A Blog by Jonathan Low


Feb 23, 2019

The Problem With Samsung's Galaxy Folding Phone

It doesnt fold flat (designer jeans alert!) and there will be a crease in the display. For all that, you get to pay $2,000.

Maybe, for some people, foldability offers an advantage over the tablet computer. It could become a niche product for business uses, but this seems like an attention-grabbing public relations ploy and a transitional technology. JL

Aaron Souppouris reports in Engadget:

This thing doesn't fold flat.  A $2,000 phone with a huge gap in the middle doesn't sound  attractive. The two phone parts sit at an 85-degree angle from the hinge. That means the screen side is going to sit around 10 degrees away from "flat" when laid down on a surface, folded. If you fold a sheet of paper, you're left with a crease It wouldn't be great to have a crease down the middle of that gorgeous 7.3-inch display when opened. Mechanically, at least from every demonstration of the tech I've seen, a crease would destroy the display.

Why Robot Deliveries Are Likely To Become More Common

Urbanization may be the most significant megatrend of this era and congestion may be the greatest impediment to a better quality of urban life.

With online sales growing and same day delivery becoming an integral component, it could contribute to congestion, or, if more sidewalk rather than road based delivery systems are used, it could alleviate congestion. In addition, autonomous delivery is expected to become less expensive, meaning it fulfills the tech-driven expectation for convenience and lower price. JL

Jeremy Hsu reports in Scientific American:

Between 2016 and 2017 online retail sales in the U.S. increased 16%. Meal-kit companies are proliferating and grocery stores are making an increasing percentage of  sales online. On the final leg of these deliveries humans on bicycles, scooters or trucks ferry packages. 73%  of delivery vehicles park outside authorized areas. By moving deliveries from the road to the sidewalk, cities could reduce congestion. (And) self-driving vehicles and sidewalk robots could slash delivery costs in cities by 40%. (But) “if droids do not become significantly cheaper, bike couriers are likely to be the best delivery form for instant delivery in urban areas.”

Feb 22, 2019

Smart Shelter Uses AI-Powered Camera To Keep Cats and Dogs Separate

Because all applications can't be epochal in their potential...JL

Johnny Lieu reports in Mashable:

This AI camera at the front of the shelter's door can accurately identify 174 different cat breeds, as to let them enter and exit as they please. A door will slide open if the camera spots a cat, but it won't work on dogs. Multiple cats can fit inside the space. Another feature is that it can be also used to detect if the cat is sick — it can identify four common cat diseases, such as inflammation, skin problems, and physical trauma. Once a cat is identified as needing care, associated volunteers can be informed to come and collect it.

AI Researchers Debate the Ethics Of Sharing Potentially Harmful Programs

The larger issue is that as the power of AI for both positive and negative uses is becoming better understood, some in the scientific community are saying 'trust us, we're scientists,' some are saying 'it's none of the public's business what we do with our research,' and some are calling for governmental oversight and regulation.

Until a consensus is reached on how to prevent abuses and potential calamities, prudence would appear to be the reigning virtue. JL

James Vincent reports in The Verge:

A nonprofit said it decided not to share the full version of the program, a text-generation algorithm, due to concerns over “malicious applications.” But many AI researchers have criticized the decision, accusing the lab of exaggerating the danger posed by the work and inadvertently stoking “mass hysteria” about AI in the process. In the case of potentially harmful research, open publication is even more important, as other researchers can look for faults in the work and come up with countermeasures.(Others) compared the technology to the face-swapping algorithms used to create deepfakes (used, for) non-consensual pornography.

How US Experts Are Helping China Build Its AI-Based Surveillance State

Given the country's well-known reputation for authoritarianism, what prompted the cooperation: naivete? Greed? Ambition? Some of each?

The more worrisome question is to what degree these companies and individual academics or scientists are attempting to sell the same processes to the US government and other democracies. JL

Sui-Lee Wee reports in the New York Times:

Collecting genetic material is a key part of China’s campaign. A comprehensive DNA database could be used to chase down any who resist conforming.  To bolster their DNA capabilities, scientists affiliated with China’s police used equipment made by Thermo Fisher, a Massachusetts company. They also relied on genetic material from people around the world that was provided by Kenneth Kidd, a prominent Yale University geneticist.

Research: Samsung and Apple Losing Share To Huawei Because Phones Are Too Expensive

When performance differences are neglible, price becomes more of a factor, especially in developing markets where the real growth in that sector now resides. JL

Ryan Browne reports in CNBC:

Huawei's share of the smartphone market climbed to almost 15% in the three months ended December 2018, up 4% points from the same period a year earlier.Apple's share of the sector dipped 2%, while Samsung's fell 1%. Apple's iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy get only "incremental and marginal improvements" during each upgrade cycle. Coupled with the $1,000 retail value of the pair's high-end devices, consumers are increasingly turning to cheaper devices from the likes of Huawei.

Digital Advertising In the US Is Finally Bigger Than TV and Print

As recent revelations about YouTube suggest, it is not as if the big media platforms have addressed concerns about abuses; it is just that advertisers are bowing to what appears to be the inevitable.

The question is whether regulators and legislators will finally feel compelled to act to stop the concentration and the attendant problems. JL

Kurt Wagner reports in Re/code:

US advertisers will spend more than $129 billion on digital advertising in 2019 — more than the $109 billion they plan to spend on “traditional” advertising. Print advertising will decline by 18%. “Directories,” like the Yellow Pages (are) expected to decline by 19%. Digital publishers that rely on Facebook and Google to distribute their stories (see: BuzzFeed) are also coming to the realization that those two companies aren’t sharing the wealth.