A Blog by Jonathan Low


Apr 19, 2018

What Brands Should Keep In Mind When Taking a Principled Stand

In the digital era, superficial attempts 'greenwash' won't work. The price of exposure for being inauthentic is higher than that of taking a controversial stand.

The enterprise leader has to lead - and the organizational response must be systemic, not episodic. JL

Dan Tynan reports in Ad Week:

“You can’t put the burden on your social media manager to tell the world how you feel." The message has to come from the top. It’s not enough to put out the right statements or endorse the right issues. Brands need to put their money where their messages are and take action. Companies live with old assumptions about who their customers are: bands can no longer count on customers remaining loyal. "It’s not a question of ‘I’m supporting a social cause because I want to create loyalty.’ You do it because it’s the right thing to do.”

Investment Floods Startups - Underappreciated or Overvalued?

FOMO - fear of missing out. JL

Eliot Brown reports in the Wall Street Journal:

SoftBank is injecting billions of dollars into tech, causing deep-pocketed global investors - and U.S. venture firms - to respond. A record level of late-stage money is flooding in, threatening to keep some startups out of the public markets even longer while heightening concerns that the sector is overvalued. The flood of money is richest for late-stage startups, but is starting to trickle down to younger companies. “We’re encouraging the excessive use of capital. We’re all doing it because it’s the game on the field.”

As the Value of Personal Data Rises, the Battle Over Who Owns It Is Intensifying

Personal information has been monetizable for some time. The question now, as the value of that data becomes clearer, is whether the current ownership model can survive. JL

David Floyd reports in Investopedia:

In the year 2022, $7,600 worth of personal information will be bought and sold per person. Data brokers just aren't that good at it. Matching cookies based on device IDs has a success rate of 2.9%. "The data that are publicly available, which can then be scraped by a broker, only amounts to 10% of the data a user creates. The rich information, such as likes, posts, check-ins, is off bounds." The data in silos or held by giant corporations is underutilized. The threat blockchain and other cryptographic techniques pose to data brokers is more immediate than the threat they pose to platforms.

Apr 18, 2018

A Powerful New Weapon In the Fight Against Shoddy Statistics

In a data-driven era, inaccurate interpretation can be as or more devastating than bad data. JL

Natalie Wolchover reports in The Atlantic:

The bulk of applications of the Pearson correlation coefficient are invalid. Often where it’s conclusions are not supported by the data. Health data, financial data, astrophysical data, meteorological data: People use (it) whether there is any plausibly linear relationship between the variables. We’ve been aware of the need for a correlation coefficient that can be applied regardless of whether there is a linear or nonlinear relationship, and can be applied when we have batches of variables on both sides.

The UK Says It Can't Lead On AI Spending So Will Have To Lead On AI Ethics

An innovative approach to the confluence of research, technological development, marketing and national policy.

The question is whether, in the post-Brexit era, the UK still possesses the moral, legal and diplomatic authority to make it work. JL

James Vincent reports in The Verge, illustration by Alex Castro:

Between 2012 and 2016 the UK invested $850 million in AI, making it the third highest investor. But this pales in comparison with the $2.6 billion invested by China and the $18.2 billion invested by the US. The UK (should) “forge a distinctive role for itself as a pioneer in ethical AI"  to play to its “particular blend of national assets,” and guide global development in the field. “An ethical approach ensures the public trusts this technology and sees the benefits of using it. It will also prepare them to challenge its misuse.”

How Apple Sued An Independent iPhone Repair Shop - and Lost

The finding is potentially revolutionary because it says, in effect, that Apple does not own the product after it sells it.

That contention, if it upheld across products, companies, industries and nations, may upend  the financial and legal basis on which almost all software driven products are now sold. JL

Jason Koebler reports in Motherboard, photo by Fixit:

Apple wants monopoly on repairs so they can keep high prices. They do not want to sell spare parts to anyone other than ‘to themselves.’Broken parts—with original manufacturer logos—are sent back to China to be refurbished and (then) to independent repair companies. Are those “counterfeit” or are they refurbished genuine parts? "It is not obvious to the court what trademark function justifies Apple’s imprinting the logo on so many internal components." “Apple does not ‘own’ the product after they have sold it. Others have the right to remove the logo and sell it as an unoriginal, compatible part.”

Have Algorithms Destroyed Personal Taste?

It's hard to scale originality. JL

Kyle Chayka reports in Re/code:

“Echo” is a good name for Amazon’s device because it creates an algorithmic feedback loop in which nothing original emerges.Alexa, how do I look? You look derivative, Kyle. We are moving from a time of human curation to a time in which algorithms drive an increasingly large portion of what we consume. This impacts not only the artifacts we experience but also how we experience them. If we do want to avoid reassigning our desires and creativity to machines, we become a little more analog.