Friday, April 20, 2018

In one month, Facebook doubled the countries using its fact-checking tool — all outside the West | Poynter

From a global reality check on Facebook's fact-checking strategy; on a related note, Most Americans want tech companies to fight fake news, not the government (Poynter)
"“We understand the false news challenge is very different in developing countries where people are coming online for the first time. The same solutions can’t be applied globally,” said Lauren Svensson, technology communications manager at Facebook, in an email to Poynter. “That’s why, in addition to scaling the third-party fact-checking program where we can, our focus to date has been on digital literacy.”

The additions come in regions that comprise the majority of Facebook’s active users. They also come amid a time of heightened scrutiny of Facebook’s fact-checking project, which decreases the reach of debunked stories in News Feed by a reported 80 percent, appends related fact checks, limits the visibility of misinforming pages and notifies users who share fake news."
In one month, Facebook doubled the countries using its fact-checking tool — all outside the West | Poynter

Uber, Paypal Face Reckoning Over Opaque ‘Terms and Conditions’ - Bloomberg

EULA obfuscation as a legal specialty is perhaps no longer a solid career choice...
"Companies are scrambling to ensure their user agreements comply with the law, says Julian Saunders, founder of Port.im, a British software maker that helps businesses adapt to GDPR. But he says many website owners aren’t yet explicit enough in stating why they’re collecting a consumer’s information, which other companies might gain access to it, and how people can ensure their data are deleted if they request it. Saunders says he’s signed up 100 businesses for the service and urges them to bend over backward in helping users understand the details. “Areas that used to get hidden in the small print of terms and conditions should now be exposed,” he says.

Martin Garner, an analyst at technology consultancy CCS Insight, suggests companies walk readers through their policies step by step. That way they could opt out of selected provisions—limiting, for instance, third parties that can gain access to the data or restricting the kinds of information companies may stockpile. Much of what’s in the terms and conditions might be affected by the settings a user chooses, and including that information in the initial agreement unnecessarily complicates the document. “Users typically only have the choice of accepting the terms and conditions in their entirety or not using the service at all,” Garner says. Companies must “pay much closer attention to explaining to users how their data will be stored and used and getting them to consent to that explicitly.”"
Uber, Paypal Face Reckoning Over Opaque ‘Terms and Conditions’ - Bloomberg

Exclusive: Chat is Google’s next big fix for Android’s messaging mess - The Verge

Check the full article for more details and an index of several of Google's earlier Android messaging apps; also see Meet Chat, another new Google messaging service that’s still not as good as Apple’s iMessage (BGR)

"Now, the company is doing something different. Instead of bringing a better app to the table, it’s trying to change the rules of the texting game, on a global scale. Google has been quietly corralling every major cellphone carrier on the planet into adopting technology to replace SMS. It’s going to be called “Chat,” and it’s based on a standard called the “Universal Profile for Rich Communication Services.” SMS is the default that everybody has to fall back to, and so Google’s goal is to make that default texting experience on an Android phone as good as other modern messaging apps.

As part of that effort, Google says it’s “pausing” work on its most recent entry into the messaging space, Allo. It’s the sort of “pause” that involves transferring almost the entire team off the project and putting all its resources into another app, Android Messages."
Exclusive: Chat is Google’s next big fix for Android’s messaging mess - The Verge

Apple’s cloud database FoundationDB now open source | 9to5Mac

Also see FoundationDB is Open Source (FoundationDB blog) and How FoundationDB Powers Snowflake Metadata Forward (Snowflake)

"FoundationDB was originally founded in 2009 by Dave Rosenthal, Dave Scherer and Nick Lavezzo with the goal of making a NoSQL database that was ACID compliant, a set of properties for databases that are designed to guarantee the integrity of data even when errors occur.

Apple acquired the company in early 2015 and has probably been using it for their iCloud services for the past couple of years. In a recent paper describing how CloudKit works, engineers mentioned the usage of a NoSQL database to allow app developers to sync user data between devices in a generic and easy-to-use way. CloudKit is Apple’s cloud database behind many of iCloud’s features including iOS backups, Photos, iWork sharing and iCloud Drive."
Apple’s cloud database FoundationDB now open source | 9to5Mac

G.E. Makes a Sharp ‘Pivot’ on Digital - The New York Times

In other "pivot" news, see Intel is giving up on its smart glasses (The Verge)

"G.E.’s technical prowess, they said, lies in designing and manufacturing big machines like power-plant turbines, jet engines and medical-imaging equipment. Its traditional software skills have been in the specialized programs that control the machines and factory operations. GE Digital was a striking departure into cloud-based internet software, data analytics and artificial intelligence tools like machine learning.

“G.E. reached too far outside its expertise and too fast,” said Steven Winoker, an analyst at UBS. “And it became a financial black hole.”

Just how much G.E. has invested in its digital initiatives is uncertain, but it has been several billion dollars. In an article last year in the Harvard Business Review, Mr. Immelt wrote that in 2016 “we put about $4 billion into developing analytics software and machine learning capabilities.”"
G.E. Makes a Sharp ‘Pivot’ on Digital - The New York Times

Audit Approved of Facebook Policies, Even After Cambridge Analytica Leak - The New York Times

Perhaps time to audit the FTC...

"F.T.C. officials hailed the consent decree as a new and powerful model for regulating tech giants like Facebook and Google, which in recent years have built immensely lucrative advertising businesses rooted in the vast quantities of data they collect from people who use their free services.

But critics of the agreement said it reflected the essential weakness of relying on an outside firm to evaluate Facebook’s compliance with the order. The F.T.C. is a relatively small agency, where even major investigations are handled by teams of just a few people. Instead of retaining a large staff of technology and data experts to monitor businesses, the agency makes companies hire outside accounting and consulting firms. These are paid by companies like Facebook and periodically report back to the F.T.C.

According to the assessment documents, Facebook chooses which policies and procedures PwC reviews."
Audit Approved of Facebook Policies, Even After Cambridge Analytica Leak - The New York Times

A.I. Researchers Are Making More Than $1 Million, Even at a Nonprofit - The New York Times

AI talent supply and demand

"The figures listed on the tax forms, which OpenAI is required to release publicly because it is a nonprofit, provide new insight into what organizations around the world are paying for A.I. talent. But there is a caveat: The compensation at OpenAI may be underselling what these researchers can make, since as a nonprofit it can’t offer stock options.

Salaries for top A.I. researchers have skyrocketed because there are not many people who understand the technology and thousands of companies want to work with it. Element AI, an independent lab in Canada, estimates that 22,000 people worldwide have the skills needed to do serious A.I. research — about double from a year ago."
A.I. Researchers Are Making More Than $1 Million, Even at a Nonprofit - The New York Times

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Palantir Knows Everything About You (Bloomberg)

From an extensive Palantir profile; on a related note, see this Robert Wright interview with Ryan Holiday, author of Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue
"Founded in 2004 by Peter Thiel and some fellow PayPal alumni, Palantir cut its teeth working for the Pentagon and the CIA in Afghanistan and Iraq. The company’s engineers and products don’t do any spying themselves; they’re more like a spy’s brain, collecting and analyzing information that’s fed in from the hands, eyes, nose, and ears. The software combs through disparate data sources—financial documents, airline reservations, cellphone records, social media postings—and searches for connections that human analysts might miss. It then presents the linkages in colorful, easy-to-interpret graphics that look like spider webs. U.S. spies and special forces loved it immediately; they deployed Palantir to synthesize and sort the blizzard of battlefield intelligence. It helped planners avoid roadside bombs, track insurgents for assassination, even hunt down Osama bin Laden. The military success led to federal contracts on the civilian side. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services uses Palantir to detect Medicare fraud. The FBI uses it in criminal probes. The Department of Homeland Security deploys it to screen air travelers and keep tabs on immigrants." 
Palantir Knows Everything About You

Tesla vs Waymo: who’s winning the race for self-driving cars - The Verge

From a timely self-driving car reality check

"There’s a race happening right now that stretches from Silicon Valley to Detroit and back: who can make a self-driving car that behaves better than a human driver? It’s a far harder task than it sounded even a few years ago because human drivers know a lot — not just about their cars but about how people behave on the road when they’re behind the wheel. To reach that same kind of understanding, computerized cars need lots of data. And the two companies with the most data right now are Tesla and Waymo.

Both Tesla and Waymo are attempting to collect and process enough data to create a car that can drive itself. And they’re approaching those problems in very different ways. Tesla is taking advantage of the hundreds of thousands of cars it has on the road by collecting real-world data about how those vehicles perform (and how they might perform) with Autopilot, its current semi-autonomous system. Waymo, which started as Google’s self-driving car project, uses powerful computer simulations and feeds what it learns from those into a smaller real-world fleet."
Tesla vs Waymo: who’s winning the race for self-driving cars - The Verge

Google Launches Grasshopper Smartphone Game to Teach Coding | Time

See the Grasshopper site for more details (and search "Grasshopper by Area 120" to download; Area 120 is described as "a workshop for Google's experimental products")

"The Grasshopper app itself looks simple and self-explanatory. When setting up the app, users will be able to choose how often they want to practice coding; Grasshopper suggests playing daily, but offers other options like every other day, twice per week, or no reminders at all. Like many games designed to teach coding, the puzzles themselves involve inputting lines of code to reach a goal. In the demonstration I saw, the player was asked to enter the correct code in order to complete an image of the French flag, with each string of code contributing more color to the picture. Grasshopper also quizzes students occasionally to make sure they’re comprehending the principles being taught in lessons. A friendly grasshopper named Grace — named after computer industry pioneer Grace Hopper — encourages players along the way."
Google Launches Grasshopper Smartphone Game to Teach Coding | Time

IRS blames Tax Day woes on glitch in file that houses personal records - The Washington Post

Perhaps ran out of spare vacuum tubes...

"The Internal Revenue Service’s online tax filing systems failed widely on Tax Day because of a hardware “glitch” in the part of the agency’s operating system that houses taxpayers’ personal tax records, according to the tax collection agency.

The malfunctioning of IRS’s “master file” was discovered around 4 a.m. Tuesday, the biggest tax-filing day of the year. The impact of the problem spread because several other IRS systems rely on data from the agency’s “master file” to function, the IRS said in a statement to The Washington Post.

The IRS emphasized there was no reason to believe taxpayers’ private data had been breached. “There’s no data loss,” the agency said. “Taxpayers have nothing to be concerned about.”"
IRS blames Tax Day woes on glitch in file that houses personal records - The Washington Post

Robot Conquers One of the Hardest Human Tasks: Assembling Ikea Furniture - The New York Times

I'm sure TaskRabbit’s app is offline while it investigates a “cybersecurity incident” (TechCrunch) is just a coincidence...

"Robots have taken our jobs, learned our chores and beaten us at our own games.

Now researchers in Singapore say they have trained one to perform another task known to confound humans: figuring out how to assemble furniture from Ikea.

A team from Nanyang Technological University programmed a robot to create and execute a plan to piece together most of Ikea’s $25 solid-pine Stefan chair on its own, calling on a medley of human skills to do so. The researchers explained their work in a study published on Wednesday in the journal Science Robotics."
Robot Conquers One of the Hardest Human Tasks: Assembling Ikea Furniture - The New York Times

American elections are too easy to hack. We must take action now | Bruce Schneier | Opinion | The Guardian

Tangentially, see The Russians Are Coming (Lawfare)

"Last year, the Defcon hackers’ conference sponsored a Voting Village. Organizers collected 25 pieces of voting equipment, including voting machines and electronic poll books. By the end of the weekend, conference attendees had found ways to compromise every piece of test equipment: to load malicious software, compromise vote tallies and audit logs, or cause equipment to fail.

It’s important to understand that these were not well-funded nation-state attackers. These were not even academics who had been studying the problem for weeks. These were bored hackers, with no experience with voting machines, playing around between parties one weekend."
American elections are too easy to hack. We must take action now | Bruce Schneier | Opinion | The Guardian

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Microsoft Office 2019 kills off OneNote desktop app in favor of Windows 10 version - The Verge

I suppose this was inevitable, but if Microsoft doesn't add features such as unread indicators and activity notifications that work with notebooks shared on OneDrive for Business or SharePoint to the cross-platform version of OneNote, it'll be time for me to consider making Evernote my primary note-centric content/collaboration app again. See this Microsoft post for more details on the end of OneNote 2016 and what's coming in the cross-platform OneNote app.

"Microsoft is planning to launch Office 2019 later this year, and the company is changing the way OneNote is bundled. The note taking app currently has a desktop version included in Office 2016, and a separate Universal Windows App for Windows 10. Microsoft is replacing the desktop version of OneNote with the Windows 10 version in Office 2019, along with making the entire Office suite only work on Windows 10. Microsoft is also creating a Mac version of Office 2019.

The existing desktop app, OneNote 2016, will no longer get new features but Microsoft will keep updating it to fix any security issues or bugs until its end of life in October 2020. Microsoft has been gradually improving its OneNote Windows 10 app in recent months, and the company is planning new features in the future. OneNote for Windows 10 will receive updates that include the ability to insert and search for tags, see live previews of Office files within OneNote, and Class Notebook features this summer."
Microsoft Office 2019 kills off OneNote desktop app in favor of Windows 10 version - The Verge

Inside Cambridge Analytica’s Virtual Currency Plans - The New York Times

Alexander Nix gets my vote for entrepreneur-of-the-year...

"Much like its acquisition of Facebook data to build psychological profiles of voters, the new business line pushed the firm into murky ethical and legal situations. Documents and emails obtained by The New York Times show that Cambridge Analytica’s efforts to help promote another group’s digital token, the Dragon Coin, associated the firm with a famous gangster in Macau who has gone by the nickname Broken Tooth.

The goal of Cambridge Analytica’s own coin offering? Raise money that would pay for the creation of a system to help people store and sell their online personal data to advertisers, Brittany Kaiser, a former Cambridge Analytica employee, said in an interview. The idea was to protect information from more or less what the firm did when it obtained the personal data of up to 87 million Facebook users."
Inside Cambridge Analytica’s Virtual Currency Plans - The New York Times

Complying With New Privacy Laws and Offering New Privacy Protections to Everyone, No Matter Where You Live | Facebook Newsroom

Check the full post for details; also see A flaw-by-flaw guide to Facebook's new GDPR privacy changes (TechCrunch)

"In recent weeks we’ve announced several steps to give people more control over their privacy and explain how we use data. Today we’re introducing new privacy experiences for everyone on Facebook as part of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), including updates to our terms and data policy. Everyone – no matter where they live – will be asked to review important information about how Facebook uses data and make choices about their privacy on Facebook. We’ll begin by rolling these choices out in Europe this week.

Asking People to Review How We Use Data 

As soon as GDPR was finalized, we realized it was an opportunity to invest even more heavily in privacy. We not only want to comply with the law, but also go beyond our obligations to build new and improved privacy experiences for everyone on Facebook. We’ve brought together hundreds of employees across product, engineering, legal, policy, design and research teams. We’ve also sought input from people outside Facebook with different perspectives on privacy, including people who use our services, regulators and government officials, privacy experts, and designers."
Complying With New Privacy Laws and Offering New Privacy Protections to Everyone, No Matter Where You Live | Facebook Newsroom

Apple Is Planning to Launch a News Subscription Service - Bloomberg

Tbd how many of the > 200 magazines currently available via Texture will continue with Apple News++

"A new, simplified subscription service covering multiple publications could spur Apple News usage and generate new revenue in a similar manner to the $9.99 per month Apple Music offering. That streaming service was also built through an acquisition: Apple bought Beats Music and the Beats audio device business in 2014 for $3 billion. At the time, Beats Music had fewer than a million subscribers, and Apple has turned that into more than 40 million paying users.

Apple needs successes like that to meet a bold target for its services division. Sales from that segment grew 23 percent to $30 billion in the company’s 2017 fiscal year. Executives have said they’re targeting services revenue of roughly $50 billion by 2021. During a recent earnings conference call, Apple told analysts it had a total of 240 million paid subscriptions, with 58 percent year-over-year growth."
Apple Is Planning to Launch a News Subscription Service - Bloomberg

I.R.S. Website Crashes on Tax Day as Millions Tried to File Returns - The New York Times

Later in the article: "Lawmakers and former government officials blamed an antiquated computer system that has deteriorated as a result of budget cuts for the tech malfunction. Since 2010, the agency’s total budget has fallen from about $14 billion to $11.5 billion, and its staff has shrunk by 20,000, to nearly 76,000. The tax code has only grown more complex during that period and the population of the United States has increased, along with the number of people who file electronically."

"Millions of taxpayers who waited until Tuesday to file their 2017 tax returns and make payments through the Internal Revenue Service’s website were thwarted by a systemwide computer failure that advised last-minute filers to “come back on Dec. 31, 9999.”

The website malfunction, which began in the early hours of Tuesday morning and was not resolved until early evening, crippled a crucial part of the agency’s website that allows taxpayers to file returns electronically and make their tax payments directly through their bank accounts. The technology failure essentially brought the nation’s tax machinery to a halt on a day when millions of Americans were expected to file their tax returns, undermining the Trump administration’s plan to use Tax Day to promote its recent $1.5 trillion tax overhaul."
I.R.S. Website Crashes on Tax Day as Millions Tried to File Returns - The New York Times

Marissa Mayer Is Still Here - The New York Times

Check the full interview for insights about Yahoo and Magna-Tiles...

"What are you up to now?
I rented the old Google office. So this is actually the office where I started my career in 1999. This is also where PayPal started, so there’s a lot of good juju here.

Coming back here, it reminds me of what Google felt like in those early moments. I remember running up those steps, because if you didn’t get here fast enough on Saturday morning, someone in the world was going to get worse search results, and it might change their life for the worse.

So you haven’t joined a company or founded a company yet?

We have this little lab that we’re working on called Lumi Labs. In Finnish, lumi means snow, and I just love snow. I had a snowflake-themed wedding. We have some ideas in the consumer space. So I’ve been meeting with different founders and just seeing what’s happening in the industry."
Marissa Mayer Is Still Here - The New York Times

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

In defense of the HomePod | TechCrunch

From a timely HomePod reality check

"It’s all about the ecosystem; the “smart speaker market” doesn’t matter and never will as we define it now. What Google gains with a cheap entry point of a Google Home Mini is a way to drive people to features they didn’t know their phones had. Apple is using the HomePod to set a baseline while they look to build up these features that Siri doesn’t have yet. Amazon’s Alexa may have a chance in the context of the connected home, but it’s hard to imagine a world where you don’t want your mobile device and home assistant hub being intimately tied at an OS level.

The AirPods and HomePod are very good examples of OS-integrated hardware, and while Siri needs a facelift and perhaps some brain surgery, Apple’s thinking with the HomePod is about where it needs to be. It’s a platform that should really be a bit experimental for the time-being. These things were pushed into people’s homes so quickly by an Amazonian quest for market domination, but so much of the utility of smart speakers is still tied up in their frustrations."
In defense of the HomePod | TechCrunch

Elon Musk is giving more than $100 million to fund his tunnel startup, The Boring Company - Recode

Also flamethrowers (alas, sold out)

"Elon Musk has a few irons in the transportation fire — Tesla, SpaceX and now The Boring Company, which has raised $113 million in new funding, according to a new SEC filing.

The company says Musk himself provided over 90 percent of those funds — more than $100 million — while the rest of the funding came from early employees. There were no outside investors.

The filing did not name Musk; instead, it just named Jared Birchall as a director and executive. Birchall has alternatingly been listed as CFO, president and CEO of Neuralink, a startup Musk co-founded."
Elon Musk is giving more than $100 million to fund his tunnel startup, The Boring Company - Recode

Microsoft Turns to Old Enemy Linux to Solve Vexing Tech Threat - WSJ

See Introducing Microsoft Azure Sphere: Secure and power the intelligent edge (Azure blog) for more details

"The move is designed to bolster Microsoft’s position in the Internet of Things market against cloud-infrastructure leader Amazon.com Inc. and others. The global market for microcontroller chips that can connect to the web—roughly one-eighth of the overall microcontroller-chip business—hit $2.2 billion last year, said Tom Hackenberg, a principal analyst with the research firm, IHS Markit Ltd.

Microsoft used Linux because even the most scaled-down version of Windows won’t fit on thumbnail-size microcontroller chips. Its engineers added security features the company developed to the Linux “kernel,” the core elements of the operating system."
Microsoft Turns to Old Enemy Linux to Solve Vexing Tech Threat - WSJ

Google’s Facebook Copycat Moves Leave It More Exposed to Privacy Backlash - Bloomberg

It's going to be a very busy year for data privacy-focused legislators and lawyers

"So far, Alphabet Inc.’s Google has suffered fewer of the problems plaguing Facebook, including fake news and Russian-linked political spending. And it’s avoided public blunders like the Cambridge Analytica data leak. 

But two years ago, Google altered its offerings in a way that makes it more vulnerable to data-sharing scrutiny. Advertisers using its DoubleClick system to target and measure ads could start anonymously combining web-tracking data (from “cookies” that follow users online) with potent Google information including search queries, location history, phone numbers and credit card information. Until then, Google had steadfastly kept that data separate."
Google’s Facebook Copycat Moves Leave It More Exposed to Privacy Backlash - Bloomberg

Hard Questions: What Data Does Facebook Collect When I’m Not Using Facebook, and Why? | Facebook Newsroom

Oh, so nothing to worry about, then?... Check the full post for details

"When you visit a site or app that uses our services, we receive information even if you’re logged out or don’t have a Facebook account. This is because other apps and sites don’t know who is using Facebook.

Many companies offer these types of services and, like Facebook, they also get information from the apps and sites that use them. Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn all have similar Like and Share buttons to help people share things on their services. Google has a popular analytics service. And Amazon, Google and Twitter all offer login features. These companies — and many others — also offer advertising services. In fact, most websites and apps send the same information to multiple companies each time you visit them."
Hard Questions: What Data Does Facebook Collect When I’m Not Using Facebook, and Why? | Facebook Newsroom

E.U. privacy law: Why Europe, not Congress, will rein in big tech - The Washington Post

GDPR or bust...

"At the center of the action is Helen Dixon, Ireland’s data protection commissioner. Because the European operations for many big technology companies are headquartered in low-tax Ireland, Dixon is set to become the top cop for U.S. tech giants that include Facebook, Google, Apple, LinkedIn and Airbnb when the new privacy regime comes into force on May 25. She will have the power to slap companies with fines of up to 4 percent of global revenue — which for Facebook could mean penalties of up to $1.6 billion.

“Their business model is around monetizing personal data, and this creates very significant challenges in terms of fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals,” Dixon said in an interview in her Dublin townhouse office. “It creates a type of surveillance and tracking of individuals across the Internet that undoubtedly needs regulation.”"
E.U. privacy law: Why Europe, not Congress, will rein in big tech - The Washington Post

Monday, April 16, 2018

How Did the Pentagon Quantify This Bizarre Statistic on 'Russian Trolls'? (Gizmodo)

Twitter's Congressional testimony schedule still tbd...

"As Donald Trump’s administration, backed by France and the UK, launched a series of missile attacks on Syrian installations allegedly used in the production or deployment of chemical weapons this weekend—and the president bizarrely tweeted “Mission Accomplished!” in a worrying signal with regards to his strategic insight—the question of whether Russia would retaliate on behalf of Bashar al-Assad’s government did tend to hang over the proceedings.

So far, Russia hasn’t given any signs it intends to truly escalate the situation, possibly in part because the White House has actually not yet settled on a comprehensive strategy. But Pentagon spokesperson Dana White did trot out a bizarre statistic on “Russian trolls” on Saturday, telling reporters, “The Russian disinformation campaign has already begun. There has been a 2,000 percent increase in Russian trolls in the last 24 hours.”"
How Did the Pentagon Quantify This Bizarre Statistic on 'Russian Trolls'?

Pentagon wants to spot illnesses by monitoring soldiers’ smartphones - The Washington Post

Perhaps it would have been better to not announce this the day after Mark Zuckerberg finished his data privacy-focused Congressional testimony...

"The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency announced Thursday that it has awarded a $5.1 million contract to the Fairfax, Va.-based cybersecurity company Kryptowire to develop what DARPA calls the “Warfighter Analytics using Smartphones for Health” program, or WASH for short. The app would be used to spot diseases based on data that it collects from a person’s smartphone.

Tom Karygiannis, Kryptowire’s vice president of product, said he hopes the technology can one day broaden access to health care by spotting health problems before a person visits a doctor or nurse. “Ultimately, this could mean better treatment, cost savings and making treatment available to more people,” he said."
Pentagon wants to spot illnesses by monitoring soldiers’ smartphones - The Washington Post

Apple should open a university that's free for everyone | WIRED UK

NYU professor Scott Galloway makes the case for a think-different Apple University; in other education news, see Battle over college course material is a textbook example of technological change (The Washington Post)
"I work with one of the best faculties in the world – and I think two-thirds could leave and not be missed. Now, does that mean they should be fired? No. But does it mean that they should be making as much money as they do, without the same competitive pressures that everyone faces in the marketplace? Of course not. This just translates into outrageous tuition fees which kids finance with debt. Which means they get houses later; which means they start families later; which means they take fewer risks – it’s a drain on the economy.

So, I think a healthy dose of this tech-inspired efficiency and competition would be a great thing for academia. Today, we currently have the wrong attitude. We turn away people and take pride in our exclusivity. It’s like a homeless shelter bragging about the people it doesn’t let through the door. The whole mentality is screwed up."
Apple should open a university that's free for everyone | WIRED UK

Mark Zuckerberg’s long game: the next billion – Monday Note

Final paragraphs from a wide-ranging Facebook reality check

"Thanks to its fantastic business success and the remarkable moral flexibility of its management, Facebook is poised to consolidate its global domination. Its one billion users in developing countries are already using the entire lineup of Facebook apps (WhatsApp is the number one application in 109 countries), which reminds me of this excellent article in Quartz “How Facebook can survive without the West’s advertising money”. The best (or worst) is yet to come, with Facebook products controlling the payment systems in these countries, and quite likely the distribution of information over mobile phones (and perhaps news production, thanks to multiple Facebook Journalism Projects that will foster editorial talent in Nigeria and elsewhere).

One element is missing in this bleak depiction: What Facebook will be willing and able to do in China. In theory, not much. The Great Firewall is pretty much impregnable. But we can factor in the following: one, Mark Zuckerberg has sent repeated signs of goodwill to the Chinese government, which sees him as ready to cooperate; two, when it come to dealing with the authoritarian regime of Xi Jinping, a new bar has been set by Apple, which agreed to store iCloud keys in China, potentially exposing millions of iPhone users to the scrutiny of Chinese authorities. That remarkable precedent could inspire Mark Zuckerberg, who already has a fertile imagination when it comes to scorning the basic rights of his billions of customers."
Mark Zuckerberg’s long game: the next billion – Monday Note