The Social Dilemma – A Worthwhile Wakeup Call

The Social Dilemma – a sobering documentary

There is a great deal of buzz around the Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma which features a number of former Pinterest, Facebook and Google developers who are, for the most part, credited for making the social networks what they are today. Featured developers have left their employers due to fears that what they created is ruining our culture, society and democracy. The documentary is in the top 10 of most watched shows, and provides strong, if heavy handed insights into the profit motives and damaging potential of addiction to social media. CinemaBlend

dis-rup-shun: The documentary is effective at raising awareness and is certainly thought-provoking. It does not, however, acknowledge that the advertising industry, since its inception, is about manipulation and reality twisting. It also fails to remind viewers that social media, just like any other addictive habit or substance, may not be so harmful if kept in balance. It does, however, illustrate the damage of total immersion and the particularly harmful effects on impressionable teens. The show rightly mentions that social networks need regulation but does not tie back to the fact that advertising (print and TV) has long been restricted, particularly limiting advertisement of tobacco and alcohol. The documentary does a good job of elevating awareness that social networks need some strong regulation — something our Congress has been slowly and steadily, but not conclusively, addressing.

Tesla, EVs and range anxiety

Only 2% of autos sold in 2019 were electric, though the majority — over 80%, were Teslas. Last year, over 143 new EVs were offered. The biggest objection to EVs, however, are lack of range and availability of prevalent and fast chargers. Partnerships with EVgo and ChargePoint to rollout electric charging stations across the countries, that are fast and universal, will help lower the objections by getting more EV makers to work together to support standard chargers. Tesla’s proprietary charging format — requiring the company to build its own charging infrastructure, is unlikely to be emulated. Developing infrastructure for an entirely new mode of transportation will take time, and a great deal of capital. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: The EV industry is in a critical place — most automakers have made significant sacrificial investments to become EV makers — convinced that a fossil fuel future is very limited. Convincing consumers that EVs are ready for prime time will take another five to ten years, and to do so, creating nationwide webs of charging stations is mandatory. In the meantime, consumers can take a transitional approach — using EVs for intra-city activities and having a fossil burner for road trips.

How epic is Epic’s battle with Apple?

Epic’s fight over Apple’s tight control of its own App Store (and Google for its store) is so much more than a fight over the percentage of the sale paid to the app store. The battle is really about anti-competitive practices and the applicability of anti trust laws to Big Tech. CNET

dis-rup-shun: This battle will likely be a watershed event of our generation, as Epic has become a catalyst in an overdue assessment of where to draw the line with Big Tech.  If Apple and Google win the skirmish, then the pressure on legislators to determine what defines anti-competitive practices will simply grow stronger, and the job of forming new legislation will only grow bigger. If Epic and the Coalition for App Fairness prevail, the future of the app business and the grip that Apple and Google have on their device ecosystems will be loosened. This event will also impact Amazon and their Kindle ecosystem, and may go as far as impacting Amazon’s increasing grip on the majority of online shopping with its Amazon Basics line. Regardless of the outcome, we can expect more experiences and marketplaces to return to native web apps — enabling mobile users to go to optimized websites, via the phone browser, for near app experiences that are not apps downloaded from app stores. While performance and ease of use will be less, consumers will quickly grow accustomed to native web applications that offer better prices, or easier access to the things they will not go without.

Alexa gets more conversational and asks you questions

One can say to Alexa, “Alexa, join our conversation,” and the device will then be “at liberty” to ask clarifying questions about what is your favorite temperature, what you mean by “play music” or the size of the pizza you ordered. These “learnings” will be account specific and as a result of users authorizing this level of involvement but can make the device more useful as it seeks to assist its owners. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: Machine learning, or AI, as it is often called, can simply be described as the process of collecting more data to improve the outcomes or interpretation of a command. Computers are still not intelligent, but are able to more accurately calculate a positive result if they have more data to use to reduce the variability of factors in an algorithm. If you choose to assist your assistant, outcomes will be better and if you have already decided to open your home to a smart speaker, a smartphone, or most browsers, you have already entered into a relationship with advertisers which seems, for the most part, to offer you valued conveniences in exchange for personal information. (See first article).