“Your dishwasher is a robot,” Rubin said. “It used to be a chore you did in the sink. … There’s a lot of definitions [of artificial intelligence]. … The thing that’s going to be new is the part of the cloud that’s forming the intelligence from all of the information that’s coming back.” […]
[Rubin has started] Playground Global, a startup “incubator” that nurtures budding hardware companies. […]
Rubin, speaking about his departure from Google, said he questioned what he was going to do for the next 10 years of his life. “Am I going to fight for 1 or 2 percent market share [in mobile devices], or am I going to do 10 more Androids?” he said. Playground closed its fundraising efforts “yesterday literally,” Rubin said Wednesday, and will now have $300 million to invest in hardware companies.
Archives for October 2015
The real risk with AI isn’t malice but competence […]. A superintelligent AI will be extremely good at accomplishing its goals, and if those goals aren’t aligned with ours, we’re in trouble.
You’re probably not an evil ant-hater who steps on ants out of malice, but if you’re in charge of a hydroelectric green energy project and there’s an anthill in the region to be flooded, too bad for the ants. Let’s not place humanity in the position of those ants.
Amit Singhal, SVP of search at Google, in an article by Douglas Macmillan, at The Wall Street Journal:
“Search as we think about it is fundamentally how you will interact with computing,” Mr. Singhal said. “Computing may live in a 4-to-6-inch device, it may live in a desktop, it may live on a 1-inch round device.”
It’s not the only perspective on the subject, but it’s worth understanding.
Car dashboards seem drastically behind the times in terms of UI; they are unintuitive, cluttered with unnecessary information and, worst of all, distracting. […]
Somehow over the last 100 years we have accepted that complex dashboards — highlighting all the features and technologies in a car with individual controls — are essential.
In reality, we as drivers and car owners are living in a world of information overload. […] And yet, all this information is displayed persistently in my dashboard. […]
However, technology adoption in cars today is hitting an inflection point, and the UI model we have grown accustomed to cannot handle it. […]
We seem to be on the cusp of change, especially with Apple’s anticipated entry into the car market. The trend of direct control and complexity cannot continue; the industry needs a new vision for the dashboard. […]
Going forward, the industry should adopt a model of on-demand UI rather than direct control. In this model, information and controls would only be provided when needed.
He goes on to outline principles around concealing, anticipating, and personalizing the information shown. Good read.
The string of announcements underscores Microsoft’s accelerating push into computing hardware over the past three years, starting with the first Surface tablet model in 2012. Mr. Nadella has said developing hardware would be crucial to Microsoft’s ability to keep pace with rapid changes in consumer technology.
The best work Microsoft (and ex-Nokia staff) has done in years. I’m really happy for Microsoft and its employees.
Good words by Microsoft executives at Tuesday’s Microsoft Windows 10 event:
We design our Microsoft devices to create and re-invent categories.
— Terry Myerson, EVP of the Windows and Devices Group
We’re making great progress towards our aspiration we shared in January: to move people from needing Windows, to choosing Windows, to loving Windows. […]
What matters most is the mobility of your experience, not the mobility of any single device. Because as devices come and go, and evolve, you persist. And the journey of personal computing has taught us this single lesson: No single device will be a hub of activity forever. The hub is you. […]
The concept of building a new device for an application experience is best brought to life by Surface*. […]
Every successful company has a soul, a unique sensibility that is the soul of its inspiration and its creativity.
— Satya Nadella, CEO
Regarding Myerson’s comments: good reasons. By the way, while I didn’t pick out any particularly exciting, stand-alone comments from Panos Panay, the CVP of Surface Computing and the head of the hardware division, he was the best presenter. When he introduced the new Lumia smartphones and the Surface products, he spoke authentically, with energy, and went beyond “what”, to explain “how” and “why”.
*I would preface this sentence with “At Microsoft”, because clearly Apple excels at this.
The battery that Microsoft researchers are working on is in fact not a single battery. It is a battery system, made up of different kids of batteries, with different capacities and different output rates. The theory is that the OS will dictate which kind of battery is used. If a task requires more power, it will switch to using the high rate batteries. Menial tasks can be relegated to lower outputs that also have longer lives. In effect, it is almost like ARM’s big.LITTLE CPU architecture in wide use in mobile chips these days. These are composed of two sets of high-performance but energy-hungry cores and energy-efficient but low-performance cores.
Microsoft also sees a possible application of machine learning here. The operating system can observe user habits and determine how to best schedule and allocate battery consumption in the future based on these.
I can’t comment on the effectiveness, but it’s always interesting to see how one can find new ways to advance: in this case, analyze the intensity and nature of a workload, and see if it makes sense (for efficiency, in this case) to offer different capability for different purposes. A “micro-segmentation” of sorts, but in a technology context.
I’m not a fan of Xiaomi but, at one level, it’s been interesting to witness the system of activities the company has assembled to help it compete. (Though with minimal profit, I would add.) And I’m always curious to hear how different leaders speak about competing.
With that in mind, here are some notable excerpts from Li Yuan’s Q&A with Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun, in The Wall Street Journal:
We’ll need to try our best to be successful in a few emerging markets in a big way. […] Our business model isn’t about how many phones we sell. We can’t monetize unless we become a highly influential player in a country or a region. […] we want to sell to 10% to 20% of the population in India and other big countries. Then we’ll have the influence of a huge media organization and the opportunity to monetize in various ways. […]
China’s smartphone industry is in elimination games now. […] It’s unbelievable that there are still a few dozen phone companies in China now. […]
In the past you made a phone, hoping to sell it to billions of users in the world. Now you can’t think in this way. You’ll have to design different phones for different crowds in different scenarios. […]
Almost all our users are young, so we might have influence on 20% to 25% of the young population. They watch TV, listen to music and read books and news. Xiaomi provides all of these. Doesn’t this make Xiaomi a huge content channel? Each day, our users use their phone 115 times and spend four and half hours on their phones. Just imagine what a powerful broadcast platform I have!
It’s thought-provoking to hear Lei Jun speak about Xiaomi’s business model. Note, however, that we hear about Xiaomi’s success in smartphones, but we don’t really hear about any sort of success in content – in terms of Xiaomi innovation or Xiaomi profitability – even though Lei Jun cites content as the ultimate aim of the business model.
By the way, I highlighted his views on “different phones for different crowds” because, as the smartphone market reaches maturity, we are seeing, and will continue to see, attempts to create job-specific or user-specific devices. Apple, as a maker of general-computing devices, has always created smartphones that are asymmetrical to this, because apps and solid all-around hardware allow for a multitude of specialized uses. But other companies, being relatively stronger in hardware than they are in software, find (hope) that this sort of micro-segmentation is a degree of freedom they can exploit.
2. Apple introduces us to the Apple Ring in all its Glory From Jack Purcher, on his site, Patently Apple. Note how often the patent says “in some embodiments”, meaning the device doesn’t have to be a ring. In fact, the patent states the device could have a touchpad or a touchscreen. Some of the use cases appear watch-friendly.
Apple explains that there’s a need for electronic devices with faster, more efficient methods and interfaces for interacting and/or controlling external electronic devices.
5. Google’s Cute Cars And The Ugly End Of Driving Nice piece by Matt Honan, at BuzzFeed. Great experience:
The first time I rode in a fully autonomous car, what really impressed me was when the car saw something that I could not.
The acquisition could help Apple’s efforts to bolster Siri, which is controlled by voice commands and sometimes struggles to understand users.
VocalIQ says on its website that its software helps computers speak more naturally by learning from each interaction with a human, employing an artificial-intelligence technique called deep learning. VocalIQ software also seeks to help computers better understand commands and their context.
If nothing else, it’s fair to say the part of iOS that most people consider its nucleus is quickly being pushed aside.
Astute observation. Across smartphones, that’s been the point of Siri, “Okay Google”, Moto voice, lockscreen widgets, homescreen widgets, various OEMs’ “today” views, and other similar conveniences for quite some time. But, now, with Google Now on Tap and iOS 9 improvements to Siri (suggestions, always-on “Hey, Siri”) that trend is even stronger. Smartwatches, too, are promoting the idea, and capability, of using your smartphone’s homescreen less than ever.
After Google acquired the maker of connected-home devices for $3.2 billion in 2014, Nest kept its own recruiters and its own system for vetting job candidates, skirting Google’s famously deliberate hiring process. Nest still rents computer servers from Amazon.com Inc., rather than use Google’s data centers. […]
As they convened to discuss one of the young bet businesses, Sundar Pichai, who will be CEO of core Google, wasn’t there. The others waited for a time, but then realized Mr. Pichai didn’t need to be there. The meeting went ahead without him […].
“It gets a little faster, more efficient and a little more independent,” said Andy Conrad, CEO of Google Life Sciences, one of the bet companies. “I act as a CEO of an independent company instead of a senior executive within a large company.”
Previously, policies were relatively uniform across business units, regardless of suitability. And, during corporate ops reviews, your business unit might be agenda item #17. The affect is subtle, but if your item receives tired attention, or gets dropped – or worse, gets 1 minute and then the idea is dismissed – your business isn’t going to thrive. The ability to act on your own timing, as a business unit lead, is energizing, to you and to your people. Multiply that increase in speed and energy at critical moments and, over time, it shows up in business results.
New high-end cars are among the most sophisticated machines on the planet, containing 100 million or more lines of code. Compare that with about 60 million lines of code in all of Facebook or 50 million in the Large Hadron Collider. […]
The sophistication of new cars brings numerous benefits — forward-collision warning systems and automatic emergency braking that keep drivers safer are just two examples. But with new technology comes new risks — and new opportunities for malevolence. […]
Makes you wonder what sort of opportunities for better streamlining, unification, speed, and security there are. What is Tesla doing, and what will Google and Apple do, differently?
A few days ago, I illustrated the transition that auto companies face, in advancing from today’s gasoline, driver-dependent, unconnected vehicles to the cars of tomorrow.
Alexandria Sage, for Reuters in San Francisco, wrote a great article that brings this transition to life. Some nuggets:
[Tesla’s ability to update its software over the air (OTA)] has spurred the big automakers to get more serious about OTAs, although they are hampered by the challenge of making software compatible with internal combustion engines, dealers worried about losing service revenue and security concerns. […]
As much a tech company as an automaker, 12-year-old Tesla is free of the constraints its rivals face – complicated combustion engines, huge model ranges, […] and a reliance on car dealerships.
Tesla “started from a blank piece of paper […] They didn’t have 100 years of legacy engineering to contend with. […]
“It’s not in carmakers’ interest to annoy the dealer,” […]
LG is announcing a new version of the Watch Urbane, the chunky Android Wear device it released this spring. The new version puts an ever so slightly bigger screen inside of a slightly smaller body. It’s able to do that by building some of the watch’s tech into its bands, which are no longer swappable. It’s inside one of those bands that you’ll find the most interesting addition to this model: a cellular radio.
The obvious questions are about: battery life (especially since it also has GPS), reception, size. It’s still early days. All these elements will improve. The bigger question, though: do you release a product before they actually *have* improved?