New Apple Strategy: Partner with Microsoft For Future Battles

Page 2 – News Debris For The Week of May 7th

Getting Very Creeped Out

• We’ve seen the robot called Atlas from Boston Dynamics before. But what I’m pondering this week is the confluence of these two videos. First, hold this new video in your mind.

and then view this video, demoing Google Duplex.

These two videos together suggest that the eventual marriage of these two technologies will make for some, um, interesting changes to our lives in the future.

Speaking of Google Duplex, there has been some strong feedback after that demo by Google CEO Sundar Pichai at the I/O 2018 conference. Are we in for a lifetime of evil deception by this kind of AI agent? See: “Google’s AI sounds like a human on the phone — should we be worried?

More questions to ask: Is Google Duplex another Google Glass, doomed from the start by social forces? Next, why is it Google and not Apple or Microsoft making this splash? And finally, is Google seizing the AI high ground or is it blinded by an improper vision that will eventually surrender to calmer, smarter vision from Apple? If something can be done, should it always be done? Is this just normal technical progress with new processes and social behavior to be sorted out later? If you know the answers, chime in with comments below.

More Debris

• The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has a note on a new, bipartisan bill. “The Secure Data Act Would Stop Backdoors.

The bipartisan Secure Data Act would stop any government agency or court order from forcing a company to build backdoors into encrypted devices and communications.

The EFF likes this bill. You should too.

• Why do humans have emotions? This next article posits that emotions are necessary for survival. Okay, then, should robots/androids have emotions? See: “How Long Until a Robot Cries?” If not, should they be, at least, engineered to read and respond to human emotions? Here’s an excerpt.

But if our emotional states are indeed mechanical, they can be detected and measured, which is what scientists in the field of affective computing are working on. They’re hoping to enable machines to read a person’s affect the same way we display and detect our feelings—by capturing clues from our voices, our faces, even the way we walk. Computer scientists and psychologists are training machines to recognize and respond to human emotion.

• Above, I’ve looked at some technologies from Apple’s competitors, always, to put what Apple does in perpective. After all, Apple is the most valuable company, in terms of market cap, in the world. The story of its succes is never ending. So it is appropriate to close here with a deep look article over at Hodinkee Magazine. Apple, Influence, And Ive.

Apple Watch Series 3 with LTE
It never creeps us out. Sheer joy.

Early in the article, Jonny Ive explains:

I don’t look at watches for their relationship to popular culture, which I know is so much of the fun – but rather as somehow the distillation of craft, ingenuity, miniaturization, and of the art of making.

Herein are keen insights into the thinking that went into the Apple Watch, and it’s very good stuff.

The contrast between the craft of the Apple Watch, as described above, and special projects at Google that always seem to creep us out is fascinating to watch.

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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W. Abdullah Brooks, MD

Great story, geoduck. 🙏

Knowledge, married to the will to good, is transformative.

W. Abdullah Brooks, MD


W. Abdullah Brooks, MD

John: Great themes for thought and discussion this week. Let me address two of them, an Apple/MS alliance, and AI/emotions. A collaboration between Apple and MS has greater potential relevance than mere product development. Apple and MS were born of a common era, grew first as partners then as rivals together, and survived an era that saw the birth of modern personal computing. Importantly, they are both not merely survivors, but architects and moulders of a storied and pivotal period of personal computing culture that has transitioned from its infancy of situational use case (office or home and almost nothing… Read more »


What you said about the corrosive effects of abuse reminded me of an article I read a long time ago. A meat company in the midwest decided to remodel their abbatours. They had been dark, noisy, horror shows, where the killing floors were covered with blood and such, where terrified cows watched it all while awaiting until being forcibly drug to their fate. After remodelling they were clean, well lit, the animals were held gently and moved along comfortably. The killing was done in one space out of sight, and smell, from the other animals. Overall it was a lot… Read more »


I would love to see Apple and Microsoft team up and work together. If they do, in regards to google duplex, I would like to see that the 2 companies make a better, smarter system that includes verification, because it won’t be long before we see appointments scheduled days before they were supposed to be or events conflicting with each other when someone doesn’t enter the be in a calendar. My version of verification would be that Siri sends you a list of available dates in the call so all you have to do is tap/click or even say a… Read more »


Should robots/androids have emotions? I read the cited article and felt so strongly about it, I had to comment, which for convenience I’m copying below. Sorry if it’s a little long: The qualia problem. Qualia is conscious subjective ability to feel sensation, to feel ‘what it’s like’ to experience something. I think emotion is ultimately based on feeling pain and pleasure both of the psychic and physical (physiological?) varieties. Can machines ever have qualia? Can they ever feel pain and pleasure? Maybe once emotion detection is perfected, robots can be programmed to relate and communicate more ‘authentically’ to humans. But… Read more »


Ha ha, that last line above. Let me rephrase:

Just because scientists and engineers in the future are able to build machines that simulate emotions and consciousness, that doesn’t raise those machines to the same moral plane as humans, or animals even.

Although the original wording also is something worth thinking about, eh?


FWIW my dad was a mechanic. We were taught to not abuse machines. That it was ethically wrong to deliberately inflict harm, be it on another person, or an animal, or the engine in your car. Slamming the door was wrong not because of the noise but because it was hard on the door and the house. So to me at least I have trouble with the “no different than your toaster” part. I would no more abuse a toaster than I would my cat. I saw an interesting experiment on the web. It was a box on the beach.… Read more »


Please don’t jump to the conclusion that when I say machines lie on a lower moral plane than humans or animals, that means I’m declaring open season for abusing and destroying machines. There is no argument there. To me destroying or even abusing a machine that is perfectly useful and beneficial (not just operational, but useful) is unethical. Destroying it is a waste of resources and abusing it is an affront to the people who worked hard to design and build the machine. And even with non-serviceable machines any person who derives pleasure from bashing it to bits is a… Read more »


In the (now long forgotten) series seaQuest DSV I remember a line about how “Apple buys Microsoft and…” It was a throwaway line they writers included because this was the bad old days of Apple at $12/share, and declining sales. The Pippen years. I’d find a good deal of satisfaction in Microsoft and Apple teaming up. The Google AI that sounds so human is interesting. In the BBC article ( “The demo was called “horrifying” by Zeynep Tufekci, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina who regularly comments on the ways technology and society impact on each other.… Read more »


I agree that you cannot un-know what is already known, so no point in complaining that Google developed this technology. But what really is the point of a machine that simulates the conversational style of a real human being other than to deceive people, perhaps not overtly if people are informed that they are talking to a machine, but subliminally through subconscious emotional manipulation? I shudder to think about the number of people who will be scammed using this technology. Is the landscape of the future one that requires hyper-vigilance against fake human voices, fake photos, fake video, and all… Read more »


But take this technology out of the world of robocalls. This technology would go a long way toward making androids that could interact with humans conversationally. Even before a Commander Data, it would be nice if Siri or Alexa were something you could chat with. Hold a conversation with. There would be no deceit. You’d know you were talking to Siri, but Siri could interact more ‘normally’ than it does now. I’m very impressed with the technology. As Werner von Braun said “Science is like a knife. Give it to a surgeon or a murderer and each will use it… Read more »