The Particle Debris article of the week comes from Kara Swisher at the New York Times:
Why this article? This week there were all kinds of doom and gloom articles about Apple’s current plight, iPhone sales in China and the precipitous drop in stock price. Some predict the outright demise of Apple. I’ll skip those. Others, properly, point out that Apple has good expertise at navigating crises. Maybe with not enough sober concern. So I picked the one I liked best. Most balanced—even if the title is overly dramatic.
Continuing with author Swisher’s theme, the real point may be that Apple led itself down a primrose path. Useful products were cancelled. No more Apple displays. No more Apple Airport Extremes. Lingering inattention to the Mac lineup still plagues Apple. For example, no 2018 iMacs. MacBook left in Limbo. The HomePod didn’t set the world on fire. Siri fell behind as an AI. All along Apple was happy to bask in iPhone glory.
And now that the iPhone caught a cold, Apple has a fever. But we’ve been down this road before. For some historical perspective, see: “Apple, The Perils of Power and Human Emotion.”
No doubt this will be good for Apple. CEO Cook will sternly issue a directive, in memory of Steve Jobs, to innovate out of this crisis. I can’t wait to see the results.
• Computing equipment makers, like Apple, don’t want us using low-grade, dangerous USB-C cables, and so there’s a plan to introduce a USB-C authentication progam. Jonny Evans at Computerworld writes: “Apple wants to stop you using dangerous USB-C devices.”
The USB Type-C Authentication Program is a scheme in which computers, smartphones, and other ‘host systems’ will be able to identify USB-C cables that don’t meet the grade.
Sometimes, things do get better. This is a great move.
• We have a form of biometric authentication on our iPhones, called Face ID, but the Apple Watch remains stuck using a passcode. That may be about to change. From Digital Trends : “Apple patent hints at biometric authentication for the Apple Watch.” Do we really need this? Is it too annoying to punch in a passcode? This idea seems to fulfill the law of modern technology: If something can be done, it will be done. But it’s only a patent application for now. We shall see if the law is fulfilled.
• You have a job opening in your company. You post a listing at Dice.com. You get thousands of responses. What to do? Of course! Let your new AI handle it!
• Did Apple get out of the home router/Wi-Fi market at just the wrong time? The TMO staff thinks so. So does Bradley Chambers over at 9to5Mac. “Apple exited the home Wi-Fi market at the wrong time.”
Since Apple took its eye off of the home router business (The AirPort lineup was dead for many years before the announcement), users have started to buy more expensive solutions. Solutions like Eero , Google WiFi, and AmpliFi have shown that people will invest in their home Wi-Fi. Even solutions from ISPs like Comcast have gotten into the business of upgrading your home Wi-Fi.
Apple can still cash in on its privacy stance and, accordingly, our trust in the company. It’s not too late.
• Closely related is the concept of cutting the cord. The Verge has published a terrific, extensive cord cutters guide. You’ll want to save this one for reference. “The Verge Cord Cutter’s Guide: Hardware, Software, And Services.”
• We’re all familiar with the how our consumer AIs just don’t “get” what we’re after. Even if it can pass the Turing test, there’s a lot more to ask of an intelligent AI/robot companion. New tests have beeen proposed. See: “Are Home Health Aides The New Turing Test For AI?”
In a series of provocative blog posts, … Rodney Brooks proposes new ways of thinking about AGI that go way beyond the Turing test. … Brooks proposes a new goal for AGI — not the simple, textual Turing test, but rather the home health aide or elder care worker, what he calls ECW. By this he does not mean a friendly companion robot, but rather something that offers cognitive and ‘physical assistance that will enable someone to live with dignity and independence as they age in place in their own home.’
Yep. Just like the robot in the movie Robot and Frank. What a terrific movie for our time.
Another test is the ability of AIs to assist in the teaching process by identifying what students need most. (AIs as actual instructors are probably the next step, but that’s much further off.) See: “Personalized Learning: Artificial Intelligence and Education in the Future.”
• Finally, do you suffer from KYAPBFTL? Keeping Your Apple Product Boxes For Too Long? I know I do. Here’s the fix. Let’s all do this together in 2019.
Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro’s observations and opinions about a standout event or article of the week followed 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.