🔥 Human face of technology #11

Photo of Kuba Filipowski

Kuba Filipowski

Updated Feb 19, 2018 • 12 min read

AI is a black box; WeChat commodifies iOS in China; Echo Show; Electric cars in India; Apple Watch & Cardiogram can detect ventricular fibrillation; Zuckerberg out to lunch; and a Zulu answer to the Cartesian scepticism.


🗃 AI is a black box where you chuck in your data, and the machine performs some calculations to finally spit out the results. If you wanted to trace the conclusions drawn by the AI back to the initial dataset, it would be prohibitively difficult or even impossible. The reason for that is that the computer performs an enormous number of operations on the input. It also does a large number of operations on the data used for "learning" the algorithm, even before the input data come into play. The AI's black-box nature might pose a problem if we'd like to use AI's conclusions to make important decisions such as "should we remove this organ?" or "is this person guilty of the charges?" Would we feel at ease if a machine recommended that we should remove a patient's liver without giving a clear explanation of the reasoning behind the decision.

📱 What if the reason behind Apple's disappointing results in China is WeChat? WeChat is so much more than just an IM service – WeChat lets you do quite a lot of things in China. WeChat is so important that it de facto commodifies the operating system a machine runs on, turning it into an environment where you can launch WeChat. This is similar to the current status of web browsers on desktop computers, which act as the operating system for the user. It doesn't really matter much whether you work on Windows or MacOS if you spend 99 percent of your time in Chrome. Now, since due to the WeChat situation iOS doesn't constitute a competitive advantage of Apple in China, Apple can be put on a par with dozens of other handsets running Android. In China, Apple has no competitive advantage.

📺 In May, Amazon released its Echo Show, a cabled speaker with Alexa and a touch screen.The use cases presented by Amazon look quite convincing, but you could accomplish the same tasks with an iPad. I'm really curious whether people want this sort of a family mini-TV/tablet. I wouldn't buy it.

❤️ Cardiogram, Apple Watch's heart rate analysis app, can detect atrial fibrillation with a 97-percent accuracy. Healthcare is a big market, and we're bound to see lots of innovation based on wearables and software.

🚙 By 2030, every car sold in India will be electric – in just thirteen years' time.The current amounts of CO2 emissions per capita in India look really good (at least on paper) – you need 12 Indians to produce the amount of CO2 generated US citizen. The low emissions derive mainly from the fact that India is still a developing country. India's government's decisions, however, give us hope that India can skip the development stage based on fossil fuels.

🗣 Could we solve political conflicts by accurately presenting different views and different nuances of a given issue.?Maybe the masses aren't so stupid after all, and our conflicts arise because the "oral" form of debating isn't the most efficient way of solving conflicts and making decisions? Taiwan is currently experimenting with innovative tools that could allow us to overcome this problem, and the results are promising.

🦂 Infected computers and Android phones are used for generating artificial views of web ads. One of such generators can produce 1 billion views per minute, while another one can generate as much as 30 billion per minute. Allegedly, Google can't identify the artificially generated ad views.

😟 Instagram bears the most negative impact on our mental health out of all popular social media apps.Instagram distorts people's body image, causes sleep difficulties, and induces FOMO.

🤖 Jeff Bezos, in an interview at the Internet Association‘s annual gala, talked about Amazon's strategy for Artificial Intelligence. Amazon lets its users take advantage of Machine Learning through an AWS API, which allows just about any organisation to leverage the power of ML without the need for spending a lot of money.

🔊 Currently, twelve percent of American households own an Amazon Echo or a Google Home, which makes those assistants a really large market category. They are also the most popular consumer-grade IoT product. I'm looking forward to the moment I replace my Sonos with Apple's HomePod.


👱🏻 What would it be like if Mark Zuckerberg decided to pop by to your place for dinner because he wanted to see how ordinary Americans live? Is Zuckerberg really considering running for president?

🚴‍♀️ If there is a cycleway in the near vicinity of a shop, the shop's income grows substantially. According to some research conducted in New York, newly built cycleways bumped the nearby shops' income by almost 50 percent.

✉️ If you ask somebody a favour in a face-to-face conversation, you are 34 times more likely to be successful than if you do it by e-mail. Thirty-four times is a lot, which makes e-mail a terrible tool for influencing people's decisions.

🎮 Now, here's a story of a woman who hired another woman to play Overwatch with her. She didn't regret it at all – playing with a partner was much more fun.

🇨🇭 Swiss consumers return clothes bought in online stores, e.g. Zalando. The Swiss Federal Customs Administration reports an uptick in clothing exports. Statistics vs. reality.

🇺🇦 The Polish economy is growing thanks to the large immigration of Ukrainian citizens. The immigration reduces the pressure on wages, which would otherwise be stronger, considering the low unemployment rate in Poland. Poland's economy is still based on low wages, so a sudden increase in the cost of labour could derail the entire economy.


🛏 Old Ikea furniture is sold on auctions as antiques. One armchair has been sold for £50,000.

🌀 Tyler Cowen wrote a piece on the "cosmological bias". Cosmological bias is a situation in which we find some things strange in mythology or science. We find it difficult to accept that multiverse exists because we haven't seen one and we haven't consciously experienced it. Nonetheless, science postulates that multiverse is actually more rational than "steady state matter" in which we feel comfortable.

🤔 The Zulu phrase "a person is a person through other persons" is a better and richer version of Cartesian "I think, therefore I am".

◼️ Here's a list of nine reasons why people join ISIS.



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Kuba Filipowski

CEO & Co-founder at Netguru
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