The Technology Practice at Cambre Associates, which is full of voracious readers, is happy to share #TechAways.
This week, much of the tech world is focused on the news coming out of TED2017. The organisation’s flagship event is taking place in Vancouver under the theme THE FUTURE YOU.
TED is the Davos of the tech crowd, and just like this year’s WEF reports out of Vancouver reveal a slightly subdued atmosphere. Still, Uber has announced flying cars by 2020, Elon Musk and the Pope will speak and there’ll be endless chatter about robot overlords.
Enjoy our highlights from TED2017 and more.
Share #TechAways with your friends and colleagues. Ideas? Suggestions? Comments? Send them our way!
Don’t tax innovation – tax profits [TechCrunch]
Should robots pay taxes? If they could speak freely, robots would probably say no. Until they have a voice, Steve Cousins (CEO of Savioke) and other robot developers will speak on their behalf. While a robot tax might help offset lost jobs and reduced government revenues, Cousins thinks – and the European Parliament agrees – that it would act as an “innovation tax”. His solution is to 1. tax profits and 2. use that money to train people to work alongside automated solutions. Hopefully, countries have the foresight to begin working on two-part plan before it’s too late.
“News by the people and for the people” [NiemanLab]
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales presented Wikitribune, an independent news platform to fight the spread of fake news online. It will combine the work of professional journalists with the fact-checking of volunteers. These volunteers will be transparent with their sources and make sure that facts are accurate and the language is neutral. The initiative has good intentions, but the challenge will be to determine fact from fiction.
Why drive to work when you can fly? [Flyingmag]
Uber revealed its plans to launch the world’s first air taxi service, “Uber Elevate”, in 2020. The concept would build a network of small electric aircraft, called VTOLs, which can (more efficiently and cheaply!) take off, hover and land vertically like a helicopter. Other start-ups are working on similar technology, with the backing of big names like Google and Airbus. Imagine waking up in Brussels and taking an air taxi to a morning meeting in Amsterdam. The European Parliament is working on a report on the European Commission’s plans for connected and intelligent transport systems. Should flying (and maybe pilotless) cars be included in the equation?
It’s not what you think it is… [Reuters]
Uber can’t escape the headlines. In its latest battle, Uber is taking on France (again). This time the legal question is about what kind of company the ride-hailing app actually is – a transport service or a digital platform? Uber argues it’s a platform as it doesn’t provide the actual ride. But that raises a much bigger question: if every company that uses software is considered (and consequently falls under the law) of online services, what else will be left? Being considered a transport service would mean many more court battles ahead. Keep an eye out for a non-binding opinion on the case on 4 July 2017.
Squeezing money out of investors [Bloomberg]
We spent a lot of time last week reading biting comments about Juicero – the $400 machine that squeezes juices out of bags. Bags which, by the way, could have been squeezed by hand. For a week, Juicero was the posterchild of consumerism and a blind faith in tech. Some even went as far as to call it “everything that is wrong with the world, or at least Silicon Valley”. However, what struck us most was how little its own investors knew about the product. Even worse, as Bloomberg’s Matt Levine explains, investing in companies you know next to nothing about is the norm. Tech investors and consumer alike should beware of the hype.
In the circles that speak about AI, partnerships with machines are often touted as the future. Chess is already dominated by human-machine partners, and as AI creeps into the medical fields, machines are seen as a partner to doctors, not a replacement. Now that trend has made its way into photography. EyeEm, a photo editing app, has beaten the likes of Google, IBM, and Microsoft in image recognition. Why? It has a community of 20 million photographers on its platform who all help trains its programme. Compared to a ‘pure tech’ company, the platform is constantly learning from its human users. Could developing massive human/machine communities drive the future of AI?
Other reads not to miss:
Silicon Valley ‘superstars’ risk a populist backlash [Financial Times]
Is It Time to Break Up Google? [New York Times]