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Editorial

The simple dirty little secret about Apple’s iPhone X

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I guess I’ve been a computer geek all my life. I started out watching my brothers (who are 10 and 12 years older than I am) buy and use the latest computers back in the day.

My first computer was a Sinclair ZX-81 (Google that) and all the other computers at that time (Commodore 64, Acorn Electron, BBC A and BBC B) etc etc

Then when I got older I was fascinated by PC’s. From the older IBM XT’s to newer desktop devices, I loved them all. I could take apart a PC and replace the motherboard and everything connected to it, chips, drivers, sound cards etc. I loved overclocking processors, hyper-threading and all that good stuff and it was all really exciting until one simple thing happened.

Intel CPU

PC processors hit the magic benchmark – the 3Ghz clock speed.

You see after all that, it didn’t really matter anymore – it was the point of diminishing returns where every computer was fast enough. After all, how much speed and power did you REALLY need to open up an Excel spreadsheet, a PowerPoint doc or even a Photoshop document?

My friends, we have hit that moment again with Apple’s new iPhone X or iPhone Ten.

Apple's iPhone X

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you must have heard that Apple recently released a trio of phones – the iPhone 8, the iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone X.

They are all beautiful devices and if you want more details, feel free to check out the Verge’s obligatory annual ode to Cupertino.

I get it, Apple has made a bunch of beautiful phones and the new one is really big, uses an OLED screen and has facial recognition.

The dirty little secret about Apple’s iPhone X? – it’s not substantially more useful than my iPhone 7 Plus.

I have an Apple iPhone 7 Plus with 256GB of storage and portrait mode. It takes AMAZING photos day or night and it does a real novel thing as well – it lets me make and receive phone calls really well.

I watched the Apple crew present the iPhone X and apart from it being a really cool new gadget, I didn’t hear one substantive reason I HAD to buy it.

Facial detection – nice to have, what about law enforcement and privacy?

Faster processing – my phone’s plenty fast thanks

OLED screen – if that was a must have, I would have a Samsung

Wider screen – once again, nice but…

New Snapchat filters with facial recognition – what am I, 12 years old?

Augmented Reality – No killer apps yet

And here’s what makes it even worse – iOS 11 is going to make me LOVE my current iPhone even more.

A lot of naysayers said that once Steve Jobs died, Apple would run out of ideas and as we can see, that hasn’t been true. It’s a great company led by an able steward (TC).

The truth is, it’s not Apple’s fault – we have simply run out of things to do with a phone and unfortunately, these publicly traded companies can’t afford to admit that. So the race continues and Samsung will have to focus on a new phone with a trillion transistors on a super bionic chip and on and one we go.

I suspect both Apple and Samsung are fighting the last war. Phones are good enough, fast enough and powerful enough. Companies fighting this battle are becoming dinosaurs, looking up and patiently waiting for innovation meteorites to wipe them out.

If you are on an iPhone 6, you should upgrade to an iPhone 8, it’s time. If you’re on an iPhone 7 and higher, I suspect it’s going to be a much harder sell.

BONUS – check out this article from Digital Trends that shows how “innovative” these new features are.

Onuora Amobi is VP of Marketing at Learn About The Web. He has an extensive background in both Online Marketing and Enterprise Technology solutions.

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Editorial

The future impact of Artificial Intelligence on content creation

Companies and countries are starting to map out some of the potential ways this could play out.

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The impact of AI on content creation

Recently, in the technology and marketing communities, we have started to have a robust discussion about the future impacts of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on the world’s workforce. Companies and countries are starting to map out some of the potential ways this could play out.

Let’s take a quick step back. Let’s define Artificial Intelligence. As usual, Wikipedia has a pretty good definition.

Artificial intelligence (AI), sometimes called machine intelligence, is intelligence demonstrated by machines, in contrast to the natural intelligence displayed by humans and other animals…. Colloquially, the term “artificial intelligence” is applied when a machine mimics “cognitive” functions that humans associate with other human minds, such as “learning” and “problem solving”

Wikipedia

AI refers to the ability of computers and machines to learn and perform tasks that traditionally only humans could do.

AI is being used already

There are radical developments in AI happening in the following fields:

Healthcare

Artificial intelligence is breaking into the healthcare industry by assisting doctors. According to Bloomberg Technology, Microsoft has developed AI to help doctors find the right treatments for cancer. There is a great amount of research and drugs developed relating to cancer. In detail, there are more than 800 medicines and vaccines to treat cancer. This negatively affects the doctors, because there are too many options to choose from, making it more difficult to choose the right drugs for the patients. AI helps with those problems.

According to CNN, a recent study by surgeons at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington successfully demonstrated surgery with an autonomous robot. The team supervised the robot while it performed soft-tissue surgery, stitching together a pig’s bowel during open surgery, and doing so better than a human surgeon, the team claimed.

Driverless cars

Advancements in AI have contributed to the growth of the automotive industry through the creation and evolution of self-driving vehicles. As of 2016, there were over 30 companies utilizing AI into the creation of driverless cars. A few companies involved with AI include Tesla, Google, and Apple.

Finance and economics

Financial institutions have long used artificial neural network systems to detect charges or claims outside of the norm, flagging these for human investigation. Financial Institutions also routinely use AI and Machine Learning to determine credit worthiness.

Video games

In video games, artificial intelligence is routinely used to generate dynamic purposeful behavior in non-player characters (NPCs). In addition, well-understood AI techniques are routinely used for pathfinding. Some researchers consider NPC AI in games to be a “solved problem” for most production tasks.

Military

Worldwide annual military spending on robotics rose from 5.1 billion USD in 2010 to 7.5 billion USD in 2015. Military drones capable of autonomous action are widely considered a useful asset. In 2017, Vladimir Putin stated that “Whoever becomes the leader in (artificial intelligence) will become the ruler of the world”.

Advertising

A report by the Guardian newspaper in the UK in 2018 found that online gambling companies were using AI to predict the behavior of customers in order to target them with personalized promotions.

Developers of commercial AI platforms are also beginning to appeal more directly to casino operators, offering a range of existing and potential services to help them boost their profits and expand their customer base.

and more…

My concern though is a little less altruistic and more personal.

artificial_intelligence_brain

What is the future of content creation when a machine can write better than I can?

So many questions.

What is the future of blogs, blogging, content and landing pages when I can come up with a title and feed it to a program to auto-generate the content? Today we have plugins for WordPress that auto “spin” content and come up with pretty tacky “articles” but that technology is crap today.

What happens when those types of apps are perfected?

Here’s the challenge – on one hand I can make the case that if a machine can predict my credit worthiness with greater certainty than a banker, it should be able to create more engaging content than any blogger can.

Let’s go a little deeper.

If it can create more engaging content, it should be able to create more organic keywords and more effective calls to action than any human writer could.

Theoretically this would mean MUCH more profitable articles and landing pages i.e. more $$$ for the advertisers.

On the other hand, this means, a LOT of digital marketing bloggers, writers and copywriters would be out of jobs. That’s not even considering the newspaper business which could theoretically all be run by machines in real time putting EVERY reporter out of business… but I digress.

AI is an asymmetrical weapon, both in business and warfare. The first businesses to deploy this technology will win and grow exponential marketshare compared to companies that depend on real human beings.

The creepy part is, when AI is deployed, you as a consumer will never know. I mean think about it, you assume I am a human being writing this article right? You have no idea.

These are some of the conundrums I think we will face very soon with the rollout and deployment of AI. What do you all think?

Let me know in the comments below…

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Editorial

Is Magic Leap’s new mixed reality headset the future of digital marketing?

The Magic Leap One Creator Edition, which the company calls a “spatial computing” device, officially ships in the US today for $2,295.

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magic leap mixed reality headset
Photo Credit - Magic Leap

The day is finally here and after billions of dollars spent and years of secret development, you can finally buy a Magic Leap mixed reality headset.

The Magic Leap One Creator Edition officially ships in the US today for $2,295.

It’s an interesting piece of technology – the system is packing an Nvidia Parker CPU with two Denver 2.0 64-bit cores and four ARM Cortex A57 64-bit cores. The GPU is an Nvidia Pascal with 256 CUDA cores, and the Lightpack has 8GB of RAM with 128GB of storage capacity and a lithium-ion battery, though a full charge only powers three hours of continuous use.

The whole product consists of three main components. There’s the Lightwear headset, a pair of computerized goggles that drop over your eyes.

The Lightwear is connected to the Lightpack, a puck-shaped computer about the size of a portable CD player, which clips to your pocket.

The Lightpack houses a chip from Nvidia and provides power to the headset. Then there’s a remote that you hold in one hand that allows you to control the experience with a digital pointer that you can see through the glasses.

Magic Leap controller

The company has been talking about changing the way we see and use products for years now, racking up more than $2.3 billion in funding from the likes of Alibaba, Andreesen Horowitz, Google, Warner Bros., and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The early reviews from tech companies were pretty bad and now that an early version of it is here, it has been getting some pretty good reviews.

For a couple of really good Magic Leap reviews, check out the reviews at CNBC and The Verge.

Also a video review from The Verge below.

Now at over $2200, this is an industrial product which will make more sense for hardcore enthusiasts and businesses.

Magic Leap produces what most people call augmented or mixed reality experiences: hologram-like objects projected into three-dimensional space.

Modern smartphones offer a primitive version of mixed reality, and headsets like Microsoft HoloLens offer a more advanced version for industrial and professional use. Magic Leap has a more ambitious goal: it’s building futuristic mixed reality glasses for everyday computing, hoping to beat bigger companies like Apple or Facebook to market.

My take

Magic Leap is trying to do a REALLY big thing and my gut tells me that they aren’t quite there yet (and may never get there). As someone who was excited about the Playstation VR before I actually used it, I know that this mixed/virtual reality model is not easy to pull off.

I start thinking about the potential uses for the product and some of them are interesting.

  • A consumer might be shopping for a car and, with Magic Leap, could see that car right in their driveway and swap out the colors in real time.
  • Or a consumer browsing for a pair of shoes online and seeing what the shoes look like in 3-D from their desk.

I think that this is an interesting concept and I see what the company is trying to do but unfortunately I think that based on the reviews I have seen and the amount of money invested there are a few major problems.

First, based on where the company is in the development cycle, I think we are very far away from seeing any must have killer apps for it. The hardware hasn’t been ready so by definition, developers haven’t been ready either.

Second, while I have friends who have seen it and tell me that it’s pretty comfortable, it still looks a little too bulky. It’s a really tough problem to miniaturize hardware for virtual/mixed reality – REALLY hard.

Third, my gut tells me that it’s not technology that a consumer will want to use on a daily basis. It’s the vicious cycle of hardware not being ready, developers not being ready, no killers apps, early release, consumers apathetic.

Fourth, still way too expensive.

Finally, I think that they may be the right product but just at the wrong time. Maybe in a few years, the size of the technology will be as small as a pair of regular glasses and businesses will have the interest and apps for consumers but right now, I just don’t see it.

My own humble take is that unless something can drastically change within 18 months, the real story will be about how much money has been spent here and what investors can do to get their money back.

What do you all think?

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Editorial

Google’s Sundar Pichai has failed the ultimate leadership test

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Sundar Pichai Google

Unless you have been living under a rock, you must have heard about the Google Memo drama that the company is going through right now.

The memo, written by former Google employee James Damore in pseudo-troll fashion attempts to explain why 80 percent of Google’s tech employees are male.

It points to large cultural biases but also suggests a potential genetic component by illustrating some of the ways the distribution of qualities differs across male and female populations.

Now I have actually read the memo several times. This is very important because most of the critics who are responding to this memo clearly haven’t read it.

The author was extremely meticulous about the way in which he made his points and the use of supporting data.

And yes, I do understand that this memo has become something of a rorschach test – people seeing what they want to. You could see it as a sexist dog whistle and you could see it as thoughtful discourse – I get that.

While I am not going to discuss the conclusions of the memo itself here, I will say this – the sloppy manner in which Google CEO Sundar Pichai has handled this has exposed serious problems both in Google and the valley in general.

The firing of James Damore

Just a few days after Mr. Damore’s memo came to light, he was fired.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai had sent a note to employees that said portions of the memo “violate our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.” When Google representatives were asked about the dismissal, they referred to Pichai’s memo.

The quick firing of James Damore was absolutely the worst move Google could have made in a situation like this.

To understand why, you actually have to read the memo.

First of all, (once again) the author was meticulous about the points he made and they weren’t made flippantly or overtly disrespectfully.

Second, the author was careful to avoid drawing broad based conclusions but to basically throw out (in many cases) factually accurate data and start a conversation.

James Damore was fired because he wasn’t politically correct and “fake offended” Google and the PC valley’s sensibilities.

The hypocrisy of Google and the valley

The irony here is that most people skip over one of the reasons the memo was written in the first place.

“former Google employee James Damore in pseudo-troll fashion attempts to explain why 80 percent of Google’s tech employees are male

James Damore didn’t do that, Google and the valley did. While these companies in silicon valley talk the talk, you have to understand that they (in most cases) don’t walk the walk.

How do I know this? Oh maybe because I have lived in the bay area and worked in the valley before.

The bay area is one of the most racist and sexist parts of the United States. The really sad part is that it is racist and sexist in large part organically. They really don’t do it on purpose.

The chai-latte drinking, Tesla driving, stock option and IPO loving group are quick to jump on the James Damores of the world but he’s not the problem, he just exposed a much bigger one.

You see Damore is like the uncle at the family reunion who wants to ask about a rape everyone else would rather not talk about. Yes Uncle Bucky isn’t the most sensitive and it’s probably not the right time and place for the discussion but the rape actually happened.

Unfortunately it’s always easier to shoot the messenger.

What should the Google CEO have done?

This memo was actually a massive opportunity for Google.

Their CEO had the perfect opportunity to make this a teachable moment. He should have held a townhall meeting with all executives and streamed it live to the internet.

  • He should have acknowledged the existence and popularity of the memo and then using facts, ideas and science-based thinking, presented Google’s counterpoints.
  • He should then have made it clear that while Google is open to ideas from all idealogical parts of the spectrum, this memo came dangerously close to crossing the line and explained what that line was and why.
  • He should also have acknowledged that sexism in Google and the valley was a real problem and then, point by point, outlined what Google was doing to change things.

The bottom line is, he should have faced this head on – like a strong leader.

Rather, he chose the cowards way out, huddling with lawyers and HR and choosing to shoot the messenger. Disappointing.

The bottom line

At a recent Alphabet shareholder meeting, a shareholder asked executives whether conservatives would feel welcome at the company. Apparently, executives disagreed with the idea that anyone wouldn’t.

“The company was founded under the principles of freedom of expression, diversity, inclusiveness and science-based thinking,” Alphabet Chairman Eric Schmidt said at the time. “You’ll also find that all of the other companies in our industry agree with us.”

This seems like total bullshit today.

Like it or not, with this firing, Google has made it abundantly clear that they only want to hear from employees who agree with their group think. What’s even worse is, they have shown that they don’t have the tools and capacity to thoughtfully deal with employees that don’t.

That is unfortunate.

P.S. This whole conversation is a conversation you should only partake in if you read the memo completely. To not do so and continue to opine anyway is just ignorant.

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