A Blog by Jonathan Low


Jun 28, 2016

Attention US Bound Travelers: Your Social Media Accounts Are Subject To Inspection

'Possible nefarious activity' perpetrators beware! (Especially you dodgy Brits...) JL

David Kravets reports in ars technica:

"Collecting social media data will enhance the existing investigative process and provide DHS greater clarity and visibility to possible nefarious activity and connections by providing an additional tool set which analysts and investigators may use to better analyze and investigate the case."

Amazon Adding Dozens of New Dash Brands - Whether Consumers Want Them Or Not

The imperative to drive more sales never goes away. But given that another, competing, way of doing so - super-sizing everything from detergent to diapers to dental floss - means that people are already paying up for larger units of materials they just don't need to consume as frequently as the volumes and demands for profits are. JL

Sharon Terlep and Greg Bensinger report in the Wall Street Journal:

The thumb-drive-sized devices enable shoppers to order things like Tide detergent and Cottonelle toilet paper simply by pressing a button. But fewer than half of people who bought a Dash button since March 2015 have used it to place an actual order

The Interesting Thing That Happened When Kansas Cut Taxes And California Raised Them

Man bites economist. JL

Jim Tankersley and Max Ehrenfreund report in the Washington Post:

California's economy grew by 4.1 percent in 2015. That was up from 3.1 percent growth in 2014. The Kansas economy, on the other hand, grew 0.2 percent in 2015. That's down from  2014, and below neighboring states. Kansas ended the year with two consecutive quarters of negative growth -- a shrinking economy.

The Threat Of A Hollowed Out Apple

Services may supplant devices as the source of Apple's future growth. But it may find that strategy more competitively challenging than it had hoped. JL

Jan Dawson reports in Re/code:

As Apple faces the risk of being hollowed out by competitors, it needs to reinforce its position in services in order to fend off that threat and keep providing experiences that create unique value on its devices versus those provided by competitors. Apple recognizes the existential threat in third-party apps and wants to make sure users aren’t just spending time on its devices, but actively using its services as well.

Artificial Intelligence's White Guy Problem

Is overt bigotry worse than inherent bias or is the latter more threatening because it's harder to detect? As the following article suggests, the issue may more specifically be a wealthy, highly educated white guy problem.  JL

Kate Crawford reports in the New York Times:

Predictive programs are only as good as the data they are trained on. If a system is trained on photos of people who are overwhelmingly white, it will have a harder time recognizing nonwhite faces. Artificial intelligence will reflect the values of its creators. So inclusivity matters. The loudest voices debating the potential dangers of superintelligence are affluent white men, and, perhaps for them, the biggest threat is the rise of an artificially intelligent apex predator.

Is Coding Over?

The tech revolution eats its revolutionaries. JL

Lauren Mendoza comments in Medium:

Coding is revered as the holy grail of software engineering. Real engineers code and coding is what makes you a great engineer. A lot of people have attached their egos and their identities to coding. (But)  the more “original” your UI design, the less people understand how to use it. It is counterproductive to reinvent established language. The internet would work better if we agree on common elements. Rebuilding the same apps is a job for robots.

Jun 27, 2016

Bot Platforms And the Race For Nation-State Advantage

Hardware and software bots may be the assets that determine future nation-state advantage. But, as the following article explains, there are issues - and they're not merely technological. JL

John Robb comments in Global Guerrillas:

The most important thing for nation-state militaries (US, China, Russia, EU, and India) to understand about bots (both hardware and software) is that it's imperative to get the underlying platforms and standards correct first, before we waste billions on standalone systems.