You Thought iPhone Is a Cute Telephone with Internet – Wrong

| Columns & Opinions

Page 2 – The Tech News Debris for the Week of June 27th
The Biggest Risk for AI Agents

When we think about Artificial Intelligence agents, we’re presented with a dilemma. If the agent knows to much about us, we consider it creepy. If the creator of the AI agent uses that information to either manipulate us or seduce us into impulse buying, the creepy factor goes off the charts.

One way to solve the problem is to keep the information local. Our smartphones certainly have the 64-bit horsepower and storage to do that, but there’s little incentive for the developer to give us that tech for free. Apple is attempting to solve the problem with what’s called “Differential Privacy.

By structuring the scope of what can be known about you personally, Siri can answer a question like, “What’s the best pizza place in Austin, TX?” But Siri can’t answer other more personal (and possibly uncomfortable) questions about your personal life. By design.

However, when some kinds of information are collected about you personally, ostensibly to, ahem, help you, that information has value. This podcast asks the question, “Artificial intelligence companies need our data. Can we stop giving it away for free?

The challenge for users in the near future will be to figure out how much assistance they need and want from AI agents. That dictates how they’ll interact with them. In turn, those decisions could dictate the evolution and success of AI agent technology. These agents might become an intrinsic part of our lives if done right, with corporate discipline and judgment. If not, this emerging technology could go the way of Google Glass.

Moving on….

The rate of smartphone sales growth is slowing where adoption is widespread in the U.S., Europe and China. As the first article in the preamble on page one points out, “73% of [U.S.] teenagers between the ages of thirteen and seventeen own smartphones.” Today, growth in these regions continues, but at a slower pace, and robust growth will be in, most notably, India. For some perspective and brief analysis, see: “The forces behind the global deceleration in smartphone sales.

There are rumors that Apple will introduce a new iPhone 7 colors in the fall. Both black and blue are mentioned. (Personally, I like the idea of an all black iPhone.) Martin Hajek, who specializes in concept renderings sent me a link to his website where he presented some cool possibilities. Here’s one that shows what both a black and blue iPhone 7 might look like next to the classic space gray color.

Black & blue iPhone 7 concept

Image credit: Martin Hajek

Finally, unlike Stevie Nicks, I seldom keep my visions to myself. One of the visions I had a few years ago, perhaps shared with a few, was this. With the advent of smart TVs and most households with Wi-Fi internet connections, why not put a video camera on the top? Then everyone could have a joyous, long-distance, big screen FaceTime (or Skype) call with friends and family.

That turned out not to be a Big Thing.

And so, with a heavy heart, I saw the final nail in the coffin. “What changes are coming to Skype for TV?” Here’s an excerpt.

Since 2010, Skype has delivered a great calling experience in the living room in partnership with several TV manufacturers. But over the years, users have changed the way they use Skype, with the majority accessing it from a mobile device—including when in the living room. We want to make sure we prioritize delivering the best possible experience to the platforms our users are asking for, which is why we’ve decided to focus our efforts in other areas…

Visions come and go.


Teaser image via Shutterstock.

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 holidays.

6 Comments Add a comment

  1. ibuck

    An acquaintance says this may be an era where we regress as a species, with angry disagreement over basic values and meaning, greedy/corrupt leaders, communication that is difficult and stressful. I don’t want to accept that, but I see signs of this in both US and British politics. And I have concerns about technology/netspeak perhaps helping us devolve.

  2. CudaBoy

    Interesting that the world is full of new tech – 3D printing, Quantum dots, light field cameras, autonomous cars, solar/battery tech, robotics and coding for kids, VR, AI, and what does this site harp on for 95% of the time for the last several years? Same old thing – iPhones. I long for the days we used to “Ob:” “Macs”; cell phones are so mind-numbingly boring. Next. Happy Fourth y’all.

  3. Jamie

    Where have you been, Cuda? There have been articles on the site regarding all of those subjects just in the past week. 😉 Okay, maybe not 3D printing or light field cams. Given that iPhones are Apple’s number one revenue source and due to the fact that they have literally reshaped communication (among so many other facets) not just in our society, but in the entire world, there are bound to be articles about them.

    I’m with ibuck. Though it’s clear Apple needs to sell phones (and equally clear who they are hoping to sell them to, sigh) I don’t believe the cultural shiftiness of these times are necessarily a *good* thing, per se. A staggering amount of work went into Messages, and I understand the logic, but it was seriously lowest common denominator type of stuff. There is no question in my mind that the misuse of mobile technology, in tandem with social media, has definitely done its part in pushing us backward as a species. Thankfully they introduced some very useful features for the rest of us, too. Remember when the ‘rest of us’ were the people Apple made things for? Have the ‘rest of us’ all become monkeys slinging their electronic poo and boobies at the world?

    PS – it’s astonishing as well, for all the talk about coding, how few people know how to do much of anything with their devices (‘Fakebook! Messaging! Selfies! Uh . . . what do you mean it does other stuff?’). Digital literacy would be a better first step, methinks.

  4. Lee Dronick

    “An acquaintance says this may be an era where we regress as a species, with angry disagreement over basic values and meaning, greedy/corrupt leaders, communication that is difficult and stressful. I don’t want to accept that, but I see signs of this in both US and British politics. And I have concerns about technology/netspeak perhaps helping us devolve.”

    Everything old is new again, such complaints and observations has been said by every generation.

  5. aardman

    @jamie. Digital literacy for the masses? Heck, I’d settle for just plain literacy! Then we’d have an electorate that isn’t easily duped by the first sweet-talking mountebank that comes along.

  6. geoduck

    AI’s have already gotten creepy.
    I ran across this story a few years ago on the CBC program Under the Influence. In an episode about companies using data mining to target ads they told a story about Target. It seems that they started using AIs to sift through public data and purchase history on their customers. At some point it connected particular buying patterns among women with them expecting a child. It started sending out messages to them with congratulations and special offers on nursery furnishings, Pampers, and such. Trouble was in many cases the AI had figured out the women were pregnant before the women had. Needless to say this freaked some people out.

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