Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Top News

Trump’s tariff list targets Chinese tech goods. (link)

“The simple explanation here is that Cambridge Analytica has been engaging in the time-honored Silicon Valley tradition of developing a minimum viable product (vaporware, essentially), marketing the hell out of it to drum up customers, and then delivering a much more mundane-but-workable product. The difference here is that CA’s marketing has gotten caught up in our collective search for the secret formula that put Donald Trump in the White House.” (link)

Panera Bread is leaky. Data for millions of consumers was available in plain text format for eight months. (link)

Former publisher of The Washington Post, Donald Graham, thinks we shouldn’t regulate Facebook. (link)

It’s perhaps an unlikely eSport, but tens of thousands of viewers are tuning in for the fast-playing, trash-talking, chair-throwing, high-stakes world of online chess. (link)

Google and Facebook are loosening their grips on online advertising. Their combined share of the total US digital-advertising market is expected to dip to 56.8%, from 58.5% last year, and keep declining. (link)

Without a single solution, hospitals are taking different paths to data interoperability. (link)

Is YouTube a public forum? No, according to this court. (link)

Apple is planning to use its own chips in Mac computers beginning as early as 2020, replacing processors from Intel. Why the change? Here is what Tim Cook said in 2009: “We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products we make.” (link)

Hard news publishers were not heavily affected by Facebook’s algorithm change two months ago, according to a report from NewsWhip, a service that monitors social media for publishers and marketers. (link)

A data analysis conducted by an outside research firm, and independently verified by BuzzFeed News, shows that Grindr, a popular gay dating app, is sharing sensitive information about its users’ HIV status with two other companies. (link)

“The internet does not hate women. The internet doesn’t hate anyone, because the internet, being an inanimate network, lacks the capacity to hold any opinion whatsoever. People hate women, and the internet allows them to do it faster, harder, and with impunity.” (link)

Broadband

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper just signed into law three bills that could change rural broadband in Colorado as well as the economic future of rural communities that depend on it. (link)

Belmont County, Ohio is now being supplied by Internet access from Agile Networks. Here is a story from last year when the projected was finalized: “Agile Networks, a provider of hybrid fiber wireless broadband data networks, will utilize the county’s water towers, grain silos, communication towers, and any other vertical assets to increase availability of high-speed internet services to the residents and businesses within the county.” (link)

Here is what is new for the RUS broadband loan program in 2018. (link)

Alabam Governor Kay Ivey has signed the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Act, SB149, that will authorize the creation of a broadband accessibility grant program. Not sure how much money is being pumped into this project. (link)

The city of Gainesville, Florida has invited businesses to negotiate an agreement for internet broadband services. (link)

Algorithms & AI

The GAO just released a massive report on AI. (link)

Microsoft doubles down on artificial intelligence in engineering reorganization. (link)

Google’s quest to conquer AI is leading to a major change in leadership. The Information has learned that AI and search leader John Giannandrea is leaving his role, which will be split into two: Google Brain leader Jeff Dean will run a dedicated AI wing in addition to his Brain position, while search engineering boss Ben Gomes will lead search as the division’s Vice President. (link)

Tim Cook of Apple calls for more regulation of platforms. (link)

Apple seems to be on a hiring spree to make Siri better. (link)

Cape Analytics, a Mountain View-based data analytics startup, is looking to supplement insurance companies with information about a house’s exterior square footage, roof type, roof condition, changes in a home and more – all thanks to the use of machine learning to analyze aerial imagery. (link)

An idea that could spread to the larger ad market. “PandoLogic has unveiled a new AI-enabled algorithm that can predict job ad performance before the ad has been campaigned.” (link)

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Quick Take – The Kerfuffle of Cambridge Analytica and Facebook

I really feel for people working at Facebook; the next couple of months are going to be hell.

As I am sure you have heard, Facebook is facing criticism for revelations in a New York Times story. To understand the context, take a read of my Medium post where I take a stab at “Answering the Three Big Questions Surrounding Cambridge Analytica.” If you would prefer to listen to a podcast on the topic, I recently chatted with Richard Bennett at the High Tech Forum on the topic.

Then, for a deep dive, check out Adrienne Royer’s series. Here is Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4. I cannot recommend this series enough. Royer works in the political ad space for Republicans and has been bringing a much needed perspective on the company. She knows here stuff.

So what happens next? The FTC will be investigating Facebook because the recent stories suggest that the terms of a privacy consent decree back in 2011 could have been violated. A panel of Senate lawmakers aims to grill the top executives of Facebook, Google, and Twitter next month, suggesting that the controversy now threatens to envelop the whole of Silicon Valley. Zuckerberg will testify. Zuckerberg also said for the first time, he thinks it is appropriate for Facebook to be regulated. It is a brave new world.

Top News

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has suspended Uber’s self-driving vehicle testing privileges in the wake of a pedestrian fatality in Tempe last week. (link)

Rebecca Slaughter, chief counsel to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, has been nominated to the Federal Trade Commission. (link)

A lot of tech companies are happy that the CLOUD Act was added into the Omnibus. (link)

Guccifer 2.0, the “lone hacker” who took credit for providing WikiLeaks with stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee, was in fact an officer of Russia’s military intelligence directorate. (link)

Saddled with debt, IHeartMedia, formerly Clear Channel, files for bankruptcy. (link)

As it loses $1 billion a quarter, Uber is selling off its Southeast Asian business. Beginning of the end? (link)

The European Union’s antitrust chief has not ruled out breaking up Google over concerns about its dominance. (link)

An Axios-SurveyMonkey poll conducted last week shows that the public remains relatively split on how regulation of tech might play out. By a 53-to-43 margin, more people continue to worry that the government won’t go far enough rather than fear it will do too much. (link)

Broadband

Ohio legislators are considering a proposal to establish a $50-million-per-year broadband development grant program. (link)

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper is poised to sign a bill to allocate $115 million in the next five years to extend high-speed internet to rural Colorado. (link)

Congress’ $1.3 trillion omnibus spending plan includes $600 million for rural broadband. (link)

Kentucky Wired, the state project to create a 3,200-mile broadband network, is in dire financial straights. The original cost was $324 million, however delays, including getting easements and rights to hang fiber on other utility poles, has caused Kentucky Wired to enter into an $88 million settlement, part of a $188 million cost overrun. (link)

Broadband speeds in the Scottish village of Balquhidder are now able to reach 1 Gbps after residents took it upon themselves to dig the necessary holes and lay fiber cables. Back of the envelope calculation: $2174.65 per premise. (link)

The New York State Public Service Commission is fining Charter Communications $1 million for allegedly failing to meet the terms of its agreement to expand its Spectrum high-speed internet service. (link)

In Ireland, only 58 percent of households in rural regions have access to broadband. (link)

The Pennsylvania state government intends to make available $35 million in incentives to private-sector broadband providers. Those companies will be able to use the funds to bid on providing access in service areas through an impending Federal Communications Commission bandwidth auction. Funds will come through PennDOT, which has its own goal of building out networks along its road systems, which traverse the entire state. (link)

In North Carolina, local government leaders are asking state lawmakers to consider proposals giving them the authority to build out broadband infrastructure and charge providers for access to the dark fiber. (link)

Algorithms & AI

“Contrary to the critics, I believe our popular discourse about robotic relationships has become too dark and dystopian. We overstate the negatives and overlook the ways in which relationships with robots could complement and enhance existing human relationships.” (link)

According to Bruno Maçães, a former Europe minister for Portugal, the EU is failing to grasp threats and opportunities of artificial intelligence. (link)

Facebook announced Monday that users across the world will soon see more stories from local news outlets in their News Feed. (link)

Nvidia is crucial to AI. TechCrunch takes a look at their rise. (link)

DeepFakes are only the beginning: “The meaning of evidence and trust will be critically challenged and pillars of the modern society such as information, justice and democracy will be shaken up and go through a period of crisis. Once tools for fabrication becomes a commodity, the effects will be more dramatic than the current phenomenon of fake news.” (link)

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Quick Take – Does Fake News Hint at a Competitive Information Environment?

I’ll state my priors. I’ve been skeptical of the contemporary narrative on fake news for a variety of reasons, which I’ve detailed here, here, here, and here. Also, I’ve been waiting for further research. Nearly a year and a half out from the election, it seems that we’re getting some of that. Among the most important is a new study in Science that tracks how false news and real news flows over a network, what network theorists call cascades.

According to the report, false news reached more people on Twitter than true news. But bots and other nefarious actors weren’t the culprits. Bots tended to accelerate the spread of both false and true news at the same rate. Instead, the degree of novelty and the emotional reactions drove people to share the false information. As the report noted, “The spread of falsehood was aided by its virality, meaning that falsehood did not simply spread through broadcast dynamics but rather through peer-to-peer diffusion characterized by a viral branching process.”

The novelty part of the study is worth highlighting and it is a topic that I have been harping on since 2012. Because it updates our understanding of the world, novelty attracts human attention. As the thinking goes, false news travels further, faster, deeper, and more broadly within the network because it is novel, because it is a new piece of information that could make a difference in decision-making. Given this, it is easy to understand political false news is so viral.

What does this mean in context? Social media has been derided because it is said to put people into filter bubbles. But this paper undercuts that thesis. People using online social networks are seeking out novel information, not running away from it. Fake news might hint at a competitive information landscape, not a narrowing one. In our current political environment, however, fake news means something more. Fake news might be novel information, but it is decidedly not the politically correct form of information to seek. Because of this, I tend to think that the abrogation of political norms is driving the worry about fake news.

Top News

President Donald Trump blocked Singapore-based Broadcom $117 billion hostile takeover bid for U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm. (link)

Spotify’s RapCaviar playlist has been credited with making Smokepurpp’s “Audi” go gold, with 68 million streams and counting. Spotify boasts 2,500 of these playlists and they’ve become some of the most valuable real estate in the industry. Record labels and PR reps now pitch and collaborate with the tastemakers at streaming services the same way they have with radio stations and the press for decades. (link)

The New Yorker has a long form article on Reddit. Some quotes: “What is social media? In sixty minutes of oral argument [for Packingham], Facebook was compared to a park, a playground, an airport terminal, a polling place, and a town square.” “Some people on The_Donald are expressing their genuine political beliefs, and obviously that’s something we want to encourage. Others are maybe not expressing sincere beliefs, but are treating it more like a game—If I post this ridiculous or offensive thing, can I get people to upvote it? And then some people, to quote ‘The Dark Knight,’ just want to watch the world burn.” “The_Donald accounts for less than one per cent of Reddit’s traffic, but it occupies far more than one per cent of the Reddit-wide conversation.” (link)

Larry Downes’ newest piece gets down to business in the first paragraph: “Exactly two years ago, I predicted in a lengthy post that eight major Internet policy initiatives undertaken by the FCC under then-Chairman Tom Wheeler would fall victim, sooner rather than later, to legal and political challenges. As of last week, all of them have now been sent down the memory hole…” (link)

Is big business really that bad? Rob Atkinson and Michael Lind preview their new book with a piece in The Atlantic. (link)

Senator Schumer on regulating tech: “Government regulation of speech is a frightening thing and has a bigger downside than upside. So I approach the issue with care, maybe moreso than some of my colleagues who have similar politics to me.” (link)

Tesla’s electric motor is set to spur demand for rare earth neodymium. (link)

In a related topic, educators in Britain, after decades spent in a collective effort to minimize risk, are now, cautiously, getting into the business of providing it. (link)

Apple’s market cap is at an all-time high of more than $922 billion, putting it within shot of reaching a $1 trillion valuation. (link)

Broadband

Karl Bode takes a look at why Google Fiber didn’t fare so well. Here is a key point: “Even in launched markets, customer uptake wasn’t quite what executives were expecting. Estimates peg Google Fiber TV subscribers at fewer than 100,000, thanks in large part to the cord cutting mindset embraced by early adopters. Broadband subscriber tallies (estimated as at least 500,000) were notably better, but still off from early company projections.” (link)

A newspaper report has claimed that the UK government’s on-going ‘Telecoms Infrastructure Review‘ is giving serious consideration to the old idea of adopting regional franchises, which they claim might help boost the coverage of “full fibre” broadband, particularly in rural areas. (link)

Telekom Deutschland, the domestic fixed and mobile operating unit of Deutsche Telekom (DT), has expanded its VDSL vectoring network to an additional 745,000 households. Don’t count DSL out. (link)

The Board of County Commissioners for Carroll County, Maryland voted Thursday to allocate $400,000 to issue broadband-related grants. (link)

New Mexico Governor Martinez line-item vetoed broadband subsidies from the state’s annual budget, totalling $8 million. (link)

Earlier this year, the Canadian government announced it would spend $27 million CAD to bring high-speed Internet to around 1,500 households in 70 rural and remote communities in Newfoundland and Labrador. Back of the envelope calculation: $13,938.84 per premise. (link)

Armstrong Telecommunications plans to string 2,000 miles of fiber optic cable across Cattaraugus, Allegany and Steuben counties in New York by the end of the year. Back of the envelope calculation: $3,642 per premise. (link)

A city councilman proposed that Los Angeles study creating a new publicly owned and operated department to provide affordable broadband internet services to residents. (link)

A rural community in the UK has taken matters into its own hands after internet providers refused to install broadband – because the area is “too remote”. Villagers in Killington, Cumbria, clubbed together using hand and digger to bury hundreds of metres of broadband fibre underground after BT refused to connect them. (link)

Algorithms & AI

I will let this piece speak for itself: “Experts are increasingly recognizing that the ‘accuracy’ of artificial intelligence is overstated. Furthermore, the accuracy numbers reported in the popular press are often misleading, and a more nuanced evaluation of the data would show that many AI applications have much more limited capabilities than we have been led to believe.” (link)

Hedge funds that use artificial intelligence and machine learning in their trading process lagged behind their discretionary counterparts in February. (link)

This autonomous vehicle company based out of Moscow doesn’t have any specialized software like Tesla’s Autopilot, or hardware like Mobileye’s patented microchip. They took a different approach by exposing their program to 100,000 dashcam videos and other footage collected by Moscow State University. (link)

Eric Goldman has a new essay out on the topic of regulating platforms. Here is part of the abstract: “First, the newspaper analogy isn’t necessary to determine that Google and Facebook engage in speech and press activities. Second, stripping First Amendment from Google and Facebook would end badly for all of us.” (link)

More research on Facebook: “Our results also showed that Facebook news use was related to a modest over-time spiral of depolarization. Furthermore, we found that people who use Facebook for news were more likely to view both pro- and counter-attitudinal news in each wave. Our results indicated that counter-attitudinal news exposure increased over time, which resulted in depolarization.” (link)

A report commissioned by European lawmakers has called for more transparency from online platforms to help combat the spread of false information online. (link)

Richard Sowers, a professor of industrial and enterprise systems engineering and mathematics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a team of students have developed an algorithm that promises to give valuable information to farmers of crops picked by hand. (link)

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Top News

And so it begins. Washington became the first state Monday to set up its own net neutrality requirements. (link)

In a sign of escalation, Peter Schweizer, a right-wing journalist known for his investigations into Hillary Clinton, plans to release a new film focusing on technology companies and their role in filtering the news. (link)

Facebook will expand its “breaking news” label that’s being tested in the U.S. to more than 50 additional publishers in North America, Latin America, Europe and Australia. If the expansion is successful, Facebook says it may add more publishers. (link)

The Trump administration on Monday urged the Supreme Court to expand states’ authority to collect sales tax on internet transactions. (link)

Major automakers on Monday joined forces with tech companies and a variety of interest groups to urge the US Senate to take up, before the end of May, a stalled bill aimed at speeding the deployment and testing of self-driving cars. (link)

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Pai takes heat from all sides over plan to evict resellers from Lifeline program. (link)

Reddit CEO Steve Huffman posted Monday that the company is in the middle of an “ongoing investigation” into how Russian sources may have used the platform in the run-up to the 2016 election and that Reddit has “removed a few hundred accounts” that were knowingly sharing Russian propaganda. (link)

Gus Hurwitz and Kristian Stout have a great piece over at Truth on the Market: “Over the last two decades, scholars have studied the nature of multi-sided platforms, and have made a good deal of progress. We should rely on this learning, and make sure that antitrust analysis is sound, not expedient.” (link)

Last Wednesday, GitHub suffered the biggest DDoS attack ever with 1.35 terabits per second of traffic hitting the platform. (link)

Uber responds to a paper from MIT’s Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research (CEEPR), which suggested that the median profit from driving is $3.37 per hour before taxes. Redoing their own study, the ride platform found that drivers got $13.04 per hour after expenses. (link)

Here is all of the evidence that the DC area might be getting Amazon’s HQ2. As a Washingtonian, please no. (link)

The Technology Policy Institute has an excellent roundup of research for tech. (link)

Broadband

“Being able to stream football and basketball games won’t make startups blossom amid Midwestern cornfields. Tech hot spots require synergy between different companies and talents. They also require housing, recreation, logistics and academia. Broadband will lift the quality of rural lives significantly. But it is often the kiss of death for local retail and journalism, to name just two industries that suffer disruption by smartphone. Notice the biggest boosters of rural broadband are often those who want improved access to farmer data. While broadband can make spending more effective, it offers fewer opportunities to make money.” (link)

The Michigan House has approved a bill from state Representative Beth Griffin intended to expand access to broadband internet in rural areas by streamlining the permitting process. Here is the key: “County road commissions hold jurisdiction in right-of-way instances and often require permits, inspections, and project reviews due to the close proximity of other lines and mains beneath the ground. The fees they now charge can vary widely. Griffin says putting a cap on them simplifies and speeds up broadband expansion.” (link)

Gov. Eric Greitens wants the state to invest $45 million over the next two years into efforts to expand broadband internet networks in rural parts of Missouri. (link)

Polk County, WI will waive fees associated with broadband expansion — highway utility accommodation permits, for example — on projects that involve county highways or other lands. (link)

A project aimed at bringing superfast broadband to rural communities around north east Fife in the UK has collapsed. Community Initiatives North East Fife (CoINEF) said their last supplier had not taken into account a potential expense, making the project ‘not financially viable’ to go forward. (link)

Wyoming’s Management Council sponsored a bill — Senate File 100 — that would create a system for the state government to award money to companies wishing to install or upgrade broadband across the state. The approval process would favor projects that bring the service to areas without high-speed internet or to “economically distressed” areas of the state. It would also set aside $10 million for the grant program. (link)

The third round of New York State’s broadband grant program, the New NY Broadband Program, just got announced. Nine companies, including Verizon and others, won the grants to fund $71 million in projects that will bring broadband to 19,774 homes. Back of envelope calculation: $3590 per premise. (link)

Rural broadband headwinds: “Affordability comes into play. Many folks who said, ‘yeah, I’m OK,’ are unwilling to pay any more,” says David Foote, state broadband initiative manager for the NH Broadband Mapping and Planning Program. (link)

The Illinois Farm Bureau wants to know whether members have adequate access to broadband internet and so the organization is launching a simple survey. (link)

Czech operator Nordic Telecom has launched a non-commercial pilot operation of wireless broadband in selected locations. Speeds above 400 Mbps have been reached under real conditions. (link)

Two Colorado lawmakers want to end the practice of allowing some in the telecommunications industry from being able to take away grants awarded to start-up companies that are trying to deploy broadband. Under current law, a company or organization that wins a grant from the state’s Broadband Deployment Board can see that grant taken away through an appeals process. (link)

Algorithms & AI

Harvard Business School’s case study approach tackles algorithms, “Should an Algorithm Tell You Who to Promote?” (link)

Of six crash reports involving robot cars filed in California so far this year, two involved a human approaching the car and attacking it. (link)

Game developer Ubisoft has trained an AI to alert coders before they build software that contains bugs. Ubisoft says it wants staff to think of the AI as a tool to help speed up work, not make them redundant. (link)

“There’s a dirty little secret about artificial intelligence: It’s powered by hundreds of thousands of real people.” (link)

Investments in AI-related technologies surged more than eightfold to over $5 billion in 2016, according to market research firm CB Insights. But that hasn’t boosted labor-productivity growth, which from 2005 to 2017 grew at less than half the 3 percent annual rate established from 1995 to 2004. (link)

Cold water: A recent survey of more than 300 marketers by Resulticks found that almost half thought artificial intelligence was an overhyped industry buzzword and 40% felt skeptical when they saw or heard the term. The survey also found that 47% of marketers believed AI was more fantasy than reality. (link)

The World Bank put out this solid review of how machine learning and artificial intelligence are being used in development interventions and evaluating project impacts. (link)

“But if we read past the occasional politics and occasional dead ends of tautology, conservatives and liberals alike will find that Automating Inequality is the best book we have thus far about the ways in which governments at nearly every level of authority are using computer algorithms as essentially magic: easy technological substitutes for the difficult balance of sympathy and intelligence needed to govern the messy thing that is human society.” (link)

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Top News

Yes it is official. Spotify is going public. But no, it isn’t issuing an IPO. It is pursuing a direct listing. (link)

Later this month, the FCC will vote whether to eliminate certain requirements for building wireless infrastructure to help speed up the development of super-fast 5G networks. My link directs you to the FCC order because I care. (link)

Pete Sepp is right, net neutrality requires a bipartisan, legislative solution. (link)

Brent Skorup: “The state ‘net neutrality’ bills and executive orders represent common carriage regulation. State officials make no attempt to hide this since they largely copy-and-paste the nondiscrimination obligations directly from the 2015 Open Internet Order. Here’s the problem for states: regulators can’t impose common carrier obligations on non-common carriers.” (link)

As one political scientist said, the grass doesn’t grow by itself. And on the point, here is an article from Brian Fung on “the huge, low-profile alliance fighting to save the FCC’s net neutrality rules.” (link)

I really like this discussion of privatizing the Space Station from Ross Marchand. My favorite quote: “Depending on who you talk to, ISS is either an incredibly valuable, fully depreciated piece of critical space infrastructure or an orbital sunk cost trap.” (link)

President Donald Trump’s nominees to the FTC indicated they wouldn’t target big tech companies simply because they are big, but expressed openness to looking into whether tech algorithms harm competition or consumer choice. (link)

Google competitors have called for further action by European Union antitrust regulators to ensure the Alphabet-owned firm treats rivals offering shopping services equally. (link)

Broadband

I missed this, but Facebook isn’t just getting into millimeter-wave wireless tech with Terragraph, it is also working on OpenCellular, a “low-power base station optimized for underserved regions across the globe.” (link)

Microsoft is collaborating with Packerland Broadband, based in Iron Mountain, Michigan, on an initiative to extend broadband internet service to more than 80,000 people mostly in northeast Wisconsin, but also across the Upper Peninsula. (link)

WiValley of Keene, New Hampshire is building a wireless broadband network, bringing high-speed internet to this steep and hilly town of roughly 340 people. Back of the envelope calculation: $1529 per premise. (link)

New Zealand’s rural broadband initiative has really been an upgrade of older copper tech. (link)

SpaceX has launched the first two satellites of its Starlink broadband constellation into low-earth orbit. (link)

With the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) offering telecommunications providers more incentives through the Flexible Grant Program to bring high-speed internet to unserved hilltowns, Comcast is reaching out to new towns, including Charlemont. Back of the envelope calculation: $3923 per premise. (link)

From all the press it is getting, it seems that the Missouri Farm Bureau is taking the issue of rural broadband seriously. (link)

Algorithms & AI

“Every time there’s a mass shooting or terror event, due to the subsequent backlash, this YouTube conspiracy genre grows in size and economic value…In other words, due to the increasing depth of the content offerings and ongoing optimization of YouTube’s algorithms, it’s getting harder to counter these types of campaigns with real, factual information….Contrary to my earlier remarks on Twitter about YouTube’s algorithm getting ‘gamed,’ I’m no longer sure. The only gaming here appears to be using tragic events for automated content monetization.” (link)

Vero has positioned itself as a different kind of social network, one designed in response to the ways in which existing networks have counterintuitively made people unsociable. It’s grown from less than 1 million registered users to nearly 3 million, according to the company, over the past several days. “Our intention is really to create an online social network that mimics the greatest social network that exists, which is the one that exists between people,” Vero co-founder Ayman Hariri told Entrepreneur. “Our responsibility as designers and developers is to have technology be a tool for people — to have it enhance their life experiences and not to detract from them.” (link)

Paul Allen is committing $125 million over three years to support the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI2) and launch Project Alexandria, a new research initiative on common sense artificial intelligence. “Common sense.” (link)

AI enables dealerships to save money by maintaining leaner parts inventories and ordering fewer parts that are likely to be returned to the automaker or become obsolete. Software systems monitor dealerships’ parts orders to automakers. Algorithms analyze supply and demand patterns to “learn” about parts runs in specific regions. Syncron’s software has helped some automakers increase their fill rate — the share of customer parts demand that is met through immediate dealership stock availability — from 60 to 90 percent. (link)

The website LittleThings launched in 2014 and amassed over 12 million Facebook followers. The recent algorithm shift from Facebook took out roughly 75% of LittleThings’ organic traffic while hammering its profit margins. (link)

Some interesting updates from the gambling world: “Thanks to AI, early detection and prevention are possible. By analyzing player data for problematic behavior, AI can flag individuals with concerning patterns and notify online casino operators. The identified account can be suspended while the player is offered help before he or she spirals out of control into gambling addiction.” (link)

Not everything is horrible in this world. A new app called iHeartUs uses a proprietary algorithm to strengthen bonds between couples. (link)

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Top News

Google has received 2.4 million ‘right to be forgotten’ URL delisting requests and has fulfilled 43 percent of them. (link)

TechFreedom updates us on that 9th Circuit case regarding FTC jurisdiction over broadband. Short answer, the agency has power to police. Read their entire post for details. (link)

Mark Jamison thinks the FTC needs to ward off three popular fallacies that could distract the agency from its primary mission moving forward. (link)

Fred Wilson at AVC: “The NY Metro area is the easiest place to raise capital that CB Insights surveyed. That may surprise people, but it does not surprise me. NYC is home to wall street and a lot of money.” (link)

California’s Department of Motor Vehicles said Monday that it was eliminating a requirement for autonomous vehicles to have a person in the driver’s seat to take over in the event of an emergency. The new rule goes into effect on April 2. Here is a key piece in the NYT writeup: “While most of the companies leading the race for driverless cars are based in California, some have started testing autonomous vehicles in Arizona, where the state government has taken a more hands-off approach to the technology.” (link)

The European Commission wants to tax large digital companies’ revenues based on where their users are located rather than where they are headquartered at a common rate between 1 and 5 percent, a draft Commission document showed. (link)

“Russia’s Facebook ads were almost certainly less consequential than the Trump campaign’s mastery of two critical parts of the Facebook advertising infrastructure: The ads auction, and a benign-sounding but actually Orwellian product called Custom Audiences (and its diabolical little brother, Lookalike Audiences).” (link)

“Frick imagines a future in which your smart watch will know how your body is responding to someone. Then it will combine with Facebook data about their personality. And that will let you know whether that person makes you lethargic, raises your blood pressure or depresses you.” (link)

The FTC is hosting PrivacyCon tomorrow. Here are some papers worth reading for the policy crowd: Ying Lei Toh, Incentivizing Firms to Protect Consumer Data:  Can Reputation Play a (Bigger) Role?; Jaspreet Bhatia, Empirical Measurement of Perceived Privacy Risk; Christian Catalini, The Digital Privacy Paradox: Small Money, Small Costs, Small Talk.

Broadband

Facebook just announced its conducting trials of its Terragraph wireless broadband in Hungary & Malaysia. (link)

The cost of doing business with the FCC: “All of the support was there. Our E-rate consultant assisted in filing the E-rate paperwork, EducationSuperHighway kept us coordinated on next steps, and the state matching fund helped pay for the cost of the upgrade.” (link)

A small cell deployment bill just passed the West Virginia Finance Committee and heads to the full floor for a vote. (link)

GSMA is predicting by 2025 that 5G will be the driving tech behind half of all wireless devices. (link)

Tom Still gets it: “The blend of technologies required to better connect people, businesses, schools and emergency responders will range dramatically depending on cost, location and speed of delivery.” (link)

Algorithms & AI

Deputy US Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios says the U.S. is still leading China in artificial intelligence, but needs to keep pushing ahead. (link)

Here is that new malicious AI report making the rounds. Lots of doom and gloom. (link)

In a new study, LawGeex has achieved an average 94% accuracy rate at surfacing risks in Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs), one of the most common legal agreements used in business. This compares to an average of 85% for experienced lawyers. (link)

A new research paper on the 2016 election finds that Twitter users of all ideologues were exposed to messages from Russian trolls, but it was mainly conservatives who helped amplify their message. I think this confirms what Judith Donath said: “In the world of social media, of Facebook and Twitter, news is shared not just to inform or even to persuade. It is used as a marker of identity, a way to proclaim your affinity with a particular community.” (link)

Known officially as the Semi-Autonomous Mason Sam100, or just Sam, the robot can lay a brick every 8.5 seconds. At that rate, Sam can lay 3,000 bricks in an eight hour shift whereas a human worker can lay an average of between 300 and 600. (link)

Japan’s fiscal 2018 budget for artificial intelligence is less than 20 percent of the amount planned by the United States and China. (link)

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Quick Take – The Perils of the Subscription Model

Critics of big tech often think the problem lies with the ad supported model. So, forcibly moving the entire space to the subscription model would change things for the better. As Andrew Potter recently explained, however, the paid subscription model isn’t all that it is cracked up to be.

When Potter was the editor of a newspaper, he learned that “advertisers didn’t spend a lot of time trying to dictate what went into the news pages, presumably because they didn’t really care.” But, subscribers complained endlessly. “I lost count of the number of times I took calls from readers calling to complain about something they had read in The Globe and Mail or the Toronto Star or had heard on the CBC, but who swore it was in our pages.” He makes a convincing argument. Since the consumer is always right, inevitably they will begin to “make demands on the editors to shape the coverage in certain ways, which will tend to gradually shift that centre of gravity away from the middle, and towards the political extremes.”

The demand for paid tech platforms seems to be low as well. In a recent paper on the topic, economist Caleb Fuller estimated that even under generous assumptions, Google could hope to make somewhere between $14 and $15 million dollars per year if it charged a fee. To put that in perspective, the 2017 total revenue for Google’s parent company, Alphabet, was $111 billion.

The use of ad blockers also hints at the positive relationship between advertising and content. This research paper found that for every additional percentage point of site visitors blocking ads, the traffic was reduced by 0.67% over 35 months. Over time, sites that served fewer ads because of the blockers provided less content.

Let’s not dismiss out of hand the importance of the ad supported model.

Top News

I want to put this Pinker article at the top of the list so you read it: “The Robopocalypse is based on a muzzy conception of intelligence that owes more to the Great Chain of Being and a Nietzschean will to power than to a modern scientific understanding. In this conception, intelligence is an all-powerful, wish-granting potion that agents possess in different amounts…The first fallacy is a confusion of intelligence with motivation—of beliefs with desires, inferences with goals, thinking with wanting.” (link)

Tom Struble argues for changes to the FTC. (link)

A judge in San Francisco last Thursday said a former Grubhub delivery driver was an independent contractor and not the company’s employee, in the first case of its kind against a “gig economy” company that went to trial. (link)

In the past five years, Amazon increased lobbying spending by more than 400 percent, a rate of change that far exceeds rivals’. It lobbied more government agencies than any other tech company, pressed its case on as many issues as Google, and outspent everyone in the industry except for the search giant, the data show. (link)

Russia is already meddling in the midterm elections this year, the top American intelligence officials said on Tuesday. (link)

Trump’s plan to privatize the ISS exposes the rift in the space community over the public and private space spheres. (link)

The FCC reauthorization bill has gone through a number of changes and additions since being unanimously voted out of subcommittee back in October with the understanding that the harder work would come in the full committee markup. The last time the FCC was reauthorized was in 1990. (link)

“It’s not enough to rave against the size of Big Tech. It’s necessary to get specific: for example, about how public policy should view network effects or online buyer-and-seller platforms, and about the collection, use, sharing, and privacy protections for data. We certainly don’t want the current big tech companies to stifle new competition or abuse consumers. But in pushing back against the existing firms, we don’t want regulators to set rules that could close off new competitors, either.” (link)

Broadband

One reason Ireland has had problems with rural broadband: “On the latter point, rural TDs, councils and individuals have to accept some blame for their crap broadband. Permissions for isolated housing projects proliferated in the same period as broadband development here, setting an easy to foresee national stage for a costly broadband nightmare. Supplying fibre out to little clusters of a few houses here and there is expensive.” (link)

More than 580,000 homes across the UK in remote locations will now be able to get fixed wireless broadband services thanks to an upgrade by EE. (link)

Numbers in a federal report about West Virginians who have access to broadband internet services are “not even close to being correct,” the chairman of the state’s broadband council said. (link)

The long rumored SpaceX satellite broadband service is happening. (link)

Algorithms & AI

The Robotics Industry Association has released new data on use of robots in industry. Robot density in the United States increased significantly to 189 robots per 10,000 employees in 2016, now ranking seventh in the world. (link)

The UK government had its own AI built to block extremist video. (link)

Indian finance minister Arun Jaitley told parliament that the government think-tank, Niti Aayog, will spearhead a national programme on AI, including research and development. (link)

More than 65 million people are living in a state of displacement, the highest level in human history, yet only a small fraction are successfully resettled into permanent homes. Algorithms might be able to help with this process. (link)

“The biggest misconception is that we have it. I wouldn’t even call it AI. I would say it’s right to call the field AI, we’re pursuing AI, but we don’t have it yet.” (link)

The Trump White House is encouraging federal agencies to invest money in artificial intelligence and related technologies, according to one of its top tech officials. (link)

“The mood of the legal tech world seemed decidedly more circumspect when describing AI at this month’s Legalweek show.” (link)

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Quick Take – Is There Really A Privacy Paradox?

Adam Thierer recently alerted me to a paper from Caleb Fuller that should be getting wider coverage in our corner of the world. The title is uncontroversial enough, “Is the Market for Digital Privacy a Failure?”

Using a survey, Fuller tries to explore why the ad-supported model is so prevalent in the online content space even as consumers by and large dislike digital information collection. As he notes, “Many scholars have argued that individuals volunteering information online is no indication of that person’s true preferences–that biases are causing behavior to deviate from expressed preferences.” Because consumers truly don’t know what is being sacrificed on their end, these scholars contend, what consumers choose in the real world isn’t evidence enough that they prefer these technologies. That part has always been a bit of a hand-waving for me.

But, this privacy paradox might not be such a paradox, Fuller argues convincingly. One needn’t rely on a theory where consumers are persistently fooled or behaving inconsistently with their true preferences to explain privacy preferences. Rather, consumers may have “simply a positive preference for more of an economic good, ceteris paribus.”

Indeed, for those with an economic inclination, there isn’t a paradox to speak of. If consumers maximize utility given the preferences of two goods, in this case online content and privacy, their indifference curve can be plotted. Privacy researchers suggest is that this indifference curve is perverted due to the presence of asymmetric information, that consumers don’t actually know the relative tradeoffs. But, if consumers do know the relevant tradeoffs then the consumer has ranked all of the available alternatives.

Here are a couple of choice stats that make that case:

  • 90% of those voluntarily using Google are aware of its business model based in data collection.
  • Like other surveys, 71% of respondents said they would prefer not to be tracked, and of this group, 74% are unwilling to pay anything to retain their privacy.
  • Even under generous assumptions, Google could hope to make somewhere between $14 and $15 million dollars per year if it charged a fee.

Fuller has done the kind of work that has long been needed in this space, and in doing so, helps to resolve the privacy paradox, if there were ever one.

Top News

The biggest news of this week is that Trump has released his infrastructure plan. Don’t be a chump, read the full document. (link)

This piece in Wired is getting a lot of accolades. I haven’t read it yet, but the subtitle gives the gist of it: “How a confused, defensive social media giant steered itself into a disaster, and how Mark Zuckerberg is trying to fix it all.” (link)

Larry Downes, as per usual, is required reading: “Perhaps what tech critics really want are more innovative rules. Traditional regulations, after all, were designed in response to earlier technologies and the market failures they generated. They don’t cover largely speculative and mostly future-looking concerns.” (link)

Ryan Hagemann puts the Falcon Heavy launch into context: “before we see a true blossoming of commercial space enterprises, there are a host of government policies that need to catch up to the technological advances fueled by private industry players like SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin.” (link)

Unilever CMO Keith Weed says the company will only invest in platforms “committed to creating a positive impact in society.” (link)

An update on the legal and regtech space. (link)

Lovely. A German consumer rights group said on Monday that a court had found Facebook’s use of personal data to be illegal because the U.S. social media platform did not adequately secure the informed consent of its users. (link)

A new research paper: “Ad blocking software allows Internet users to obtain information without generating ad revenue for site owners, potentially undermining investments in content. We explore the impact of site-level ad blocker usage on website quality, as inferred from traffic. We find that each additional percentage point of site visitors blocking ads reduces its traffic by 0.67% over 35 months. Impacted sites provide less content over time, providing corroboration for the mechanism. Effects on revenue are compounded; ad blocking reduces visits, and remaining visitors blocking ads do not generate revenue. We conclude that ad blocking poses a threat to the ad-supported web.” (link)

“In the wake of fake news and other troubles at tech companies, universities that helped produce some of Silicon Valley’s top technologists are hustling to bring a more medicine-like morality to computer science.” (link)

As the Trump administration issued its budget request for fiscal 2019 on Monday, the Office of Management and Budget quietly re-launched the Performance.gov website with a new focus on IT modernization as a key driver to the White House’s strategy for federal reform. (link)

Broadband

Politico Europe did a deep dive into TrueSpeed, a British telecom startup, that is trying to bridge UK’s rural digital divide. Note, however, the cost of getting broadband into 75,000 rural UK homes, £75 million. Back of the envelop calculation: $1388.70 per home. (link)

Georgia Representative Jay Powell Lawmaker pitches a Netflix tax to fund rural broadband. (link)

Reports suggest that SpaceX will soon launch its first prototype global internet satellites on the next Falcon 9. (link)

Charter Communications has yet to detail pricing and packaging on a mobile service that will debut later this year, but it’s making some progress with fixed wireless broadband trials that are tapping into the 3.5-GHz spectrum band. (link)

New figures from research firm Telsyte showed that, in the past year, 20 percent of Australians had decreased the amount of fixed broadband usage, in favor of using their mobile data plan. (link)

Missouri lawmakers have listed broadband access, state worker wages and higher education funding as top priorities for the ongoing legislative session. (link)

The Colorado Senate this week gave final approval to the bill that they hope will finance broadband access in rural communities. Senate Bill 18-002 would take dollars from a fund that currently finances phone landlines and transfer it to a broadband deployment fund. (link)

AI & Algorithms

“AI software, however, can easily extract data and clarify the content of contracts. (It could quickly pull and organize the renewal dates and renegotiation terms from any number of contracts.) It can let companies review contracts more rapidly, organize and locate large amounts of contract data more easily, decrease the potential for contract disputes (and antagonistic contract negotiations), and increase the volume of contracts it is able to negotiate and execute.” (link)

One startup is using AI to spot the early indicators of lung cancer. (link)

Not tomorrow, but soon! ” Andrew Yang, a well-connected New York businessman who is mounting a long-shot bid for the White House…believes that automation and advanced artificial intelligence will soon make millions of jobs obsolete.” (link)

Reddit bans the ‘deepfake’ AI porn it helped spawn. (link)

This is why China could be a big player for AI: “Because of its sheer size, vibrant online commerce and social networks, and scant privacy protections, the country is awash in data, the lifeblood of deep learning systems.” (link)

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Quick Take – Why A Data Portability Act Might Not Be An Effective Policy

Voices in technology and policy are arguing that the largest tech companies have too much power and face too little competition. And those who are more reluctant to regulate directly have come up with a different idea for how to increase competition: data portability through a mandated open API. As I explain in my newest piece at AAF, these proposals miss what makes data valuable, and thus what gives these companies power. Data isn’t the key to Facebook, Amazon, and Google. Rather, it is the structure and processing tools that drive these platforms.

Here is the key quote: “In building for scale, Facebook and other social media sites have developed many interconnected computational assets, and it is the sum total of these pieces that makes them competitive, not simply one piece.”

How important is an open API? While there isn’t much work on this, here is a paper that tries to model these changes. Convincingly, the paper makes the case that when Facebook opened their API, it transformed the company from a “one-to-one communication network into a group forming network. Eventually, this transition increase[d] potential connectivity in social network and [lead] to exponential growth of social network adoption.”

While I could be missing something, it isn’t clear that competitors really get a foothold in the market by piggybacking on another network, and then building out the platform’s uses from there. The path of Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Tumblr, and Pinterest all suggest otherwise. Each of these grew because they focused on a segment of the market, developed their user base, and continued to innovate when problems popped up.

In other words, the implementation of open APIs seems to reflect a company trying to grow content on their platform. It is not a solution to the initial problem of a startup, rather, it is a method of growing once the initial phase has ended.

Top News

Haters. “A group of Silicon Valley technologists who were early employees at Facebook and Google, alarmed over the ill effects of social networks and smartphones, are banding together to challenge the companies they helped build.” (link)

If the SEC and the CFTC have their way, Bitcoin regulation is coming. (link)

A little-noticed consequence of the tax reform law signed by President Trump is a dramatic increase in tax incentives to acquire robots instead of hiring workers. Businesses can claim a 100 percent up-front expense deduction for purchasing automation equipment displacing human workers. (link)

New Jersey on Monday became the latest state to implement its own net neutrality rules when Governor Phil Murphy signed an executive order prohibiting all internet service providers that do business with the state from blocking, throttling or favoring web content. (link)

Lots of spice in that Uber-Waymo trial. (link)

Apple and Cisco Systems have teamed up with insurer Allianz to offer discounts on cyber insurance to businesses that primarily use equipment from both technology companies. (link)

Seattle’s election authority said on Monday that Facebook is in violation of a city law that requires disclosure of who buys election ads, the first attempt of its kind to regulate US political ads on the internet. (link)

Last week, Santa Clara University hosted a gathering of tech platform companies to discuss how they actually handle content moderation questions. The video is up and begins at minute mark 41. (link)

Chinese investment in Silicon Valley has been hampered by the far-reaching consequences of Beijing’s capital control regime. (link)

This is interesting. “A Wilmington charter school gave free desktop computers to parents last week, hoping to provide them with the resources to succeed in a world where those who don’t have proper access to technology are often at a disadvantage.” (link)

The Missouri Farm Bureau, the USDA’s Farm Service Agency, and the Rural Development office have been meeting regularly to consider a plan of attack in erasing the rural broadband deficit in Missouri. Blake Hurst, president of the Missouri Farm Bureau, noted it’s been difficult to determine which areas are in the direst situations with their lack of internet connections. (link)

Broadband

The state of Tennessee has announced dozens of grants to improve computer and online skills and access to broadband services at libraries. (link)

This one comes from Representative Shimkus: “So while Highland [Illinois] should celebrate the Harvard honor, their fiber optic company represents a cautionary tale for other cities pondering going into business. No matter how capable or efficient you might be, a changing market that shutters a private business just turns into a never-ending ratepayer or taxpayer burden when it is a public utility.” (link)

Windstream has been awarded $2.7 million in Phase 3 of the New NY Broadband Program. An additional Windstream investment of $674,225 brings the total to almost $3.4 million. The fund will support Windstream’s deployment of high-speed broadband to 751 rural locations in Western New York. Back of the envelope calculation: $4,527 per premise. (link)

To close the broadband gap in the rural parts of the state, the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) has solicited proposals through a Flexible Grant Program, designed to provide grant funding to companies that are willing to design, build, own, operate and maintain a communications network in one or more participating towns that will provide residents with broadband internet access that meets or exceeds current FCC benchmarks. (link)

German leaders have agreed to establish a fund of between 10 to 12 million Euros to finance the nationwide expansion of broadband internet, including in every school in Germany and in rural areas. (link)

Ben Lomand Connect is one of the recipients of a Tennessee broadband accessibility grant and will receive $1.025 million for the project, which will bring high-speed internet to rural Coffee County, TN. Back of the envelope calculcation: $5,125 per home passed. (link)

Algorithms & AI

A panel of roboticists have laid out the 10 biggest challenges for the field in the journal Science Robotics. (link)

I like this framing: “Andrew Ng, an adjunct professor at Stanford University and one of the founders of Google Brain, the search company’s deep learning project, says the system works for problems where a clear input can be mapped on to a clear output. This means it is best suited to a class of problems involving categorisation.” (link)

Local police departments often use Facebook to post information of public interest about missing persons, traffic and local crime. Now, some are worried that Facebook’s algorithm change will affect how the public gets this information. (link)

“Facebook’s users are spending 50 million fewer hours on the site per day, a decline that [Zuckerberg] attributes to algorithmic changes the company has made to overhaul the type of content that users see in their news feeds.” (link)

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Quick Take – Can AI Teach Us To Be More Moral?

One of the most dire predictions concerning AI is the terminator scenario, where machines turn against human resulting in a protracted military conflict between the two. Driving these worries could be any number of factors, but one of the most often cited is that machines aren’t like to have our sort of morality. A new study from Nature suggests that machines are already deploying the characteristics of cooperation and compromise better than humans.

While the end goal of the study was to understand what attributes artificial intelligence will need to develop social skills, the study quickly found that the AI players were better at cooperating than human, who are even better than other mammals at this kind of social organization.

Here is how the lead author explained it: “As it is, about half of the humans lied at some point. So essentially, this particular algorithm is learning that moral characteristics are good. It’s programmed to not lie, and it also learns to maintain cooperation once it emerges.”

One potential application is machines become skilled as moral agents. As it stands, these machines are often better at reaching these compromises than we are, so we might be looking to them to help us be better members of society in the future. There’s a novel in this idea.

Top News

Center right and conservative groups urge Congress to let net neutrality repeal stand. (link)

The Trump infrastructure plan has been leaked, it seems. (link)

In a slew of blog posts Monday morning, Facebook directly addressed ways it thinks its technologies have both hurt and helped democracy around the world. (link)

Conditions imposed by regulators as part of Comcast’s merger with NBCUniversal expired Saturday, renewing debate over AT&T’s takeover of Time Warner that the Justice Department is trying to block. (link)

Through an executive order, Montana Governor Steve Bullock declared on Monday that any internet service provider with a state government contract cannot block or charge more for faster delivery of websites, two core aspects of net neutrality, to any customer in the state. (link)

“I’m not interested in imposing like regulation on the edge community or the high technology community to create some kind of parity level” with internet providers, Michael O’Rielly told reporters. He suggested removing regulations for internet providers would put them on more even footing with the web firms. (link)

Twitter says it will notify nearly 700,000 users who interacted with accounts the company has identified as potential pieces of a propaganda effort by the Russian government during the 2016 presidential election.

An effort by Panasonic to build its own smart city just outside Denver is advancing rapidly with a recently completed microgrid, numerous Internet of Things projects, and an autonomous shuttle service scheduled for launch this spring. (link)

NYU professor Scott Galloway began The Four, his book on Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook, he thought it was a love letter. Now he says it’s time to break up the companies. (link)

Broadband

Minnesota Needs $1.4B to Hook Up Everybody to Broadband, Task Force Concludes
In order to achieve its goal of statewide broadband by 2022, a panel has recommended an investment of $35.7 million per year. (link)

At the state level, West Virginian Delegate Gary Howell, R-Mineral, is pushing legislation that would encourage telecom companies to provide high-speed broadband internet over a cellular service, introducing house bill 2379 — called the “Wireless Technology Business Property Valuation Act.” If passed, HB2379 bill would change the way the state values wireless technology property for taxation purposes to encourage telecom operators to invest in the technology. (link)

Writing in The Scotsman today, Economy Secretary Keith Brown revealed the government had achieved its ambition to deliver fibre broadband access to 95 percent of homes and premises by the end of last year. (link)

Everyone hates their ISP, Canadia edition. (link)

Lyon County, Minnesota is considering a government owned broadband network. Asset costs for a fiber network in the rural study area were about $19.98 million, or $21.99 million if the cities of Lynd and Balaton were included. Asset costs for a hybrid network of fiber lines and wireless Internet were about $5.87 million, or $7.89 million if Lynd and Balaton were included. The all-fiber broadband option didn’t look financially viable, engineer Chris Konechne of Finley Engineering and Doug Dawson of CCG Consulting said. (link)

York in the UK, while known for its history, is anything but backward-looking. Thousands of residents of this compact metropolis enjoy the fastest internet speeds in Britain, up to 1Gbps. (link)

Algorithms & AI

What if robots can’t hold down jobs? That’s something we’ve never considered: “Robot working in a supermarket fired after a week as it scares human customers.” (link)

“But what happens to a computer with artificial intelligence that actually becomes smarter over time? Machine learning by definition is the opposite of decay. If an asset grows more valuable with use then it should be negatively depreciated. For certain technology firms the earnings kick would be substantial. At Google, say, depreciation in the past year was $6bn. If only a tenth of that was reversed the company’s market capitalisation would rise by about one-fifth, based on current multiples after tax.” (link)

Europe’s next financial crisis may be averted with the help of a new “safe asset” aimed at breaking a vicious circle of lending by banks to their national governments, the man in charge of creating it said on Monday. “These sovereign bond-backed securities are issued by a robot,” Irish central bank governor Philip Lane said in Helsinki. (link)

AI “bias” isn’t what journalists claim it is. (link)

A group of American and Russian computer scientists has created an antibiotic algorithm that, by rapidly sorting through databases, can discover 10 times more new variants of known antibiotics than all previous efforts combined. (link)

Facebook, which already has an artificial intelligence lab in Paris, said it will double the team there to 100 people by 2022 and spend 10 million euros ($12.2 million) on items including hardware equipment. (link)