A Blog by Jonathan Low


Jan 20, 2017

Does Your Smartphone Make You Less Likely To Trust Others?

The challenge is what this may portend for interrelationships within organizations, as well as between enterprises and their customers and employees.

The impact on customer engagement, employee commitment and marketing initiatives generally could be profound. Steps can be taken to address the managerial, operational, financial and psychological implications. Given the influence of mobile devices, successful companies must consider investing in efforts to mitigate these trends. JL

Kostadin Kushlev reports in The Conversation:

The more (people) used their phones to obtain information, the less they trusted strangers. They also reported less trust in neighbors, people from other religions, and other nationalities. Information from TV, radio and newspapers was associated with trusting others more, not less. It was true for people who got information online but through a laptop rather than a mobile. As  (we) increasingly rely on smartphones, we trust others less, so might rely on phones even more.

Jan 19, 2017

Putting the Intelligent Machine In Its Place

Instead of focusing on how bots will optimize human performance, organizations may want to give more thought to how humans will optimize bot performance. JL

Katherine Bailey reports in Tech Crunch:

We need to stop focusing on how impressive these tools are (yes, many are truly impressive!) and focus more on ensuring they are designed well and serve human interests ethically. Is there bias in my training data? What are the repercussions of a false positive? Answering those questions is all about human intelligence — as utterly indispensable now as it has ever been.

Microsoft Plans to Double Its Artificial Intelligence Research and Development

Investment in R&D suggests belief in the likelihood of significant returns from the potential for growth, even if the nature of the product or service is not completely understood now.

In other words, this represents the essence of risk capital. JL

Jordan Novet reports in Venture Beat:

Google, which has also acquired AI startups and has employed AI researchers internally for years right alongside Microsoft, formed an AI research group just two months ago. Facebook hired another luminary, Yann LeCun, to run its AI research lab in 2013.

Airbnb Faces $400 Million In Lost Bookings Due To London Crackdown

Like the unexpected impact of returns in the early days of ecommerce, the growing cost of regulatory compliance may be affecting the on demand business model. JL

Leslie Hook reports in the Financial Times:

Airbnb will miss out on more than $400m worth of bookings in London this year as it enforces its new 90-night limit for hosts there, according to data that underpins the growing cost of regulatory compliance.

Online Retailers Experimenting With Pop-Up Stores - In the Malls Whose Value They've Decimated

Hey, there are still a lot of consumers who do not yet buy online. And for some reason, mall rents are cheap...JL

Esther Fung and Jennifer Smith report in the Wall Street Journal:

Online merchants (such as) Amazon, Google and Facebook are opening physical stores to reach more customers, either via short-term leases in pop-up stores. Online retailers without physical stores are looking to provide options for customers to drop off unwanted purchases in shopping centers where they can get immediate refunds. "People are hungry in Middle America for interesting products."

Banks Face Talent Crisis Amid Mounting Costs of Employee Turnover

Organizations invariably underestimate the cost of losing experienced, knowledgable employees and of the opportunity costs involved in bringing new - and usually more expensive - replacements up to speed.

That financial services firms are now feeling the effects of  the turnover they usually impose on others may provide a rethinking of the cost-cutting mentality. But we wouldn't bet on that. JL

Olivia Oran reports in Reuters:

The industry has continued to be hit by an onslaught of fines, scandals and litigation over the last several years, while cost-cutting has eliminated hundreds of thousands of jobs. Global head count at the world's 15 biggest banks is down 12 percent from 2011 to 2015. Associates who left their positions in 2015 had stayed for an average of 17 months. That compares to 26 months in 2005.

How Alexa Gives Amazon A Powerful Data Advantage

Comparative advantage comes from having more and better data which can be used first to respond faster and more accurately, then to predict.

Adding voice to typed and texted data extends Amazon's knowledge base and gives it more ways of addressing customer needs. JL

Tom Simonite reports in MIT Technology Review:

Standard datasets available for testing speech recognition systems don’t usually include audio captured in home environments, or using microphone arrays like the Echo uses to focus on speech from a particular direction. More data on a particular scenario or type of speech translates into better performance.The data Amazon is amassing to take on problems like that could be unique