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Opinion | America’s Risky Approach to Artificial Intelligence
October 7, 2019 | The New York Times | By Tim Wu
Mr. Wu is the author of “The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires.”

The brilliant 2014 science fiction novel “The Three-Body Problem,” by the Chinese writer Liu Cixin, depicts the fate of civilizations as almost entirely dependent on winning grand races to scientific milestones. Someone in China’s leadership must have read that book, for Beijing has made winning the race to artificial intelligence a national obsession, devoting billions of dollars to the cause and setting 2030 as the target year for world dominance. Not to be outdone, President Vladimir Putin of Russia recently declared that whoever masters A.I. “will become the ruler of the world.”..... if there is even a slim chance that the race to build stronger A.I. will determine the future of the world — and that does appear to be at least a possibility — the United States and the rest of the West are taking a surprisingly lackadaisical and alarmingly risky approach to the technology........The plan seems to be for the American tech industry, which makes most of its money in advertising and selling personal gadgets, to serve as champions of the West. Those businesses, it is hoped, will research, develop and disseminate the most important basic technologies of the future. Companies like Google, Apple and Microsoft are formidable entities, with great talent and resources that approximate those of small countries. But they don’t have the resources of large countries, nor do they have incentives that fully align with the public interest...... The history of computing research is a story not just of big corporate laboratories but also of collaboration and competition among civilian government, the military, academia and private players both big (IBM, AT&T) and small (Apple, Sun)......Some advocates of more A.I. research have called for a “Manhattan project” for A.I. — but that’s not the right model. The atomic bomb and the moon rocket were giant but discrete projects. In contrast, A.I. is a broad and vague set of scientific technologies that encompass not just recent trends in machine learning but also anything else designed to replicate or augment human cognition.....the United States government should broadly fund basic research and insist on broad dissemination..... the United States needs to support immigration laws that attract the world’s top A.I. talent. The history of breakthroughs made by start-ups also suggests the need for policies, like the enforcement of antitrust laws and the defense of net neutrality, that give small players a chance.... the computer scientist and entrepreneur Kai-Fu Lee, in his book “AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order,” describes a race between China and Silicon Valley, as if the latter were the sum total of Western science in this area. In the future, when we look back at this period, we may come to regret the loss of a healthy balance between privately and publicly funded A.I. research in the West, and the drift of too much scientific and engineering talent into the private sector.
antitrust  ARPA  artificial_intelligence  Beijing  Bell_Labs  Big_Tech  China  China_Rising  FAANG  high-risk  immigration  industrial_policies  Kai-Fu_Lee  Manhattan_project  publicly_funded  R&D  risks  science_fiction  Silicon_Valley  talent  Tim_Wu  Vladimir_Putin  Xerox 
8 days ago by jerryking
Big Tech in hiring spree for looming antitrust battles | Financial Times
Kiran Stacey in Washington DECEMBER 23, 2018 Print this page6
Big technology and telecoms companies have embarked on a hiring spree of former antitrust officials as their industries gear up for what experts warn could be an “existential” battle over whether they should be broken up.

In the last few months, Facebook, Amazon and AT&T have all hired senior antitrust officials from the US Department of Justice as they confront a new generation of regulators who are interested in preventing concentrations of economic power......Many of the biggest US technology companies have endured a difficult year, facing allegations of not protecting customer data, failing to prevent Russian interference in American democracy and showing political bias.

In response, several have beefed up their lobbying operations in Washington as they look to engage more with politicians, having previously preferred to operate under the radar. .....Experts say the hirings reflect a growing belief that competition policy could become the next significant political battleground....The European Commission has investigated US technology companies for alleged anti-competitive behaviour. Margrethe Vestager, the European Commissioner for Competition, is bringing cases against Google and is looking into Amazon.

Such cases have been more difficult to pursue in the US, where the law is focused more on whether anti-competitive behaviour is keeping prices artificially high.

A group of younger progressive regulators and politicians have argued in recent years, however, that technology companies that give their services away for free but dominate their markets should come in for as much attention.....Rohit Chopra, a Federal Trade Commissioner in his mid-30s, for example, recently hired Lina Khan, a 29-year-old policy thinker who has argued that large technology companies can both bring prices down and be harmful to society in general.
Amazon  antitrust  AT&T  Big_Tech  competition_policy  corporate_concentration  Department_of_Justice  FAANG  Facebook  FTC  hiring  Lina_Khan  lawyers  lobbying  market_power  market_concentration  monopolies  platforms  regulation  regulators  revolving_door  under_the_radar 
december 2018 by jerryking
The Curse of Bigness by Timothy Wu — why size matters
NOVEMBER 15, 2018 | Financial Times | by Rana Foroohar
The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age, by Timothy Wu, Columbia Global Reports, RRP$14.99, 170 pages.

The hero of the book is Louis Brandeis, the advocate, reformer and Supreme Court Justice who grew up around the mid-to-late 1800s in Louisville, a diverse and decentralised mid-sized American town that Brandeis praised as “idyllic” and free from the “curse of bigness”...... It was a place where small farmers, retailers, professionals and manufacturers all knew each other, worked together, and had the sort of shared moral framework that Adam Smith believed was a key to well-functioning markets.

But by the time Brandeis himself became a lawyer in Boston, oligarchs such as John D Rockefeller and JP Morgan were building empires more powerful than governments (indeed, they often had paid politicians in their pockets — President William McKinley actually acknowledged that Wall Street rather than Washington had control over the economy). Their growing ventures — like Morgan’s railroad monopoly or Rockefeller’s oil dynasty — were neither moral nor even efficient. But the tycoons ....had bought the legislatures, and there was no one powerful enough to reel them in. Brandeis took them on, via a case against Morgan’s New Haven Railway, and exposed the underside of monopoly power — cartel pricing, bribes to officials, accounting fraud and so on....Brandeis believed giant corporations tended to rob people of their humanity....This approach, which was brought into the mainstream by conflicted trust buster Teddy Roosevelt (who both loved and loathed power, but wanted to see corporations curbed by government) lasted through the 1960s. But with the rise of conservative Chicago School academics, in particular Robert Bork, the federal justice who turned the “consumer welfare” ideology of his mentor Aaron Director into a new antitrust philosophy with his book The Antitrust Paradox in 1978, the notion that too much corporate power alone was problematic was abandoned. Antitrust become technocratic and weak, pegged to the idea that as long as companies reduced prices for consumers, they could be as big as they wanted.

That has, of course, allowed any number of industries, from airlines to media to pharmaceuticals, to reach unprecedented levels of concentration.
antitrust  books  book_reviews  Chicago_School  corporate_concentration  FAANG  Rana_Foroohar  Robert_Bork  Tim_Wu 
december 2018 by jerryking
How to Survive the Next Era of Tech (Slow Down and Be Mindful)
Nov. 28, 2018 | The New York Times | By Farhad Manjoo.
We live in unpredictable times. The unlikely happens. Be careful. Go slow. Three new maxims for surviving the next era of tech. I hope you heed them; the world rides on your choices.

(1) Don’t just look at the product. Look at the business model.
(2) Avoid feeding the giants. Manjoo's point that the lack of competition is curbing innovation.
(3) Adopt late. Slow down. Slow your roll--be a late adopter (slow to adopt shiny, new things).
Farhad_Manjoo  howto  mindfulness  Slow_Movement  technology  turbulence  late_adopters  rules_of_the_game  business_models  corporate_concentration  FAANG  platforms 
november 2018 by jerryking
How Should Antitrust Regulators Check Silicon Valley’s Ambitions? - The New York Times
By Hernan Cristerna
July 3, 2018

The question is: At what point should regulators step in to check the ambitions of the tech giants--Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google? Those five companies hold considerable influence over the internet......the United States needs an approach to merger regulation that protects consumers by supporting transactions that create enterprises capable of standing head-to-head with the tech giants.

The decision to allow AT&T to acquire Time Warner is a step in this direction. So was the decision to approve Disney’s purchase of much of 21st Century Fox.

In a rapidly transforming marketplace, regulators should enable incumbents to stand up to the largest tech companies that are using new technologies — such as cloud computing, big data and artificial intelligence — to upend existing industries.....
“Old economy” companies must be allowed to combine in order to increase their scale and innovation capabilities so that they are on a level playing field with the tech giants.....Regulators must now take notice of the verdict in the AT&T case so that they can calibrate their approach in the next round of transactions.
21st_Century_Fox  antitrust  regulation  regulators  platforms  Department_of_Justice  AT&T  Time_Warner  FAANG 
july 2018 by jerryking
The GE-free Dow is the index our age deserves | Financial Times
Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson 8 HOURS AGO

The avatar of American agglomeration is now slimming down to its aviation, healthcare and power businesses. Yet if you ask anyone who grew up around American kitchens or hardware stores what GE makes, they will probably mention fridges and lightbulbs. As its new chief, John Flannery, struggles to reverse the third steep slide in GE’s shares since the start of the century, one challenge he faces is that its brand is freighted with misconceptions. 
...The Dow tracks a mere 30 stocks, compared to the S&P’s 500; the points moves get increasingly meaningless as markets rise, and with no Facebook, Amazon, Netflix or Google it is missing most of the market-moving Faangs.
.......What earned GE its special place in the American imagination is that, in its conglomerate prime, it provided a similar guide to the US’s industrial evolution as it diversified from jet engines to television shows to finance. Even now, the company is as much a bet on healthcare.... as Walgreens,
........the Dow is as much a branding triumph as a GE fridge, and the story it tells best about the US economy is how it has come to be driven by brands........The market-movers of 1896 had solid, descriptive and quietly flag-waving names like Standard Rope & Twine, Pacific Mail Steamship and the North American Company. Today’s biggest businesses, like Apple, Alphabet and Amazon, are not defined by history, geography or even what they do. Instead, they stand as testaments to the rise of intangible assets at the expense of tangible goods — as does the survival of a well-marketed industrial average in a country where services are 80 per cent of GDP. 

The Dow no longer tells us much about American industry. But it still tells us plenty about America.
benchmarks  brands  conglomerates  DJIA  exits  FAANG  GE  indignities  intangibles  misconceptions  symbolism  indices  healthcare 
june 2018 by jerryking
‘Splinternet’ to herald a trade war for the ages
Rana Foroohar | FT| March 5, 2018.

Steel and aluminium tariffs announced by President Trump have, of course, sucked up all the attention in recent days....but the bigger fight will likely be over intellectual property, and who gets what slice of that pie in the coming years. Most corporate wealth is now held in the top 10 per cent of IP rich companies, most of which sit on the West Coast of the US......China, however, is gaining ground in key areas like AI and quantum computing, and has also ringfenced most of the tech sector as a “strategically important” area in which domestic companies are given preference......A more interesting question is whether data and technology will become the subject of broader national defence-related protectionism. In many ways you could make a much easier case for section 232, the “national defence” clause that Mr Trump invoked around steel, in technology. The steel sector in the US has plenty of spare capacity and section 232 also stipulates that national allies could fill any gap, something which the president seems to have overlooked. Technology, meanwhile, is much more proprietary and sensitive — not to mention crucial for every industry and every part of national security.

A tech-based trade war would likely splinter the US, China and Europe into three separate regions. The EU is already going in a very different direction to the US in terms of regulation of the high tech sector, with more stringent privacy rules and limits on how much data can be used by companies for AI, and in what fashion.....Such a Balkanisation, which experts now refer to as “the Splinternet”, would change the functioning of the internet as we know it. It would also represent a trade battle for the ages.
Rana_Foroohar  intellectual_property  tariffs  crossborder  international_trade  NAFTA  digital_economy  protectionism  privacy  FAANG  China  trade_wars 
march 2018 by jerryking
What the Tax Bill Fails to Address: Technology’s Tsunami -
DEC. 20, 2017 | The New York Times | Farhad Manjoo.

Manjoo posits that the Republican tax bill is the wrong fix for the wrong problem, given how tech is altering society and the economy....The bill (the parachute) does little to address the tech-abetted wave of economic displacement (the tsunami) that may be looming just off the horizon. And it also seems to intensify some of the structural problems in the tech business, including its increasing domination by five giants — Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook and Alphabet, Google’s parent company — which own some of the world’s most important economic platforms.....some in Silicon Valley think the giants misplayed their hand in the legislation. In pursuing short-term tax advantages, they missed a chance to advocate policies that might have more broadly benefited many of their customers — and improved their images, too......This gets back to that looming tsunami. Though many of the economy’s structural problems predate the last decade’s rise of the tech behemoths, the innovations that Silicon Valley has been working on — things like e-commerce, cloud storage, artificial intelligence and the general digitization of everything and everyone around you — are some of the central protagonists in the economic story of our age.

Among other economic concerns, these innovations are implicated in the rise of inequality; the expanding premium on education and skills; the decimation and dislocation of retail jobs; the rising urban-rural divide, and spiking housing costs in cities; and the rise of the “gig” economy of contract workers who drive Ubers and rent out their spare bedrooms on Airbnb....technology is changing work in a few ways. First, it’s altering the type of work that people do — for instance, creating a boom in e-commerce warehouse jobs in large metro areas while reducing opportunities for retail workers in rural areas. Technology has also created more uncertainty around when people work and how much they’ll get paid.
Farhad_Manjoo  preparation  job_loss  job_displacement  Silicon_Valley  tax_codes  corporate_concentration  platforms  income_inequality  short-sightedness  e-commerce  cloud_computing  artificial_intelligence  gig_economy  precarious  automation  uncertainty  universal_basic_income  digitalization  Apple  Amazon  Netflix  Microsoft  Facebook  Alphabet  Google  inconsistent_incomes  Big_Tech  FAANG 
december 2017 by jerryking
Can the Tech Giants Be Stopped? -
July 14, 2017 | WSJ | By Jonathan Taplin.

Google, Facebook, Amazon and other tech behemoths are transforming the U.S. economy and labor market, with scant public debate or scrutiny. Changing course won’t be easy....."we are rushing ahead into the AI universe with almost no political or policy debate about its implications. Digital technology has become critical to the personal and economic well-being of everyone on the planet, but decisions about how it is designed, operated and developed have never been voted on by anyone. Those decisions are largely made by executives and engineers at Google, Facebook, Amazon and other leading tech companies, and imposed on the rest of us with very little regulatory scrutiny. It is time for that to change.

Who will win the AI race? The companies that are already in the forefront: Google, Facebook and Amazon. As AI venture capitalist Kai-Fu Lee recently wrote in the New York Times , “A.I. is an industry in which strength begets strength: The more data you have, the better your product; the better your product, the more data you can collect; the more data you can collect, the more talent you can attract; the more talent you can attract, the better your product.”".....How did we get here? I would date the rise of the digital monopolies to August 2004, when Google raised $1.9 billion in its initial public offering......This shift has brought about a massive reallocation of revenue, with economic value moving from the creators of content to the owners of monopoly platforms. Since 2000, revenues for recorded music in the U.S. have fallen from almost $20 billion a year to less than $8 billion, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. U.S. newspaper ad revenue fell from $65.8 billion in 2000 to $23.6 billion in 2013 (the last year for which data are available). Though book publishing revenues have remained flat, this is mostly because increased children’s book sales have made up for the declining return on adult titles.....The precipitous decline in revenue for content creators has nothing to do with changing consumer preferences for their content. People are not reading less news, listening to less music, reading fewer books or watching fewer movies and TV shows. The massive growth in revenue for the digital monopolies has resulted in the massive loss of revenue for the creators of content. The two are inextricably linked......In the third quarter of 2016, companies owned by Facebook or Google took 90% of all new digital ad revenue. ....The history of Silicon Valley itself offers some guidance here. The astonishing technological revolution of the past half-century would never have occurred without the impetus of three seminal antitrust prosecutions. ....The clear historical lesson, which is waiting to be rediscovered in our own day, is that antitrust action has often served not to constrain innovation but to promote it.
Apple  Alphabet  Big_Tech  Google  Amazon  Microsoft  Facebook  artificial_intelligence  privacy  antitrust  Silicon_Valley  content  platforms  virtuous_cycles  content_creators  public_discourse  oligopolies  oversight  value_migration  regulation  innovation  seminal  no_oversight  imperceptible_threats  FAANG  backlash  Kai-Fu_Lee 
july 2017 by jerryking
Amazon's prime strategy
30 July /31 July 2016 | | Financial Times | Leslie Hook.

"The competition is less about Amazon versus Walmart. it is Amazon versus Netflix versus Google versus Apple versus Facebook" Tien Tzuo, CEO of Zuora.
Amazon  subscriptions  user_generated  customer_loyalty  online_identity  FAANG  customer_data  customer_identity  Amazon_Prime  loyalty_management 
august 2016 by jerryking
Six habits of successful digital firms - The Globe and Mail
Jan. 07 2014, The Globe and Mail HARVEY SCHACHTER

Strategic Digital Marketing
By Eric Greenberg and Alexander Kates
(McGraw-Hill Education, 352 pages, $31.95).

the Amazon Price Check app on their mobile device, they can be in a store and, by scanning the bar code, see whether that item can be obtained more cheaply from Amazon, which offers lures like free shipping.......a phrase Google uses, "Zero moments of truth," to describe the critical times when consumers use the Internet to evaluate your offering. It might be the Amazon Price Check. It might be a consumer visiting your website and then plugging into social feedback from Facebook and Twitter. Prospects might scan reviews by recent purchasers. This information can be accessed quickly and could determine whether they will deal with you – now, or forever...... little attention is paid to return on investment when digital marketing strategies are developed. They believe that less than 10 per cent of large organizations base their digital initiatives on some measure of financial return on investment (ROI). Instead, the talk is of "likes" that might be generated by a Facebook campaign, or the followers and awareness a Twitter initiative might spark.

"If increasing sales is the ultimate goal, shouldn't we always evaluate digital marketing, and all marketing for that matter, through an ROI lens?"

1. Platform convergence, not product conformity. Companies such as Google, Amazon and Facebook are knocking heads, not operating in the separate niches where they started, but fighting to be the go-to platforms for online denizens.
2. Big data, not blind deductions.These companies rely heavily on data to drive their decisions, rather than guessing. They also run tests to see what might work, learning early from interaction with real customers.
3. Customer experiences, not conventional expectations. The best companies are fiercely focused on customers, relentlessly looking for new ways to refine and improve the customer experience.
4. Networks, not bulwarks.
These firms understand the importance of their networks, such as customers and corporate partners.
5. Top talent, not hired hands. These companies realize the importance of talent, and actively seek the best people they can find.
6. Innovation, not immediate gratification
Amazon  books  conformity  customer_experience  data_driven  delayed_gratification  digital_economy  digital_strategies  FAANG  Facebook  Google  Harvey_Schachter  habits  innovation  marketing  massive_data_sets  mobile_applications  moments_of_truth  networks  platforms  ROI  talent 
january 2014 by jerryking
WSJ: The War for the Web
May 06, 2008 | THE WSJ | Andy Kessler:

The Cloud. The desktop computer isn't going away. But as bandwidth speeds increase, more and more computing can be done in the network of computers sitting in data centers – aka the "cloud."

There, search results can be calculated, companies' payrolls processed, even the complex graphics for video games can be drawn. But it's not cheap. These clouds are multibillion-dollar investments. Google spent $842 million in the last three months on servers, data centers and fiber optics.

Not only hasn't the Internet yet matured, it's becoming an ever-more high stakes game

Today, there are several major clouds: Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Amazon and smaller players IBM and Sun. Can there be more? Sure, but it would require a business model that could not only pay for it, but could rip it out every few years and modernize it. Google's $20 billion Web advertising business gives it the cash flow to do so. Advantage Google.
Andy_Kessler  cloud_computing  platforms  FAANG  Microsoft  cash_flows  Yahoo!  high-stakes  Google  advertising  data_centers 
october 2011 by jerryking

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