Tagged: Wired

A politician who understands the world of the algorithm

Thanks to Jeremy Epstein (go-to for all things blockchain) for drawing my attention to this Wired interview with Emmanuel Macron. Here is a man who understands the world of the algorithm. There are three reasons you can tell this. First: he doesn’t talk about trying to lock-up access to data – he talks about making data open (with conditions attached – primarily transparency). Second: from a regulatory perspective he focuses on the importance of transparency and shows he understands the dangers of a world where responsibility is delegated to algorithms. Third: he talks about the need for social consent, and how lack thereof is both a danger to society but also to the legitimacy (and thus ability to operate) of the commercial operators in the space (I was  7 years ahead of you here Emmanuel).

As an example, he is opening access to public data on the condition that any algorithms that feed on this data are also made open. This is an issue that I belive could be absolutely critical. As I have said before, algorithms are the genes of a datafied society. In much the same way that some commercial organisations tried (and fortunately failed) to privatise pieces of our genetic code, there is a danger that our social algorithmic code could similarly be removed from the public realm. This isn’t to say that all algorithms should become public property but they should be open to public inspection. It is usage of algorithms that require regulatory focus, not usage of data.

This is a man who understands the role of government in unlocking the opportunities of AI, but also recognises the problems government has a duty to manage. It is such a shame that there are so few others (especially in the UK where the government response is child-like, facile and utterly dissmisive of the idea that government has any role to play other than to let ‘the market’ run its course whilst making token gestures of ‘getting tough‘).


Google v Facebook is a battle for today’s internet, not the internet of the future

Wired has just published an excellent article on the battle between Facebook and Google.  It covers the key issues concisely and is well worth a read.

However, I think both companies (and possibly Wired) are wrong to think that this is a battle for future of the internet.  Instead it is a battle for today’s internet.  In my view neither Google nor Facebook will win the battle for the future of the internet because both are fighting in the wrong space.  Both organisations are basing their strategies on the assumption that the future lies in an ad-driven, data capture, real estate model of the internet – and this is a 1.0, traditional institutionalised communications model.

Advertising is a creation of the world of traditional institutionalised information.  No one is suggesting that advertising is still not incredibly important – but it is a pot that is shrinking as distribution-based communication itself shrinks.  And while some of it is moving on-line, the on-line opportunity is never going to be as big as the current total pot and ultimately will disappear altogether.

Here’s why.  Continue reading