Good morning ... Situational awareness: AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson told employees this morning that hiring Michael Cohen was a “big mistake” and that its lobbying boss Bob Quinn “will be retiring.”
Google CEO Sundar Pichai demoing the controversial chatbot. Screenshot: YouTube
The uproar over Google's impressively provocative computer-calls-hair-salon demo highlights the many ethical, security and cultural concerns raised when computers can convincingly converse with humans.
Quick recap: The demo in question featured a Google AI assistant calling a hair salon and going back and forth with a receptionist to find a suitable appointment time.
The big question: Even if Google uses the technology responsibly, how will others use it?
The bottom line: The singularity is a ways off but we already need new rules for computers to identify themselves.
Meanwhile: A New York Times article highlights a related but opposite issue that comes about when computers can surreptitiously send commands to computers designed to respond only to human voice, like Amazon Echo and Google Home.
Several features in Android P aim to address phone addiction. Photo: Google.
In 2013, Tristan Harris called for Google to do something about how people were getting sucked into technology. Five years later, it appears his former colleagues are starting to listen.
At Google I/O this week, the company showed off several new features designed to help users both see how much time they are spending with their apps as well as take some steps to control their usage (should they choose to do so.)
Harris' response: He told The Verge that Google's moves represent "baby steps" toward the humane technology movement he has called for, but added "it’s really important to celebrate the fact that Google is really doing it.”
Why it matters: There's clearly more work to be done, but Google's moves show it's seeing demand for such tools and it could also encourage others to make similar moves.
The response to the death of Klout highlights all the things wrong with the social media rating service in the first place.
What's happening: Word that Klout was permanently shutting down sent the social media elite into a self-referential stroll down memory lane, with everyone rushing to check their score and ruminate on the service they had forgotten in the first place.
Context: For those fortunate enough not to have heard of Klout, it was an attempt to give people a score (and possibly rewards) for their social media influence.
Key quotes: That said, here are a couple of the best takes on its demise.
Earlier this week, Uber hosted its second conference, this time in Los Angeles, focused on so-called “vertical take-off and landing” vehicles — or “flying cars” — and announced a slew of partnerships and plans, Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva writes.
The highlights, per various media sources:
Be smart: Similarly to its strategy with self-driving cars, Uber doesn’t not intend to ever manufacture these flying vehicles, or even own then. Rather, it wants to partner with other companies to develop the technology and avoid a lot of headaches that come with complex tech like this.
But bear in mind: Despite Khosrowshahi’s enthusiasm about the business opportunities, this is also largely a way for the company to remain innovative in the eyes of its employees and potential partners and job candidates.
The mini retro video game trend continues, this time with Neo-Geo.