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Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,147 words, ~5 minute read.
Okay, let's start with ...
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
Just 12 years after the first iPhone, almost every conceivable smartphone consumer on the planet currently owns one — some 4 billion people, according to the consensus.
What’s happening: According to the smartphone naysayers, it might look like we are bionically tethered to our devices, but we are actually poised to shed our reliance on them, one function after another. We will turn to our cars to make phone calls, send and receive texts, and get directions, they say, and to wearables and our home smart assistants to do those tasks, make payments, and stay on schedule.
The big picture: It is always hard to picture a dramatic change in our accustomed lifestyle, and that can be especially so with technology. The horse-riding populace of the late 19th century did not imagine the automobile revolution only shortly to come. And, more recent and pertinent, very few if any people predicted as late as 2006 that, beginning just a year later, they would gladly fork over $750 for a phone.
In a May blog post, Benedict Evans, a partner at Andreesen Horowitz, said that smartphones are at the peak of the tech cycle now. “I’m not updating my smartphone model anymore,” he wrote. In an email, he suggested that we are in a long, technological interregnum — headed toward wearables and augmented reality, but meanwhile without "a replacement [for the smartphone] yet.”
One might rightly ask why massive numbers of people would give up the hub that their smartphone represents — for many, the center of their lives — in exchange for a half dozen or a more devices that do the same thing separately.
Whatever happens, smartphones will change:
Bottom line: We need to be prepared to be technologically blindsided. “But the value of being connected won't become obsolete," said John Villasenor, a professor at UCLA. "That means that, for the near-term future, we will still need to have some sort of device with us, even if it looks different and functions differently from what we have today.”
Photo: Zhang Hengwei/China News Service/VCG/Getty
As China’s Huawei fights for survival in its current form, its U.S. security chief says a reasonable inspection regime could swiftly ease any doubts about whether the company’s equipment is vulnerable to Chinese espionage, writes Axios’ Ina Fried.
What’s happening: The remarks by Andy Purdy are the latest in the company’s attempt to navigate the Trump administration’s offensive against Huawei amid the 17-month-old trade war. The U.S. has all-but banned Huawei equipment in the U.S., and appealed to allies around the world to do the same, calling the company a security threat.
But Axios cybersecurity reporter Joe Uchill says the technical reality is more complex than Purdy suggests. “No person who works in cybersecurity believes any product is 100% secure under any circumstances, even when it's designed to be secure,” Joe said.
The bottom line, from Ina: “The Huawei issue is a particularly challenging one to sort out. To hear Huawei talk about it there is nothing to worry about it while US officials make it sound like using their gear is like handing all your network data to the Chinese government. The truth is of course likely somewhere in the middle.”
Photo: Arne Dedert/picture alliance/Getty
Sometimes we can get sidetracked. Never mind, here is the week at Future:
1. The craft chocolate revolution: The new haut cool
2. Big Tech's timid deepfakes defense: Platforms need to do more
3. The twin reckonings: The techlash and the trade war are on a collision course
4. AI-infused surveillance: Those cameras come alive
Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
U.S. privacy law is incomprehensible (Kevin Litman-Navarro - NYT)
California could upend the gig economy (Kia Kokalitcheva - Axios)
Killing the doorbell (Pooja Salhotra - Buzz Magazines)
Regulating Big Tech short of breakup (Angela Chen - MIT Tech Review)
Big, invisible animal migrations (Carl Zimmer - NYT)
Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos wants us to colonize Mars — a backup planet for when ours goes up in flames, Kaveh writes.
But before the Earth becomes uninhabitable, there are a number of not-so-hot spots that scientists expect will still sustain humans, Elia Kabanov writes in Grist.
The scientists imagined two scenarios — a relatively mild average temperature increase of 6.12º Fahrenheit, and a more extreme 16.38º increase.
The result, according to Kabanov: "In both scenarios, Siberian climate would be much warmer and milder by the 2080s. The permafrost zone would shift significantly to the northeast. Life conditions and the ability to live in Asian Russia would improve, allowing 3 to 9 times the current capacity."
Our thought bubble from Axios' Andrew Freedman: Things won't be paradisiacal in future Siberia. Already, forest fires are increasingly common, and melting permafrost is harming infrastructure, making building a challenge.