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Big Revolution - Tech's image overhaul

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Hello and welcome to Tuesday's Big Revolution, and we're into full swing with a week that features tw
 
May 8 · Issue #72 · View online
Big Revolution
Hello and welcome to Tuesday’s Big Revolution, and we’re into full swing with a week that features two major developer conferences from tech giants. Lots to get our teeth into, then…
Martin

Big things you need to know today
The new Kinect
- Microsoft Build kicked off yesterday. Key things to note for end users: Better integration between Windows and Android/iOS devices, being able to pay emailed invoices straight from Outlook, and new enterprise Hololens apps for customer support and designing objects in the environment in which they’ll be used.
- On the developer side of things, Microsoft is bringing Kinect back as a package sensors that developers can get creative with. This is part of a broader shift towards ‘edge-computing.’ As ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley puts it, “Microsoft defines the 'edge’ broadly as where users interact with the cloud. Edge devices can be anything from virtual-reality/mixed-reality headsets, to drones, to on-premises PCs and servers.”
- Cool, yet-to-launch features in popular apps: Instagram may soon let you add officially-licensed songs to your Stories posts, via a ‘Music Stickers’ feature. Twitter could soon launch encrypted DMs. Meanwhile, Facebook is working on Bitmoji-style avatars for use in Messenger.
- UK TV broadcasters the BBC, Channel 4 and ITV, are looking at launching a combined streaming service with the clout to stand alongside Netflix and Amazon. “A video-on-demand platform play would be a true defence for the UK creative industries,” a source told the Guardian. Similar talks in the past have proved unsuccessful.
- Who might have lots of untracked, unregulated Facebook data? Try loads of academics around the world, reports the New York Times.
The big thought
Very 2018 headlines
Tech’s image overhaul
Two headlines stood out to me yesterday. ’Microsoft tries a new role: moral leader,’ said the New York Times, while the Washington Post said ’At Google, ‘responsibility’ upstages new technology.’
The key message two of the biggest tech companies in the world want to share this week is that they care and can be trusted.
“We need to ask ourselves not only what computers can do but what computers should do,” said Satya Nadella as he positions Microsoft as a company that cares about A.I. ethics and user privacy. Meanwhile, Google is reportedly set to unveil new Android controls “oriented around helping individuals and families manage the time they spend on mobile devices.”
The shift in narrative around technology in the past couple of years has seen the stereotypical tech blogger switch from being an enthusiastic cheerleader to a stoney-faced cynic. And politicians are paying more attention to tech. Scrutiny is increasing. So, it’s no surprise that tech CEOs feel the need to swim with the tide. 
The question is, how serious are they taking this? A few extra user settings or a white paper on the dangers of A.I. might help shift the media narrative or keep the politicians at bay, but if ‘big tech’ is still all about massive data collection to fuel adtech that normal people can’t understand and optimising apps to get people to spend as much time as possible immersed in them, the core concerns of critics will remain.
Those concerns can’t be addressed with a few press briefings or a slightly different marketing message – they run deep to the core of how much of the tech industry works. 
If the give-and-take in the bargain between consumer tech companies and the public isn’t a fair deal, the problems will linger on and come back later in a bigger and harder-to-tackle form.
One big read
Exclusive: How Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is rethinking Windows Exclusive: How Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is rethinking Windows
Microsoft is in the middle of a huge shift that is transforming its role in the technology world. Here, its CEO talks Windows, AI, and the ethics of cloud computing.
One big tweet
How many of your opinions are truly your own?
Joshua Topolsky
Imagine if there were no takes and you had to come up with your own opinion
5:47 AM - 8 May 2018
That’s all for today...
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