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Tag Archives: opinion

Instagram denies it’s building Regramming. Here’s why it’d be a disaster

Instagram tells me Regramming, or the ability to instantly repost someone else’s feed post to your followers like a retweet, is “not happening”, not being built, and not being tested. And that’s good news for all Instagrammers. The denial comes after it initially issued a “no comment” to The Verge’s Casey Newton , who published that he’d seen screenshots of a native Instagram resharing sent to him by a source. Regramming would be a fundamental shift in how Instagram works, not necessarily in terms of functionality, but in terms of the accepted norms of what and how to post. You could always screenshot, cite the original creator, and post. But the Instagram has always about sharing  your window to the world — what you’ve lived and seen. Regramming would legitimize suddenly assuming someone else’s eyes. And the result would be that users couldn’t trust that when they follow someone, that’s whose vision would appear in their feed. Instagram would feel a lot more random and unpredictable. And it’d become more like its big brother Facebook whose News Feed has waned in popularity – Susceptible to viral clickbait bullshit, vulnerable to foreign misinformation campaigns, and worst of all, impersonal. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images Newton’s report suggested a Instagram reposts would appear under the profile picture of the original sharer, and could regrams could be regrammed once more in turn, showing a stack of both profile thumbnails of who previously shared it

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As tasks wane, skills rise

Brooks Rainwater Contributor Share on Twitter Brooks Rainwater is the director of the Center for City Solutions and Applied Research at the National League of Cities . More posts by this contributor Blockchain technology could be the great equalizer for American cities How the digital economy shapes American cities Camille J. Moore Contributor Camille J. Moore is a former Fellow with the Center for City Solutions and currently an Energy Fellow with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation . It’s a common scene: A truck driver pulls up to a highway truck stop for fuel and lunch. She orders a burger and fries from the waiter standing at the counter. Then, she makes her way to the store next door to pick up a coffee to go. In a matter of years, these kinds of simple, daily interactions will likely become a thing of the past as the tasks of truck drivers, waiters and clerks are increasingly done by machines. Even if measurement techniques vary, the numbers don’t lie: Ultimately, large swaths of people will be displaced by machines. Depending on whether we’re using estimates from  Oxford University ,  McKinsey Global  or the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development ( OECD ) , it’s safe to assume that anywhere from 9 to 47 percent of the American workforce will likely be displaced by automation in the coming decades. Even the lowest estimates place millions of Americans out of work. The way we work is changing. People possess the innate ability to innovate and evolve in the jobs they do, and new technologies — from the wheel to steam power and artificial intelligence — have drastically improved and impacted work throughout history. So many jobs of the future have yet to be created, but the trends show that machines and workplace technologies will shoulder the burden of intense physical labor and leave us more room for ideation and supervision. As we all transition to a more integrated workplace it is imperative that we remember who operates the machines

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Jamie Burke to explain why you should still bet on the blockchain at Disrupt Berlin

Now that your cousin doesn’t ask you questions about bitcoin anymore, is it the end of all things blockchain? Maybe it just means that it’s time to think about innovating at the protocol level and come up with new use cases. That’s why I’m excited to announce that Outlier Ventures CEO and founder Jamie Burke will join us at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin . Burke bet on the blockchain industry quite early as he set up Outlier Ventures back in 2013. The firm’s investment strategy is much more interesting than your average investment thesis. According to Burke, blockchain is key when it comes to decentralization. At some point, the web and the internet became too centralized. Most people now spend their time on social networks and other walled gardens. This isn’t the first centralization wave. Web portals and AOL’s navigator have more or less disappeared.

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Peter Thiel’s argument that Silicon Valley has been ‘brainwashed’ by higher education is tired

Billionaire VC Peter Thiel has largely flown under the radar since raising his hand to support Donald Trump’s presidential bid, then working with Trump’s administration to fill some of its many vacant positions. The association made him deeply unpopular in Silicon Valley, though he says people have not shown a “great deal of hostility to me personally . . . it manifests itself in all sorts of other ways.” Perhaps ahead of the midterm elections, perhaps because he has more recently moved to L.A., or perhaps because he’s simply feeling more talkative, Thiel is starting to open up again about his often contrarian views to particular outlets. Earlier this year, he sat down with Fox Business to discuss his continuing support of Trump. Thiel talked again last week with commentator and comedian Dave Rubin, whose YouTube show , Rubin says, is focused on free speech. (The interview format is for people with “political PTSD,” suggests its trailer.) This newest chat, which goes on for more than two hours, touches on a wide number of things, but watching it last night, what we found most striking was Thiel’s continued disdain for academia despite his own background as both a Stanford undergraduate and law school graduate. Thiel has plainly been successful. He also formed the kind of meaningful, lifelong friendships that one hopes to find at college. Indeed, in a separate, rare public appearance this year, Thiel debated Reid Hoffman , a former Stanford classmate and longtime friend of Thiel, at a public policy think tank on Stanford’s campus. Nevertheless, in his conversation with Rubin, Thiel’s answer to why Silicon Valley has become so “left wing” is higher education

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Inside the pay-for-post ICO industry

In a world where nothing can be trusted and fake news abounds, ICO and crypto teams are further muddying the waters by trying – and often failing – to pay for posts. While bribes for blogs is nothing new, sadly the current crop of ICO creators and crypto projects are particularly interested in scaling fast and many ICO CEOs are far happier with scammy multi-level marketing tricks than real media relations. The worst part of this spammy, scammy ecosystem is the service providers. A new group of media organizations are appearing where pay-to-post is the norm rather than the rare exception. I’ve been looking at these groups for a while now and recently found a few egregious examples. But first some background. Oh yeah, Mr. Smart Guy? How do I get press? Say you’re trying to publicize a startup. You’ve emailed all the big names in the industry and the emails have gone unanswered. Your product is about to flounder on the market without users and you can’t get any because, in perfect chicken-or-egg fashion, you can’t get funding without users and you can’t get users without funding.

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What is the meaning of LinkedIn?

Thanks to John Biggs for inspiring this piece; I cosign most of what he says here . I have long been mystified by LinkedIn, because of its spectacular uselessness (for me) as a professional social network. But I also assumed it was useful for someone . Now, though, I’m beginning to wonder if the emperor is naked after all, and LinkedIn is purely a fantasy social network for people cosplaying that game called success. Let me hasten to stress that LinkedIn isn’t useless full stop. It’s a very good CV repository, and, I am given to understand, a very good recruiting site. (And per Biggs’s post, about as good a content site as most recruiting sites, which is to say, bad.) But it’s supposed to be much more than just a fancied-up Hired or Indeed, right? It’s supposed to be “the professional social network.” So I’ve long been baffled: why have I never even heard of anyone I know deriving any professional benefit from it whatsoever? Ironically I have actually had reason to be grateful for LinkedIn fairly recently: it was the sole remaining connection between me and a long-ago ex, and after she sent me a LinkedIn message out of the blue, we re-established a warm and cordial friendship. However this heartwarming tale a) is the complete antithesis of the professionalism that LinkedIn is supposed to be all about b) happened because neither of us cared enough about LinkedIn to bother severing that connection after our bad breakup. I was a fairly early adopter, but LinkedIn was useless to me when I returned to tech after my detour as a full-time novelist, useless to me in the subsequent years, and now it is useless to me as a CTO. I would estimate fully half of the connection requests / messages I get are from people trying to sell to my company the exact services we offer

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The iPhone SE was the best phone Apple ever made, and now it’s dead

I only wanted one thing out of 2018’s iPhone event: a new iPhone SE. In failing to provide it Apple seems to have quietly put the model out to pasture — and for this I curse them eternally. Because it was the best phone the company ever made. If you were one of the many who passed over the SE back in 2015, when it made its debut, that’s understandable. The iPhone 6S was the latest and greatest, and of course fixed a few of the problems Apple had kindly introduced with the entirely new design of the 6. But for me the SE was a perfect match. See, I’ve always loved the iPhone design that began with the 4. That storied phone is perhaps best remembered for being left in a bar ahead of release and leaked by Gizmodo — which is too bad, because for once the product was worthy of the lavish unveiling Apple now bestows on every device it puts out. The 4 established an entirely new industrial design aesthetic that was at once instantly recognizable and highly practical. Gone were the smooth, rounded edges and back of the stainless original iPhone (probably the second-best phone Apple made) and the jellybean-esque 3G and 3GS. In the place of those soft curves were hard lines and uncompromising geometry: a belt of metal running around the edge, set off from the glass sides by the slightest of steps. It highlighted and set off the black glass of the screen and bezel, producing a of specular outline from any angle. The camera was flush and the home button (RIP) sub-flush, entirely contained within the body, making the device perfectly flat both front and back. Meanwhile the side buttons boldly stood out. Volume in bold, etched circles; the mute switch easy to find but impossible to accidentally activate; the power button perfectly placed for a reaching index finger.

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The 7 most egregious fibs Apple told about the iPhone XS camera today

Apple always drops a few whoppers at its events, and the iPhone XS announcement today was no exception. And nowhere were they more blatant than in the introduction of the devices’ “new” camera features. No one doubts that iPhones take great pictures, so why bother lying about it? My guess is they can’t help themselves. To be clear, I have no doubt they made some great updates to make a good camera better. But whatever those improvements are, they were overshadowed today by the breathless hype that was frequently questionable and occasionally just plain wrong. Now, to fill this article out I had to get a bit pedantic, but honestly, some of these are pretty egregious. “The world’s most popular camera” There are a lot of iPhones out there, to be sure. But defining the iPhone as some sort of decade-long continuous camera, which Apple seems to be doing, is sort of a disingenuous way to do it. By that standard, Samsung would almost certainly be ahead, since it would be allowed to count all its Galaxy phones going back a decade as well, and they’ve definitely outsold Apple in that time. Going further, if you were to say that a basic off-the-shelf camera stack and common Sony or Samsung sensor was a “camera,” iPhone would probably be outnumbered 10:1 by Android phones. Is the iPhone one of the world’s most popular cameras? To be sure

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Optimistic

I spent TechCrunch’s latest Disrupt extravaganza asking questions of various notables onstage, and what struck me most was how fantastically optimistic they were. To pick two examples: Kai-Fu Lee talked about preparing for a world of mass plenitude and abundance 30-50 years from now; Dario Gil waxed enthusiastic about quantum computers simulating life-changing new materials and pharmaceuticals, transforming everyone’s lives for the better. And then I turned around and returned to the world of hair-trigger outrage, condemnation, consternation, pessimism, gloom and impending apocalypse; which is to say, America and social media, where it sometimes seems an encouraging word is rarely heard without being promptly drowned out by a dozen angry doomsayers prophesying rains of fire and blood. Surely the truth is somewhere in between; surely any rational assessment of the future must include a mixture of both optimism and pessimism. So why do those seem like two entirely separate modes of thought, of late? Certainly there’s much to be pessimistic about. Our slowly boiling planet; the resurgence of racist nationalism around the global; the worldwide rise of authoritarian demagogues who don’t represent their people. Certainly tech industry folk, and especially investors, are deeply incentivized to be optimistic. If they’re right, they win big, and if they’re wrong, well, there’s no real downside except maybe having their embarrassing pro-Theranos / pro-Juicero tweets paraded out a few years later. Panglossianism is not the path of wisdom. But neither is apocalypticism. Whisper it, but there is much to be optimistic about.

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Optimistic

I spent TechCrunch’s latest Disrupt extravaganza asking questions of various notables onstage, and what struck me most was how fantastically optimistic they were. To pick two examples: Kai-Fu Lee talked about preparing for a world of mass plenitude and abundance 30-50 years from now; Dario Gil waxed enthusiastic about quantum computers simulating life-changing new materials and pharmaceuticals, transforming everyone’s lives for the better. And then I turned around and returned to the world of hair-trigger outrage, condemnation, consternation, pessimism, gloom and impending apocalypse; which is to say, America and social media, where it sometimes seems an encouraging word is rarely heard without being promptly drowned out by a dozen angry doomsayers prophesying rains of fire and blood. Surely the truth is somewhere in between; surely any rational assessment of the future must include a mixture of both optimism and pessimism. So why do those seem like two entirely separate modes of thought, of late? Certainly there’s much to be pessimistic about. Our slowly boiling planet; the resurgence of racist nationalism around the global; the worldwide rise of authoritarian demagogues who don’t represent their people. Certainly tech industry folk, and especially investors, are deeply incentivized to be optimistic. If they’re right, they win big, and if they’re wrong, well, there’s no real downside except maybe having their embarrassing pro-Theranos / pro-Juicero tweets paraded out a few years later. Panglossianism is not the path of wisdom. But neither is apocalypticism.

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Morgan Stanley: Tesla’s autonomous ride-sharing network is worth one-tenth of Waymo

Morgan Stanley has valued Tesla’s autonomous vehicle ride-sharing business, which does not yet exist, at $17.7 billion, about one-tenth of Waymo’s value, yet still above GM Cruise, the investment firm said in a research note published Tuesday. The $17.7 billion valuation, or about $95 per Tesla share, is notably lower than the $244 a share that Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas said the service was worth in 2015. (Keep in mind this valuation is just for Tesla’s autonomous vehicle ride-sharing network, not the entire company.) Morgan Stanley’s current price target for Tesla is $291 a share. Placing a value on a business that doesn’t exist may seem, well, premature. But in Morgan Stanley’s view, it reflects Tesla’s stagnation in this area as much as the progress made by other autonomous vehicle technology companies such as Cruise and Waymo . Jonas noted that Tesla has shared “extremely few details about how shared autonomy can be positioned as a separate business model,” while Cruise and Waymo have become “increasingly conspicuous with their efforts to grow the business with specific targets for commercialization and deployment.” Tesla’s higher cost of capital compared to Waymo and potentially less room for adjacent revenue monetization were also cited as reasons for the lower valuation. “In our opinion, Tesla may one day need to make a strategic decision over whether to pursue a shared autonomy strategy on “go-it-alone” basis or whether to find ways to “attach” their vehicle data and fleet management ecosystem to one or more external platforms that maybe in a far better position to pursue data monetization, improved customer engagement/experience and lower cost to the consumer,” Jonas wrote in the research note. Three years ago, Tesla CEO Elon Musk floated an idea for a network of autonomous vehicles that Tesla owners could put to use on a ride-sharing service to earn a bit of extra money. Few details about this Tesla Network have emerged since then. The most recent smidge of information came from Musk during the company’s first-quarter earnings call in May when he said that from a “technical standpoint” Tesla vehicles would be capable of full autonomy by the end of this year. He also noted that regulatory approval made it difficult to predict timing of an actual launch. In the meantime, companies like Waymo and GM’s Cruise have ramped up their deployment plans for autonomous vehicle ride-hailing services .

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