The EU Wants to Become The World’s Super-Regulator in AI

This is v1.0 of AI regulation and we expect an on-going evolution, as with all pioneering innovations. It’s nonetheless an excellent development in the thinking around guardrails for tech developments, and will hopefully help close the gate on social impacts, before the ubiquitous AI horse has bolted.

The tiering of AI algorithms based on such social impacts, is quite interesting as a mechanism for imposing constrains and penalties. As was the ‘crowd sourcing’ approach of the EC: “It created a 52-member “high-level expert group” to develop its proposals, collected further input via an “AI alliance” of interested parties and published a white paper on which everybody could comment online.”

We commend the EU for finally engaging in the process of updating laws to reflect the Digital Age we’re in, and while they may not be perfect on day one, this approach has been a well-considered one.

Apple Rolls Out Major New Privacy Protections For iPhones And iPads

Eric Seufert, an author and quantitative marketer says “I believe that Apple’s upcoming iOS privacy changes will significantly harm Facebook’s revenue, causing a roughly 7% revenue impairment in Q2 2021 in the base case scenario […] the damage to Facebook’s revenue caused by Apple’s new privacy policy will be material.”

This change will also be, in effect, a vote on ‘targeted advertising’: whether consumers understand and value it, as well as if it is particularly beneficial to advertisers.

Moreover, it further entrenches the tension between tech business models we’ve been discussing: those that rely on monetising data through advertising and those that generate profits from selling products and services.

Jack Ma Shows Why China’s Tycoons Keep Quiet

Jack Ma’s is an exemplary tale to all successful entrepreneurs (of which there is prevalence in Tech): “As Alibaba grew, Mr. Ma began being courted by presidents and movie stars, but also by a wider coterie of fellow Chinese entrepreneurs. This “echo chamber” may have distorted Mr. Ma’s ideas about himself and his standing with the government, Mr. Clark said.” Such hyper-awareness to state sensitivities is particularly important under authoritarian regimes, meaning that Mr. Ma’s hubris is all the more incomprehensible, much to the detriment of his shareholders.

The ‘echo chamber’ issue also highlights why robust balance in governance is of importance (vis-à-vis dual class structures): it provides methodology for weighty input and debate from other vested stakeholders, when founders do become myopic.

Walmart Sidelines Robots to Cater to Pandemic Shopping Trends: Report

An interesting counterfactual to the automation vs. human labour trend in the retail sector: customers apparently prefer being served at curbside (requiring human service), versus picking items from boxes at the front of the store. Strange that while testing, prior to this significant investment, such customer preference was not ascertained by a behemoth such as Walmart?

Equally interesting is the blurring of a distinction between retail stores and fulfilment centres and the impact on a need for human labour that can serve both more seamlessly. Perhaps automation will indeed see limitations on roll out within the retail/customer facing sector.

Google Pressed to Conduct Racial Equity Audit

Between shareholder proposals regarding board composition, civil rights organisations urging racial equity audits and regulators grilling executives, the big tech firms are being increasingly forced to align words with actions.

As mooted in our whitepaper from Feb last year, Governance REbooted, boards will have to increasingly deal with radical transparency that renders perceived hypocrisy unsustainable. Google’s actions in firing Gebru, which we’ve previously covered, has become a rallying cry for a wide set of stakeholders, most recently exemplified with this audit challenge – and a solid lesson to boards on this matter.