Weekly Links & Thoughts #70

Here is a weekly selection of 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 during the weekend.

Back after a one-week vacation break.

If you want to make sure not to miss this link selection, do like more than 200 other smart people (as of April 2016) and sign up for free for the weekly email. It is sent out each Thursday right after this post goes live, including all the links. Example.

  • What we need to do in artificial intelligence is turn back to psychology
    This long read changed my perspective. Usually, when thinking about the possibilities of artificial intelligence, I am automatically focusing on how AI can help to “fix” the weaknesses of the human brain. But, as explained here, it would be wrong to only see this as a one-way street. Humans are actually extremely good at certain types of data processing. Especially when there are only few data points available. Computers fail with proper decision making when they lack data. Humans often actually don’t.
  • We Need to Know Who Satoshi Nakamoto Is
    Satoshi Nakamoto is the pseudonym of the mysterious inventor of Bitcoin and the Blockchain. This piece argues that it is important to know who’s behind. It did not convince me but it certainly made me think about whether the real identity of Nakamoto matters.
  • Building AI Is Hard—So Facebook Is Building AI That Builds AI
    I cannot comment on the actual feasibility of building an AI that builds an AI, but it for sure sounds astounding.
  • Let’s say obvious things about Facebook and conservative news
    Basically everything that needs to be said about this week’s biggest outrage topic. Maybe with one thing missing…
  • The Unbiased Algorithm is a Myth
    …which is explained here.
  • Inevitability in technology
    A thought-provoking take on the fascinating question of which technology events are based on deterministic drivers and thus are inevitable, and which are based on luck, skill and individual brilliance.
  • The Blessing of Failure
    Kinda related to the previous text: Intelligent analysis of the struggle that follows once a dominating and highly successful company such as Apple (or Microsoft) has to reinvent itself to stay ahead of the competition. It’s a bit the “innovator’s dilemma” reloaded, but still worth reading.
  • The Startup Zeitgeist
    If you analyze 8 years of applications to the world’s most prestigious startup accelerator, Y Combinator, you can learn a lot about how this industry is ticking. Lots of insightful graphs and statistics.
  • When Google Is More Powerful Than the Government
    Another case of state-like thinking by a tech giant: Google banning ads for payday loans. Something the US government has not been doing through legislation, partly probably due to lobbying efforts of the payday loans industry.
  • Handcuffed to Uber
    Quite an astonishing dilemma that many of Uber’s early employees are facing: If they leave the company, they’d lose a huge amount of money which they are entitled to through their options. So they pretty much are forced to remain at the seven-year old company until its IPO. To many this must sound like a luxury problem of course. But if you are in that specific situation, I can imagine that it actually could be very frustrating.
  • Bing Says 25% of All Searches Are Voice Searches
    A curious fact, even if few use Bing to search the web. Voice search is slowly becoming a mainstream activity.
  • The Power Of A Picture
    Netflix manager Nick Nelson about the incredible power and importance of tiny thumbnails for users’ decision making process about what to watch.
  • In a connected world, privacy becomes a group effort
    Intriguing point: Since an increasing amount of personal information is “co-owned” by other people on social networks, privacy is morphing form an individualistic effort into a group effort.
  • A geek’s guide to Shenzhen, the global gadget capital
    I am not a gadget guy but I am very interested in visiting Shenzhen and experiencing it myself.
  • Elon Musk’s Tesla Strategy: Win Big by Falling Short
    There is this proven wisdom of underpromising and overdelivering. Tesla CEO Elon Musk seems to follow the opposite philosophy: Make promises that you cannot keep. Oddly, it seems to work. Probably because he only fails to keep deadlines and quantities, not promises about product specifics.
  • 16 Apps That Will Help You Travel The World
    Don’t get discouraged by the somewhat generic headline: This list contains a host of rather interesting apps and services which at least I had never heard about.

Recent articles on meshedsociety.com

  • The Smart Home’s Trojan Horse
    So far, the idea of the Smart Home has not caught on with the masses, because most people’s cost vs benefit analysis did not make the idea of a connected home look attractive enough. But this is changing, thanks to personal gadgets that are built for the home but focus on actual user needs.

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