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🌟 Skynet rising; conversational AI; future of transportation; Minecraft and succeeding at work++ Issue #17

Azeem Azhar
Azeem Azhar
I love the tech industry. The main reason? The small fish almost always eat the big fish. We explore why. Also investigating AI design patterns - buddhist principles and conversational interfaces. And the future of transport.
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Dept of the near future
🐠 Competition in tech: the small fish almost always eat the big fish. Must read by Stanford prof, Mark Leslie.
👀 Skynet is already with us, in the form of transnational corporations with rules that ‘prohibit [them] from treating humans with empathy’ Worthwhile read by @doctorow
👴 Extremely accessible introduction to machine learning for executives by McKinsey. Recommended read
🏥 Minecraft’s journey to $1bn business. Platforms like Minecraft may play a key role in physical/virtual convergence. (See issue 11 about Minecraft’s infinite world.)
👑 A 15,000-year survey of inequality, suggests distributions vary to balance incentives and social happiness. What is the sweet-spot for our post-industrial, robo-future?
🎓 How to succeed at work today. Powerful, brief polemic by @jason Worth a read
💼 Long anthropology into the daily rhythm of gig-economy workers. The future resembles the past.
Dept of thanks
👏 Huge thanks to everyone who recommended this to friends last week. Really appreciate it. (Email recommendations work best!)
Dept of conversational interfaces
Many readers of Azeem’s Exponential View now enjoy Amy, the conversational scheduling assistant. (If you did get early access, please let X.AI and I know how you are getting on.) Is the app assistant the interface metaphor of the future? Good read by Nir Eyal. My former data scientist, Ferenc Huszar, also articulates where conversational interfaces may be taking us. Text-based interfaces are getting increasingly common on platforms like Slack and Twitch as well. Here are some guidelines for product designers. Amazon’s Echo (based on Britain’s Evi technology, where I worked briefly) is bringing voice-based interfaces to the mainstream. Nice review. offers developers conversational-interfaces-as-a-service which might encourage rapid uptake of chat interfaces by developers.
Not a conversational AI, but interesting is Beagle.AI which does legal contract review. (And separately, how Blockchain may improve / enhance contracts. Good read, despite being in parentheses.)
Dept of future transport
Apart from destroying our environment, road travel is dangerous because of the nut behind the wheel. The nut is no longer just speaking on the phone, but also SnapChatting, Instagramming & video-calling. One result: a million deaths a year globally (nearly 2-orders of magnitude worse that terr'ism and about 2% of GDP!) Even wealthy America’s roads are death-traps. One step to fully-self-driving cars will be the intelligent car with systems that prevent poor or dangerous driving. The Volvo XC-90 is one such car. Ultimately the move to driverless cars will save lives at a local level, making cities better, and also importantly eliminate more than 90% of auto pollution, all at a tiny premium.
In the UK, hybrid and electric car registrations are up 350% on 2014. BMW has tested an all-electric, zero-emission 40-ton juggernaut in Germany. (Nice market details in this article.) Google pilots an Uber competitor in Israel using its dynamic navigation platform Waze. 🌐 Uber’s insane growth is captured in data from business expenses. 71% of all car expenses in SF are now Uber. It is orders of magnitude ahead of other new entrants and eviscerating incumbents. Nice data
Short morsels
🐯 Scientists built a four-being meta-brain by wiring rats together. The borg-like structure was better than any individual rat.
🙋 The percentage of Bachelor’s degrees conferred on women shows a healthy trend except for the collapse in Computer Science in the early 1980s. Anyone know what happened? (Nikola Tesla understood the potential of women’s equal participation.)
😮 This one-man, zero-tech company sold for $100m.
👎 Kids now view traditional television as a form of punishment. The portable, individuated experience of the iPad dominates.
Video games trump brain-training apps in improving cognitive performance, according to this study. (Work for a brain training company? I would love to see contrary evidence.)
The world’s largest neural network has been built. And it isn’t from Google or Baidu.
Demand for industrial robots is soaring in China, now the biggest market in the world. The impact may be felt in those markets who were winning manufacturing business from China.
Another take on the Trolley Problem and AI ethics.
Hacking Team was an Italian company making super-deep spying tools for governments. Irony of ironies, they were hacked, and commercial data exposed.
End notes
Thanks to @cmogle & @JohnEHenderson for suggested articles. As always, drop me a line or a story by email.
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Azeem Azhar
Azeem Azhar @exponentialview

Every week, I bring you on a journey of transformation as we leave the Industrial Age and enter the Exponential Age.

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