A Blog by Jonathan Low


Jul 18, 2019

50 Years After Apollo 11, American Kids Would Rather Be YouTube Stars Than Astronauts

In China, becoming an astronaut ranked first of five options. In the US and UK it was last, after teacher, musician, professional athlete and vlogger/YouTube influencer. JL

Eric Berger reports in ars technica:

The Apollo program's effect of inspiring America's children to pursue careers in STEM fields is one of the most lasting legacies of the Moon race. (But) this effect seems to be coming to an end. On the eve of the Apollo 11 anniversary, a survey of  children in the United States, China, and the United Kingdom about their attitudes toward and knowledge of space reveal that, at least for Western countries, kids today are more interested in YouTube than spaceflight.

New AI Chips Can Crunch Data 1,000 Times Faster Than Normal Ones

Which probably means even more powerful chips are in the offing, with attendant ability to crunch data and analyze performance. JL

Martin Giles reports in MIT Technology Review:

These are so-called neuromorphic chips that seek to imitate the learning ability and energy efficiency of human brains.(They) can perform certain data-crunching tasks up to 1,000 times faster than more general-purpose processors such as CPUs and GPUs, while using much less power. The company will produce a system capable of simulating 100 million neurons by the end of 2019. Researchers will then be able to apply it to a whole new set of applications, such as better control of robot arms.

Digital Services Will Be Taxed. The Question Is How

It was inevitable that as the big tech companies increased their dominance over the global economy there would eventually be a reaction from the citizens and countries negatively impacted by that development.

The issue is not whether such a tax regimen will be imposed, but when and to what degree. JL

Lilian Faulhaber comments in the New York Times:

Digital services include everything from providing a platform for selling goods and services online to targeting advertising based on user data, and the tax applies to gross revenue from such services.The French tax is part of a larger trend, with countries proposing or putting in place new international tax provisions. They all reflect a view that the international tax system has failed to keep up with changes in the economy. France’s planned tax is a clear warning: other nations are likely to follow suit, and American companies will face a cascade of different taxes from dozens of nations that will prove onerous and costly.

Netflix Reports First Ever Drop in Subscribers

Competition from Disney, Amazon and others begins to take a toll. The question is whether it can maintain its dominance in streaming. JL

Steven Zeitchik reports in the Washington Post:

Netflix reported subscriber numbers lower than even its own estimates for the second quarter, causing a Wall Street sell-off and fears the streaming service could be in danger of losing its dominance.Unlike nearly all media conglomerates and streamers, Netflix depends on subscribers as its sole source of revenue, with no ads, merchandising or other income serving as backstops. Whether consumers, who’ve grown accustomed to Netflix as a one-stop shop for TV shows and movies, view it that way remains to be seen. It “is unclear whether Netflix can replace (originals)  with quantity and quality sufficient to keep its current subscriber base loyal.”

Jul 17, 2019

Why Facebook Is Confronting Broad Global Resistance To Its Cryptocurrency

Most people are leery of trusting Facebook with their personal information, let alone with disrupting the global financial system. JL

Dave Michaels and colleagues report in the Wall Street Journal:

The bipartisan firewall Washington erected since Facebook announced its cryptocurrency plans threatens the (company's) vision. U.S. regulators and policy makers indicated that to move forward it would need to adapt to the old system, regulations governing risks such as money laundering, terrorism financing and evasions of sanctions.That pushback was echoed overseas, as the Group of Seven industrialized nations which includes European governments already wary of the U.S.’s tech giants  is expected to deliver a report on the topic. Libra could undermine sovereign currencies, creating financial instability in a crisis.

Google Spent A Decade Researching the 'Perfect Manager:' Top Ten Leadership Traits

The perfect may be the enemy of the good, but leaders can optimize performance with this list. JL

Justin Bariso reports in Inc:

Technical skill mattered less than you might guess. Far more important were emotional-intelligence skills, the ability to understand and control emotions, both their own and those of their people. The skills: Is a good coach; collaborates effectively; empowers team and does not micromanage; creates an inclusive team environment showing concern for success and well-being; is productive and results oriented; is a good communicator - listens and shares information; supports career development and discusses performance; has a clear vision and strategy for the team; has key technical skills to help advise team; is a strong decision maker.

Jul 16, 2019

A Chinese AI Startup Is Tracking Lost Dogs Using Their Nose Imprint

Could human nose prints be next? JL

Natt Garun reports in The Verge:

A Chinese AI startup that supplies facial recognition software for the Chinese government’s surveillance program, is expanding its technology beyond humans to recognize different faces of pets. Much like how humans have unique fingerprints the company says it can register your dog by scanning the snout through your phone’s camera. Just like how a phone registers your fingerprint for biometric unlocks, the app asks you to take photos of your dog’s nose from multiple angles. It has an accuracy rate of 95 percent and has reunited 15,000 pets with their owners through the app.