In a video posted today to his channel, YouTuber Jake Paul speaks with survivors of the tragic school shooting that took place last month at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, as well as state senator Marco Rubio, in an awkward and at times tone-deaf new video that he hopes will help “activate parents and kids within their own schools and communities.”
In the video’s description, Paul “[vows] to be part of the solution and utilize my platform to raise awareness and action across the board,” but the execution is often clumsy and painful to watch. On his way to meet one of the students, he stares out the car window before noting that he just wants to “become homies with them and just be there for them.” When talking to a student whose…
Facebook has ended a test that put publishers in one feed and friends in another.
Facebook has decided it’s a bad idea to separate brands’ and publishers’ posts from those that your friends and family share.
The social giant confirmed Thursday that it has ended a test of that concept it was running in six countries dating back to last fall.
The test removed content from publishers and businesses from the News Feed and put it inside a separate “Explore” feed, creating a digital divide between your friends and brands. Publishers in those countries that rely on Facebook for traffic freaked out when users no longer saw publisher posts interspersed with stuff from their friends.
“People don’t want two separate feeds,” wrote Adam Mosseri, the exec in charge of Facebook’s News Feed, in a blog post Thursday. “In surveys, people told us they were less satisfied with the posts they were seeing, and having two separate feeds didn’t actually help them connect more with friends and family.”
When Mosseri spoke at Recode’s Code Media conference in February, he said the test was “costly,” and that Facebook wanted to run it once before deciding “definitively once and for all” whether it worked or not.
It didn’t. So Facebook is ending the test. It is also shutting down its “Explore” tab, a section of the app where users could find public content from brands or publishers they didn’t follow.
The test wasn’t necessarily a waste — Facebook learned people don’t want two feeds! — but the company has also admitted that it wasn’t handled very well.
“We should have been more transparent and up front about [the test] ahead of it,” said Campbell Brown, Facebook’s head of news partnerships, onstage with Mosseri at Code Media. “[Publishers] totally freaked out, rightly so, because they didn’t understand what we were doing or trying to get at.”
The sentiment was echoed in Thursday’s blog post from Mosseri. “We also received feedback that we made it harder for people in the test countries to access important information, and that we didn’t communicate the test clearly,” he wrote. “We’re acting on this feedback by updating the way we evaluate where to test new products, and how we communicate about them.”
Facebook routinely makes changes to its News Feed to show users more (or less) of specific types of content, like live video. Its most recent News Feed update had a similar purpose to the now-defunct test: The change was made to show people more stuff from their friends and family, and less from brands and publishers.
That is still the priority, but separating the two groups completely isn’t the way to accomplish that.
Ironically, that total separation of friend stuff from publisher stuff is the premise of Snapchat’s redesign, the same redesign that people are freaking out about. Facebook found that strategy doesn’t work. It’ll be worth watching to see if Snapchat decides the same.
Think that human augmentation is still decades away? Think again.
This week, government leaders met with experts and innovators ahead of the World Government Summit in Dubai. Their goal? To determine the future of artificial intelligence.
It was an event that attracted some of the biggest names in AI. Representatives from IEEE, OECD, the U.N., and AAAI. Managers from IBM Watson, Microsoft, Facebook, OpenAI, Nest, Drive.ai, and Amazon AI. Governing officials from Italy, France, Estonia, Canada, Russia, Singapore, Australia, the UAE. The list goes on and on.
The whirlwind conversation covered everything from how long it will take to develop a sentient AI to how algorithms invade our privacy. During one of the most intriguing parts of the round table, the attendees discussed the most immediate way artificial intelligence should be utilized to benefit humanity.
The group’s answer? Augmenting humans.
At first, it may sound like a bold claim; however, we have long been using AI to enhance our activity and augment our work. Don’t believe me? Take out your phone. Head to Facebook or any other social media platform. There, you will see AI hard at work, sorting images and news items and ads and bringing you all the things that you want to see the most. When you type entries into search engines, things operate in much the same manner—an AI looks at your words and brings you what you’re looking for.
And of course, AI’s reach extends far beyond the digital world.
Take, for example, the law firm LawGeex, which uses AI algorithms to automatically review contracts. Automating paper-pushing has certainly saved clients money, but the real benefit for many attorneys is saving time. Indeed, as one participant in the session noted, “No one went to law school to cut and paste parts of a regulatory document.”
These are all examples of how AIs are already being used to augment our knowledge and our ability to seek and find answers—of how they are transforming how we work and live our best lives.
Time to Accelerate
When we think about AI augmenting humans, we frequently think big, our minds leaping straight to those classic sci-fi scenarios. We think of brain implants that take humans to the next phase of evolution or wearable earpieces that translate language in real time. But in our excitement and eagerness to explore the potential of new technology, we often don’t stop to consider the somewhat meandering, winding path that will ultimately get us there—the path that we’re already on.
While it’s fun to consider all of the fanciful things that advanced AI systems could allow us to do, we can’t ignore the very real value in the seeming mundane systems of the present. These systems, if fully realized, could free us from hours of drudgery and allow us to truly spend our time on tasks we deem worthwhile.
Imagine no lines at the DMV. Imagine filing your taxes in seconds. This vision is possible, and in the coming months and years, the world’s leaders are planning to nudge us down that road ever faster. Throughout the discussions in Dubai, panelists explored the next steps governments need to take in order to accelerate our progress down this path.
The panel noted that, before governments can start augmenting human life—whether it be with smart contact lenses to monitor glucose levels or turning government receptionists into AI—world leaders will need to get a sense of their nation’s current standing. “The main thing governments need to do first is understand where they are on this journey,” one panelist noted.
In the weeks and months to come, nations around the globe will likely be urged to do just that. Once nations understand where they are along the path, ideally, they will share their findings in order to assist those who are behind them and learn from those who are ahead. With a better road map in hand, nations will be ready to hit the road — and the gas.
The United Kingdom has vowed to make access to broadband speed internet a legal right for its citizens. Earlier this year, the passage of the Digital Economy Act ensured that by 2020, all residents of the UK will have the right to demand broadband service at speeds of at least 10 Mbps (compromised down from 30 Mbps) through a provision in the law called the Universal Service Obligation. Specific details on how the government would ensure this, however, are not included in the law.
In response to this provision, one of the UK’s largest broadband providers, BT, promised to abide by the goal and pledged to spend upwards of £600 million (more than $ 800 million) to extend service into the hardest to reach rural areas of the country. However, an announcement from the government states that they intend to go the regulatory route to ensure compliance.
“We know how important broadband is to homes and businesses and we want everyone to benefit from a fast and reliable connection. We are grateful to BT for their proposal but have decided that only a regulatory approach will make high-speed broadband a reality for everyone in the UK, regardless of where they live or work,” said Culture Secretary Karen Bradley.
Across the Pond
The decision by the UK government to pursue codifying regulations over simply holding corporations to promises — which ensures that protections will be in place for its citizens, free from the whims of corporate interests — stands in stark contrast to the recent events surrounding the repeal of net neutrality rules by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) in the United States.
Comcast, one of the largest telecom corporations in the U.S., used to have a net neutrality pledge promising “no paid prioritization.” That is until the FCC first unveiled its plans to eliminate the Obama-era protections. The phrasing was eliminated immediately after the announcement.
Throughout the duration of the fight leading up to the final FCC vote, net neutrality advocates had been urging Congress to codify the regulations into law. This would have ensured that three votes wouldn’t have been able to turn the tide of the internet so resoundingly in favor of massive telecoms — and against the will and best interest of the people.
The city’s transport regulator says Uber is “not fit and proper” to hold its license.
Here’s a new mini-crisis for Uber’s new CEO: Transport for London, the taxi regulating service in London, announced today that it would not be renewing Uber’s license to operate because of concerns over the company’s “lack of corporate responsibility” in relation to public safety issues.
The ride-hail company, which launched in London in 2012, is appealing the TfL’s decision and will be allowed to continue to operate until a court makes a decision on that appeal. That process could take months.
London is a significant market for Uber: The company says there are 40,000 drivers and 3.5 million riders on its platform in London. And like New York City, it is one of the most regulated markets where Uber operates. Unlike most markets across the U.S., Uber drivers in London and New York City are required to participate in government-administered background checks.
In the meantime, the company has begun to employ an old trick of the trade and is circulating a petition to London Mayor Sadiq Khan asking him to reconsider the ban. It’s a tried-and-true method the ride-hail company has used when facing regulatory issues in the past. The company has often touted mobilizing its customer base to fight for its service as one of the key enablers of its legal status across the U.S.
Already, the petition has garnered more than 20,000 supporters as of the publication of this article.
In announcing its decision, the TfL cited its concerns over how Uber’s London arm handled reporting criminal offenses that occur during its rides as well as its use of its so-called “greyball” software tool designed to evade local authorities. But Uber London general manager Tom Elvidge said greyball was never used in London “for the purposes cited by the TfL”. (We’ve asked Uber if greyball was used in London in any capacity.)
“Drivers who use Uber are licensed by Transport for London and have been through the same enhanced DBS background checks as black cab drivers,” Elvidge said in a statement. “Our pioneering technology has gone further to enhance safety with every trip tracked and recorded by GPS. We have always followed TfL rules on reporting serious incidents and have a dedicated team who work closely with the Metropolitan Police. As we have already told TfL, an independent review has found that ‘greyball’ has never been used or considered in the U.K. for the purposes cited by TfL.”
While Uber has seen surprising growth in places like Mexico, which is now one of its biggest markets, the company has come up against regulatory issues and strong local competitors in places like Europe and Asia.
“By wanting to ban our app from the capital, Transport for London and the Mayor have caved in to a small number of people who want to restrict consumer choice,” Elvidge said. “If this decision stands, it will put more than 40,000 licensed drivers out of work and deprive Londoners of a convenient and affordable form of transport.”
Security is one of the most critical aspects of banking and finance. Not only do banks need to keep money secure, they also have to keep transaction records safe, all while not slowing down the verification process.
That’s why banks and other financial institutions have been taking a good hard look at blockchain, a decentralized, distributed digital ledger technology first created to support the bitcoin cryptocurrency. Now, six of those banks have decided the best way to take advantage of blockchain is by partnering on their own cryptocurrency.
The digital coin, which they are calling the “utility settlement coin,” was developed back in 2015 by financial services firm UBS, and its purpose is to enable the clearing and settling of transactions worldwide over a blockchain. The six new banks — Barclays, Credit Suisse, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, HSBC, MUFG, and State Street — join UBS, BNY Mellon, and several others already on the project.
“The distributed ledger is one of the most innovative technologies out there,” Lee Braine from Barclays told The Financial Times. “From reducing risk to improving capital efficiency in financial markets, we see several benefits of this project.”
The new cryptocurrency is slated for a limited back end run by 2018, and the banks have been in discussions with central bank regulators regarding the cryptocoin.
While blockchain technology can be used for a variety of purposes — distributing aid, fighting climate change, tracking electricity in the grid, etc. — its potential for disruption is perhaps still greatest in the world of finance. Projects like the utility settlement coin, which can test the tech on a bigger scale, will be essential if that potential is to be reached.
Disclosure: Several members of the Futurism team, including the editors of this piece, are personal investors in a number of cryptocurrency markets. Their personal investment perspectives have no impact on editorial content.
Apple has long been rumored to go with a fingerprint sensor embedded in the OLED screen of the upcoming iPhone 8, but apparently the exact way in which it will achieve such a feat is not set in stone yet. A new report from Cowen and Company’s Timothy Arcuri says Apple is yet to decide on which solution to use for the device’s biometric authentication. The company is reportedly facing three options: thinning the cover glass of the display over a sensor area, creating a pinhole through the glass for an optical or ultrasonic sensor, or going with a “film” sensor which is integrated into the…