Benedict's Newsletter: No. 340

Benedict's
Newsletter

This is a weekly newsletter of what I've seen in tech and thought was interesting.

Not a subscriber yet? Sign up here.

This newsletter now goes to over 140,000 people. Feel free to spread it around - sign up here.

 

✏️ My essays

News by the ton: 75 years of US advertising. Link

Solving online events. Link

From last year: face recognition and AI ethics. Link
 

🗞 News

Face recognition on hold: Amazon, Microsoft and IBM all announced that they will not offer face recognition APIs in their cloud platforms, either to law enforcement or in general, pending regulation on its use. Google took this position at the end of 2018; IBM and Microsoft explicitly referenced current US protests around police violence. This partly reflects the current political moment in the USA, but more fundamentally comes from ongoing concerns about the reliability of machine-learning-based systems in what can be life-or-death situations (especially with US cops' tendency to shoot first). These systems look for patterns in data, and if you give them the wrong data they'll find the wrong pattern, so they're very easy to break if you don't know what you're doing. Hence, if you design a system badly and then train it only with criminals' faces, and then give it a picture of whoever is in front of you, it will say 'well, this bank robber is the closest match'.  Bad code can get people killed - hence the moratoria. The catch is that this tech is now mostly a commodity (and very widely deployed in China) - Google can say "wait", but a third-tier bucketshop outsourcer can bolt something together from parts it half-understands and sell it to a police department that says 'it's AI - it can't be wrong!'. Hence, the real value of the stances taken here may be about lobbying and awareness. Links: Microsoft, Amazon, IBM, Google

Tiktok in China - apparently, Chinese engineers are annoyed that the parent company Bytedance has limited their access to data and code for users and apps outside China. This is funny, given the company had previously said those engineers didn't have that access anyway. Link

Zoom keeps shooting itself in the foot. This week, it closed the accounts of US-based Chinese activists after they scheduled a call to mark the Tiananmen Square massacre. It initially said this was to comply with Chinese law, but Zoom is supposed to be a US company and this was activity outside China. Zoom is starting to get on top of its security issues (I'm mostly inclined to give the benefit of the doubt - that most of the issues came from it being designed for enterprise, not consumer), but it needs to get on top of the China question, and the comms question. Link

Quibi is missing its numbers and blame is flying. Lots of insider quotes here, but under it all, blaming the lockdown ('it's for mobile use!' ) doesn't work when Tiktok is still exploding. The thesis does actually make sense to me, though I'm in a minority (UGC length but professional quality), but the funding and launch plan don't allow any room for iteration and experiment - they just bet they knew everything before meeting a customer. We'll see if they can fix it. Link ($)

Zynn: buy, borrow or steal? Zynn is a Tiktok clone from a Chinese Bytedance rival that bought its way to the top of the US app store charts - now it turns out that a lot of the actual content was simply stolen from other networks, with accounts opened in the name of influencers without their knowledge. Google Play has pulled it from the store. Behaviour that's relatively common in China doesn't always play so well outside. Link

WhatsApp has quietly launched person-to-person payments, starting in Brazil (and not using Libra, Facebook's bitcoiny payment platform that attracted so much attention last year). Link

Snapchat had a developer conference: it will let developers build mini-apps inside the main app for games, new lenses or movie tickets. Facebook tried and failed to copy WeChat inside Messenger: we'll see if Snap can make this work on a smaller but more focussed base? Link

eBay stalking?! A really bizarre story: a group of senior eBay security staff have been arrested and accused of running a campaign of stalking and harassment against a newsletter that eBay management didn't like. I'd make a joke about how long it's been since anyone cared this much about eBay, but this doesn't actually sound very funny. Link

This week 21 years ago, Google raised $25m from Sequoia and Kleiner Perkins. (Bonus - to understand the venture model, look at the other companies the GPs cited as investments and see how many survived). Link

 

🔮 Reading

A detailed study of China's 're-education' program for Uighur Muslims. Lots of Chinese tech companies involved, and painful reading. Link

What it’s like to get doxed for taking a bike ride. Don't join mobs. Link

Analysis of TikTok mobile performance. Link

Long profile of Quartz's troubles: neither mass scale nor narrow premium. Link

Inside London Fashion Week's new digital plans. How do you replace week-long trade-fairs around the world with digital? What was the purpose of that event (once upon a time it was mostly to show the clothes to US department store buyers - not anymore)? What would it mean to put it online? Link

JLG's thoughts on the outlook for Apple switching from Intel to its own ARM chips (the WWDC developer event, now virtual, is on the 22nd). Link

A weird (but not surprising) story about the IRS's attempts to write modern software. Link

Interesting long interview with Marc 'Netscape, a16z' Andreessen. Link

 

😮 Interesting things

A tour of Karl Lagerfeld’s sets (from last year). Probably the last time anyone will do fashion shows like that. Link

If you need fonts on iOS, you need Fontcase. Link

And if you do lot of video calls with different apps on your Mac, you need Meeter. Link 
 

📊 Stats

The Global AI Talent Tracker: lots of interesting data about how researchers move country (for now, mostly from China and India to the USA). Link

Kids now spend nearly as much time watching TikTok as YouTube in US, UK and Spain. Link

Unity data on games use in lockdown. Link

80% of US households have a connected TV and 40% watch something with that daily. Link

 

Forwarded this? Subscribe here
Share Share
Tweet Tweet
Share Share
Forward Forward
You signed up to this list at http://www.ben-evans.com/newsletter

To stop receiving updates, you can . Is this email not displaying correctly? . 

Copyright © 2013-2020 Benedict Evans, All rights reserved.

Older messages

Benedict's Newsletter: No. 339

Monday, June 8, 2020

Benedict's Newsletter This is a weekly newsletter of what I've seen in tech and thought was interesting. Not a subscriber yet? Sign up here. This newsletter now goes to over 140000 people. Feel

Benedict's Newsletter: No. 338

Monday, June 1, 2020

Benedict's Newsletter This is a weekly newsletter of what I've seen in tech and thought was interesting. Not a subscriber yet? Sign up here. This newsletter now goes to over 140000 people. Feel

Benedict's Newsletter: No. 337

Monday, May 25, 2020

Benedict's Newsletter This is a weekly newsletter of what I've seen in tech and thought was interesting. Not a subscriber yet? Sign up here. This newsletter now goes to 140000 people. Feel free

Benedict's Newsletter: No. 336 (correct)

Monday, May 18, 2020

Benedict's Newsletter This is a weekly newsletter of what I've seen in tech and thought was interesting. Not a subscriber yet? Sign up here. Correction: the social voice deal is of course

Benedict's Newsletter: No. 336

Monday, May 18, 2020

Benedict's Newsletter This is a weekly newsletter of what I've seen in tech and thought was interesting. Not a subscriber yet? Sign up here. This newsletter now goes to 140000 people. Feel free

Daily Coding Problem: Problem #296 [Hard]

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Daily Coding Problem Good morning! Here's a solution to yesterday's problem. This is your coding interview problem for today. This problem was asked by Etsy. Given a sorted array, convert it

Targeted Phishing Attacks Strike High-Ranking Company Executives

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

The Hacker News Daily Updates Newsletter cover Priority Report 2021 Edition: A New Decade in Crowdsourced Cybersecurity How did crowdsourced security grow in the midst of a global pandemic that wreaked

Major Sudo bug strikes most Linux distros

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

3 iOS zero-days fixed; RIP, open source databases?... ZDNet Facebook Twitter LinkedIn ZDNet Tech Today January 27, 2021 placeholder 10-year-old Sudo bug lets Linux users gain root-level access READ

Never open Excel again

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Today's newsletter was crafted by us and sponsored by our friends at Flatfile. Data onboarding can be an everyday occurrence for many teams, but the term might sound unfamiliar. Remember the last

 Automate The Planet- Compelling Tuesday

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Compelling Tuesday Strategy Design Pattern in Automated Testing Java Code The next article from the Java Design Patterns Series (the technical review of the Java book is in progress ) "Detailed

Engineer's Picks: Distributed Production is the New Supply Chain

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

US Bolsters Domestic Microchip Manufacturing ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

Identity Matrix

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Data Interview Qs Identity Matrix Python Data Structures Arrays Matrix Can you build a function that prints an identity matrix, given the identity matrix size? Examples: Input: 2 Output: 1 0 0 1 Input:

Respect Your Power Users 🔌

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Why power users always get screwed by tech companies. Here's a version for your browser. Hunting for the end of the long tail • January 27, 2021 Today in Tedium: When a big company launches or

Sony's $6,500 A1 camera has a matching $2,500 smartphone

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Engadget The Morning After logo Now available on your smart speaker and wherever you get your podcasts Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Play | iHeart Radio It's Wednesday, January 27, 2021. Sony

Alexa acts autonomously 🤖, Twitter Newsletters 📰, largest dinosaur ever 🦕

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Alexa will now be able to proactively act on Hunches thanks to its latest update. ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ TLDR If you are