This week’s selection involves research into demographics, cities, social services, and “raising” better bots
I dedicated this week’s issue of my newsletter, Exponential View, to the ongoing and necessary conversations about inequality and bias in automation processes. Here are five pieces I recommend you read on the topic this week:
1. Research on demographics, automation & inequality
Bain, a consultancy, published results of their research into demographics, automation and inequality, warning of increasing volatility. Interesting and challenging times ahead: “faced with market imbalances and growth-stifling levels of inequality, many societies may reset the government’s role in the marketplace.” EXCELLENT
We’re in the final stretch leading up to NewCo Shift Forum and are pleased to announce the nominees for the NewCo Honors, our annual awards for organizations doing well by doing good. Nominees are all market leaders and well-known names in their respective sectors, but what makes them significant through the NewCo lens is their commitment to leading in a new market with significant positive impact. They are the embodiment of business on a mission. NewCo Honors are given annually for actions in the previous year.
All of these organizations are “NewCos” based on our editorial narrative, which we have written about extensively, refined, and clarified over the years. They are a new kind of company, one that measures its success by more than profit. They are purpose-driven, information-first, networked, and, most importantly, on a mission.
There’s a lot going on in the world (scroll down). But man, the Facebook news is beyond fascinating these days.
Honestly, I really do not set out to write about Facebook every time I sit at my keyboard, but the past few (months, weeks, days) have been riveting, as we watch the most influential company in the media world (yes, that’s you Facebook) attempt to think its way through what has to be its most difficult of transitions: From adolescent King of the Valley to adult Citizen of the World. This past few days have been particularly trying, with Rupert Murdoch asking for a handout (really!), multiple press outlets eviscerating the company’s approach to decision making, and the Economist — the Economist!!! — doling out management advice. To the news:
Hi. My name is Rupert Murdoch. I own a lot of publishing assets. I’m in the gloaming of my influence, and I’ve not got many bullets left to spend. So I’m pointing my gun at… YOU Mark! MQ: “The time has come to consider a different route. If Facebook wants to recognize ‘trusted’ publishers then it should pay those publishers a carriage fee similar to the model adopted by cable companies. The publishers are obviously enhancing the value and integrity of Facebook through their news and content but are not being adequately rewarded for those services. Carriage payments would have a minor impact on Facebook’s profits but a major impact on the prospects for publishers and journalists.”
More people are getting vocal against the dominance of big tech—this is my selection of some of the most thoughtful pieces from the past week.
I’ve raised the questions on societal risks of the dominance of a handful of internet giants from the early days of starting my newsletter. It’s good that it is getting mainstream attention. My friends at The Economist have put together a must-read memo to the bosses of Amazon, Facebook and Google:
You are an industry that embraces acronyms, so let me explain the situation with a new one: “BAADD”. You are thought to be too big, anti-competitive, addictive and destructive to democracy.
Using Maslow’s famous framework for product planning
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is one of the most well known frameworks of all time. Famously, Maslow draws the pyramid of human needs where lower layers of the pyramid represent the more basic needs (for example, physiological and safety needs) while each level above moves towards transcendence and self actualization. As the theory goes, one can only satisfy the needs at a certain level after satisfying the needs of the levels beneath it. If the lower need has not been met the person will not have the motivation, focus or capability to work on a higher need. For example, you won’t be bothered to worry about your social standing if you are starving, naked, and sick.
Appropriating Maslow’s model and applying it to something I am working on has been an interesting exercise over the years. Most recently, we did this at Varo Money to help us think differently about our product roadmap and 2018 strategy. Here’s how we thought about it in regards to our business. I think it can be applied broadly as a simple, useful framework for startups.
A fresh study offers concerning data about the strength of democracy in the United States and beyond
What a week for news — I suppose we say that every week these days. Facebook again finds itself in the center of the storm, but is at least attempting to lead the coverage, as opposed to be the brunt of it. Democracy is found to be in peril (we’ve an entire track on that at the Shift Forum this year), open banking starts in the UK, blockchain continues to be debated (and crypto currencies crashed, again), and again, capitalism is seen as the root of many evils — even by the CEO of the largest manager of capital on the planet. Read on for the stories dominating my newsfeed these days (and not Facebook’s News Feed…)
This annual survey from Freedom House sparked a mini deluge of coverage, with the US ranking slipping for the seventh straight year, and Trump getting the lion’s share of blame. Money quote: “While Freedom House has tracked a slow trend of decline in the US over the last seven years, that decline accelerated in 2017 due to “growing evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 elections, violations of basic ethical standards by the new administration, and a reduction in government transparency.”
It’s time to get serious about the role of business and tech in our society. Join us in San Francisco for the Shift Forum.
The initial lineup for the Shift Forum is now online. It’s always a let down when I see it on the page — the names and session titles never do justice to the people who are coming or the tapestry of conversation that will ultimately flow from the event. So I’m sitting down today to try to weave a bit of color into the stark black and white of the agenda’s format — in the hopes of enticing you to come, yes, but also to frame the conversation for those who are participating.
When we started thinking about the Forum two years ago (next month’s event is our second annual edition), we knew that business in the United States was at a crossroads. Trump had not yet won the Republican nomination, and Big Tech still enjoyed unrivaled admiration around the globe. Still we sensed storm clouds forming — and since then a cynic could argue that the deluge is upon us.
I was frustrated by newspapers’ glacial transition to the web. Now I wish we could turn back the clock.
Itwas the summer of 2005, and I was a new college grad filled with anticipation and glee as I packed for the long trip from my childhood hometown to my brilliant, prosperous, tech-savvy future.
I’d been recruited for an internship at one of the nation’s Top 20 papers, thanks in large part to a line on my resume that touted my web development skills, which had started as a hobby and grown into a series of freelance gigs in high school and college. The newspaper industry was in an uproar because of the emergence of aggressive, low-overhead, web-based competitors, and the old guard of journalism was eager for anyone who could help. My web skill set allowed me to leapfrog my peers to bigger, better job opportunities, and I was eager to join the Internet revolution.