Apple’s Siri Provides Clues About Whether Robots Will Put Us All Out of Work


| Particle Debris

Page 2 – News Debris For The Week Of August 14th
An Apple Blockbuster Movie Deal

There are reports that Apple has trying to work a deal to bring theatrical movie rentals to Apple TV as soon as 17 days after debut—for a hefty US$50. No deal has yet been struck according to Bloomberg: Hollywood, Apple Said to Mull Rental Plan, Defying Theaters.

TV app for Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad

Will movie theaters go the way of outdoor drive-ins?

The dynamics are interesting. Declining DVD sales have driven the studios to ponder new revenue streams, but the ever present concern about upsetting the theater owners remains. How shall the studios juggle their revenue streams, remain on good terms with partners and sustain growth? Bloomberg notes:

Some of the biggest proponents, including Warner Bros. and Universal Pictures, are pressing on in talks with Apple Inc. and Comcast Corp. on ways to push ahead with the project even without theater chains, the people said. After months of negotiations, the two sides have been unable to arrive at a mutually beneficial way to create a $30 to $50 premium movie-download product.

Again, while no deal has been struck, this article is full of tidbits about how the industry is thinking as well as what Apple’s been up to.

We haven’t heard the last of schemes like this because the studios are keen to connect directly with customers, leverage the 4K revolution, and develop a new, enduring revenue stream.  One scheme, according to Bloomberg, is that theater owners would be compensated for lost revenue over a 10 year period. Just how well that would work remains a big question.

Will movie theaters survive this almost certain initiative? Can the sharing revenue really work? Are there new things theaters can offer to make the experience more compelling? Currently, the plusses are the big screen and big sound experience, the social experience, food and, in some cases, alcoholic beverages. But disruptions by inconsiderate viewers, mobile phone users, and untidy conditions can ruin the experience.

Only time will tell.

More Debris

• Speaking of streaming TV, the number of streaming services keeps growing, and keeping track of them and their features is more and more difficult. Fortunately, Jeff Dunn and BI has put together a comparison to help us all out. “There are 6 major services that let you stream live TV over the internet — here’s how they compare.

• The always insightful Dan Moren at Macworld does a good job of exploring the technical options and issues for an Apple Watch Series 3 with (rumored) LTE support. “The pros and cons of a cellular Apple Watch.

Apple Watch Series 2 in a box

Surprise! It’s also a phone! (Maybe.)

• While I’m on the subject of corporate omniscience and intrusion, (page 1), see: “How to see all the terrifying things Google knows about you.

• Have you been thinking that, with iOS 11, the iPad may be the only computer you may need? Here’s another, but very good, article that conducts the ongoing key experiment for you. “I Used the New 10.5-Inch iPad Pro for a Month Instead of a MacBook. Here’s What I Learned.

• I read this article once and realized that I’m going to have to read it at least two more times to internalize the facts. I”m referring to USB-C, cable lengths and protocols that are transported. It sounds pretty geeky, and it is. But given Apple’s (correct) decision to forge on with USB-C, it seems that this tutorial is a good one to both bookmark and read again from time to time. Must reading, actually. “PSA: Thunderbolt 3 cables longer than 0.5m generally don’t support USB 3.1 speeds.

• We all know the difference between 1080p and 1080i video, right? In case you need a refresher, this very easy to read and visually oriented article explains the difference and why it matters. “Why Netflix videos look so much better than cable TV.

That article has a focus on cable. I should note that DirecTV has had the capability of delivering 1080p video for some time now. Moreover, if your AV receiver or HDTV can de-interlace 1080i, there isn’t much of an issue. Still, the BI article is nicely written, just not comprehensive.

For a broader, more techical introduction to 4K streaming, I recommend this article from back in June. “How To Stream Netflix in 4K.” With H.265/HEVC, streamed 4K/UHD content on the internet will be 2160p. But it’ll be highly compressed to manage a decent picture at, say, 15 Mbps into the home.

• Finally, I bring this up because of the differences in corporate culture between Apple and HP. Because it’s been ceded that Apple will do very well with AR, how is a company like HP to compete? The answer lies in AR catering to fields that Apple isn’t strong in, namely science. See: “HP enlists creative and scientific community to help imagine life on Mars.” Projects like this won’t make a dent in Apple’s AR success, but they will reinforce HP’s legitimacy with science customers and provide a continuing technical contrast between the two companies.

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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 weekends.

6 Comments Add a comment

  1. Lee Dronick

    That is quite a story Geoduck. Even if robots don’t take control of us, idle hands are the Devil’s workshop and some sort of positive activity needs to fill our free time.

  2. wab95

    John:

    Your lead with ‘Siri provides clues…’ is a great and ongoing discussion about AI, our relationship to it, and its impact on human well-being. While it’s a great diversion from the unpleasantness bedevilling socio-political discussions and debates, it also lacks a bedrock of data on which to ground discussion and come to hard and evidence-based conclusions, thus most of this discussion remains speculative and theoretical and any conclusions selective.

    That said, there are some proven guiding principles that we can use to shape that discussion. Regarding the debate about whether or not AI will put us out of work, there are at least two points that should be disaggregated, and often are not. The first is the over-arching principle about technological and cultural displacement of defunct systems. The second is the specific issue posed by AI, namely whether or not human oversight itself will be displaced and rendered effete or even obsolete.

    Regarding the relentless displacement of veteran technologies by new and emerging ones, AI follows an historical and seemingly incessant trend of emergence, establishment and obsolescence of technologies and standards that are inherent in one of two core pillars in the process of civilisation itself, science and its fruit, technology. If we weren’t discussing AI today, it would be something else; perhaps the internet vs TV, and all the jobs a waning TV industry might lose, or book publishing houses vs digital books, or the music industry vs online services, and so on. The existential threat in all of these discussions (and recorded history is replete with them – just look at discussions about the whaling industry and job displacement at the time that incandescent lights were becoming a thing), is the fear of the unknown. Most of us are unable to imagine a world without the familiar, however imperfect, limited and unsustainable it might be. We cannot imagine the capacity of human ingenuity, and how the will to not merely survive but strive for betterment will reconstruct the world in which humans live; and how quickly such profound changes will occur. How many, at the turn of the 20th Century, could have imagined how quickly and thoroughly the horse and carriage would not only be swept aside, but the jobs servicing the horse and carriage industry would cease to be relevant. And yet, civilisation did not collapse, and jobs unforeseen were created, even if they did not absorb everyone in the veteran horse industry. We have always relied upon our creative pioneers (not always the same as inventors, but people who can see opportunity in these periods of transformation and create whole new industries – like podcasting) who comprise the sharp end of our way out of evolutionary bottlenecks and dead ends. Seldom, if ever, have the masses held a consensus view of the way forward which we’ve then collectively taken, nor should we expect it in the case of AI. What we should not expect, because it would be profoundly ahistorical, is that a vacuum will be created by wholesale industrial displacement, and that we will sit idly by that void, and passively suffer the social and economic unrest that would follow. Humanity does not have a collective death wish, and our history is not a tale of passivity in the face of loss or change, but of adaptability, creativity and novel solutions.

    Regarding Doug Clinton’s piece that this time, it’s different because AI will render human intelligence at the wheel unnecessary, this, in my view, is yet another illustration of a failure of imagination. It is true that we will not need a human in the driver’s seat of a stupid machine, because AI will be at the helm. It is not true that we will not need human oversight, rather human involvement will be promoted up the chain of oversight and responsibility. Take transport. While we will displace drivers (personal, cabbies and truckers alike), we’re not simply making smart cars; we will need to re-engineer transportation altogether to keep everyone safe and our economy humming. This will require transformation of the entire transport grid, including software, AI upgrades, coordination and connectivity with related systems and services (e.g. food and health to name just two) and the safety and security protocols needed to harden these against attack and failure, new smart surfaces, and new human/transportation interfaces that we haven’t even thought about. These will be created, perfected, and run by humans who will no longer need to do the physical labour associated with driving. Industries we haven’t yet dreamt up will need to emerge and quickly. Our educational systems will need to be adaptable enough to respond to that need, rather than relying on the pluck and ingenuity of a select few whose numbers will be inadequate to the demands of a new order. That transportation industry will even more different than our current one, as our current one is from the horse and carriage.

    While this promotion of human input up the chain of responsibility might be new in its specifics, it too is an old theme, and nothing fundamentally new. We simply haven’t imagined our way there yet, but if our history is guide, we undoubtedly will. And as Samuel Johnson noted, “Depend upon it, Sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.”

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