Posted by & filed under disruptive technology, Innovator's Dilemma.

Social Finance Inc. said it will start offering deposit accounts and debit cards to some customers next month, the first major new product under Chief Executive Officer Anthony Noto.  The San Francisco-based company is looking to branch into various financial services

Source: Bloomberg Technology News

Date: April 6th, 2018

Link: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-04-05/sofi-plans-to-start-rolling-out-checking-accounts-next-month

Discussion

1) Look up SoFi and see what it does.  It’s a tech start-up company

2) SoFi’s move to “start offering deposit accounts and debit cards” is classic innovator’s dilemma wherein a startup comes out with a disruptive innovation aimed at a market that is “unsophisticated audience” (students) and then moves up into more lucrative markets.  Do you understand the innovator’s dilemma?

Posted by & filed under Emerging Technologies.

Airbus Beluga XL on tarmac

Passenger aircraft are built in sections around the world then assembled in various locations, so how do you transport huge parts like wings and fuselages? Meet the super-transporters – giant planes for giant jobs.

Source: BBC Technology of Business

Date: April 6th, 2018

Link: http://www.bbc.com/news/business-43641665

Discussion

1) “why not simply build everything in one place to do away with the need for giant transporters?”  Great question.  What is the answer for Airbus, and does it make sense?

2) What sorts of companies would also benefit from this approach?

Posted by & filed under Emerging Technologies, Ethical Issues.

There is no proof that memories can be retrieved from a dead brain

A start-up that claims it will one day allow people to back-up their brains admits it will come at the ultimate price: death.  Nectome has said it will one day be capable of scanning the human brain and preserving it, perhaps running a deceased person’s mind as a computer simulation.  However, its current process requires a fresh brain.  The product is “100% fatal”,

Source: BBC Technology News

Date: April 6th, 2018

Link: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-43394758

Discussion

1) The ability to scan and preserve the brain has been a feature of sci-fi movies for decades.  How would you sell such a service to clients?

2) The technology is currently “100% fatal” meaning your brain dies during the process, along with you.  The article mentions that people who have chosen to take their own lives in a doctor-assisted method are currently testing this technology.   How ethical is this?

Posted by & filed under IT and Politics.

Sidewalk Toronto is a joint effort by Waterfront Toronto and Alphabet's Sidewalk Labs to create a new kind of mixed-use, complete community on Toronto's Eastern Waterfront, beginning with the creation of Quayside, a 12-acre former industrial site at Queens Quay E. and Parliament St.

Waterfront Toronto’s eagerness to sign a deal with a Google sister company has alarmed experts who warn cities are easy prey for Big Tech and its unquenchable thirst for data.

“Google isn’t going to be creating these urban innovations for the public good or the common welfare,” says Jathan Sadowski, a postdoctoral research fellow in Smart Cities at the University of Sydney in Australia.

“They’ll be doing things — as we should expect them to — that will benefit their own interests as a private company, as one of the most profitable, most wealthy companies in the world.

Source: Toronto Star

Date: March 27th, 2018

Link: https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2018/03/02/the-risks-of-becoming-a-google-city.html

Discussion

1) “Manhattan-based Sidewalk Labs says it wants to build “the first truly 21st-century city,” developing and piloting revolutionary technologies for urban living.”  How could Toronto sensibly work with Sidewalk Labs?

2) What are some of the risks of cities working with for-profit companies?

Posted by & filed under Analytics.

Portrait of a Great Horned Owl, British Columbia, Canada

Over the last several years, social media has become a critical and central way for businesses to communicate, and market to, their customers. Now, one of the startups that helped spearhead this trend has raised a round of growth funding to expand its horizons. Hootsuite, the Vacouver-based social media management company that counts some 16 million businesses as customers, said today that it has raised $50 million in growth capital — specifically through a credit financing agreement — from CIBC Innovation Banking.

Source: Tech Crunch

Date: March 27th, 2018

Link: https://techcrunch.com/2018/03/15/hootsuite-raises-50m-more-for-its-social-media-management-platform-passes-16m-customers/

Discussion

1) Hootsuite “customers use a dashboard to both monitor a variety of social media platforms to track how their companies are being discussed, and also to send out messages to the world”   How useful would this be to most companies?

2) What sort of employee and what sorts of skills would they have to be the person who uses Hootsuite for a company?

Posted by & filed under Artificial intelligence.

Robot looking at AI sign

As with the human brain, the neural networks that power artificial intelligence systems are not easy to understand.  DeepMind, the Alphabet-owned AI firm famous for teaching an AI system to play Go, is attempting to work out how such systems make decisions.  By knowing how AI works, it hopes to build smarter systems.

But researchers acknowledged that the more complex the system, the harder it might be for humans to understand.  The fact that the programmers who build AI systems do not entirely know why the algorithms that power it make the decisions they do, is one of the biggest issues with the technology.

Source: BBC Technology News

Date: March 27th, 2018

Link: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-43514566

Discussion

1) Is it ethically alright that “programmers who build AI systems do not entirely know why the algorithms that power it make the decisions they do”?

2) What are some possible issues with the fact that “programmers who build AI systems do not entirely know why the algorithms that power it make the decisions they do”?

Posted by & filed under Virtual goods.

We spend way too much time talking about digital currencies and not nearly enough time on digital cats.  “I’ve spent a few days this week dropping in and out of the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, and I’m struck by how quickly the video game business has been taken over by virtual goods. I spoke to executives at five game companies; most were focused on building digital worlds where people want to spend a good chunk of their time, and occasionally spend money, on cosmetic modifications to those worlds.”

Source: Bloomberg

Date: March 27th, 2018

Link: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-23/enough-about-cryptocurrency-let-s-talk-about-virtual-cats

Discussion

1) What factors go into pricing for a virtual cat in a game or app?

2) Could companies like Facebook start charging for virtual cats, and such?

Posted by & filed under freemium.

Spotify Technology SA wants to be the next Netflix Inc. Both are pioneers in getting people to pay for a digital entertainment buffet—Spotify’s chief financial officer even had the same job at Netflix.   But the economics of music streaming are very different from video.

Source: Bloomberg

Date: March 27th, 2018

Link: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-23/why-spotify-can-t-scale-like-netflix

Discussion

1) “Spotify’s product—35 million songs—costs the company more as more people sign up.”  This means Spotify is subject to the same economics as regular manufacturers, not other digital companies.  Do you understand why Netflix can add 1 million new subscribers and have zero extra costs whereas Spotify adds 1 million new subscribers and it has 1 million new costs?

2) Just because Spotify is not like Netflix does not mean it is going out of business.  What other digital products cost more as more people use them?

Posted by & filed under Artificial intelligence, self driving cars.

A test driver was behind the wheel of a self-driving Uber vehicle when it struck and killed a woman in Tempe, Arizona on Sunday night.  Autonomous car companies have test drivers on board so they can take over in case of emergencies.  But that safeguard wasn’t enough to prevent the death 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg. Tempe police say Herzberg was walking her bicycle across a street when Uber’s Volvo XC90 SUV hit her.

Source: CNN Technology News

Date: March 27th, 2018

Link: http://money.cnn.com/2018/03/21/technology/uber-test-driver-duties/index.html

Discussion

1) What other technology developments need a human to possibly step in and intervene for the computer?

2) At what point does it make sense to let self-driving vehicles self-drive without a human to step in?

Posted by & filed under Blackberry.

BlackBerry Ltd. will help Jaguar Land Rover develop new automotive technology, adding to a growing area of business for the former smartphone giant.

BlackBerry Ltd. will help Jaguar Land Rover develop new automotive technology, adding another major brand to its web of partnerships on car software.

Jaguar, owned by Indian conglomerate Tata Motors Ltd., will license BlackBerry’s technology and host some of the former smartphone maker’s engineers to work on a new infotainment system.

The deal is the latest BlackBerry has trumpeted over the last year as it seeks to expand its QNX car software unit from in-car entertainment systems to other realms of auto software, including self-driving technology.

Source: Toronto Star

Date: March 22nd. 2018

Link: https://www.thestar.com/business/tech_news/2018/03/22/blackberry-adds-jaguar-to-roster-as-it-expands-car-software-unit.html

Discussion

1) Blackberry was, before the iPhone, one of the most popular smartphones on the planet.  Why does it make sense for a smartphone designer to be in the automotive technology space?

2) Why does it make sense for car makers to not do this on their own?