoft Corp. and 6
other large tech companies have generated $68.5 billion in new cash,
compared with just $13.5 billion for the other 65 tech companies in the
S&P 500 Index combined. Because of their massive cash accumulation,
these companies can afford to take risks that smaller companies can't
at a time when the economy remains fragile. The result is a bifurcated
tech landscape, says Erik Brynjolfsson, a professor at MIT's Sloan
School of Management.
Apple  barbell_effect  Ben_Worthen  Big_Tech  cash  cash_reserves  consolidation  Erik_Brynjolfsson  Fortune_500  Google  large_companies  market_power  Microsoft  new_businesses  Oracle  risk-taking  small_business  start_ups  trends  winner-take-all 
march 2010 by jerryking

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