A Blog by Jonathan Low


Oct 20, 2016

Smart Cars Need Smart Roads

Monetizing publicly available data in much the same way census information has been effectively commercialized. JL

Brent Skorup reports in Backchannel:

Cities could use sensor data for conducting traffic studies, pushing out real-time public bus alerts, increasing parking space occupancy, metering loading times to prevent congestion, and enhancing pedestrian safety. Commercial applications for sensor data: How many cars drive by a billboard? How many people walk by a storefront per day? How many of those people have dogs?

Any Business On Facebook Can Now Sell Goods Right From Its Page

Between Facebook, Amazon and Google, commercial access to the internet is increasingly limited to their funnels. JL

Kurt Wagner reports in Re/code:

From deciding where to eat, to booking your next hair appointment, to buying movie tickets at the local theatre, Facebook wants to eventually control, or be involved with, every decision you make when it comes to local commerce.

Why Silicon Valley Is Outspending Wall Street on Washington Lobbying

Taxes, anti-trust and competition, intellectual property ownership, cyber security...There is almost no crucial strategic issue facing tech in which the government does not actually or potentially play a significant role. JL

Saleha Mohsin reports in Bloomberg:

Competition policy, that’s the thing they’re most scared of. If a Microsoft-style case was brought against any of these companies, it could totally change their business prospects. It could result in radical changes to the scale and structure of their corporations

How Big Data Algorithms Manipulate Us

Our unerring faith in the objectivity of data can, is and will be used against us. It's not personal, it's just business. JL

Cathy O'Neil reports in Wired:

Dual promises exist in the current world of Big Data, where smart money armed with big data continually searches for opportunities to exploit dumb money—increasingly, individuals, swing voters, and even democracy itself. As long as the public trusts in the objectivity of statistical models, and as long as they remain intimidated by them, such opportunities will likely continue.

Why Airbnb Thinks It's Worth More Than $30 Billion

As virtually all tech companies eventually discover, their original market is too confining if they want to continue to grow - and justify their market valuation.

Which is why Airbnb is now redefining what it does in ways that suggest it will consider almost any new option that expands its platform opportunities. The sky's the limit. Or maybe not. JL

Alison Griswold reports in Quartz:

Airbnb started as a simple matching platform for hosts and guests, but now is preparing to expand beyond that. "Going forward, we’re really exploring the full boundaries of everything that someone needs, and also how can we reinvent that experience."

Will Technology Make Ownership Obsolete?

When we buy a physical product, our understanding, based on centuries of legal precedent, is that we then have certain rights with regard to how we treat it or sell it

In the digital era those rights are less clear. Amazon and Apple have deleted e-books already purchased or discontinued access to music. So far, they have not done so to such a degree that it has sparked a result.

But the growing intersection of the tangible and intangible is where they may collide in the future. Buying a car or a fridge or another physical substance which is dependent on digital input brings our expectations about the meaning of ownership and purchase into sharper focus. And the question is to what degree consumers will accede to loss of what they have come to think of as control - unless there is a decided economic advantage to them in doing so. JL 

Aaron Perzanowski reports in Slate:

Through a lifetime of experience with physical goods, most of us understand intuitively what it means to buy things and to own them. Words like own and buy prime consumers to rely on these familiar concepts of personal property to understand their rights in digital purchases. But those engrained consumer expectations are a far less reliable guide for digital goods.

Oct 19, 2016

'On-Body Transmissions:' Scientists Engineer Means of Sending Passcodes Via Human Skin Connection

Is it just us or is the obsession with online security leading to even creepier compromises with other forms of personal security? JL

Kaveh Waddell reports in Business Insider:

New technology sends passcodes through the human body. The technology uses touchpads and fingerprint readers to create signals that travel through skin—and, unlike wireless broadcasts, the “on-body” transmissions can’t be intercepted over the air. (But) devices touching a body conducting a charge can read the signal, raising the possibility that malware on  a smartwatch could be used to eavesdrop on a passcode as it moves from limb to limb.