What is QUANTech? An easy-to-digest selection of what’s hot in tech and the impact on society to help you keep ahead in this rapidly changing digital world.
10th edition of QUANTech already. We’re working on new developments for future reviews. Meanwhile, this week’s highlight was evidently Mark Zuckerberg’s hearings before the US congress. Facebook’s chief executive answered questions for about 10 hours in response to growing concerns around the company’s data practices and user privacy protection. A smart network implies smart data policy.
Looking back, it is clear that Mark Zuckerberg has come a long way when it comes to communicating. He flawlessly weighed his words from start to finish, dodge and political cant included. On the other hand, we may ask: are our elected representatives really understanding the data-driven world of the 21st century? Do they properly understand the power —like predicting behaviour or boasting about a 22% increase in Hispanic support in an election— that comes with owning the data of a 2b+ people network whose 1,4b visit the plaform daily? Do they fully apprehend the fact that for millions, Facebook is the Internet and for billions a daily go-to source? Can accountability and responsibility be placed onto the shoulders of a 33-year-old man alone? Can these billions of people keep being subjected to an attention race that implies exploiting human psychology and massive data collection for the sake of connecting people with a free service based on advertising? After near 10 hours of hearings, we may reasonably doubt that most senators weighed such questions at the level they should have been addressed.
You will find a selection of tweets that highlights key moments for both days here. I also published an extensive analysis in the aftermath of day 1 of hearings. Day 2 sounded pretty much the same.
Whereas Facebook faces intense scrutiny around its data practices, Mozilla’s inaugural Internet Health Report was released this week. The document focuses on five sections: privacy and security, openness, digital inclusion, Web literacy and decentralization.
Account protection-wise, we have also learned that biometric and app logins will soon be pushed across the Web via Motherboard. This could set new standards for smarter user protection online. It is supported by big tech players such as Google and Microsoft and it was in the making for more than three years.
• California may soon allow passengers in driverless cars.
• China lays out self-driving rules in global race.
• Next-level surveillance with tiny cameras powered by light.
• Tour of the moon in 4K with NASA.
• Europe insists: Mark Zuckerberg must visit the European Parliament.
• Tesla CEO Elon Musk in favor of social media regulation.
• Twitter: two-thirds of tweets posted by automated accounts (study).
• 11 data-backed predictions for social media in 2020.
It is worth sharing this week’s exclusive Wall Street Journal (WSJ) financial analysis about the US/China fierce competition which shows « how venture-capital investment from Asia is skyrocketing, threatening to shift power over innovation ».
Earlier this week, Bloomberg published a resonating « China Now Has the Most Valuable AI Startup in the World » article, which backs figures highlighted by the WSJ as artificial intelligence has become a key area of economic development. China explicitly shared the nation’s ambitions to rule all AI industries by 2030 last July.
SenseTime, the AI startup mentioned by Bloomberg is active in facial recognition technology, which is no surprise when you know that an individual may be spotted via cameras in a crowd of 60,000 people. The country is known to be building the world’s biggest camera surveillance network that BBC reporter Johan Sudworth was given access to last year. It took him 7 minutes to be arrested in a trial.
Although political systems and culture vary from the West to the East, China’s influence on the rest of the world and its ability to drive or lead technological innovation deserves close attention. We know full well about GAFAM (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft). We should closely look at BATX (Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, Xiaomi), too.