Tag Archives: China

News You Can Use: 1/3/2018

  • The Google-Facebook Duopoly Threatens Diversity of Thought

    When virtually all online advertising goes through two companies, however, they have the power to harm websites arbitrarily. One political blog that posted an article trying to distinguish the “alt-right” from white nationalism received a warning email from Google’s AdSense team. An editor took the article down, explaining to readers that the blog “needs revenue from the Google ad platform in order to survive.” You needn’t agree with the editorial decision to publish the article to be troubled by Google’s vetoing it.

    In his 2014 book “Zero to One,” Peter Thiel notes that because Google “doesn’t have to worry about competing with anyone, it has wider latitude to care about . . . its impact on the wider world.” If executives at a Silicon Valley monopoly believe that censoring certain content will push the world in a positive direction, market pressures cannot sufficiently restrain them.

    Journalists also argue that tech companies are pushing media toward the lowest common denominator. Social media rewards clickbait—sensational headlines that confirm readers’ biases. Google and Facebook’s advertising duopoly bleeds traditional publishers of the revenue needed to produce high-quality news. At the same time, Google’s search engine is biased against subscription content, depleting another source of funding.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-google-facebook-duopoly-threatens-diversity-of-thought-1513642519

  • China’s New Lenders Collect Invasive Data and Offer Billions. Beijing Is Worried.

    In November, the People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank, stopped companies and people from starting new online cash lending platforms. In early December, the China Banking Regulatory Commission said it would crack down on unlicensed cash loan companies and put a lid on high-interest loans.

    China’s small loans are piling up. More than 8,600 companies offer some form of small loan, and about $145 billion of those debts remain unpaid, according to the People’s Bank of China. Other estimates run as high as $392 billion, according to the Boston Consulting Group. The government does not track default rates among online lenders, which disclose little on their own.

    “We are worried that in an environment where there is no effective credit system, people tend to overborrow, especially when capital comes in,” said Bai Chengyu, an executive at the China Association of Microfinance, who is no relation to Bai Shichao.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/25/business/china-online-lending-debt.html

  • 2017 in 7 minutes
  • Internet Tightens: Popular Chinese WeChat App to Become Official ID

    “The data these companies collect is richer and thicker than what the government can collect, so the typical case now is the government going to the companies to get information,” said Severine Arsene, managing editor of AsiaGlobal Online at the University of Hong Kong’s Asia Global Institute. “This shows how much power the companies hold.”

    The move from physical ID cards to digital images makes sense in a country where people use their mobile devices for an array of daily functions, from shopping to paying restaurant bills to streaming videos, Ms. Arsene said, but it also carries risks that the companies might be seen to be working too closely with the government.

    Hosting a huge repository of government data also increases the threat it could be compromised, said Paul McKenzie, a managing partner of law firm Morrison Foerster.

    “In the course of deploying this technology, WeChat may end up with huge volumes of data associated with people’s ID cards and other personal information,” Mr. McKenzie said. “If that’s the case, the security of WeChat ’s network from hacks will be critical.”

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/internet-tightens-popular-chinese-wechat-app-to-become-official-id-1514541980

  • Use This Five-Point Guide to Find Patience When You’re Annoyed

    Over at Quick and Dirty Tips, Psychologist Ellen Hendriksen, PhD, writes that patience is a kind of self-control, which, she says, is “the ability to regulate your emotions and behavior, even when your impulses are screaming otherwise.” Thus, patience is a state of mind that can be trained and strengthened—it’s not a rarefied state for saints and superheroes. And annoyance, as anyone who’s stewed in it will recognize, is a subset of anger.

    Hendriksen draws on research about self-control and anger to draw up this five-point guide to letting go of annoyance and find patience:

    1. Know that your goal will still be achieved.
    2. Give yourself what you need in your imagination.
    3. Change your conclusion.
    4. Pretend you’re being watched.
    5. Save the story for later.

    https://lifehacker.com/use-this-five-point-guide-to-find-patience-when-youre-a-1821563720

Photo: Geran de Klerk

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SourceCast: Episode 101: Chatting about China

China

I am kicking off 2018 with a deep discussion about China’s plans for AI and automation with my friend and technologist John Drumm. We cover UBI, job displacement, and even capital availability for small businesses within the country.

Photo: Nic Low

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News You Can Use: 12/20/2017

  • Jailed for a Text: China’s Censors Are Spying on Mobile Chat Groups

    In China’s swiftly evolving new world of state surveillance, there are fewer and fewer private spaces. Authorities who once had to use informants to find out what people said in private now rely on a vast web of new technology. They can identify citizens as they walk down the street, monitor their online behavior and snoop on cellphone messaging apps to identify suspected malcontents.

    Years ago, in the Mao Zedong era, people were sent to prison, labor camps and death for opinions expressed in private. In the decades since China launched economic reforms after Mao’s death, prosperity and social mobility created room for more personal freedom and expression. Now China appears to be reverting to old form, empowered by new digital surveillance tools.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/jailed-for-a-text-chinas-censors-are-spying-on-mobile-chat-groups-1512665007

  • Billionaire CEO Michael Dell tells employees, forget hierarchy: ‘Be willing to break things, make stuff happen’

    “At our company, if we want to get something done, we tell them: ‘Just get it done. If anybody gets in your way, just shoot them.’ Not actually shoot them, but like, we’re all from Texas, so we use colorful analogies like that,” says Dell. “Make sure everybody knows we’re not actually shooting” people, Dell says. (Dell is headquartered in Round Rock, Texas.)

    “Don’t let anything stand in your way. Look, if you’re gonna do something new, you have to be willing to break things, and sort of make stuff happen,” says Dell. “If you have a big company, there are a lot of people running around that tell you you can’t do stuff.”

    https://www.cnbc.com/2017/12/07/billionaire-michael-dell-on-success-take-risks-make-stuff-happen.html

  • How to Rebuild a Relationship After a Difference of Opinion
  • Too Many Meetings Suffocate Productivity and Morale

    So, my appeal to all you entrepreneurs, don’t suffocate the life out of your companies with too many meetings. Hire smart people, trust them to do their jobs, and get the heck out of their way, so they can do the jobs they were hired to do. You don’t have to micro manage every single decision. Empower your team to make their own decisions in a flat organizational structure. Even if they make mistakes, that is fine, they will learn from them. But, the team will be moving twice as fast at getting things done, than if they were burdened with a bunch of meetings. Speed matters with startups.

    Challenge yourself and every employee in your company to cap their recurring weekly meetings at 20 percent of their time. That is one day a week, or eight hours in a normal working day. That is up to 16 thirty-minute meetings they can schedule, plenty of slots to working with.

    https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/304610

  • Drone curbs overtime in Japan by blasting workers with music

    Japan has a culture that encourages overtime out of a sense of loyalty, and that’s a serious problem. It not only cuts into family and social life, it leads to entirely avoidable deaths. Taisei (the company behind the main Tokyo 2020 Olympic stadium) aims to fix that in an unusual way: having a drone nag you into going home. Its newly unveiled T-Frend is ostensibly a security drone that surveils the office with its camera, but its specialty is blasting workers with “Auld Lang Syne” (commonly used in Japan to indicate closing time) to force them out of the office. In theory, the music and the drone’s own buzzing make it impossible to concentrate.

    https://www.engadget.com/2017/12/07/drone-curbs-overtime-in-japan-by-blasting-workers-with-music/

Photo: Samuel Zeller

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News You Can Use: 12/13/2017

  • The Internet Is Dying. Repealing Net Neutrality Hastens That Death.

    You didn’t need permission for any of this stuff; some of these innovations ruined traditional industries, some fundamentally altered society, and many were legally dubious. But the internet meant you could just put it up, and if it worked, the rest of the world would quickly adopt it.

    But if flexibility was the early internet’s promise, it was soon imperiled. In 2003, Tim Wu, a law professor now at Columbia Law School (he’s also a contributor to The New York Times), saw signs of impending corporate control over the growing internet. Broadband companies that were investing great sums to roll out faster and faster internet service to Americans were becoming wary of running an anything-goes network.

    Some of the new uses of the internet threatened their bottom line. People were using online services as an alternative to paying for cable TV or long-distance phone service. They were connecting devices like Wi-Fi routers, which allowed them to share their connections with multiple devices. At the time, there were persistent reports of broadband companies seeking to block or otherwise frustrate these new services; in a few years, some broadband providers would begin blocking new services outright.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/29/technology/internet-dying-repeal-net-neutrality.html

  • China’s Tech Giants Have a Second Job: Helping Beijing Spy on Its People

    Users of Tencent’s WeChat app who run large group chats say they have received automated warnings about politically sensitive content. Some political activists say their WeChat accounts have been suspended or closed for posts critical of the government.

    During important political events, staffers with China’s internet regulator set up shop at Chinese content providers to catch anything that might slip through the cracks, people familiar with the operations said. The regulator, the Cyberspace Administration of China, didn’t respond to a request for comment.

    Along with access to online data, China’s government wants something else from tech companies—the cloud computing prowess to sort and analyze information. China wants to crunch data from surveillance cameras, smartphones, government databases and other sources to create so-called smart cities and safe cities.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/chinas-tech-giants-have-a-second-job-helping-the-government-see-everything-1512056284

  • The real reason American health care is so expensive
  • Amazon is putting Alexa in the office

    The first focus for Alexa for Business is conference room. AWS is working with the likes of Polycom and other video and audio conferencing providers to enable this.

    In addition, AWS also worked with Microsoft to enable better support for its suite of productivity services, as well as other enterprise services likes of Concur and Splunk to bring their services to Alexa. Other partners include Capital One, WeWork and JPL.

    Just as developers can build skills for Amazon Echo users, businesses can now build out Alexa skills for use within their own company. You could imagine voice access to an employee directory, Salesforce data on various clients and accounts, or company calendar information.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/11/29/amazon-is-putting-alexa-in-the-office/?ncid=rss

  • Verizon to Sell Wireless Home Broadband, Challenging Cable

    Verizon said Wednesday it would sell high-speed internet access in three to five cities, starting in Sacramento, Calif. The cities are all expected to be outside Verizon’s existing landline footprint in the Northeast, where it sells high-speed fiber-optic internet called Fios. The company said more details, such as its price, would be unveiled later.

    The wireless giant will use fifth-generation, or 5G, technology, which is capable of delivering significantly faster internet speeds than existing 4G technology, also known as LTE. Customers will likely have to place a box in their windows that will convert Verizon’s wireless signals into Wi-Fi inside the house.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/verizon-to-sell-home-broadband-over-wireless-network-1512037801

Photo: Pana Vasquez

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News You Can Use: 12/6/2017

  • Tim Wu: Why the Courts Will Have to Save Net Neutrality

    But Mr. Pai faces a more serious legal problem. Because he is killing net neutrality outright, not merely weakening it, he will have to explain to a court not just the shift from 2015 but also his reasoning for destroying the basic bans on blocking and throttling, which have been in effect since 2005 and have been relied on extensively by the entire internet ecosystem.

    This will be a difficult task. What has changed since 2004 that now makes the blocking or throttling of competitors not a problem? The evidence points strongly in the opposite direction: There is a long history of anticompetitive throttling and blocking — often concealed — that the F.C.C. has had to stop to preserve the health of the internet economy. Examples include AT&T’s efforts to keep Skype off iPhones and the blocking of Google Wallet by Verizon. Services like Skype and Netflix would have met an early death without basic net neutrality protections. Mr. Pai needs to explain why we no longer have to worry about this sort of threat — and “You can trust your cable company” will not suffice.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/22/opinion/courts-net-neutrality-fcc.html

  • The Next Billion-Dollar Boom in Chinese Tech

    Businesses and government departments in China spent only 122 billion yuan ($18.5 billion) on software in 2016, compared with $245 billion in the U.S., according to Forrester. While Salesforce has a market capitalization of $78 billion, its dozens of Chinese wannabes are startups, with none valued at $1 billion.

    At this point, investors see the fragmentation as a plus, setting the stage for a fast uptake in enterprise applications. More businesses are turning to cloud-based services for data storage and software applications. According to a survey Deutsche Bank conducted with CIOs at about 50 Chinese companies in the finance, internet, manufacturing and other sectors this year, 84% of respondents plan to make “heavy use of cloud services” by 2019, up from 4% in 2016. Alibaba Cloud, the biggest in China by market share, doubled its revenue last quarter from a year earlier.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-next-billion-dollar-boom-in-chinese-tech-1511435069?mg=prod/accounts-wsj

  • How Emotion Hides What You Mean to Say—And How to Listen for It
  • How bad decision making could undermine good innovation

    “The patents that Kodak developed around digital photography — especially the 1989 [digital camera] patent — could have given Kodak a huge leg up in meeting the emerging consumer needs around digital photography.”

    Yet Kodak seems to have missed all the signals coming from the marketplace. “The market was captured by other competitors without the technological advantage or the IP [that Kodak had] — for example, the Casio QV-10, which was introduced in 1995, actually saw where the future of point-and-shoot digital photography was going, and pioneered the onboard LCD display that can be seen as a direct precursor to the smartphone, which came along equipped with cameras as early as 2000,” she explained

    They never saw the problem as converting their customers to a digital world, but rather as finding a way to increase their brick and mortar presence. That ended up taking the form of a kiosk that sort of answered a digital user need of printing out hard copies from the digital system. It wasn’t a terrible idea, but it completely missed the real digital mark.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/11/25/how-bad-decision-making-could-undermine-good-innovation/?ncid=rss

  • The 6 Laws of Technology Everyone Should Know

    There is no absolute good or bad here, just how good or bad a technology is in a given context. This points to a problem tech companies are too often reluctant to face: Their enormous power means they have an obligation to try to anticipate the potential impact of anything they produce.

    “The dirty little secret of highly accomplished people is what we’ve had to neglect to achieve that,” says Bill Buxton, a principal researcher at Microsoft Research and one of the creators of the multitouch interface. “To become spectacular at any discipline in technology means you’re not well-equipped to address these questions.”

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-6-laws-of-technology-everyone-should-know-1511701201

Photo: Xan Griffin

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