Page 2 – News Debris For The Week of July 23rd
Advances that will leave your head spinning

Apple Pay on iPhone

Who knew Apple Pay would unleash a flood of new payment methods? Image credit: Apple

• Paying for stuff used to be easy. You’d open your wallet and pull out paper bills. Even credit card transactions seem simple now. Swipe, sign a slip of paper and leave. Nowadays, one almost has to be a tech wizard to figure out all the paymnet systems. See: “How Software Ate the Point of Sale.” The subtitle leads us in: Or, why paying for stuff is so complicated now.

For awhile, after Apple Pay was introduced, it seemed that buying things would be easier. I still smile when I place my Apple Watch next to the terminal and complete a payment. But our technology now is in such a state that myriads of new payment schemes keep cropping up, and each merchant wants its own.

The article concludes:

This is a crazy world that requires hundreds of thousands of small businesses to work through hundreds of vendors to reach thousands of banks. Every company is trying to extract some bits (of data, of money) from every single transaction, building fortunes out of pennies. That’s why Google Pay and Apple Pay didn’t take off like Facebook or Uber. There are just too many human hands reaching for pockets that need to get on board.

Where this will lead is anyone’s guess.

More Debris

• The U.S. Congress has taken a more or less light touch approach to regulating most aspects of privacy and security. That extends to facial recognition, now rampant in China. So the ACLU did an interesting experiment, and the results got the attention of Congress. The headline tells the story. “Congressmen demand answers after Amazon facial recognition matches them to mugshots.

Oops.

• How do you understand the mind of an AI and its decision making processes? Why, unleash another AI on it, of course. “Artificial intelligence has learned to probe the minds of other computers.” The opening paragraph sums up this research beautifully.

Anyone who’s had a frustrating interaction with Siri or Alexa knows that digital assistants just don’t get humans. What they need is what psychologists call theory of mind, an awareness of others’ beliefs and desires. Now, computer scientists have created an artificial intelligence (AI) that can probe the ‘minds’ of other computers and predict their actions, the first step to fluid collaboration among machines—and between machines and people.

This gets to the core of why we often feel so frustrated by Siri. Siri has no way of intuiting what we’re really after in our requests. It struggles just to parse our speech. This research could lead to a better understanding of humans by computers. It’ll feel creepy at first, but that’s where we’re headed.

Hey Siri

Hey Siri. If you can’t understand me, maybe a companion AI can help.

• The Canadian Medical Association Journal suggests that “Doctors need retraining to keep up with technological change.” (One might think that physicians are very well acquainted with computer technology, but that’s often not the case.) The article opens with its assessment.

‘While it’s hard to predict the future, we know artificial intelligence, digital medicine and genomics will have an enormous impact on improving efficiency and precision in health care,’ says Dr. Eric Topol, executive vice-president of the Scripps Research Institute, in an interim report called ‘Preparing the health care workforce to deliver the digital future.’ These changes will also transform what it means to be a clinician…

As an example of technology racing forward and the need for doctors to better understand their tools, I ran across this: “IBM’s Watson reportedly created unsafe cancer treatment plans.” It’s not that Watson is a general failure. In fact, Watson has been very good with medical diagnostic assistance. The issue is the ability of highly trained humans to partner with Watson and use human judgment to make up for Watson’s occasional failings. And, by implication, the patients need to be well-informed as well.

Otherwise, we end up blindly taking the machine’s advice in every case. This means that doctors will need to know a lot more about AI in the future so that we have good interactions with both them and, in the long run, devices that monitor our health. Like the Apple Watch.

• Finally, speaking of the Apple Watch, Dan Moren has some great thoughts on where Apple should and might take the Apple Watch Series 4. “Looking forward to the next Apple Watch.

I had more mind spinning stories to share, but I’m out of room. Hopefully, the few items above will light up your brain for the week.


Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro’s observations and opinions about a standout event or article of the week (preamble on page one) followed on page two by a discussion of articles that didn’t make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holiday weeks.

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Lee Dronick

I use Apple Pay whenever possible and a lot of the stores where I shop accept it, I wish that Costco was one of them. I have noticed that it works at many card readers that have NFC, but do not specifically advertise Apple Pay. I also have several retailer’s cards in the app.

geoduck

For awhile, after Apple Pay was introduced, it seemed that buying things would be easier FWIW, I started to set up a credit card in my phone about six months ago. I got it in and just needed to authorize the card. I never got around to it. There was no compelling reason to proceed. This weekend I deleted the card. As long as ApplePay is just one among many, and most vendors have no idea what im talking about, theres no reason to use ANY pay with my phone system. As long as so many stores want to use… Read more »

W. Abdullah Brooks, MD

John: Your lede here, technological advancement being so rapid that no one individual can keep up with it, is a good one. Permit me to take a step back and a wider angle view. I see this as a principal component, indeed the catalyst, in a paradigm shift in security and its balance point between safety, peace and prosperity on the one hand, and compromise, loss and warfare on the other. The crown jewel of that equation remains, and it ever was, a society’s economy; the source of its material well-being, and therefore the target of any hostile act. Improvements… Read more »

CudaBoy

Apple is not on any home assistant or AI, AR cutting edge but they make a great phone. But, they update way too often making their expensive stuff obsolete way too soon. Then there is the quality considering what you pay for, take flaptops for example: I think I’s go elsewhere if I was forced to use a flaptop. (from the web) 1A1226/A1260 2007-2008 Macbook GPU failures, warranty service refusal A1226/A1260 2007-2008 Macbook Pro hinge/frame problem A1286 Macbook Pro – the “Unibody” myth, glued together pieces fall apart A1286/A1297 MCP power circuit failure due to poor buck converter design: C7771… Read more »