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🌟 Algorithmic markets, AI toys, robo-factories, deep learning, scaling Uber, creative scientists, cocaine, the Martian++ #27

Azeem Azhar
Azeem Azhar
Real-time pricing in networks and marketplaces in the post-firm future. AI toys of all types.  Deep-learning mastery. Under Uber’s hood. Robots do make more, not less, work. Watch the Martian!
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Dept of the near future
🔥 Tim O'Reilly argues that algorithmic pricing needs to be worker-friendly, as realtime on-demand marketplaces form the basis of many of tomorrow’s de facto labour structures. Very thoughtful
🏭 The focus of the firm as a production function managing its own assets to becoming one where it is primarily a contracting structure managing network assets. Excellent read
📚 Ten misconceptions of neural networks. Great introduction for the semi-technical reader. Also, shows this stuff if non-trivial.
🚱 Saudi Arabia’s water calamity and what it means for the US. Amazing tale of how the Saudis depleted millenia-old water resources in search of quick agri-profits. Gives a powerful glimpse into the nature of future resource competition and how it might play out. Highly recommended
🎩 Exponential organisations are masters of Archimedean leverage. Here Jan Koum of WhatsApp explains how to support 900m users with only 50 engineers.
How to build a fake business with a real reputation. Inside the reputation economy. 
Dept of pay-it-forward
I curate Azeem’s Exponential Digest on the weekend while my kids do homework. It’s a hobby that grows by referrals. So if you signed up in the last month or so, please do recommend this to three friends or colleagues who you think would enjoy it. (E-mail recommendations work best but Twitter and Facebook also nice.)
Dept of artificial intelligence
Because it was the BBC’s AI week there was a flurry of AI discussion on TV and across the Web.
SearchEngineLand’s Danny O'Sullivan on how Siri and Cortana predict what you are going to do next.
Companies who invest in robots subsequently employ more people and invest more heavily in robots, a six-year study shows.
Dept of future cars
Earlier this week, my son asked me what I didn’t like about our car. Our BMW X5 is by many traditional measures a lovely car, it is after all Britain’s most stolen model.
It drives beautifully (starting, steering, accelerating and braking just work). It is exquisitely comfortable.
But here is what doesn’t work:
  • The UX of the user interface sucks: from the information architecture of the dash-display, to the awful interface to the multimedia system; from the two built-in GPS systems which often contradict each other to the non-sensical array of random buttons.
  • Having driven electric a few times, driving petro- now feels counte-intuitive and ugly. Read this brilliant review of driving a petrol car once you’ve experience a Tesla. Good read from May 2015
And it is these two areas where traditional auto manufacturers lag new entrants.
Do I trust Apple or Google to provide a better user experience (from UI, to IA, to interaction design) or BMW? Based on my experience of each of those companies, BMW has a lot of catching up to do.
And, yes, BMW has committed to making all its cars electric within 10 years putting them far ahead of the industry.
But it seems that the real competitive dimensions in cars will move away from the things car manufacturers have traditionally competed on (petrol engine performance) towards areas where they have little expertise (user experience, software and electric.)
And that it before ride sharing takes apart the very notion that owning a car is sensible, let alone desirable.
🚘 Sunil Paul, CEO of Sidecar, warns the auto-companies to act now or die. (Apparently, 37% of San Franciscans won’t renew their auto-leases when the term expires.)
🐝 How Uber scales it’s real-time market platform. It is the “traveling salesman at an interesting scale, in real-time, in the real-world, built out of fault-tolerant scalable components” Technical review
🎓💰 A detailed look at Uber’s surge pricing by Chicago Booth School of Business. Highly recommended if you are interested in Uber or pricing strategies across real-time marketplaces. (*Note*: Company supported study.)
Short morsels for dinner parties
😍 People who read make the best lovers. Sudorific, yes, but neither profligate gasconade nor obsequious buncombe, I promise.
🍃💉 From fields to nostrils: gritty, pictorial journey of cocaine. Very sci-fi.
🚀👽🔥  *The Martian* reviewed by a NASA Mission Controller. His verdict: Houston, we have a winner.
🎶 The Hit Charade: Most pop music is written by a handful of unknown bald Scandavians. And never has so much cultural power been in the hands of so few.
👴 Our identity resides in our moral character, not in our memory or intellect.
Kids exposed to violent video games have increased aggression and impaired cognitive skills. (Academic abstract.)
What AEV readers are doing
AEV Reader and BBC presented Bill Thompson (@andfinally) and I talk about artificial intelligence on the BBC World Service this week.
Albert Wenger, partner at Union Square Ventures, argues that crowdfunding will replace ads as a means of financing journalism. Welcome to the post ad-block world.
Moribund virtual world SecondLife may get a second life as an interest in virtual reality say AEV subscriber Tim Bradshaw (@tim). (I was responsible for putting a Reuters correspondent in Second Life as an experiment.)
End notes
I meant to curate on bitcoin this week. Sorry didn’t have enough time to get my head together on what I really thought.
I am currently thinking about innovation, markets and the future of the firm and what opportunities are created as the Coasian boundary shrinks. Any recommendations would be appreciated. 
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Azeem Azhar
Azeem Azhar @exponentialview

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