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LanceList - Issue #157

Break Them Up; Don't Answer These Calls; Google Reservations; SXSW Wrap-up


March 11 · Issue #157 · View online
Tech stories that matter, Gadget Quests, nerd pursuits, and other things you ought to know.

Break Them Up; Don’t Answer These Calls; Google Reservations; SXSW Wrap-up

De-monopolize. Presidential hopeful and Senator Elizabeth Warren has outlined a plan to break up major tech companies including Facebook, Google, and Amazon, rewinding on major acquisitions each have made over the last decade. It’s an ambitious plan that has sharply divided people on Twitter where some are saying it’s about time and others believe she just doomed her campaign. As for Warren, she thinks these giant tech companies are killing competition and innovation and are not looking out for our best interests. Her plan is at least worth a read.
Elizabeth Warren says she wants to break up big tech companies, including Amazon, Google, and Facebook
Spam-a-palooza. You know how you can tell it’s almost tax time? The number of IRS scam calls have skyrocketed. I know, all kinds of spam calls have increases tenfold, but the ones asking for tax-payer ID or even your social security number are now through the roof. I’ve written about how our spam-call nightmare might be coming to an end, but, in the meantime, you know the drill: Don’t answer these calls. Don’t give out any information.
FTC says taxpayer voice phishing scams are up nearly 20x – Naked Security
Lazy eaters. Last year I wrote about a remarkable AI-based demonstration in which voice system Google Duplex made a call and booked a hair salon appointment. It dialed, engaged in a brief conversation with a real human on the other side, and the deed was done. Now Google is finally ready to roll out Duplex for restaurant reservations in 43 states. The only catch – and it’s a big one – is you need to own a Google Pixel phone.
Booking a restaurant? Let Google’s Duplex AI make the call for you – Naked Security
Tesla in reverse. Last week Tesla made the somewhat radical decision to close all its showrooms and sell only online. I wondered how that would make sense for a sales business that often relies on test-drives. Maybe Tesla was starting to wonder the same thing, too. Now it plans to only close half its stores and raise prices 3% to make up the difference.
Tesla hit the brakes on its store closure plan, rescuing many of the outlets it promised to close just 2 weeks ago
My time in Austin is almost done, but I didn’t want to leave without sharing some of what I learned and experienced.
Robot-ville. Wherever I go, I hunt for robots. And, as often as I do it, I usually end up disappointed. SXSW, though, offered a mix. In one place, I found a huge collection of care bots that didn’t do much. In another, I found a lone robot preparing to do some very important work.
A Tale of Two (or more) SXSW Robots
Can AI save us? There are literally hundreds of panels at SXSW, so it’s not surprising to find a related pair or two. I dropped in on one talk that looked at how we might regulate AI, while another hosted by the European Union, asked if AI could solve our disinformation crisis. Together, they left me with the impression that AI has the potential to change the world, or at least minds, if we can figure out how to regulate it.
AI, the Tool That’s Going to Sink Us or Save Us
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