Doc Huston


News — At The Edge — 1/13

Set of troubling technology issues this week — intolerance, quantum computers, trust, voice assistants — suggest things will likely get much worse before they get better.


The Intolerable Speech Rule: the Paradox of Tolerance for tech companies —

Paradox of Tolerance says that a tolerant society should be intolerant of one thing: intolerance…[otherwise] society allows intolerance to take over [and]…destroy the tolerant society and there will be no tolerance left….

[Tech] should not support intolerant speech when it endangers the existence of tolerant society [and]…propose the following rule…in deciding which content to host or clients to support….[If]

  1. Advocating for the removal of human rights
  2. From people based on an aspect of their identity
  3. In the context of systemic oppression primarily harming that group
  4. In a way that overall increases the danger to that groupdon’t allow them to use your products….

[Still] use this rule in addition to all your existing rules against spam, fraud, illegal activity, etc. Implementation is key. Be proactive in seeking out violations, have a diverse empowered decision making team, and collaborate with outside experts.”

The quantum computing apocalypse is imminent —

“Quantum [computing]…[goes] far beyond the capabilities of today’s [computers]…. D-Wave 2000Q can ‘solve larger problems than…previously possible, with faster performance….[IBM] 50-qubit processor prototype [and]…provide online access to 20-qubit [system]…..[Microsoft’s] new quantum…programming language and stable topological qubit technology…[can] scale up the number of qubits….

[Still] physical issues that must be worked out, such as…only operate at cryogenic temperatures…[Intel] is convinced that it is just a matter of time before the full power of quantum computing is unleashed…[and] applied anywhere where we’re using machine learning, cloud computing, data analysis….

[NSA] has sounded the alarm on the risks to cybersecurity…effectively breaking public key cryptography’…[and ] many experts believe [possible]… [in] a decade to a decade and a half….

[But] commercially viable…cloud services could happen even more quickly…[and] in the hands of hackers makes possible all sorts of scams that don’t even exist yet….

Hackers are very well-funded today, and [could]…buy a quantum computer and begin selling encryption-busting services [now]….

The solution lies in the development of quantum-safe cryptography….[It’s] certain that the threats to privacy and information security will only multiply in the coming decades.”

Trust in Digital Technology Will Be the Internet’s Next Frontier, for 2018 and Beyond —

“[T]he public may be losing trust in technology.

U.S. residents…spend 10 hours a day in front of a screen…[and] ‘internet of things,’ self-driving cars, blockchain…and artificial intelligence …only likely to grow… because half the world’s population is still not online… [and] traffic per month per user will grow 150 percent from 2016 to 2021 ….

[Russia] has raised concerns about whether the openness and reach of digital media is a threat to the functioning of democracies….[Automation] could displace one-third of the U.S. workforce by 2030….

In areas of the world with smaller digital economies…users tend to exhibit more trusting behaviors online…. Because people in more mature markets have less trust…expect tech companies to invest in trust-building…[and] more clearly label the sources of information… winning more loyalty from customers….

[But] some countries…need governments to enact strong digital policies to protect people from fake news and fraudulent scams, as well as regulatory oversight to protect consumers’ data privacy and human rights….

All consumers will need to remain on guard against overreach by heavy-handed authorities or autocratic governments.”

Eight Trends That Will Define The Digital Assistant Wars In 2018 —

“[While] Amazon and Google sold millions of smart speakers in 2017, the digital assistant wars are just getting started…[so] trends to watch [are]….

  1. Breaking Out Of The House Amazon could try to take [Alexa]…[to] earbuds to… vehicle dashboard tie-ins….[Apple] Airpods in the works, and Google…Pixel Buds [and]…both already have automotive solutions….
  2. The Battle For The Office.[Amazon] plans to put an Echo on every office desk…[for] video conferencing, create their own private voice skills, and manage the Alexa commands that employees can use…[with] ties into enterprise services…Microsoft Exchange, Salesforce, and SAP Concur….[Google] Assistant for a business environment….
  3. Another Chance For Third-Party Hardware …. Dedicated speakers like the Amazon Echo and Google Home provide better sound quality, often cost less, and are more versatile….
  4. The Smart Display Wars Get Real….Amazon got a head start….[Google] YouTube and Google Photos integration [coming]…[Both] need to develop clear reasons to buy a connected display, or find a way to bring prices down.
  5. Time To Monetize….[2018] Amazon broadly rolls out Alexa purchases and subscriptions. Expect… similar from Google Assistant…[Problem] with third-party voice skills is that people have trouble discovering and remembering to use them. Monetization schemes won’t solve the problem directly, but…could compel developers to make better skills that people want to use more….
  6. One Device, Many Assistants?….Because each digital assistant has its own unique strengths (like Alexa for shopping, and Google Assistant for general internet queries), the best smart speakers could be the ones that let you choose….
  7. New Competitors Abound…. Apple plans to launch …HomePod speaker… [Facebook] developing a 15-inch smart screen similar to…Amazon’s Echo Show. Samsung may also launch a smart speaker…. By focusing on a core competency… might have a chance…in a crowded field….
  8. Real Intelligence….[Google’s] support multiple actions from a single voice command was something of an a-ha moment for digital assistants…[because] you should be able to ask for two things at once… [for] much better the experience… Expect to see a lot more.”

Digital assistants —

“Siri and Cortana… [give] impression that a humanlike intelligence lies behind the program’s friendly voice…[so] people readily build strong bonds with computerized helpers…whether visual or vocal….

[That] can, however, cut both ways…[when] interaction is embarrassment…[and] reluctant to ask for help[Clearly] some people…wish to avoid losing face by seeking help from an icon…[suggesting] there are circumstances when the relentless pseudo-humanization of machine-human interactions could usefully be curbed.”

Find more of my ideas on Medium at, A Passion to Evolve.
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Doc Huston

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