Weekly Links & Thoughts #121

Here is this week’s edition of meshedsociety.com weekly, loaded with thoughtful opinion pieces, interesting analyses and significant yet under-reported information bits from the digital and technology world. Published and annotated every Thursday (CET), just in time so you have something good to read over the weekend.

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  • If we’re living in a simulation, this UK startup probably built it (wired.co.uk, 3)
    The British startup Improbable is developing a platform for sophisticated large-scale simulations, available for external developers who want to build their models on it. I’ve written about my interest in real world simulations in an older post. I’m really curious to see what Improbable will come up with.
  • Donald Trump, Our A.I. President (nytimes.com, 2)
    Fascinating thought: Donald Trump’s unpredictability as President resembles how an artificial intelligence would act – purely relying on day-to-day data-driven decisions, without any attempts to try to appear consistent and coherent.
  • Inside Russia’s Social Media War on America (time.com, 3)
    The U.S. invented the Internet and U.S. companies took the lead in building global platforms on top of the Internet. Then came Russia and took the lead in leveraging these very platforms to shape the world in its interest. In hindsight, it’s an astonishing story for future history books.
  • As we may read: From print to digital and back to print (craigmod.com, 2)
    Speaking about books: Apparently there is a revival of print books and a stop in growth for ebooks. I would be surprised if this turns out to be more than a temporary trend though. However, it might take several generations for the print book to disappear as part of mainstream media.
  • Most people prefer friendly robots — but not in France and Japan (recode.com, 2)
    Cultural differences are one of the most wonderful things to investigate. According to a survey, the vast majority of Americans wants friendly robots. But in France, an equal percentage of survey respondents — 37 percent — prefers friendly and formal bots. Also France is the country where the largest number of people (even if only 8 percent) want a “hip” robot personality. In Japan, 51 percent want a formal robot, and only 20 percent a friendly one.
  • How Safe Will Autonomous Vehicles Need To Be? (hunterwalk.com, 1)
    There had been 35,092 automotive deaths in the U.S. in the year 2015. Hunter Walk asks if that means that the target number for autonomous vehicles has to be equal or below that in order to be accepted by society? Obviously, the answer is very complicated.
  • Bots will soon be able to borrow our identities (venturebeat.com, 2)
    Often when I have lengthy chat sessions with people, I pay attention to their different communication styles and ways of responding. Some patterns are always reoccurring. When human communication is reduced to just written words, it’s probably not too complicated to create bots that are able to imitate anyone’s personality. Actually I wrote a post titled “Twitter makes humans look like bots” about this topic about a year ago.
  • Google starts tracking offline shopping — what you buy at stores in person (latimes.com, 2)
  • Is Facebook Licensing this Intrusive Google Patent? (medium.com, 2)
    It’s damn hard to be enthusiastic about the creeping intrusion into people’s personal lives in the name of ad optimization.
  • Facebook can’t moderate in secret anymore (points.datasociety.net, 2)
    This sums up Facebook’s undertaking fairly good: “There’s no pretty way — maybe no way, period — to conduct this kind of content moderation.”
  • Tulips, Myths, and Cryptocurrencies (stratechery.com, 3)
    The only ting that matters for the success of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin is whether enough people believe in it as a means of storing and exchanging value.
  • Bringing back the Somali shilling (jpkoning.blogspot.com, 2)
    An informative story also related to the previous topic: Even after Somalia’s Central Bank ceased to exist in 1991 due to civil war, people kept using the local currency shilling. However, its value decreased over time due to counterfeiting. Eventually, the exchange rate of the shilling moved close to the cost of producing fake shilling bills.
  • What’s The Deal With The Samsung Internet Browser? (smashingmagazine.com, 2)
    Among mobile browsers in Germany, Samsung’s own browser recently reached a market share of remarkable 18 percent. I found this text from 2016 explaining the background story of this not very acknowledged but seemingly not irrelevant piece of software.
  • The Rise of the Fat Start-Up (nytimes.com, 2)
    Farhad Manjoo writes about a new type of startup, characterized by massive cash needs due to high operational costs. Oddly, he then only profiles one and mentions those few directly created or inspired by Elon Musk. However, the recent emergence of a new Berlin-based Unicorn called Auto1 can be considered another indicator for the accuracy of the alleged trend spotted by Manjoo: Auto1 buys used cars with its own capital and sells them at a profit. The company just raised 360 million Euros in additional funding.
  • Uber in Silicon Valley is a whole different beast than in Europe (theverge.com, 2)
    A crucial point which helps to explain the discrepancy between Uber’s perceived (or actual) relevance and importance in its home market and elsewhere.
  • How Long Should Your Medium Posts Be? (hackernoon.com, 2)
    Apparently 8 minutes reading time is the sweet spot for getting the best engagement on Evan William’s publishing platform medium.com.
  • The Internet Is Broken’: @ev Is Trying to Salvage It (nytimes.com, 2)
    Apropos Evan Williams: He has regrets about what he unleashed with Twitter. Refreshing openness. He is still on the board of Twitter.
  • Kill Google AMP before it KILLS the web (theregister.co.uk, 2)
    There is a noticeable rise of negative sentiment towards Google’s AMP initiative aimed at speeding up mobile web pages. This rant offers some background why that might be.

Video of the week:

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Weekly Links & Thoughts #120

Here is this week’s edition of meshedsociety.com weekly, loaded with thoughtful opinion pieces, interesting analyses and significant yet under-reported information bits from the digital and technology world. Published and annotated every Thursday (CET), just in time so you have something good to read over the weekend.

======
If you want to make sure not to miss this link selection, sign up for free for the weekly email. It is being sent out each Thursday right after this post goes live, including all the links. Example. And try out the meshedsociety.com chatbot on Facebook Messenger.
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Recently on meshedsociety.com:

  • How Hacker News benefited when I stopped tweeting
    I reached a milestone the other day: My first productive use of my newly acquired programming skills. I analyzed whether my posting activity on Hacker News increased after I stopped tweeting in November 2016. The answer: yes.
  • How to think about today’s larger than life tech moguls
    When very accomplished and respected people from the technology industry and neighboring fields forecast the future and explain their visions, we pay particular attention. But should we?
  • Jack Dorsey’s belief
    Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey made it clear that he wants Donald Trump to keep tweeting. Well, he has no other option.

Podcast episodes of the week:

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How Hacker News benefited when I stopped tweeting

An alternative title to this post could be: “My first ever productive use of newly acquired programming skills”.

On November 21 2016 I wrote my last tweet on my personal Twitter account (I still tweet new blog posts on @meshedsociety). Shortly after, I also significantly reduced my sharing activity on Facebook. These were deliberate decisions. For individuals like me who have a natural urge to curate and spread information, not having such an easy outlet anymore for sharing reading recommendations is a big change. Where to promote all those good texts, essays and long reads? Sure, I have my weekly curated email (sign up here), and I publish a daily article selection about the digital economy (in German), but that didn’t cover everything I had previously been tweeting out. So did I just go against my nature, ending up sharing less links on the web?

I had the suspicion that without actually paying attention to it, I significantly increased my activity on the tech news hub Hacker News, submitting more stories than when I was still tweeting daily. And suddenly it hit me: I am now able to check myself if this hypothesis is true, thanks to my newly acquired Python skills. I started to teach myself Python in 2015, and a few months ago I decided to reduce some other work assignments to intensify my efforts. I currently invest about 1-2 hours daily. Continue Reading

How to think about today’s larger than life tech moguls

Stephen Hawking predicts that humans only have at best 100 years left on Earth, therefore colonizing space as fast as possible is essential. Elon Musk wants to bring tens of thousands of people to Mars for the same reason. He also expects a brain computer to become feasible within a comparatively near future. Mark Zuckerberg believes that connecting every human being on a digital platform (his digital platform) will make the world a better place. And Jack Dorsey believes in the importance of a platform to spread 140-character messages to the world.

When very accomplished and respected people from the technology industry and neighboring fields forecast the future and explain their visions, we listen. But should we?

That’s a question I ask myself every time when some bold quote about the future made by one of today’s tech celebrities travels through the international media.

The larger than life individuals from the entrepreneurial and technology sphere that nowadays dominate the headlines belong without a doubt to the smartest people on this planet. Otherwise they wouldn’t be in positions in which everyone listen to them. But they also are humans with the same flaws as everyone else. Their brains don’t fundamentally function in a different way. They simply have developed ways to leverage the brain’s capabilities in an especially effective way while simultaneously limiting or controlling the negative effects that their cognitive biases and primal impulses have on their own thinking.

Still, as long as they are human beings (to which there are no indications for the contrary), there will be flaws, thinking errors, biases. If whenever you speak everyone pays attention no matter how freaky your ideas are, how do you make sure not to develop hubris? The risk for an inflated ego inevitably increases.

That alone suggests that one should never stop being skeptical about any of these claims, no matter how much one otherwise admires a person. In addition, it’s impossible to distinguish the genuine result of hard and long thinking about humanity and the future from the self-serving promotion of narratives conducive to one individual’s reputation or strategic business interests. Does Mark Zuckerberg really believe what he wrote in his controversial manifesto, or has he chosen to claim to believe it knowing that promoting this vision will make his company prosper?

What I am writing here might sound obvious. Yet, thanks to the Halo effect, once we acknowledge someone’s accomplishments and intellectual authority, we tend to be susceptible to overestimating their foresight and intelligence in other areas of life and fields of knowledge. We tend to ignore the range of other motivations or causes that could be behind their statements.

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt just cited a popular story about how ATMs led to more bank teller jobs – and was properly called out for this flawed anecdote. But he of course knows that rebuttals usually are only seen by a small share of those who heard or read about the initial claim.

In these moments when I catch myself forgetting to remain sceptical, I like to picture sitting with Musk or Zuckerberg in a bar, them being completely drunk. That usually helps to put things into perspective.

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Jack Dorsey’s belief

In a recent TV interview, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey made it clear that he wants Donald Trump to keep tweeting (via). Here are his thoughts in his own words:

“I believe it’s really important to hear it directly from the leadership. I believe it is really important to hold them accountable. And I believe it is really important to have the conversations in the open rather than behind closed doors. If we all would suddenly take these platforms away, where does it go? What happens? It goes in the dark and I don’t think that’s good for anyone”.

This is quite some heaping plate of platitudes. But yes, what else could Dorsey actually say?!

If he would express regret about having given Trump an unique viral megaphone, he would essentially question Twitter’s right to existence. He cannot do that for the obvious reason that the consequence would be to shut down the company. After someone has walked around for 10 years selling the idea and value of a 140 character publishing service to the world, admitting that one (possibly) was wrong would be as unusual as giving up on any other strong ideological belief that someone holds (it’s no coincidence that Dorsey uses the word “believe” multiple times). And in this case of course, billions of Dollars and the jobs of many employees are at stake.

Therefore, the only thing Dorsey can do is to somehow construct a narrative which allows him and his employees to be able to justify whatever goes on on his platform (unless laws are violated) and to repeat it over and over again so it becomes some kind of quasi-truth. It’s not unlike the situation that Mark Zuckerberg is in, which I described in the post “Zuckerberg’s Lock-in Effect”.

I once read in an essay or book (sadly I don’t recall anymore which one) the following advice about what to ask people who have strong beliefs: “What evidence would it take to change your mind?” According to the author, if the person cannot come up with an answer, it is a sign that he/she actually is not interested in finding out the truth. I wonder what would change Jack Dorsey’s mind about his own platform.

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Weekly Links & Thoughts #119

Here is this week’s edition of meshedsociety.com weekly, loaded with thoughtful opinion pieces, interesting analyses and significant yet under-reported information bits from the digital and technology world. Published and annotated every Thursday (CET), just in time so you have something good to read over the weekend.

======
If you want to make sure not to miss this link selection, sign up for free for the weekly email. It is being sent out each Thursday right after this post goes live, including all the links. Example. And try out the meshedsociety.com chatbot on Facebook Messenger.
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Reading time indicator: 1 = up to 3 minutes, 2 = 3 to 10 minutes, 3 = more than 10 minutes

  • The 1 Percent Rule: Why a Few People Get Most of the Rewards (jamesclear.com, 2)
    An intelligent explainer on the Pareto Principle’s power (aka 80/20 Rule), the phenomenon of accumulative advantage and the resulting 1 Percent Rule. A lot of the dynamics that shape our world and economy are based on these mechanisms.
  • The meaning of life in a world without work (theguardian.com, 2)
    Yuval Noah Harari debunks the myth of traditional work being the unique instrument to create meaning in life. An essential read, in my opinion (except if you have read his latest book Homo Deus, in which case you might be familiar with his line of thought).
  • Luddites have been getting a bad rap for 200 years. But, turns out, they were right (qz.com, 2)
    As a reminder, Luddites were people in Britain who fought against the industrialization. This is a thought-provoking piece, although the claim that the Luddites were right depends on the perspective. In fact, in most regards, living and working conditions are better nowadays than back then, thanks to this very technology they rejected. So in that case they were wrong. They were right about that the change that came with the technological shift would disrupt their lives. That’s the inevitable side effect of large-scale structural change. Learning from the past, the goal should not be to resist the change but to find ways to mitigate the negative effects on individuals and social stability.
  • Memes are serious business with their own stock exchange (cnet.com, 2)
    Why did it take so long? A stock exchange for memes called Nasdanq. But the formula follows a different rule than in the real economy, where stock value increases if a company’s products are popular. At Nasdanq, if a meme goes mainstream, its value tanks since everyone is on the joke.
  • The ‘Frightful Five’ Aren’t So Scary, as Long as They’re Competing (nytimes.com, 2)
    “Frightful Five” is another moniker for what sometimes is called GAFAs (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon) but including Microsoft. The author makes an important point – there indeed is heavy competition going on. From my European perspective, this doesn’t change the fact though that they all are US (West Coast) companies. Even if you have 5 players that out-compete each other fiercely, there is little diversity, since they all represent the same cultural value set and ideological legacy – which particularly considering the far-reaching consequences of this industry’s activity might be questionable sometimes.
  • 21 Telling Photos From the Mark Zuckerberg Presidential Campaign Trail (observer.com, 2)
    Nice one. Zuckerberg and the “folks”.
  • Why the Surge in Violence Against Robots Matters (extremetech.com, 2)
    The likely way to reduce violent acts against robots? Making them look and behave more like humans (but maybe not so much that it leads to the effect of the uncanny valley?).
  • AI runs on rationality. Yet, we are the children of serendipity (medium.com, 1)
    Serendipity is definitely one of life’s spices. In order to make a AI-powered world worthwhile for humans, embedding the concept of serendipity into the core algorithmic philosophy is elementary.
  • Will Machine Learning and AI Ever Solve the Last Mile? (simplystatistics.org, 1)
    When AI-powered interactions between humans and machines are taking place, humans nowadays often have to intervene in the background and solve specific types of problems to support the AI. However, while this post frames it as a weakness of AI, maybe it’s a feature instead of a bug? Some think that the ideal scenario is not machines replacing humans for specific tasks, but machines and humans working together (re-recommending this article).
  • Stories vs. Statistics (collaborativefund.com, 2)
    Even in the age of big data, statistics are easily kidnapped and brainwashed by stories that thrive on millions of years of primal instincts.
  • Amazon’s ‘Echo Show’ Gives Alexa the Touchscreen It Needed (wired.com, 2)
    My first thought when I saw the photos and product videos was: “Wow, so ugly. Looks like it was designed in the 80s”. I personally like 80s design, but mostly due to a weird appreciation of that decade’s ugliness. Anyway, a commentator on Hacker News made a smart point: This is no accident. The Echo Show is targeting average Joe and Jane, including (or even especially) those belonging to older generations. The Echo Show’s resemblance of old school TV sets or radios could in fact help to tone down the creepiness factor of having a seeing and listening device standing in the kitchen or elsewhere in the home (related: “How Much Can An Amazon Echo Hear?“)
  • Microsoft and Harman Kardon put Cortana in the home (newatlas.com, 1)
    This partnership raises the question whether Microsoft will exclusively rely on third parties to compete with Amazon and Google (and soon with Apple) in the smart home speaker arena, or whether the company will to launch a flagship product of its own.
  • Transport app Citymapper trials its own smart bus and transport service in London (venturebeat.com, 2)
    Citymapper is a London-based startup that offers maps and services for efficient use of public transport in urban areas. And now, to the surprise of some, this company which in total has raised $50 million in venture capital, plans to launch a physical (smart) bus service in London.
  • Turkey Can’t Block This Copy of Wikipedia (observer.com, 2)
    One gotta love what the geekiest minds frequently come up with. A new way for addressing web pages called “InterPlanetary File System” pulls the same set of data from multiple places, and with this method, Turkey’s block of Wikipedia can be circumvented. This approach sounds very exciting in times in which governments get all too eager to censor the web.
  • What does $100 Ether mean? (medium.com, 3)
    Like Bitcoin, the Blockchain-based, programmable smart contract platform Ethereum is currently having a good run. So what does it mean to have $100 in Ether, and how is Ethereum different from Bitcoin? Her is an outstanding and comprehensive explainer by one of Ethereum’s leading figures. In another quite lengthy essay, he approaches the same topic from a very different angle. Both texts are great to wrap one’s head around the philosophy and technology of Ethereum and to understand how smart contracts could  change the world.
  • Jürgen Schmidhuber on the robot future​: ‘They will pay as much attention to us as we do to ants’ (theguardian.com, 2)
    I didn’t know that there is a German equivalent to Ray Kurzweil.

Recently on meshedsociety.com:

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The post-social media era and the evolution of social networking

Here is a German version of this text.

A few months ago I published a critical personal evaluation of the current social media landscape. During a recent podcast exchange about the same topic in which I participated (in German), what got apparent was the need to distinguish between the two components that social media is made of: the media consumption, and the networking. The first one is primarily about content, the second one primarily about people. No matter how much my skepticism about the dynamics and long-term consequences of today’s social media world has grown lately, that doesn’t change the fact that I still very much appreciate social media’s capability to get to know interesting people, potential business partners or – very simple – new friends. Over the past 10 years, I have met a lot of great individuals thanks to social media. I certainly would not want to have missed that opportunity.

What I am describing here is the “networking” element of social media, which predated the other aspect, the consumption of content within the networked environment of social media platforms. In the early years of the so called Web 2.0, the focus was mainly on building contact lists, showcasing an online profile and on exchanging messages. The services which offered these opportunities such as Friendster, MySpace and even the early Facebook were labeled “communities” or “social networks”. Before the rise of these services, there were of course “instant messengers” such as ICQ or MSN. The term “social media” didn’t emerge until around 2008. What happened at that point?

Continue Reading

Weekly Links & Thoughts #118

Here is this week’s edition of meshedsociety.com weekly, loaded with thoughtful opinion pieces, interesting analyses and significant yet under-reported information bits from the digital and technology world. Published and annotated every Thursday (CET), just in time so you have something good to read over the weekend.

New: Try out the meshedsociety.com chatbot on Facebook Messenger.

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If you want to make sure not to miss this link selection, do like more than 350 other smart people (as of March 2017) and sign up for free for the weekly email. It is being sent out each Thursday right after this post goes live, including all the links. Example.
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  • Tech Companies are Addicting People! But Should They Stop? (nirandfar.com, 2)
    Two years ago, Nir Eyal published “Hooked” which became somewhat of a holy book for tech companies and developers who strive for creating engaged users. Since then, he tries to navigate the thin line between advocating for the principles underlying the idea of getting users hooked on apps through intelligent design and the exploitation of primal impulses, and distancing himself from when the steps taken by companies are going too far. This new piece by him pretty much sums up the conflict he put himself in. He claims that tech companies have no interest in creating addicted users and therefore should implement concepts to prevent strong compulsive user behavior. I personally am not convinced that this claim is true. That being said, it’s well worth reading.
  • Sebastian Thrun Defends Flying Cars to Me (backchannel.com, 2)
    Tech billionaires are toying with ideas and projects to make flying vehicles reality. In this interview, the German-born computer scientist Sebastian Thrun who was a VP at Google and co-founded Udacity passionately defends the concept against an array of critical questions. However, not everyone in the industry agrees with him: Elon Musk prefers to dig tunnels and doesn’t believe in the feasibility of flying vehicles for the masses. See the “video of the week” at the bottom of this list.
  • This is How Google will Collapse (medium.com, 2)
    A comprehensive overview of the variety of actual or potential weaknesses in Google’s current market position and business model.
  • Quitting the Silicon Valley Swamp (pando.com, 2)
    The book author, blogger and writer Paul Carr, known for not mincing his words, writes about his long-standing habit of strategically quitting bad habits and removing destructive elements from his life. And he explains why it is now time for him to give up covering the Silicon Valley tech industry.
  • The death of the smartphone is further away than you think. And there is no ‘Next Big Thing’ (zdnet.com, 2)
    At the current moment I do subscribe to the assumption that we won’t move past the smartphone as prime personal device for a while – with maybe the exception of the home.
  • FOMO? Teens Can’t Put Down Their Phones (emarketer.com, 1)
    A statistic that encapsulates the difference between digital natives and the rest of the population: Teen users worldwide spend 48 more minutes every day using their smartphones for online activities (with a total of 3 hours 38 minutes) than average people ages 16 to 64.
  • We don’t want to be an office: Café owners are pulling the plug on WiFi (theglobeandmail.com, 1)
    Independent café owners are removing WiFi from their venues so that guests start to talk to each other again. What’s with this cliche that the (most likely) shallow small talk with strangers is in any way more desirable/better/important/valuable than reading, writing, programming, learning, messaging with loved ones far away or anything else that can be done on a device?!
  • Our world outsmarts us (aeon.co, 2)
    A great essay on an issue that I have been thinking about a lot lately: How the human brain’s inability to intuitively grasp statistical concepts and mathematics increasingly prevents us from understanding today’s complex problems and thereby from finding adequate solutions.
  • Facebook Stories is a total failure (mashable.com, 2)
    It totally is, but it also does not matter at all, as long as Stories are a huge success for Facebook-owned Instagram. This is the advantage of operating multiple leading services that are in some kind of competition with each other (for attention and user engagement): Not every feature needs to be a big hit in every one of the entities.
  • How Web Forums Make Neuroticism Viral (truthhawk.com, 2)
    Here we have an hypothesis which probably would require more research in order to be qualified as accurate. But as a possibility based on empirical observation it’s interesting to consider whether people featuring certain personality traits are dominating the online discourse and “exporting” certain patterns to a bigger audience.
  • Clayton Christensen, Doubling Down (insidehighered.com, 1)
    Clayton Christensen, the author of “The innovator’s dilemma” and father of the theory of “disruptive innovation”, expects half of the colleges (in the U.S.) to close within a decade, driven by the spread of online learning.
  • Mobile Payment Is Now Officially Available in Iran (techrasa.com, 2)
    Who knows, maybe mobile payment will become prevalent in Iran quicker than in many European countries. According to this text, one third of Point of Sale systems in the country can accept mobile payment.
  • Apple Can’t Ignore Microsoft’s Slick New Laptop (bloomberg.com, 2)
    Let’s assume for the sake of the argument that Microsoft will manage to make former Mac users switch in significant numbers back to a Windows device: It would be an incredible turn-around for the company. But of course, right now, this is hypothetical.
  • 2017 Global Startup Ecosystem Report (thenextweb.com, 2)
    The Startup Genome project has released its third report on global startup ecosystems, including a top 20 ranking. Nice to see Stockholm receiving the recognition it deserves (although within the European Union, Berlin is considered the leading ecosystem). From the article: “When it comes to Europe the big news is Stockholm. For Gauthier, Stockholm had the most impressive upward movement this year by jumping into number 14, making its debut in the top 20”.

Recently on meshedsociety.com:

Video of the week:

  • Elon Musk’s TED 2017 Full Interview
    A must-watch if you haven’t seen it yet. If Elon Musk can pull of all the things he plans to, he will become one of the most important people of this century.

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The mainstream appeal of Amazon’s smart speaker Echo

Here is a German version of this article.

I have been following the transformation of Amazon’s smart speaker Echo from an unsuspected newcomer to the leading force within the field of voice-controlled (home) computing with quite some excitement. After a long hesitation, motivated by the hope to see the emergence of a “startupish” competitor or even an open source contender, I finally gave in and purchased the cylinder-shaped black loudspeaker. In order to be able to keep commenting on the evolution of voice technology, I felt that I have to personally use its main driver.

This is not a review. I haven’t played around with it enough, and there is no shortage of personal experience reports from long-term Echo users anyway. But I want to write about the moment of Echo’s first utilization – which I actually had together with my parents. Since Amazon doesn’t ship Echo to Sweden (or to any other country where the device hasn’t officially been introduced), I had to have the gadget be delivered to my parents’s address. And so I figured that I might as well show them the future. Initially I noticed some skepticism about the purpose of the device and the privacy implications – which is understandable. A microphone-equipped internet-connected device that sends every word it catches to the servers of one of the most powerful companies on this planet certainly matches the characteristic of an integrity-violating trojan horse. But I did not expect what happened after I started to talk to Alexa, the personal assistant software that runs on Echo. Continue Reading

Weekly Links & Thoughts #117

Here is this week’s edition of meshedsociety.com weekly, loaded with thoughtful opinion pieces, interesting analyses and significant yet under-reported information bits from the digital and technology world. Published and annotated every Thursday (CET), just in time so you have something good to read over the weekend.

New: Try out the meshedsociety.com chatbot on Facebook Messenger.

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If you want to make sure not to miss this link selection, do like more than 350 other smart people (as of March 2017) and sign up for free for the weekly email. It is being sent out each Thursday right after this post goes live, including all the links. Example.
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Video of the week:

  • Neil deGrasse Tyson: Science in America
    The big achievement of the enlightenment – science – is being questioned by ideological and religious actors wherever you look. Neil deGrasse Tyson has released a griping 5 minute video to raise awareness for what’s at stake.

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