Machines, platforms, crowds

machine platform crowd

In a new book, Machine, Platforms and Crowds, the authors (Messrs. McAfee and Brynjolfsson, both from MIT) do a good job of stepping back and look at the overall tech landscape and what it could mean for how companies operate.

This is not their first rodeo (they have previously written good books – e.g. The Second Machine age) and it shows. A chunk of the material is repetitive, but there are good sections on the economics of platforms, the potential impact of Blockchain on companies and how companies should think about each of the key tech trends. Their central thesis is the competition is not between machine vs. man, platform vs. app or core vs crowd, but really that the smart companies will leverage both sides of the coin. Some tidbits:

  • As of 2012, Google was not using deep learning at all; by 2015 it was being used in about 1200 projects
  • In the mid 1990s, the US had ~2400 newspapers and generated about $46B in revenue. By 2013, total revenue had fallen by 70%
  • 2017 was the first year in the last 50 years that a new indoor mall didn’t open in the US
  • An estimated 130M books have been published throughout human history, of which about 30M are the Library of Congress.
  • Between 2011 and 2016 Apple acquired 70 companies, Facebook more than 50, and Google almost 200

Overall, worth a read. If you are in a hurry, they were also featured on a A16Z podcast recently.

Categories: books, future, technology Tags: ,

China’s rising star in AI


Nice article in the Economist about China’s rising star in AI. A few points that caught my eye:

  • China has ~40% of the world’s trained AI scientists.
  • China has a leg up on data: It has more internet users (~700M) than any other country.

Worth a read.

Categories: technology, trends Tags: ,

TensorFlow on fire

A snippet from an article in MIT’s tech review magazine on Google’s efforts to beat AWS and Azure via its ML prowess caught my eye

At the University of Toronto, an AI center that has schooled many of today’s leading researchers, lecturer Michael Guerzhoy teaches TensorFlow in the university’s massively oversubscribed introductory machine-learning course

Steve Ballmer was right. It’s all about the (next generation of) developers.

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A cool (dumb) phone for smartphone addicts

light phoneFor those who are constantly addicted to their smartphones help may be on the way in the shape of a $150 “dumb phone” from Light. The phone itself looks super cool and is designed to be minimalist: just calls, no texts, no tethering, no wifi, under 40 g, 3 day battery standby. The price includes 5 months of service (@ $5/month) built in. Who knows, this may even allow humans to speak to each other again.

It’s true. Everybody lies.

everybody liesThat the world is awash is data is nothing new. That companies like Google and Facebook know more about us is also of course well known. But now someone with access to that data has published a book  (Everybody Lies) on what our searches really tell us about who we are and what we like. The answers are not pretty. Far from the Facebook pretense that many put on, our searches on Google and other sites are far more revealing than we would imagine. The book has examples on sex, hate and prejudice, careers, betting etc.

My key takeaway for enterprises would be to double down and weight more heavily the “digital trails” of what your customers do, rather than what they just say / buy.

Worth a quick read.

Categories: books, data Tags: , ,

Funny: Open floor plans

Another funny one from the New Yorker. I’m surprised the guys at WeWork haven’t capitalized on this yet.

open floor plan

Categories: funny Tags:

Nice talk on blockchains vs. databases

I always find it refreshing when someone does a good job at cutting through the smoke and getting to the essence of the issue. Gideon Greenspan (CEO of Multichain), does a great job in doing just that in this video explaining the essential difference between a database and Blockchain. If you like this, you may also want to check out some of their posts on their blog.