The Constant Consumer


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We have become an active consumer all through the day thanks to technology.

In light of Amazon’s all-encompassing ambitions, the strategy behind several of the company’s most important product initiatives — Alexa, Amazon Prime, physical retail stores (including Amazon Go and Whole Foods), and Amazon Key — becomes clearer. These products seek to redefine what being a customer means by immersing us more completely within the Amazon universe. Formerly, being a customer was a role one assumed upon physically entering a store or ordering something from a company. Amazon promises to create a newer type of environment, a hybrid of the digital and the physical, that lets us permanently inhabit that role: the world as Everything Store, which we’re always inside.

The complete article

Drew Austin — Real Life

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The Malicious Use of Artificial Intelligence: Forecasting, Prevention, and Mitigation


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We have been hearing of AI a lot. A deeper look into it.

The ability of many robots to be easily customized and equipped with dangerous payloads lends itself to a variety of physical attacks being carried out in a precise way from a long distance, an ability previously limited to countries with the resources to afford technologies like cruise missiles . This threat exists independently of AI (indeed, as mentioned above, most robots are human-piloted at present) but can be magnified through the application of AI to make such systems autonomous. As mentioned previously, nonautomated drone attacks have been conducted already by groups such as ISIS and Hamas , and the globalized nature of the robotics market makes it difficult to prevent this form of use.

The complete paper

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The Scooter Economy


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Indeed, the only thing that could make the experience better — for riders and for everyone else — would be dedicated lanes, like, for example, the 900 miles worth of parking spaces in San Francisco. To be sure, the city isn’t going to make the conversion overnight, or, given the degree to which San Francisco is in thrall to homeowners, probably ever, but that is particularly a shame in 2018: venture capitalists are willing to fund the entire thing, and I’m not entirely sure why.

The complete article

Stratechery

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The problem with Facebook


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What’s your view?

“Antisocial Media” is not a hopeful book. Vaidhyanathan doesn’t think Facebook can be reformed from within, however many times CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologizes and promises to do better. “The problem with Facebook is Facebook,” he writes. It’s not just that the company makes its money by pimping its members to advertisers. It’s that the network is now so immense that it has become impossible to weed out the scoundrels and creeps until after they’ve done their damage. “Facebook,” Vaidhyanathan concludes, “is too big to tame.” The company will always be cleaning up messes, begging our forgiveness.

The complete article

Nicholas Carr – The Washington Post

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Why Generation Z Is Disillusioned with Social Media


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So why are today’s teens opting out of social networking? Largely because of the effect social media has on their mental health. Thirty-five percent of anti-social media users cited that there was too much negativity floating around, while seventeen percent said it made them feel bad about themselves. Social media is often linked to anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem, and eighteen percent said they felt too much pressure from sites to get attention.

The complete article

Tallie Gabriel — The Content Strategist

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How to talk to your robot


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Nearly all AI assistants today have an associated persona. Devices and their makers have come under scrutinyfor the fact that the majority have feminine names and default to female voices. While motives for pushing a persona can be myriad, two are likely significant. Firstly, developers may believe that personas will make assistants more ‘natural’ and easy to use. Secondly, a persona may advance the impression that the technology has achieved human-level intelligence or something very close to it.

The complete article

Calen Cole — Stripe Partners

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How social media took us from Tahrir Square to Donald Trump


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Twitter, the company, retweeted my talk in a call for job applicants to “join the flock.” The implicit understanding was that Twitter was a force for good in the world, on the side of the people and their revolutions. The new information gatekeepers, which didn’t see themselves as gatekeepers but merely as neutral “platforms,” nonetheless liked the upending potential of their technologies.

I shared in the optimism. I myself hailed from the Middle East and had been watching dissidents use digital tools to challenge government after government.

But a shift was already in the air.

The complete article

Zeynep Tufekci — MIT Technology Review

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