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Sep 7, 2016

How long it takes for an innovation to seep into culture

Very interesting post that points out how it is not technology that drives change, but our collective response to the options and opportunities presented by technology. It shows a path of seven steps for big breakthroughs, and postulates a time frame of around 30 years:

- First, no one's heard of you
- Then they've heard of you but think you're nuts
- Then they understand your product, but think it has no opportunity
- Then they view your product as a toy
- Then they see it as an amazing toy
- Then they start using it
- Then they couldn't imagine life without it

Replace "they" with "we", as a market, as a society. I don't necessarily agree with the 30 year perspective as the examples given in the post are not from our digitized area, but still the article is inspiring and worth reading.


Sep 2, 2016

Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking and others call on AI/machine regulation

Artificial intelligence, robots and self-learnig machines are making incredible progress. But what few people think about is that if we have self-driving cars, we can also have self-driving tanks. Robot armies would be a terrible, terrible thing, deciding on their own judgement whether to kill or not to kill etc. Plus - we don't really know how long we will have full control over self-learning systems. So some smart minds have put together an open letter, and it is really worth reading, not only if you are interested in AI or science fiction for that matter:

Remember Isaac Asimov's laws of robotics? We need something like those.

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

11 reasons to be excited about the future of technology

The great Chris Dixon lists 11 technologies that are indeed exciting. To be not only excited about the future of technology, but about the future of humanity - when access to these technologies is widely distributed and they are regulated in a way that societies in general benefit from them - we have still some work to do. But just reading through the list makes you a bit more optimistic:

We should work less - and work better

I had a German post in this blog on an experiment in Sweden with six hour work days. Now they seem to have introduced it (english link). But it is not only the nordics who seem to strive for less work for maybe political reasons - scientists recommend less hours for more productivity, better health, less turnovers in the workforce. The world economic forum quotes scientists who believe 25 hours a week would be the magic number (Facebook video & link):

We need to act on robots & machines - now

Technology is our friend - as long as we, just like in real life, work on that friendship. I have the feeling we don't, or just insufficiently. I am currently reading "the second machine age" and freaking out a bit (Chapter 1 as PDF here): If we know all this, why aren't we working on reforms for our schools, professional life, organization of society? Here's an interesting take on what may happen:

Robots may bring on a "permanent underclass":

We still need to learn about effects of targeting

P&G took parts of their targeted advertising off Facebook (still spending huge amounts there) and just yesterday a German "Head of Digital" and "Senior Media Manager Europe" from Müller Milch (a dairy FMCG) published a rant about how digital sucks (link in German). What no one seems to care about that targeting on a level that is possible on Facebook is relatively new. We have to learn how to build media plans that include offline, traditional online and targeting. Seems to be a complicated thing, and I am happy about any data we get that offers some insights. Like this article, where for example it is stated that if you bombard a consumer with 40+ views of your banner within a month, sales actually decline.