Ends, Means, and Antitrust (nice Stretchery post on the Google fine)

“This is perhaps the most consequential aspect of this case, and I think the European Commission got it exactly right. Last year in Antitrust and Aggregation I explained why the unique dynamics of the Internet push towards dominant players that look very different from the monopolies of the past:

Aggregation Theory is about how business works in a world with zero distribution costs and zero transaction costs; consumers are attracted to an aggregator through the delivery of a superior experience, which attracts modular suppliers, which improves the experience and thus attracts more consumers, and thus more suppliers in the aforementioned virtuous cycle. It is a phenomenon seen across industries including search (Google and web pages), feeds (Facebook and content), shopping (Amazon and retail goods), video (Netflix/YouTube and content creators), transportation (Uber/Didi and drivers), and lodging (Airbnb and rooms, Booking/Expedia and hotels).

The first key antitrust implication of Aggregation Theory is that, thanks to these virtuous cycles, the big get bigger; indeed, all things being equal the equilibrium state in a market covered by Aggregation Theory is monopoly: one aggregator that has captured all of the consumers and all of the suppliers. This monopoly, though, is a lot different than the monopolies of yesteryear: aggregators aren’t limiting consumer choice by controlling supply (like oil) or distribution (like railroads) or infrastructure (like telephone wires); rather, consumers are self-selecting onto the Aggregator’s platform because it’s a better experience.”

Ends, Means, and Antitrust
via Instapaper

Rise of the machines: who is the ‘internet of things’ good for (via TheGuardian)

“the colonisation of the domestic environment by similarly networked products and services is intended to deliver a very different experience: convenience. The aim of such “smart home” efforts is to short-circuit the process of reflection that stands between having a desire and fulfilling that desire by buying something.”

Rise of the machines: who is the ‘internet of things’ good for?
via Instapaper

The Rise of the Thought Leader - some critical thoughts by Daniel Drezner

“The case against thought leaders, The Ideas Industry shows, is damning. As Drezner notes, some of the marquee names in thought leadership are distinguished by their facile thinking and transparent servility to the wealthy. The biggest idea in Thomas Friedman’s best-known book, The World Is Flat, is, Drezner summarizes, that “to thrive in the global economy, one needs to be ‘special,’ a unique brand like Michael Jordan.” It is more of a marketing principle than a philosophical insight. But “businessmen adore Friedman’s writings on how technology and globalization transform the global economy,” Drezner explains, because his message reinforces their worldview.”

Interesting points here - can't really decide if this is an astute analysis or party a kind of jealousy ... or both ?

A leading Silicon Valley engineer explains why every tech worker needs a humanities education (the power of philosophy)

“It worries me that so many of the builders of technology today are people who haven’t spent time thinking about these larger questions.” Ruefully—and with some embarrassment at my younger self’s condescending attitude toward the humanities—I now wish that I had strived for a proper liberal arts education. That I’d learned how to think critically about the world we live in and how to engage with it. That I’d absorbed lessons about how to identify and interrogate privilege, power structures, structural inequality, and injustice. That I’d had opportunities to debate my peers and develop informed opinions on philosophy and morality. And even more than all of that, I wish I’d even realized that these were worthwhile thoughts to fill my mind with—that all of my engineering work would be contextualized by such subjects.”

A leading Silicon Valley engineer explains why every tech worker needs a humanities education
via Instapaper

The Guardian view on the EU’s Google judgment: firm and fair - made me think!

“The breathtaking fine of €2.4bn that the European commission has imposed on Google for exploiting its virtual monopoly of search is shocking and welcome. It shows that there is at least one polity that is prepared to stand up to the giant tech companies and try to bring them under the rule of the law. The individual countries of Europe are not large enough: Denmark, which has just announced the rather gimmicky appointment of an “ambassador to Silicon Valley”, has a GDP only about two-thirds the size of Facebook’s business. But the EU is big enough and strong enough to act. Further judgments and no doubt further fines are expected in two other cases where Google is accused of steering the market towards its own advertising businesses rather than those of its competitors.

The technology of the mobile internet has been a huge blessing for the world. But where it is not in the hands of undemocratic governments, it is controlled today by multinational advertising companies, which is the business that makes both Google and Facebook their almost incredible profits. However benign their intentions, the sheer size and reach of these companies makes them dangerous. This judgment represents one of the few serious attempts to manage these monopolies. It’s a welcome start.”

The Guardian view on the EU’s Google judgment: firm and fair | Editorial
via Instapaper

Be Aware, Be Very Aware (Tristan Harris Podcast)

“we should acknowledge that the psychology of our minds work in specific, predictable and persuadable ways with “big holes waiting for things to pop in.” This presents a kind of existential problem because all of us are trapped inside the same psychological architecture and vulnerable to the techniques of persuasion.

“… persuasion is kind of like that. There is something that can subvert my architecture. I can’t close the holes that are in my brain, they are just there for someone to exploit. The best I can do is to become aware of some of them, but then I don’t want to walk around the world being just vigilant all the time of all the ways my buttons are being pressed.”

Tristan Harris says there’s a whole industry dedicated to this “dark art form” that people are not aware of. Consider, for example, that many people, when asked about the rise of big data, are not really all that alarmed that their personal data is out there. The familiar response is: “I’ve got nothing to hide.” But if they realized that this data is used to feed the attention economy and the underlying methods of persuasion that come with it they might be more concerned. What if this dedicated group of engineers develops a type of artificial intelligence that literally knows how to persuade you to do anything?”

Be Aware, Be Very Aware – Slaw
via Instapaper

Meet Amazon’s New Echo Show: Alexa Is Watching

“It has this wild new feature called Drop In. Drop In lets you give people permission to automatically connect with your device. Here’s how it works. Let’s say my father has activated Drop In for me on his Echo Show. All I have to do is say, “Alexa, drop in on Dad.” It then turns on the microphone and camera on my father’s device and starts broadcasting that to me. For the several seconds of the call, my father’s video screen would appear fogged over. But then there he’ll be. And to be clear: This happens even if he doesn’t answer. Unless he declines the call, audibly or by tapping on the screen, it goes through. It just starts. Hello, you look nice today.

Honestly, I haven’t figured out what to think about this yet. But it’s here.”

Meet Amazon’s New Echo Show: Alexa Is Watching
via Instapaper

The Real Threat of Artificial Intelligence - 5* read by Kai-Fu Lee

“One way or another, we are going to have to start thinking about how to minimize the looming A.I.-fueled gap between the haves and the have-nots, both within and between nations. Or to put the matter more optimistically: A.I. is presenting us with an opportunity to rethink economic inequality on a global scale. These challenges are too far-ranging in their effects for any nation to isolate itself from the rest of the world.

Kai-Fu Lee is the chairman and chief executive of Sinovation Ventures, a venture capital firm, and the president of its Artificial Intelligence Institute.”

Opinion | The Real Threat of Artificial Intelligence
via Instapaper

Inequality boosted by AI - must read links via Azeem Azhar

“Economic growth has gone hand in hand with rising inequality for more than 9,000 years. Inequalities have only narrowed through war or plague. History offers very little comfort to those in search of peaceful leveling. Is there one? (See also Piketty's 2014 essay, a global, progressive wealth tax is the best solution to spiraling inequality.)

🗜️ The real threat of AI. Kai-Fu Lee: "most of the money being made from artificial intelligence will go to the United States and China. A.I. is an industry in which strength begets strength … [other nations] will essentially become [those] country’s economic dependent, taking in welfare subsidies in exchange for letting the “parent” nation’s A.I. companies continue to profit. A.I. is presenting us with an opportunity to rethink economic inequality on a global scale.””

🔮 Uber and leadership; emotions at work; Apple's secrecy; quantum computing; McJobs, and electric planes ++ #119
via Instapaper

Is it unethical to design robots to resemble humans? Great story on anthropomorphization

“And so the more we humanize chatbots, virtual assistants, and machines, the more we in turn display human emotions toward them. This is the process of anthropomorphism, whereby inanimate objects are attributed with human emotions, traits, and intentions. When something appears alive, it is in our nature to view it through a human lens. Now that many AIs and conversational bots have the illusion of being self-aware, they therefore trigger emotional responses in their users as if they were human. If the despised printer in Office Space had resembled a human (or a living animal, for that matter), our feelings toward both the object and the violent perpetrators would be altered. That’s why many people cringe when they see Boston Dynamics’ robotic dog getting kicked.”

Is it unethical to design robots to resemble humans?
via Instapaper