"“The laptops did very well in measures of display quality and performance, but in terms of battery life, we found that the models varied dramatically from one trial to another,” Consumer Reports said in a blog post.In a first, Consumer Reports won’t recommend Apple’s newest MacBook Pros over battery issues - Recode
The magazine said it tested three different models of the MacBook Pro that it bought at retail stores and found that battery life varied widely even on the same machine when used from one test to another. For example, it said that in its testing, the 13-inch model with Touch Bar lasted 16 hours in its first trial, 12.75 hours in a second and just 3.75 hours in its third test. Other models showed similar inconsistency.
The findings line up with customer complaints, the magazine said."
Friday, December 23, 2016
In a first, Consumer Reports won’t recommend Apple’s newest MacBook Pros over battery issues - Recode
World’s largest hedge fund to replace managers with artificial intelligence | Technology | The Guardian
A hedged bet
"“The role of many remaining humans at the firm wouldn’t be to make individual choices but to design the criteria by which the system makes decisions, intervening when something isn’t working,” wrote the Journal, which spoke to five former and current employees.
The firm, which manages $160bn, created the team of programmers specializing in analytics and artificial intelligence, dubbed the Systematized Intelligence Lab, in early 2015. The unit is headed up by David Ferrucci, who previously led IBM’s development of Watson, the supercomputer that beat humans at Jeopardy! in 2011."World’s largest hedge fund to replace managers with artificial intelligence | Technology | The Guardian
Thursday, December 22, 2016
A key quote, earlier in the article: “It’s not a traditional media company. You know, we build technology and we feel responsible for how it’s used.”
"This is a significant shift from how Zuckerberg has discussed Facebook and media in the past. In August while in Rome to meet the Pope, Reuters reports that Zuckerberg responded to an Italian who asked if Facebook would become a news editor by saying “No, we are a tech company, not a media company.” He drew a line between Facebook and publishers, explaining that “The world needs news companies, but also technology platforms, like what we do, and we take our role in this very seriously.”Zuckerberg implies Facebook is a media company, just “not a traditional media company” | TechCrunch
The reason this distinction matters is that pure technology platforms receive greater immunity regarding the content they serve, both legally and in the public eye. This stems from the 1996 Communications Decency Act’s Section 230(c), or the Good Samaritan act, that states “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” Media companies are considered more directly responsible for their content."
Tuesday, December 20, 2016
Not fun for Nintendo investors
"Nintendo shares took a dive on the Tokyo market after the disappointing reviews and sales since its launch. “Super Mario Run” made an estimated $4 million in its opening weekend. That's a lot of gold coins, but not on par with the latest mobile-game hit “Pokémon Go,” which had made an estimated $35 million of that in its first weekend — and at least $600 million in revenue since its release.Why ‘Super Mario Run’ disappoints mobile gamers - The Washington Post
Both the poor reviews and sales numbers suggest Nintendo may not understand what makes players stick with mobile games. For instance, “Super Mario Run” isn't designed to make money on mobile devices in the same way that other hit games have recently. It's taken a more traditional approach to selling it to us. Like the phone games of yore, Mario is essentially a game you buy up front. There are a few free levels, but the company is essentially asking you to pay once for everything."
Tbd if its valuation will exceed its current $69B as it loses more...
"Even as Uber Technologies Inc. exited China, the company's financial loss has remained eye-popping. In the first nine months of this year, the ride-hailing company lost significantly more than $2.2 billion, according to a person familiar with the matter. In the third quarter, Uber lost more than $800 million, not including its Chinese operation.Uber's Loss Exceeds $800 Million in Third Quarter on $1.7 Billion in Net Revenue - Bloomberg
At the same time, the company's revenue has continued to grow even after leaving the world's most populous country. Uber generated about $3.76 billion in net revenue in the first nine months of 2016 and is on track to exceed $5.5 billion this year, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the information is private."
Monday, December 19, 2016
Final paragraph from an extensive review
"There is a great deal to like about the AirPods. Those who buy them and use them will be pleasantly surprised and delighted by their performance as wireless headphones and impressed with the upside of Siri in your ear. I consider the AirPods an important new product in Apple’s lineup and in the same category as the Apple Watch regarding importance for the future. Here is a significant observation of both the Apple Watch and the AirPods worth pointing out. Apple has a tendency to push engineering limits at times to learn or perfect a technique they believe is important for the future or to learn from it in order to integrate into other products. While iPads and iPhones are getting larger, the Apple Watch and AirPods are pushing the limits of miniaturization. Something that is key when we start thinking about future wearables where companies will pack tremendous amounts of technology into extremely small objects. The exercise of packing sensors, microprocessors, batteries, and more into extremely small objects and manufacturing them at scale is an incredibly important skill set to develop for the future. Both the Apple Watch and AirPods are key engineering milestones to build on for where I believe Apple is headed in the future."Apple AirPods: More than just Headphones | Tech.pinions - Perspective, Insight, Analysis
Friday, December 16, 2016
In other tangled-Web news, see Trump’s Election Boosted Demand For Palantir Shares, Investor Says (BuzzFeed)
"Police across the country will now have a harder time singling out individual Twitter users. Twitter announced today that it has cut off all geospatial intelligence data being sold to police intelligence centers, also known as fusion centers.Twitter cuts off geospatial data access for police intelligence centers - The Verge
The geospatial intelligence tool was being provided by Dataminr, an analytics firm partially owned by Twitter, which has exclusive access to the company’s live data feed or “firehose.” Dataminr introduced the system in March, and the ACLU of Northern California found evidence that at least one center had access to it for months afterwards. After a review, Twitter confirmed today that the tool is no longer in use by any such agencies."
New Pew Report: Majority Of Americans Across Party Lines Say Fake News Caused "A Great Deal" Of Confusion (Media Matters)
See Many Americans Believe Fake News Is Sowing Confusion for the full Pew Research report; on a related note, see Conservative Media Freak Out Over Facebook’s Plan To Address The Fake News Problem (Media Matters)
"These findings draw a sharp contrast between Americans’ perception of fake news and an active campaign by right-wing media and figures, including Donald Trump and his transition team, to downplay the existence of these false stories and attack credible news sources by blurring the lines between fake news (fabricated information presented as a legitimate news story) and real reporting. Fox host Sean Hannity called concerns about fake news “nonsense,” and conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, attempting to make fake news a partisan issue, called it “satire and parody that liberals don’t understand.” Similarly, The Washington Free Beacon’s Bill McMorris described fake news as “whatever people living in the liberal bubble determined to be believed by the right.” Trump himself tried to undermine CNN’s reporting on his executive producer credit on NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice by calling it “FAKE NEWS!” And Trump transition senior advisor and former campaign manager Kellyanne Conway asserted that “the most fake piece of news” during the election was that Trump couldn’t win.New Pew Report: Majority Of Americans Across Party Lines Say Fake News Caused "A Great Deal" Of Confusion
The report also found that Americans “collectively assign a fairly high and roughly equal amount of responsibility” for the spread of fake news to three groups: social networking sites and search engines, government and politicians, and members of the public. The survey reported that 42 percent of U.S. adults believe that social networking sites like Facebook and search engines like Google have “a great deal of responsibility” in “preventing completely made-up news from gaining attention.”"
Lots of Verizon indecision this week
"The company was particularly concerned about nuking the Note 7 during the holiday travel season, something that its US rivals also seemed to take into consideration when scheduling a roll-out date for the update. AT&T is waiting until the very same day. Sprint will release it on January 8th. And T-Mobile’s going first among major US carriers on December 27th. Verizon still seems to think it’s making the right decision pushing things off a bit for the same reasons. “We want to make sure you can contact family, first responders, and emergency medical professionals during the holiday travel season.”Verizon changes its mind and will kill Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 on January 5th - The Verge
The January 5th date clears the major holidays and offers customers yet more warning — in case they’re still somehow unaware of the year’s biggest technology blunder — that the end is coming. Return the phone. Please. Let’s be done with this."
Who said what inside the Trump tech meeting: Immigration, paid maternity leave and becoming the ‘software president’ - Recode
Check the full article for more meeting highlights
"SpaceX and Tesla CEO Musk also participated in a number of discussions, and later brought up one of his key issues, climate change, in other meetings at Trump Tower.Who said what inside the Trump tech meeting: Immigration, paid maternity leave and becoming the ‘software president’ - Recode
Here’s an outlier that I personally liked, which Alphabet CEO Page brought up about infrastructure spending: The need to rejigger the electrical grids (something about AC current versus DC current, but everyone I spoke to was a little confused by this)."
Also see Verizon said to explore lower price or exit from Yahoo deal (Bloomberg)
"Security experts and former government officials warned that the real danger of the Yahoo attack was not that hackers gained access to Yahoo users’ email accounts, but that they obtained the credentials to hunt down more lucrative information about their targets wherever it resided across the web.Hacked Yahoo Data Is for Sale on Dark Web - The New York Times
“This wasn’t an attack against Yahoo, but rather reconnaissance to launch other campaigns,” said Oren Falkowitz, a former analyst at the National Security Agency who now runs Area 1, a Silicon Valley security start-up.
“Inactive or not, a billion user accounts and hashes means attackers have a golden key for new phishing attacks,” he said. In a phishing attack, a hacker often poses as a trusted contact and tries to induce the recipient of an email to click on a malicious link or share sensitive information."
Thursday, December 15, 2016
Check the full post for details; also see Facebook Steps Up (Jeff Jarvis)
"We believe in giving people a voice and that we cannot become arbiters of truth ourselves, so we’re approaching this problem carefully. We’ve focused our efforts on the worst of the worst, on the clear hoaxes spread by spammers for their own gain, and on engaging both our community and third party organizations.News Feed FYI: Addressing Hoaxes and Fake News | Facebook Newsroom
The work falls into the following four areas. These are just some of the first steps we’re taking to improve the experience for people on Facebook. We’ll learn from these tests, and iterate and extend them over time."
Room for improvement...
"Apple’s new TV app is supposed to solve all that complexity by unifying all these fragmented services into a single, searchable system. It even gets mapped to the TV button on the Apple TV remote. But because it lacks real support from the most important players in the industry, it’s just another voice in the TV app cacophony.Apple’s new TV app shows how painfully behind it is - The Verge
Worse yet for Apple, it does not operate a streaming video service of its own and makes a set-top box that does nothing its competitors don’t already do, besides the robust games section of the App Store. It’s not for lack of trying. Apple has notoriously spent years trying to gain relevance in digital media, investing resources and countless failed software and hardware attempts to wrestle control away from content providers so it could offer its own solution. The TV app is just the latest potentially doomed attempt. That’s largely because it takes stellar ideas about how we should consume entertainment and smashes them against the immovable object that is the current video landscape."
A new Evernote policy the Microsoft OneNote team is sure to appreciate
The policy changes have to do with machine learning, which Evernote says it is using to “help you get the most out of your Evernote experience.” Evernote wants to let its machine learning algorithms crunch your data, but it doesn’t want to stop there — the company also wants to let some of its employees read your notes so it can ensure that the machine learning is functioning properly.
Check the full post for four recommendations
"Like many, I was surprised and shocked by the election of Donald Trump as president. I believe his ideas, temperament, and inexperience represent a grave threat to our country and world. Suddenly, all the things I had planned to work on seemed trivial in comparison. Although Internet security and privacy are not the most important policy areas at risk, I believe he -- and, more importantly, his cabinet, administration, and Congress -- will have devastating effects in that area, both in the US and around the world.My Priorities for the Next Four Years - Schneier on Security
The election was so close that I've come to see the result as a bad roll of the dice. A few minor tweaks here and there -- a more enthusiastic Sanders endorsement, one fewer of Comey's announcements, slightly less Russian involvement -- and the country would be preparing for a Clinton presidency and discussing a very different social narrative. That alternative narrative would stress business as usual, and continue to obscure the deep social problems in our society. Those problems won't go away on their own, and in this alternative future they would continue to fester under the surface, getting steadily worse. This election exposed those problems for everyone to see."
Check 13 Faces Every Tech CEO Who Goes To A Meeting With Donald Trump Will Immediately Recognize (BuzzFeed) for a concise summary of the meeting tone
"“This is a truly amazing group of people,” the president-elect said on Wednesday in a 25th-floor conference room at Trump Tower in Manhattan. The gathering included Jeff Bezos of Amazon; Elon Musk of Tesla; Timothy D. Cook of Apple; Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook; Larry Page and Eric Schmidt of Alphabet, Google’s parent company; and Satya Nadella of Microsoft, among others. “I’m here to help you folks do well,” Mr. Trump said.‘I’m Here to Help,’ Trump Tells Tech Executives at Meeting - The New York Times
He kept going in that vein. “There’s nobody like you in the world,” he enthused. “In the world! There’s nobody like the people in this room.” Anything that the government “can do to help this go along,” he made clear, “we’re going to be there for you.”"
Another record for Yahoo (and perhaps another acquisition price discount for Verizon)
"Yahoo, already reeling from its September disclosure that 500 million user accounts had been hacked in 2014, disclosed Wednesday that a different attack in 2013 compromised more than 1 billion accounts.Yahoo Says 1 Billion User Accounts Were Hacked - The New York Times
The two attacks are the largest known security breaches of one company’s computer network.
The newly disclosed 2013 attack involved sensitive user information, including names, telephone numbers, dates of birth, encrypted passwords and unencrypted security questions that could be used to reset a password. Yahoo said it is forcing all of the affected users to change their passwords and it is invalidating unencrypted security questions — steps that it declined to take in September."
History may determine it was more about Twitter enabling Trump, imho; on a related note, see Twitter Has the Right to Suspend Donald Trump. But It Shouldn’t (NYT); also see Trump team says Twitter too small to be included in tech meeting (Reuters)
"And Trump’s Twitter love extends only so far. According to the news site Politico, when the president-elect met with technology leaders in New York Wednesday, he specifically disinvited Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey because his company wouldn’t allow the use of an emoji image mocking Trump’s Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.Is Trump Twitter’s salvation? - The Boston Globe
Twitter shouldn’t put its future in Trump’s hands, anyway. Its most promising new business idea has nothing to do with politics: broadcasting live football, baseball, and hockey games that should attract millions of mobile sports buffs — and the advertisers who want to be in front of them. And on Wednesday, the company upgraded its mobile app to allow live video streaming from smartphones."
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
"Emergency situations" such as a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phone exploding?...
"Samsung will start releasing a global software update on December 19 for its recalled Galaxy Note7 smartphone that will prevent the phone from charging, making phone calls, and sending text messages.Here’s How Samsung Is Forcing People To Turn In Their Galaxy Note7 Phones - BuzzFeed News
Samsung said in a statement that customers have returned 93% of the recalled phones. It aims to bring that to 100% with this software update, which will effectively render the phones useless.
But in a twist, Verizon will block the software update for its customers with Note7s. Jeffrey Nelson, Verizon’s VP of global corporate communications, said in a statement that the cell service carrier wants to protect customers who may not have another device to immediately switch to, who may find themselves in emergency situations, or who may be traveling for the winter holidays. The company encourages Note7 owners to exchange their phones as soon as possible."
Also see Jack Dorsey, who created Donald Trump’s beloved Twitter, has not been invited to the tech summit. Sad! (Recode)
"It wasn’t really a conversation. Dorsey essentially gave Snowden a massive platform — over 150,000 people watched — to broadcast his opinions about why government surveillance is wrong and why technology companies should not participate.Jack Dorsey’s interview with Snowden sends a strong anti-surveillance message to Trump - Recode
Dorsey’s decision to host Snowden was a bold move in the run-up to President-elect Trump’s inauguration. Airing such a divisive political figure as Snowden sends a clear message to the incoming president that Twitter will not participate in dragnet government surveillance programs that bypass due process."
Excerpt from a > 15,000-word profile; also see Microsoft to Release Translator App in AI Race Against Google (Bloomberg)
"What follows here is the story of how a team of Google researchers and engineers — at first one or two, then three or four, and finally more than a hundred — made considerable progress in that direction. It’s an uncommon story in many ways, not least of all because it defies many of the Silicon Valley stereotypes we’ve grown accustomed to. It does not feature people who think that everything will be unrecognizably different tomorrow or the next day because of some restless tinkerer in his garage. It is neither a story about people who think technology will solve all our problems nor one about people who think technology is ineluctably bound to create apocalyptic new ones. It is not about disruption, at least not in the way that word tends to be used.The Great A.I. Awakening - The New York Times
It is, in fact, three overlapping stories that converge in Google Translate’s successful metamorphosis to A.I. — a technical story, an institutional story and a story about the evolution of ideas. The technical story is about one team on one product at one company, and the process by which they refined, tested and introduced a brand-new version of an old product in only about a quarter of the time anyone, themselves included, might reasonably have expected. The institutional story is about the employees of a small but influential artificial-intelligence group within that company, and the process by which their intuitive faith in some old, unproven and broadly unpalatable notions about computing upended every other company within a large radius. The story of ideas is about the cognitive scientists, psychologists and wayward engineers who long toiled in obscurity, and the process by which their ostensibly irrational convictions ultimately inspired a paradigm shift in our understanding not only of technology but also, in theory, of consciousness itself."
What could possibly go wrong?...
"What's holding back progress? Partly the artificial intelligence that powers the technology has room to improve. There's also a serious deficit of data—specifically audio of human voices, speaking in multiple languages, accents and dialects in often noisy circumstances that can defeat the code.Why Google, Microsoft and Amazon Love the Sound of Your Voice - Bloomberg
So Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and China's Baidu have embarked on a world-wide hunt for terabytes of human speech. Microsoft has set up mock apartments in cities around the globe to record volunteers speaking in a home setting. Every hour, Amazon uploads Alexa queries to a vast digital warehouse. Baidu is busily collecting every dialect in China. Then they take all that data and use it to teach their computers how to parse, understand and respond to commands and queries."
Playing politics Trump-style
"Rometty is continuing what is emerging as a formula among technology companies: in conjunction with meetings with Trump in his Manhattan tower, pledge to create jobs and invest billions of dollars in the U.S., even if the plans had already been in the works since before he was elected. The advantage for companies is that it can deflect criticism from the new administration that the industry is shifting jobs offshore, while also giving Trump a way to take credit for job creation goals that may have little to do with his election.IBM Lays Out Plans to Hire 25,000 in U.S. Ahead of Trump Meeting - Bloomberg
IBM said in March it had more than 25,000 positions open globally and that it had started to cut some jobs in the U.S. as part of a “workforce rebalancing” in an effort to add staff with cloud and other specific skills."
Waymo organizational complexity
"“As we look at this space and the opportunities ahead of us, we see so much,” said John Krafcik, chief executive of Waymo. “We’re a new company, but we’ve been at this for a while.”Google Parent Company Spins Off Self-Driving Car Business - The New York Times
Waymo joins the roster of Alphabet companies, which includes Google. Mr. Krafcik said the new arrangement allows Waymo to tap into the infrastructure and resources of Alphabet with the feel of an independent venture-backed company. He said Waymo’s technology could have uses as varied as ride-sharing services and long-haul trucking, but he did not lay out a specific business strategy."
Earlier in the article: "First, do we really have to say in 2016 that you should assume anything you text or email is public? Really?"
"The real question here is what Mr. Andreessen was thinking. The committee would probably have come to the same conclusion no matter what, given Mr. Zuckerberg’s importance to and control of the company, but at least there was some back and forth.A Potential Hitch in Zuckerberg’s Stock Plan for Facebook - The New York Times
One might guess that Mr. Andreessen was trying to curry favor with Mr. Zuckerberg. His venture capital firm, Andreessen Horowitz, did help sell both Instagram and Oculus investments to Facebook, after all.
But given Mr. Andreessen’s great prominence as a venture capitalist, there really was no need to pander like that. And indeed, the more likely explanation is that he thought it was no big deal."
The accident wasn't my fault; his car distracted mine with a denial-of-service attack while I was busy with a conference call...
"Under the new rules, cars would be able to use wireless technology involving chips and a dedicated band of radio airwaves to detect if another vehicle around the corner and hundreds of yards away was moving too fast in its direction and headed for a collision. What happens next would be up to the automaker, which would decide if it would put in place automated response technology to brake or simply provide a visual or audio warning to a driver.Cars Talking to One Another? They Could Under Proposed Safety Rules - The New York Times
The proposed rules, combined with the department’s recent guidelines on driverless cars, illustrate the government’s embrace of car-safety technology after years of hesitation, even as distractions in vehicles contributed to the biggest annual percentage increase of road fatalities in 50 years."
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
A more tangled Web ahead
"Now with Rosenworcel out and Chairman Wheeler expected to leave the agency in January, the stage is set for a 2-1 Republican majority at the FCC next year. And President-elect Trump, an opponent of network neutrality, is geared to pick new leadership to reverse the rules.Net neutrality faces extinction under Trump - Recode
Without network neutrality, internet providers will be able to create a two-way toll, charging subscribers to access the internet (which it already does) as well as charging websites for prioritized access to reach their users.
That means that smaller, new online businesses that can’t afford to pay to reach users at faster speeds will be relegated to the slow lane, making it difficult to compete with already established sites — especially if websites that are already extremely profitable, like Facebook, get to set the price."
In other self-driving car news, see Uber has lost three of its top self-driving engineers (Recode)
"Google has reportedly shelved its long-standing plan to develop its own autonomous vehicle in favor of pursuing partnerships with existing car makers.Google has reportedly stopped developing its own self-driving car | TechCrunch
The Information reports that Google’s self-driving car unit — known internally as Chauffeur — is working with establish automotive names to develop cars which will include some self-driving features, but won’t ditch the steering wheel and pedal controls. The firm is already working with Fiat Chrysler, per a partnership announced in May, and that could be the start of others to come."
Also see Apple’s TV app lands in iOS 10.2 and tvOS 10.1: What you should know (SlashGear)
"Apple’s new TV application is now available to all users, thanks to the iOS and tvOS updates rolling out today. The app, first introduced this fall, offers Apple TV, iPhone and iPad users a single destination to access the TV shows and movies from across the apps you have installed on your devices, while also helping you keep track of favorites programs, search across apps, get recommendations, plus access your own iTunes library and the iTunes store.Apple’s new TV app goes live on Apple TV, iPhone and iPad | TechCrunch
The idea of a centralized application comes at a time when there are a growing number of streaming video applications available for watching TV on mobile phones, tablets and other connected devices. However, end users have been frustrated by the fragmented experience this multitude of apps offers – not only do you have to sign in or authenticate with your pay TV provider in order to watch on each one, it’s hard to remember which network’s app has your favorite shows and films."
Alas, SpaceX won't be able to offer Trump a way off the planet until 2018
"Ideologically, Trump's supporters have little in common with a gilded region where $100,000 Tesla sedans dot the freeways, and where the average software engineer earns six figures and aspires to teach computers to take over human labor. But the tech executives are expected to make the case that their industry improves American lives and contributes to the economy by boosting productivity and making desirable consumer products.What Silicon Valley execs plan to tell Trump this week - The Washington Post
Musk, for one, is expected to point out that all Tesla vehicles and SpaceX rockets are manufactured in the United States, according to a person familiar with his thinking."
Monday, December 12, 2016
A mobile market dynamics reality check by Benedict Evans (GAFA => Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon); also see The second stage of mobile dominance is now beginning, says an Andreessen Horowitz partner (Quartz)
"As we pass 2.5bn smartphones on earth and head towards 5bn, and mobile moves from creation to deployment, the questions change. What's the state of the smartphone, machine learning and 'GAFA', and what can we build as we stand on the shoulders of giants?"Mobile is eating the world — Benedict Evans
Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Jack Ma, and other investors worth $170 billion are launching a clean-energy fund to fight climate change — Quartz
In other energy news, see Perry Said to Be Trump’s Top Candidate for Energy Secretary (Bloomberg)
"The Microsoft co-founder and his all-star line-up of fellow investors plan to announce tomorrow the Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund, which will begin making investments next year. The BEV fund, which has a 20-year duration, aims to invest in the commercialization of new technologies that reduce greenhouse-gas emissions in areas including electricity generation and storage, transportation, industrial processes, agriculture, and energy-system efficiency.Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Jack Ma, and other investors worth $170 billion are launching a clean-energy fund to fight climate change — Quartz
“Anything that leads to cheap, clean, reliable energy we’re open-minded to,” says Gates, who is serving as chairman of BEV and anticipates being actively involved."
What Trump said about Apple, Alphabet and Facebook — the tech companies he’s meeting next week - Recode
Check the full post for some related Trump tweets that will make for an awkward meeting; also see Actually, Elon Musk might skip Trump tech summit (Recode)
"In case you missed it: President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team is convening a tech summit at Trump Tower next week, and top execs from Apple, Alphabet, Facebook and more are attending.What Trump said about Apple, Alphabet and Facebook — the tech companies he’s meeting next week - Recode
As one person familiar with the summit plans told my boss, Recode’s Kara Swisher, “Look, this is obviously a circus.” So, let’s do some social media-searching acrobatics and see what Trump has said about these companies."
Friday, December 09, 2016
Also see Comet Pizzeria Gunman Says “the Intel on This Wasn’t 100 percent” in First Interview (Slate)
"Hillary Clinton has called for Congress and Silicon Valley to counter an “epidemic” of fake online news, after a conspiracy theorist fired a gun inside a Washington, DC pizza parlor he believed was part of a child sex trafficking ring linked to Clinton. Clinton raised the subject of “malicious fake news and false propaganda” more generally, saying it had “flooded social media over the past year.” But “it's now clear that so-called fake news can have real-world consequences,” she said. “This isn't about politics or partisanship. Lives are at risk. Lives of ordinary people just trying to go about their days to do their jobs, contribute to their communities.”Hillary Clinton says ‘lives are at risk’ because of fake news - The Verge
Clinton remained vague in her condemnation. But the statement is seemingly a reference to threats against Comet Ping Pong and other pizzerias at the center of “Pizzagate,” a conspiracy theory that claims Clinton’s former presidential chair John Podesta is part of a pedophilia ring hiding behind coded food terms. Over the weekend, a self-styled Pizzagate investigator showed up at Comet Ping Pong with a rifle, and was arrested after firing it inside the restaurant. The man, Edgar Maddison Welch, said he had become convinced that Comet Ping Pong was hiding child sex slaves after investigating the theory online."
ELIZA, please take me to work
"The “emotion engine” technology comes out of a partnership that Honda and Japanese telecommunications firm SoftBank revealed this year. The two paired up to design AI technology that allows the car to have conversations with its driver and gauge his or her emotions, Honda said in a news release.This Honda concept car will have emotions of its own - The Washington Post
Honda expects the car will “grow up” with its driver and share in his or her experiences, prompting the driver to feel the car “has become a good partner and thus form a stronger emotional attachment toward it.” (That could complicate matters when it comes time to trade in, but no one ever said breakups are easy.)"
Check Start building Actions on Google (Google Developers Blog) for details
"Douglas stressed that the strategy for integrating services is different than standard operations for mobile apps and the desktop web. "It's a conversational experience," he said. "It's a pretty new ecosystem."Google Opens its Digital Assistant to Developers in Race Against Amazon's Alexa - Bloomberg
Not entirely new. Amazon has rolled out a similar feature with Alexa, its own virtual assistant, called skills, which links to external apps and services. Alexa works primarily with Amazon's Echo speakers, which compete with Google Home. Thus far, Amazon has created more than 5,000 skills with partners ranging from Domino's Pizza to ride-hailing service Uber.
Douglas said Google's Conversation Actions are different from Amazon's approach. Rather than picking and setting up skills manually, as Echo owners do, Google imagines its users conjuring any use case with a verbal command -- as long as a developer has built it and claimed the relevant phrase."
From a profile of Alphabet amid organizational transition
"The architect of this reorganization—known as “Alphabetization” at the ever-sunny Google—was Ruth Porat, the new chief financial officer. Porat, who was born in England but grew up in Palo Alto, led Morgan Stanley’s technology banking division during the first dot-com boom, served as an adviser to the Treasury Department during the bailouts of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and became Morgan Stanley’s CFO in 2010. She joined Google in May 2015 with a mandate to bring discipline and focus to a company so awash in cash that it never needed much of either. She instituted rigorous budgeting and, according to people familiar with Alphabet’s operations, forced the Other Bets to begin paying for the shared Google services they used. Projects hatched with ambiguous timelines of 10 or more years in some cases had to show a path to profit in half the time.Google Makes So Much Money, It Never Had to Worry About Financial Discipline - Bloomberg
At most big companies, such financial controls are standard operating procedure, and Alphabet’s investors are pleased. Its stock is up 35 percent since Porat joined. But within the Other Bets, Porat’s tenure has been controversial, earning her an unflattering nickname: Ruthless Ruth. “She’s a hatchet man,” says a former senior Alphabet executive. “If Larry isn’t excited about something,” the executive continues, referring to CEO Page, “Ruth kills it.”"
Welcome to Microsoft's global collection of personal profiles, LinkedIn users
"Both men said that expanding the business of LinkedIn, which has more 470 million members, was what they cared most about. Microsoft will use its sales and distribution muscle to do just that.With LinkedIn, Microsoft Looks to Avoid Past Acquisition Busts - The New York Times
The company’s executives on Thursday will outline plans to integrate the professional identity people have on LinkedIn with Microsoft Outlook and the rest of the Office suite. LinkedIn members will be able to draft résumés in Word to update their LinkedIn profiles.
“Satya said starting literally on Day 1 the first priority is growing LinkedIn,” Mr. Weiner said. “That if LinkedIn continues to grow its membership, if it continues to realize its mission, its vision, if it continues to grow the business, that’s going to create value for Microsoft.”"
Thursday, December 08, 2016
Check Slack + Google: Partners at work (Slack blog) for integration details. I'm assuming the Google Drive bot integration points, in our wonderful world of open standards and published APIs, will also eventually work with Microsoft Teams and Workplace by Facebook; e.g., see Message.io Partners with Microsoft to Translate Bots to Microsoft Teams Platform (Message.io press release)
"There is a more subtle reason Slack may be courting Google as its primary partner. The startup recently had a public dispute with Microsoft, which just launched a Slack competitor called Microsoft Teams. In an escalating of tensions, Slack published a full-page ad in The New York Times in the spirit of Apple’s infamous 1981 welcome letter to IBM after the corporate giant entered the PC race. The move was evidence that Slack leadership felt Microsoft had stepped into its territory. And while Apple’s original ad was designed to patronize IBM by highlighting its late arrival, Slack’s effort may have cast itself as a vulnerable startup overtly concerned with being crushed by a free alternative.Slack is becoming more deeply intertwined with Google Drive - The Verge
For Microsoft, of course, Google is much more of a competitor than Slack. In that scenario, Google Drive is the dangerous free alternative to Microsoft’s Office 365 product, the very same subscription that nets more than 85 million Office users a free ticket to its Teams app. So it would seem Slack is more interested in cozying up to Google than indirectly making it easier to use Microsoft products in the workplace."
Pretty sure this isn't fake news; in other Facebook legal and PR full-employment news, see Facebook Struggles to Put Out Online Fires in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (NYT)
"In August 2015, with the chief executive's blessing, Facebook's board set up a special committee, choosing the three directors who were least beholden to Zuckerberg or financially affected by the decision -- Susan Desmond-Hellmann, Marc Andreessen and Erskine Bowles -- to represent shareholders while weighing the matter, according to a regulatory filing.Facebook's Investors Criticize Marc Andreessen for Conflict of Interest - Bloomberg
But Andreessen, a venture capitalist at Andreessen Horowitz and a long-time Facebook board member, is a close Zuckerberg ally. While on the committee, Andreessen slipped Zuckerberg information about their progress and concerns, helping Zuckerberg negotiate against them, according to court documents. The documents include the transcripts of private texts between the two men, revealing the inner workings of the board of directors at a pivotal time for Facebook."
Also see Microsoft Unveils Windows 10 for Qualcomm Chips, a Blow to Intel (Bloomberg); tangentially, see Chromebooks: The Cheap, Good-Enough Alternative to Windows Laptops (WSJ)
"Microsoft Corp. is working with Qualcomm Inc. to spawn a new breed of tablets and notebooks that promise to diversify the software giant’s technology base and give the chip maker access to new markets. The partnership will result in an update of Windows 10 that runs on a chip in Qualcomm’s widely used Snapdragon line of processors, the first Windows 10-Snapdragon pairing.Microsoft and Qualcomm Team Up on Tablets - WSJ
However, those devices may not be able to handle every application developed for the company’s flagship operating system—recalling a blunder from a few years ago, when Microsoft rolled out a Windows variant that ran on mobile-friendly chips but wasn’t compatible with some Windows applications."
On a brighter note, see Nonprofit Journalism Groups Are Gearing Up With Flood of Donations (NYT)
"The larger problem, experts say, is less extreme but more insidious. Fake news, and the proliferation of raw opinion that passes for news, is creating confusion, punching holes in what is true, causing a kind of fun-house effect that leaves the reader doubting everything, including real news.In News, What’s Fake and What’s Real Can Depend on What You Want to Believe - The New York Times
That has pushed up the political temperature and increased polarization. No longer burdened with wrestling with the possibility that they might be wrong, people on the right and the left have become more entrenched in their positions, experts say. In interviews, people said they felt more empowered, more attached to their own side and less inclined to listen to the other. Polarization is fun, like cheering a goal for the home team."
Wednesday, December 07, 2016
Still tbd when Slack will publish a full-page NYT ad to welcome Facebook to this market domain
"Facebook will compete directly with Slack through a full-fledged new collaboration app platform built atop its pay-per-user enterprise communication product Workplace. Exclusively announced on stage today at TechCrunch Disrupt London, the Facebook Workplace platform will support integration with apps for CRM, file sharing, email, calendars and more.Facebook Workplace announces enterprise collaboration app platform | TechCrunch
By allowing clients’ IT teams to customize their versions of Workplace, Facebook could make the product flexible enough to handle any business. And because the integrations with outside tools are built by IT teams rather than offering a generic app store, enterprise app developers won’t have to build anything special to support Workplace."
Also see Google Wifi review roundup (Computerworld), Google Wifi Review: Wi-Fi that Works (The Verge), and Google Wifi Makes Wireless Internet At Home Suck Less (BuzzFeed)
"Google Wifi is not the first mesh network system out there. As I said earlier, Eero and Luma promise the same exact thing.Google Wifi review: The easiest, cheapest way to fix bad Wi-Fi
I've heard mostly good things about those products and how they bathe your home with faster, more reliable Wi-Fi. But they're just too expensive.
A single Eero costs $199 and a single Luma costs $149. Google Wifi is less than both at $129. Luma is priced the same as Google Wifi for a 3-pack ($299), but a 3-pack of Eero costs a whopping $499.
Google Wifi is all the more compelling (even if you don't live in a large home) now that Apple is reportedly no longer making its AirPort Wi-Fi routers.
If you want your Wi-Fi to "just work," I can't recommend Google Wifi enough."
Clearly a big opportunity for more "screen media" time for work...
"Want to get your kids off their phones and back into the real world? A new study suggests that before you launch into the lecture about how you only see the tops of their heads these days, you may want to take stock of what your own technology habits are telling your kids.Parents who want kids to get off their phones should look in the mirror first - The Washington Post
Parents are spending an average of 9 hours and 22 minutes with screen media per day, the study found -- and only an hour and a half of that is for work. That means parents use their devices overall as much as their teens and tween. In fact the average parent spends about a half-hour more each day in the glow of screens than the average teen, excluding school or time spent with homework."
Perhaps a small table will suffice for this meeting
"Two Silicon Valley chief executives appeared willing to test the waters: Safra Catz, of the software maker Oracle, confirmed her participation in next week’s meeting with Mr. Trump. So did Chuck Robbins of Cisco Systems, the networking gear maker.Donald Trump Summons Tech Leaders to a Round-Table Meeting - The New York Times
Representatives for other leading tech companies, including Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Google and Apple, declined to comment. A Trump spokeswoman did not immediately reply to a request for comment."
Leading by example
"What Google has done over the last decade, with relatively little fanfare, is participate in a number of large-scale deals with renewable producers, typically guaranteeing to buy the energy they produce with their wind turbines and solar cells. With those guarantees, wind companies can obtain bank financing to build more turbines.Google Says It Will Run Entirely on Renewable Energy in 2017 - The New York Times
The power created by the renewables is plugged into the utility grid, so that Google’s usage presents no net consumption of fossil fuels and the pool of electricity gets a relatively larger share of renewable sources.
“We are the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy in the world,” said Joe Kava, Google’s senior vice president of technical infrastructure. “It’s good for the economy, good for business and good for our shareholders.”"
"Interesting ... fascinating ... complicated;" I'd add "opportunistic ... inconsistent ... irresponsible ... complicit..."
"“He’s known how to use it for quite some time. I think it’s an important time for the company and service. And having the president-elect on our service, using it as a direct line of communication, allows everyone to see what’s on his mind in the moment. I think that’s interesting. I think it’s fascinating. I haven’t seen that before.Twitter founder feels 'complicated' about Donald Trump's tweeting | Technology | The Guardian
“We’re definitely entering a new world where everything is on the surface and we can all see it in real time and we can have conversations about it. Where does that go? I’m not really sure. But it’s definitely been fascinating to learn from.”
Asked how he felt about Trump’s use of the service, Dorsey said: “Complicated”."
Tuesday, December 06, 2016
Later in the article: "IDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment."
"Cook's comments followed a report on Monday from technology research firm IDC estimating that the tech giant sold 1.1 million units of the Apple Watch during the third quarter of 2016, down 71 percent from the year-ago quarter. The comments offer a glimpse of the gadget's performance during the holiday quarter, which is typically Apple's strongest.Apple Watch sales to consumers set record in holiday week, says Apple's Cook | Reuters
"Our data shows that Apple Watch is doing great and looks to be one of the most popular holiday gifts this year," Cook wrote.
"Sales growth is off the charts. In fact, during the first week of holiday shopping, our sell-through of Apple Watch was greater than any week in the product’s history. And as we expected, we’re on track for the best quarter ever for Apple Watch," he said."
"Touch doesn’t make the Rift any less of a niche product, and it makes the full package as expensive as the HTC Vive, although its new minimum spec supports cheaper computers. It costs far more than PlayStation VR or some of Microsoft’s promised headsets. But after nine months, the Oculus Rift no longer feels incomplete. It’s a product that I can recommend wholeheartedly to anyone with the (considerable) money and the interest, despite the caveats above.Oculus Touch review: the Oculus Rift is finally complete - The Verge
Every VR system is still, in some sense, a first-generation prototype. Oculus Touch doesn’t change the fact that the Rift is a bulky mask with copious wiring, running on a type of computer few people own. But with Touch, the Rift feels like it’s gone as far as its current technology can manage, and done so with aplomb. It’s not the end goal of virtual reality, but it might well be the end of the beginning."
Also see Amazon Moves to Cut Checkout Line, Promoting a Grab-and-Go Experience (NYT) and Amazon Working on Several Grocery-Store Formats, Could Open More Than 2,000 Locations (WSJ); also see Amazon: No, we're not opening 2,000 stores (CNET)
"What is Amazon Go?Amazon.com: Amazon Go
Amazon Go is a new kind of store with no checkout required. We created the world’s most advanced shopping technology so you never have to wait in line. With our Just Walk Out Shopping experience, simply use the Amazon Go app to enter the store, take the products you want, and go! No lines, no checkout. (No, seriously.)
How does Amazon Go work?
Our checkout-free shopping experience is made possible by the same types of technologies used in self-driving cars: computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning. Our Just Walk Out technology automatically detects when products are taken from or returned to the shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual cart. When you’re done shopping, you can just leave the store. Shortly after, we’ll charge your Amazon account and send you a receipt."
Also see Elon Musk Is the Most Admired Leader in Technology (Fortune)
"In the last decade, Mr. Musk has created nearly 35,000 jobs among his various enterprises — and most of those jobs are classic manufacturing ones. His Tesla Gigafactory, a 5.5-million-square-foot battery factory under construction outside Reno, Nev., is expected to employ 6,500 people in manufacturing jobs by 2020.Want to Bring Back Jobs, Mr. President-Elect? Call Elon Musk - The New York Times
After the factory is complete, 95 percent of the parts contained in Tesla vehicles will be made in the United States. His company’s leading-edge advances have pushed the entire auto industry to innovate, with rivals seeking to copy many of Tesla’s best features."
Hopefully the first step of many in jointly addressing destructive content
"Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube are coming together to help curb the spread of terrorist content online. There is no place for content that promotes terrorism on our hosted consumer services. When alerted, we take swift action against this kind of content in accordance with our respective policies.Partnering to Help Curb Spread of Online Terrorist Content | Facebook Newsroom
Starting today, we commit to the creation of a shared industry database of “hashes” — unique digital “fingerprints” — for violent terrorist imagery or terrorist recruitment videos or images that we have removed from our services. By sharing this information with each other, we may use the shared hashes to help identify potential terrorist content on our respective hosted consumer platforms. We hope this collaboration will lead to greater efficiency as we continue to enforce our policies to help curb the pressing global issue of terrorist content online."
Monday, December 05, 2016
Final paragraphs from a review of Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy and Virtual Competition: The Promise and Perils of the Algorithm-Driven Economy
"It would be naive to think that there is a firewall between commercial surveillance and government surveillance. There is not.They Have, Right Now, Another You | by Sue Halpern | The New York Review of Books
Many of us have been concerned about digital overreach by our governments, especially after the Snowden revelations. But the consumerist impulse that feeds the promiscuous divulgence of personal information similarly threatens our rights as individuals and our collective welfare. Indeed, it may be more threatening, as we mindlessly trade ninety-eight degrees of freedom for a bunch of stuff we have been mesmerized into thinking costs us nothing."
Jean-Louis Gassée continues his series on possible future Apple device directions
"No surprise that many of us were skeptical when Jobs announced, in January 2007, that the iPhone would run on OS X. We thought his use of “OS X” was, to be polite, a rhetorical flourish, a slight of hand. But, no, when inquiring geeks got their hands on the device, they indeed recognized the OS X core services.The Operating System Fountain of Youth: iOS
The engineering feat performed by Forstall and his team and its enormous economic consequences can’t be overstated. They changed Apple and an entire industry, inaugurating the Smartphone 2.0 era.
In order to run on less-than-muscular hardware, the team had to leave a lot on the editing room floor. There would be no cut-and-paste, no apps, no accented characters, no (user-accessible) multitasking or file system… But year after year, just as with any OS, functions were added and revealed. With a 2.34GHz processor, up to 3 GB of RAM, and as much as 256GB of “disk” storage, the OS X descendant now called iOS is both significantly smaller and simpler than macOS, but it’s robust enough to tackle many tasks that were once the province of a “traditional” PC engine."
Excerpt from an assessment of Facebook as "the ultimate filter bubble"
"We must face the fact that Facebook doesn’t care about news in the journalism sense. News represents about 10% of the average user newsfeed and news can be cut overnight if circumstances dictate with no significant impact for the platform. (Actually, someone with good inside knowledge of the social network told me that news will be removed from users’ feed should the European Union move against Facebook in the same way it attacks Google on editorial issues).Facebook’s Walled Wonderland Is Inherently Incompatible With News
In that broad context, the fake news situation is just a part of Facebook’s system, a bad apple in a large basket. It is impossible to believe that one of the best engineering companies in the world has not seen it coming; fake news was simply considered an unpleasant parasite, the wine lees at the bottom of the barrel… until Trump’s campaign made such a large use of fake news that it blew up."
Check Microsoft's Home Hub ambitions aim to crush Google Home and Amazon Echo [exclusive] (Windows Central) for a preview of a parallel universe in which Windows 10 PCs are at the center of the home computing picture
"Microsoft is planning to enable Cortana to be the center of its HomeHub initiative, and the integration will allow the assistant to provide HomeHub-like features across iOS and Android. This will include extending the assistant to control smart devices and manage them from the Windows 10 HomeHub feature. Microsoft’s HomeHub plans are currently in the planning phases, so many features will likely change and the interface itself could be entirely cut out of future Windows 10 updates. Microsoft has largely been left out of the emergence of the smart home, despite having Cortana running on the Xbox One. The HomeHub is Microsoft’s bet to try and control the ecosystem before Amazon, Google, or even Apple provide the best framework to manage devices in your home."Microsoft takes aim at Amazon’s Echo with Windows 10 HomeHub feature - The Verge
Apple may not be building a self-driving car, but it sure cares a lot about rules for self-driving cars - Recode
Also see Apple's car letter: What's it driving at? (CNET)
"Apple has spelled them out in a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, where the company says it is “investing heavily in the study of machine learning and automation and is excited about the potential of automated systems in many areas, including transportation.”Apple may not be building a self-driving car, but it sure cares a lot about rules for self-driving cars - Recode
That doesn’t mean Apple is actually building a self-driving car — a series of reports indicates that Apple had been interested in that idea, but now seems more likely to be licensing out its software for other people’s self-driving cars.
But the letter does suggest that Apple wants to keep its options open if it does decide to build a car."
Check the source for more details and a podcast interview
"Although he believes artificial intelligence will take some jobs away over time, Gundotra said people will always want human doctors “to tell them what’s going on.” He envisioned a near future where those doctors routinely enlist machines’ help, and developing a good bedside manner becomes more important than ever.In five years, machine learning will be a part of every doctor’s job, Vic Gundotra says - Recode
“Today, you would never buy a car without airbags and antilock breaks,” he said. “In the next half-decade, no physician will practice without deep-learning, machine-learning systems by his side or her side.”
However, he noted that the collapse of blood-testing startup Theranos is an “unmitigated disaster” for health-tech, saying it had undermined the confidence of both investors and consumers."
Also see Elon Musk's OpenAI and Google's DeepMind release their AI playgrounds to everyone (Wired)
"DeepMind is putting the entire source code for its training environment -- which it previously called Labyrinth and has now renamed as DeepMind Lab -- on the open-source depository GitHub, the company said Monday. Anyone will be able to download the code and customize it to help train their own artificial intelligence systems. They will also be able to create new game levels for DeepMind Lab and upload these to GitHub.Google DeepMind Makes AI Training Platform Publicly Available - Bloomberg
The decision to make this AI test bed available to the public is further evidence of DeepMind’s decision to embrace more openness around its research. Last month, the company announced a partnership with Activision Blizzard Inc. to turn the popular video game Starcraft II into a testbed for any artificial intelligence researcher who wanted to try to create an AI system that could master the complex game."
From a timely AI reality check
Artificial Intelligence Makes Strides, but Has a Long Way to Go - WSJ
"AI, says Ms. Bassa, requires three things that most companies don’t have in sufficient quantities. The first is enough data. Companies like Facebook, Amazon, Alphabet, General Electric Co. and others are harvesting enormous amounts of data, but they are exceptions.Reminder: if you don't have a WSJ subscription and want to view a full article, Google the article title
The second is problems where making a small difference can justify the expense of creating an AI system. If AI can improve the fraud-detection system at a credit-card company by 1%, that could be worth tens of millions of dollars. For a midsize manufacturer that makes many different products, however, a 1% improvement in productivity of a particular line might not justify the cost of hiring a half-dozen highly paid engineers.
That leads to the third scarcity: People to build systems. The war for AI talent is driving up the cost. “There are maybe 5,000 people in the world who can put together one of these machine-learning systems in a way that saves money, even if only incrementally,” says Ms. Bassa."
Artificial Intelligence Makes Strides, but Has a Long Way to Go - WSJ
Friday, December 02, 2016
Check the full post for an overview of Microsoft Teams and its likely impact on enterprise communication/collaboration market dynamics
"Microsoft introduced Teams, its new workspace- and chat-based communication/collaboration app, on November 2nd. Although Teams in still in a preview release phase, with general availability expected in Q1 2017, CASAHL believes Teams is poised to be a huge success, increasing end user demand for Office 365 and disrupting competitors ranging from startup specialists such as Slack to cloud platform rivals Google and Facebook. This post provides an overview of Teams and its potential significance for the enterprise communication/collaboration market landscape."Microsoft Teams: Benefits for Users and Cause for Competitive Concern
Also see Twitter has acquired startup Yes, Inc. and is making its CEO head of product (Recode)
"Twitter Inc. is hiring Keith Coleman, who has a decade of experience at Alphabet Inc.’s Google, to oversee products, filling a position that’s been empty since January.Twitter Buys Little-Known Startup to Gain New Head of Product - Bloomberg
Twitter bought Coleman’s little-known startup, Yes Inc., as part of the deal. The company’s apps, designed to help people meet up, will be closed.
At Google, Coleman led product for Gmail and related services, according to his LinkedIn profile. On Monday, he will start as Twitter’s sixth head of product in as many years. The San Francisco-based social media company has cycled through leaders in the role while struggling to grow its audience."
Also see Mossberg: Facebook can and should wipe out fake news (The Verge)
"Yann LeCun, Facebook’s director of artificial intelligence, or AI, research, said technology could be used to help stamp out fake news or detect violence in live videos by filtering the content on the site. But Facebook’s policy and product teams haven’t figured out how to introduce AI responsibly.Facebook Looks to Harness Artificial Intelligence to Weed Out Fake News - WSJ
“What’s the trade-off between filtering and censorship? Freedom of experience and decency?” Mr. LeCun told reporters during a recent round table at the company’s Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters. “The technology either exists or can be developed. But then the question is how does it make sense to deploy it? And this isn't my department.”"
The first in a series of seven Falcon 9 launches that will replace the current Iridium satellite network with seventy new satellites; tangentially, see Russian spacecraft headed to resupply International Space Station suffers mishap (The Washington Post)
"Three months after one of its rockets exploded on a launchpad, SpaceX hopes to resume launching in a couple of weeks.3 Months After Explosion, SpaceX Plans to Launch Rocket Bearing Satellites - The New York Times
Iridium Communications, which provides communications services through a constellation of more than 60 satellites, announced Thursday that it was aiming to launch the first batch of its next-generation satellites on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Dec. 16."
Thursday, December 01, 2016
Check the full post for an App Maker overview video and a list of the initial G Suite "recommended partners"
"G Suite is designed to help you do your best work, whether that’s through real-time collaboration that brings your teams together or machine intelligence that speeds up everyday tasks. But we understand your company has unique needs and workflows that G Suite alone wasn’t built to address. We also know your teams rely on many third-party apps for things like CRM, support, and project management to get their job done. So today, we’re announcing two new ways to customize and extend your experience on the G Suite platform: App Maker, a new low-code developer tool for building custom enterprise applications, and the addition of seven new partners to our “Recommended for G Suite” third-party partner program."Customize your G Suite experience with App Maker and Recommended apps
For another case study on the importance of investor timing, see GoPro cuts 15 percent of jobs to restructure struggling camera business (The Verge)
"The site reports that the acquisition is a “small amount” but there’s no word on exactly how much, or indeed how little. Further, The Information said that the deal will see Pebble and its products closed down over time, with Fitbit acquiring its assets, which include intellectual property and software.Fitbit is buying troubled smartwatch maker Pebble for around $40 million | TechCrunch
“We don’t comment on rumors or speculation,” a spokesperson from Fitbit told TechCrunch. Pebble is yet to respond to our request for comment.
A source close to the company told TechCrunch that watch maker Citizen was interested in purchasing Pebble for $740 million in 2015. This deal failed and before the launch of the Pebble 2 Intel made an offer for $70 million. The CEO, Eric Migicovsky refused both offers. Our source said that Fitbit is now paying between $34 and $40 million for the company and is “barely covering their debts.”"
Excerpt from a long-view post on public cloud market dynamics
"It turns out that over the last couple of years Google has undertaken a sort of browser approach to enterprise computing . In 2014 Google announced Kubernetes, an open-source container cluster manager based on Google’s internal Borg service that abstracts Google’s massive infrastructure such that any Google service can instantly access all of the computing power they need without worrying about the details. The central precept is containers, which I wrote about in 2014: engineers build on a standard interface that retains (nearly) full flexibility without needing to know anything about the underlying hardware or operating system (in this it’s an evolutionary step beyond virtual machines).How Google Is Challenging AWS – Stratechery by Ben Thompson
Where Kubernetes differs from Borg is that it is fully portable: it runs on AWS, it runs on Azure, it runs on the Google Cloud Platform, it runs on on-premise infrastructure, you can even run it in your house. More relevantly to this article, it is the perfect antidote to AWS’ ten year head-start in infrastructure-as-a-service: while Google has made great strides in its own infrastructure offerings, the potential impact of Kubernetes specifically and container-based development broadly is to make irrelevant which infrastructure provider you use. No wonder it is one of the fastest growing open-source projects of all time: there is no lock-in."
Special delivery -- see AWS Snowmobile – Move Exabytes of Data to the Cloud in Weeks (AWS blog) for more details
"Networks can move massive amounts of data only so fast. Trucks, it turns out, can move it faster.Amazon Uses Trucks to Drive Data Faster - WSJ
To the sound of throbbing heavy-metal music and flashes of strobe lights, Amazon drove a big rig onto the floor of the Sands Expo & Convention Center during the company’s annual customer conference.
The tractor-trailer hauls a massive storage device, dubbed Snowmobile, in the form of a 45-foot shipping container that holds 100 petabytes of data. A petabyte is about 1 million gigabytes."
A cloud platform AI battle of attrition
"Here are the new Amazon tools available to developers:Amazon is bringing Alexa’s brainpower to its cloud business - Recode
Both Microsoft and Google have been offering this kind of image analysis for over a year, reported Fortune."
- Amazon Lex is for building conversational interfaces with the same voice recognition behind Alexa, the voice-enabled AI that lives inside the Echo speaker. Essentially, Lex allows developers to build advanced chatbots using Amazon’s artificial intelligence.
- Then there’s Amazon Polly. Polly is a text-to-speech recognition service that reads in a natural sounding voice. It supports 47 different voices in 23 languages.
- Finally, Amazon shared its new Rekognition service, which uses deep learning to recognize faces, objects and scenes. According to Amazon, Rekognition can detect someone’s facial expression (happy or distressed, for example), can count how many people are in a picture and even discern objects within an image, like a couch in a photo of a living room.
Reddit will punish hundreds of 'toxic users' and hide some posts from pro-Trump community - The Verge
Also see Reddit Is Tearing Itself Apart (Gizmodo); tangentially, see Russia Weaponized Social Media in U.S. Election, FireEye Says (Bloomberg)
"Reddit CEO Steve Huffman said in an announcement today that the site will take action against hundreds of its "most toxic users," and will make changes to prevent some posts from its popular pro-Donald Trump subreddit r/the_donald from appearing on one of the site's main hubs.
The news follows controversial actions by Huffman, who admitted last week to covertly editing comments that criticized him, replacing his username in the comments with those of moderators for r/the_donald. The blog post includes another lengthy apology about the incident, but also says the site "cannot tolerate" the group's behavior any more. Huffman writes that the subreddit, which has been known to use the site's "sticky" feature to push its posts up the site's rankings, will have its sticky posts removed from r/all — a major section near the site's front page. (The site will also introduce filtering options to r/all.)"Reddit will punish hundreds of 'toxic users' and hide some posts from pro-Trump community - The Verge
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
See Game On: You Can Now Play Games on Messenger (Facebook Newsroom) for details
"A lot of people spend a lot of time playing video games on Facebook — roughly 15 percent of all time spent on Facebook.com is by users playing games, the company says.Facebook is bringing games like Pac-Man to its mobile app and Messenger - Recode
Surprisingly, though, Facebook’s mobile app, where the bulk of Facebook’s users spend the bulk of their time, doesn’t offer on-Facebook games. Facebook just pushes people to the App Store or Google Play store to download games instead.
That’s about to change, the company announced Tuesday. Facebook is rolling out a product called Instant Games, which lets users play mobile games like Pac-Man and Words With Friends inside the core Facebook app and Facebook Messenger."
Tangentially, see News Outlets Rethink Usage of the Term ‘Alt-Right’ (NYT)
"In a way, “the purge” was the best thing to ever happen to Gab. Suddenly, the small social network that was built by a conservative Christian Republican and promises “free speech” for all, became more active than it had ever been.Banned from Twitter? This site promises you can say whatever you want. - The Washington Post
“The purge” is what the alt-right — a small, far-right movement that embraces racist, white nationalist and populist beliefs — called a sweeping series of permanent suspensions carried out by Twitter just after the election, beginning hours after the platform strengthened its policies on “hateful conduct” and made it much easier for users to report accounts in violation."
Also see Snapchat’s Path to a Big Payday (NYT)
"Snap is still relatively small; its 150 million daily user base pales in comparison to Facebook’s 1.2 billion, and its success is far from assured. In its novelty, it can sometimes veer toward the bizarre and inscrutable. And it’s not obvious that all of its advances are positive. (For instance, I’m not sure that it’s always better for our relationships to lose a record of our chats with friends.)While We Weren’t Looking, Snapchat Revolutionized Social Networks - The New York Times
Yet it’s no wonder that Facebook and its subsidiaries appear obsessed with imitating Snap. As a font of ideas that many in the tech industry hadn’t considered before, Snap isn’t just popular, but also increasingly important.
“Regardless of what happens, they’ve reshaped the social media landscape,” said Joseph B. Bayer, a communications professor at Ohio State University who has studied Snapchat’s impact on how people communicate. “They’re making risky moves, trying to rethink what people want online as opposed to taking what’s already been done and adding a new flash.”"
Something to see; also check Will Amazon Silence Alexa with a Screen? (Tech.pinions)
"Amazon.com Inc. is developing a premium Echo-like speaker with a screen, a sign the world’s largest online retailer is trying to capitalize on the surprise success of its voice-controlled home gadgets and fend off competition from Google and Apple Inc.Amazon Plans Premium Alexa Speaker With Large Screen - Bloomberg
The new device will have a touchscreen measuring about seven inches, a major departure from Amazon’s existing cylindrical home devices that are controlled and respond mostly through the company’s voice-based Alexa digital assistant, according to two people familiar with the matter. This will make it easier to access content such as weather forecasts, calendar appointments, and news, the people said. They asked not to be identified speaking about a product that has yet to be announced."
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Fun while it lasted
"The moves to reengage the existing fan base come none too soon for Pokémon Go, which remains one of the most popular games in history, but has seen usage wane significantly from the weeks after its July debut when the game was packing local parks and spurring citywide pub crawls.How Pokémon Go is trying to lure back the millions who have abandoned it - Recode
Daily active use among U.S. iPhone users is less than 4 percent of what it was at its peak in August, when more than 10 million people were playing each day, according to Mobile Action.
“Pokémon Go's had a very strong start, and now Niantic has to work to keep consumers continuously engaged after the initial honeymoon period,” said Amir Ghodrati, director of market insights at App Annie."
Monday, November 28, 2016
Excerpt from a Jean-Louis Gassée perspective on the Mac as it approaches its 32nd anniversary
"I write this on a MacBook running on a 1.2GHz Intel processor. (It’s the best laptop I’ve ever owned, small, great "Retina" screen for my old eyes, light as a 12.9" iPad Pro and its cover.) My iPhone 7+, which I sometimes use as a cellular modem for my MacBook, runs on a 2.34 GHz A10 processor that is, in many respects, more muscular than my Macbook’s CPU.The Macintosh Endgame
This is becoming ridiculous and inevitably raises another version of the Mac vs. iPad question. In a fantasy world, Apple produces an Ax-based Mac. Easy enough as the company controls its silicon and software tools, and the organs that are common to iOS and MacOS already run on both ARM and Intel CPUs. But what would an Ax Mac mean in the real world, to software developers? The mind reels at the thought of yet another upheaval as developers rush to convert third-party Mac apps."
The 5th annual AWS re:Invent conference starts tomorrow
"One distinct difference, however, is that Amazon, unlike Microsoft, stands to make money when AWS customers use partners’ services. Microsoft customers until recently paid only once for a Windows license, but AWS customers pay more as they spend more time on the platform.Amazon Broadens Cloud Services as Big Companies Sign On - WSJ
“Andy is doing a better job than I did, in part because the business model is different,” said Bob Muglia, a former Windows executive who now serves as CEO of Snowflake Computing, a data-warehouse service that customers use to analyze stored information. Snowflake both runs on AWS and competes with Amazon’s Redshift service.
As the market matures, Mr. Muglia expects to see Amazon compete more with what the company calls its “ecosystem partners.”"
Saturday, November 26, 2016
We are all "agile" now...
"With cloud computing, the risk — at least for now — appears more subtle. The average worker may have more flexible hours. What that can really mean is they are expected to work all the time. And they are expected to react faster to bosses’ demands with more varied skills.The New Workplace Is Agile, and Nonstop. Can You Keep Up? - The New York Times
“Work has changed, and everyone needs more expertise, more consultation,” said Pamela Hinds, a professor of management science and engineering at Stanford. “There’s more speed with which projects have to get out, because of competition, and people are pulled on and off projects much more.”"
"In the prelude to the election, bogus reports about Mrs. Clinton’s health and highly favorable ones about Mr. Trump were promoted with gusto by Russian state-controlled news media outlets and legions of pro-Russian internet agitators. This has stirred suspicions that the Kremlin has had a hand in the fake news industry, prompting American researchers to assert in recent studies that the online blurring of the boundary between truth and falsehood is in part the result of Russian manipulation.Inside a Fake News Sausage Factory: ‘This Is All About Income’ - The New York Times
But Mr. Latsabidze and others here say they serve only their bank balances, not Russia or anything else."
Friday, November 25, 2016
Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say - The Washington Post
Maybe the FBI's new Twitter-based initiatives will be able to address this issue by 2020...
"There is no way to know whether the Russian campaign proved decisive in electing Trump, but researchers portray it as part of a broadly effective strategy of sowing distrust in U.S. democracy and its leaders. The tactics included penetrating the computers of election officials in several states and releasing troves of hacked emails that embarrassed Clinton in the final months of her campaign.Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say - The Washington Post
“They want to essentially erode faith in the U.S. government or U.S. government interests,” said Clint Watts, a fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute who along with two other researchers has tracked Russian propaganda since 2014. “This was their standard mode during the Cold War. The problem is that this was hard to do before social media.”"