Even by Uber’s headline-grabbing standards, this week has been a big one. The shock decision by Transport for London (TfL) to revoke Uber’s licence from Sunday is the latest in the company’s long line of reputational and regulatory headaches.
This blow to Uber in what had seemed to be its safest European harbour is a tough first test for new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who swiftly issued an apology. As Khosrowshahi tries to take the company in an empathetic new direction, especially pertaining to its relationship with regulators around the globe, this London setback could be a blessing in disguise and offer an opportunity to shape up with the eyes of the world watching. With much of the public clearly on the company’s side, it’s time to show the regulators some love.
For a deeper dive into the issue, especially on the topic of how Uber sets itself up a platform and the structure’s impact on issues of liability, read this. h/t Frances Robinson.
The rise of on-demand data-driven insurance [Economist]
Insurance has traditionally relied on static data points to reveal risks. Well, the rise of big data and connected devices is about to change that. Case in point: the drone sector. Flock, a new London-based startup, is beginning to insure drones on a per-flight basis with rates set by a digital-risk assessment. The app will rely on a range of data including weather forecasts, live information about nearby aircraft and traffic, urban typography as well as data from the drone itself. The system will crunch this data into a risk score which underwriter Allianz will turn into a price. Is the insurance sector ready for a data-driven revolution?
Health isn’t just a passing fad for some of the world’s most valuable tech companies. They’re moving from wellness wearables into the highly regulated medical sector. Luckily, they’ve found an important ally within the US government. This week, the FDA said it will offer fast-track regulatory approvals for medical software made by Alphabet, Apple, Fitbit and Samsung. Apple recently reported that it has teamed up with Stanford University to create an Apple Watch that can detect a heart rhythm disorder called atrial fibrillation. Is a personal doctor coming to a wrist near you sooner than we think?
Kumesh Aroomoogan, was once yelled at for taking his eye off the news feeds at Citibank to go to the bathroom. From this traumatic experience Accern was born, a service capable of analysing data from over 300 million news websites, blogs, social media and financial documents. Quant hedge funds, where investment decisions are based on quantitative analysis, are Accern’s biggest customers. Accern aims to spot market-moving news much faster than any traditional trader. The goal: eliminate the manual process of dissecting multiple financial news websites and allow traders to go to the bathroom with a clear conscience.
Google helps media find new subscribers [Les Echos]
Much criticised for its impact on traditional media, Google has decided to make amends and to help companies like News Corp, the Financial Times and the New York Times to boost their subscriber base. Using AI and its own data, Google will help to identify potential new readers and propose tailor-made offers. Media outlets seem willing to dive deeper into the digital world to find new tech-driven ways to increase their revenues. To regain public confidence, they must invest in quality journalism, as discussed at a conference hosted by the Greens/EFA at the European Parliament. To find new sources of funding and to keep readers coming back, creativity is a must.
Do dating apps know you better than you know yourself? [The Guardian]
The Coming Software Apocalypse [The Atlantic]
We talk about devices and robots taking over, but we forget that all hardware is fuelled by software – lines and lines of code. Systems such as cars that were once built mechanically now rely on this code. While systems powering sectors from aviation to shipping have became more complex, coding has not. Codes operating today have created a new level of complexity that can cause unforeseen and complicated problems. Programmer and journalist James Somers believes that this will lead to more dark days of software failures. Coding evolution needs to gain steam as more and more lives depend on digital infrastructure.
In case you haven’t had enough:
Facebook’s war on free will [The Guardian]
Two women founders show way to top in tech outside Silicon Valley [Financial Times]
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