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Big Revolution - Ethics and freaking out

Hello and welcome to Thursday's Big Revolution.  The rest of my day after hitting 'send' on this incl
May 10 · Issue #74 · View online
Big Revolution
Hello and welcome to Thursday’s Big Revolution. 
The rest of my day after hitting ‘send’ on this includes a meeting with a senior BlackBerry exec, to hear about a company far more concerned with corporations’ security than little phones with physical keyboards these days. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Big things you need to know today
- Apple is reportedly getting tougher on developers who include code in their iOS apps that sends your location to third parties like adtech companies. Developers who stand accused of this are having their apps removed from the App Store until the offending code is removed. 
- Chinese phone maker ZTE is in serious trouble. The company was banned from using US-made parts last month, and it has now ceased “major operating activities” as a result. The $17bn revenue company is now facing full closure unless it can persuade the Trump administration to change its mind on the ban.
- Google’s new Tour Creator app lets you create VR-based virtual tours using Street View imagery and your own 360-degree photos.
- Yahoo has quietly, inexplicably launched a new consumer app. It’s called Squirrel, and access to this group chat app is by invitation only. I have no idea why Yahoo, now part of Verizon, thinks anyone needs another chat app.
The big thought
Google Duplex in diagram form. Credit: Google
Google Duplex in diagram form. Credit: Google
Ethics and freaking out
Google showing off Duplex has kicked off a big debate about how ethical it is for a bot to talk on the phone to a human without revealing that it’s bot.
Some people are freaked out by the whole idea, while others feel any concern is overreaction.
Google itself notes:
  • Duplex is an experiment that may not ever launch in its current form.
  • They want to build some kind of disclosure into the system that the speaker is a bot, but haven’t figured out the best way yet.
The most pressing issue this story has flagged up is that tech companies need to accept people are way more sensitive to the potential negative sides of their products these days. And they need to preempt the outcry with sensible product development decisions and clear communication about safety and responsibility from the first time a product is shown off, even if it’s just a tech demo.
That’s at odds with traditional ‘build it fast and iterate’ approach in Silicon Valley, but tech companies will simply need to adjust quickly to the increased scrutiny they face. It’s as much about clear communication as it is ethics.
Anyway, Duplex’s case may not be a long-lived problem. At some point relatively soon, places like hairdressers and restaurants will no doubt have their own A.I. to answer their calls… and then neither caller will need to pretend to be human.
One big read
Apple, Influence, and Ive
The writing style here is pure Marmite – you’ll either love it or be appalled by it, but it’s interesting to see how a watch geek approaches an interview with Jony Ive. And it’s certainly an interesting read about the design of the Apple Watch.
One big tweet
Productivity is overrated.
Aaron Harris
I'm confused by people who want everything they do to be a time hack. Some of the best parts of my life have happened when I'm putting no thought towards productivity.
12:03 AM - 10 May 2018
That’s all for today...
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