To say that tech was front and centre in Davos this week is putting it lightly. The entire Promenade – the long main street where all the action is – was dotted with pop-up pavilions for companies like Facebook, Google Cloud, Plantir, Cloudfare, Salesforce, ConsnSys, Infosys and Workday.
Notice anything about that lineup? It’s heavy on B2B.
The platform vs. B2B rift that has been growing over the last year continued in this week’s discussions. In the words of one speaker – first it was all crypto, then it was all blockchain, now it’s all about trust. The thinly veiled swipes at the data practices of the social media platforms were a constant this week. Open digs on topics from election security to bad lobbying decisions of the Lean In sort filled conversations from the mountain top to the congress center.
While the platform conversations were quite doom and gloom, the B2B players were pushing conversations on privacy, ethics, AI for good, and the future of work.
My biggest #TechAway from this year’s discussions is a major shift in the debates on the future of work and workforce development. In years past, you heard lines like “AI will displace some jobs, but AI is meant to work with humans, not replace them.” This year, things seem a bit more realistic. Technologists are being more up-front about what displacement means and how to tackle it. I will be diving into that topic today on LinkedIn, so stay tuned for more.
While you’re there, check out Charlotte’s thoughts on AI.
Planning for automation [PayPal, UC Berkeley, and the Indian Institute of Management]
New research launched in Davos links two topics that are normally discussed in isolation – the future of work and future of finance. What does the study show? The survey of 8,000 working age people from eight markets finds over three-quarters of workers vulnerable to automation have little to no concern about being automated out of a job. If that wasn’t worrying enough, most have little savings to plan for the future. The experts discuss possible solutions like access to micro-savings and micro-credit to tackle the problem. Check out the study for more on overcoming the automation finance gap.
Love at first algorithm [Bloomberg]
Move over Tinder and Bumble, let AI have a crack at matching you with the perfect partner! Algorithms are swiping right or left for you in the selection of your new love-interest. Several startups in India are trying to take a piece of the matchmaking industry. In a country where getting married is such a big milestone, there’s money to be made. Instead of your traditional dating app, where you make the decision on dating someone based on the data provided by users on the app, Betterhalf uses deep-learning algorithms to analyze compatibility data and make the choice for you. The staff and founder are the guinea pigs of their own product and it’s looking promising for them. Have we gone from mommy knows best to AI knows best?
Africa’s got talent [TechCrunch]
Andela, a company founded in 2014 to train Africa’s software engineers and place them with global companies as remote full-time employees, is lifting off. A new funding round raised $100 million, which puts its valuation at $600-700 million. It now has some 200 customers paying for access to the around 1100 developers it has trained. Another thousand developers from Africa should soon be trained and hired. That should not be too difficult: since 2014 Andela has seen over 130,000 applicants! Companies across the world need more and more software engineers – Africa’s got talent.
Sharing genes and AI [BBC]
As the wild animal trade becomes more lucrative, conservationists have been struggling to find ways to track criminals and find stolen animals. Enter ChimpFace. Using facial recognition from a huge database of chimpanzee photos, it’s able to scour the internet for pictures of stolen chimps and help authorities definitively prove animal trafficking and return the animals. Eventually this application could help stop chimpanzee trafficking before it happens, scanning faces at borders and cross-referencing it with known thefts.
In case you haven’t had enough:
Edward Snowden and the millennial conscience [Financial Times]
The shutdown is breaking government websites, one by one [Washington Post]