Tech

Is anti-trust action a good way to deal with tech companies?

It is certainly a way to get the attention of tech companies. They fear it massively. But breaking up these companies into different components - way harder than most people think.

Is Apple changing the iPad?

Why yes they're totally changing the operating system of the iPad. They've given it a new name. They are making it more like a computer and less like a big phone or a tweener more like a laptop

Are Facebook ads discriminatory?

Some are discriminatory. But it's hard to see whether the problems are with the data the advertisers have the data Facebook has, the interactions between the two. And in fact to make ads not discriminatory. Facebook would have to figure out the race, gender, of all of its users which could involve privacy violations So very complicated, hard to get right, but something to work on.

Last, The Rant: there are way too many robocalls. They're coming in nonstop. If my phone wasn't on airplane mode one would probably come in right now. The FCC has started some action, but they should do way more.

What was the coolest thing Apple unveiled at the Worldwide Developers Conference?

The neat way of protecting your email address when you join an app. It allows the app developer to send you messages but not to know what your address is, which protects you.

How are the DOJ and FTC deciding which tech companies to investigate?

Well they get together. They meet in a room. They see who has the expertise. The FTC knows a lot about Facebook. Also they probably fight and there's all kinds of weird politics because if you work at one of those organizations it's much better to get a juicy case.

Will Google Stadia be a success?

This is their high-quality online-gaming system. Big new venture for Google. I don't know whether it'll be a success. My guess is this: it won't be a success, but it will change the future of gaming. Google often does that.

Should tech companies become data fiduciaries?

Complicated one. That's a term of art - legal term - saying that tech companies should treat their customers data in a way that is in the customer's interest. Should tech companies do that? Yes they should. Should it be written into law? That's a harder one.

Should Facebook take down the fake Nancy Pelosi video?

No it should not. Those videos are slowed down about 75%. They're clearly fake but Facebook shouldn't get rid of them. That's a slippery slope to violating free speech. What Facebook should do is make sure that not a lot of people see them. Free speech is not the same as free reach!

Why is the military fighting with windfarms?

Because the military likes to fly their planes low. They like the pilots to be able to practice in all terrain and wind turbines are high. So there's a standoff.

Are crime-alerting apps helpful or stressful?

They are a little bit helpful and really stressful. Problem is that the apps, and in fact security camera companies that are helping support some of the apps, have an incentive to make you afraid, so buy more security cameras. And so you check the app more often.

Is tech philanthropy just a PR play?

Not really. It is a PR play. But there's also a lot of good that comes out of it.

Can Huawei survive the US-China tech cold war?

That is one of the questions of the year. They are on the defensive. ARM pulling their chip designs. A very big blow. Google saying they can't work with them. A big blow. I think Huawei will survive. But this is going to be a very fierce debate for the next few months.

Are Silicon Valley employees overpaid?

They are certainly paid a lot. The average employee at Google makes something like $250,000. On the other hand, does that mean they're overpaid? There's a lot of competition. Google makes money. The money has to go to someone. They give it to their employees and the shareholders.

Can AI be a fair judge in court?

It's a good question. Would you trust a judge that's actually a computer system? Certainly for some simple things like adjudicating parking tickets. 100% Complex cases? I don't know. We're gonna have humans involved for quite a while.

Will Uber's delivery drones take off?

This is a weird one. Definitely a lot of stuff will be delivered by drone. People don't really like drones. They don't really like Uber, so bad combination. I'm not sure they're going to lead the market.

Is WhatsApp safe?

WhatsApp had a crazy hack! Hackers were able to get on your phone just by calling it. That's been patched but it's a reminder nothing is ever completely safe in 2019.

Why didn't Uber's IPO perform as promised?

Because they're losing tons of money. Because Lyft didn't do that well. Because their expansion into international markets, where they planned to go, has been harder than expected. Tough times at Uber.

Will cutting Huawei off from American technology hurt?

Trick question! Will it hurt Huawei? Yes, definitely. Will it hurt the American companiesthat supply Huawei? Yes definitely. Will it hurt consumers everywhere? Probably. Unless it changes the dynamics of the U.S. - China trade relationship in such a way that helps everybody, which is possible.

Should more cities ban facial recognition technology?

There's a tradeoff between privacy and safety. San Francisco just blocked facial recognition technology to help privacy but I think most cities are going to care more about their police departments being maximally effective and will choose safety.

Will Facebook face a backlash over banning Louis Farrakhan and Alex Jones?

Yes! Every time Facebook bans somebody they will proclaim themselves a free speech martyr. That doesn't mean Facebook shouldn't have banned them.

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Should Sri Lanka have blocked social media following the terror attacks?

That's a hard one. Misinformation spreads on social media and there's an instinct to say, "Wait, stop it!" But a lot of useful information also spreads and people get in touch with each other. So I would say no they should not have blocked it.

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What was the craziest thing to happen inside Facebook in the last 15 months?

Funny you should ask, because I just wrote 12,000 words with Fred Vogelstein about all the crazy things that happened at Facebook in the last year and a half. The craziest was the fight with Instagram. A combination of jealousy, resentment, and anger led to a major breakup and the departure of the founders of Instagram in September.

Did Jack Dorsey help or hurt Twitter at TED this week?

I think he hurt it. He gave one of his deeply thoughtful, introspective interviews. We're getting kind of used to them but at this point I think the public reaction was, "OK, enough about feeling deeply about this. Let's change the platform!"

Can 3D point clouds help rebuild Notre Dame?

Yes. One of the good things inside this horrible tragedy is there's been a lot of really sophisticated imagery of what was burned down and now maybe it will be easier to rebuild.



And go deeper on topics like cybersecurity and artificial intelligence at Microsoft Today in Technology.