Sep 11, 2018

Axios Login

By Ina Fried
Ina Fried

D.C. readers: Join Axios' Kim Hart on Thursday for conversations on the future of transportation in the era of autonomous vehicles with Rep. Robert Latta (R-Ohio), Global Automakers President & CEO John Bozzella, and SAE International CEO David Schutt. RSVP here

1 big thing: Prepping for iPhone day

An image from the invitation for the Sept. 12 event. Photo: Apple

Wednesday's Apple event is bringing a lot of speculation — most, of course, centering on new iPhones — but don't forget there are other areas where the company can make news.

The bottom line: There will almost certainly be several new iPhone models to choose from. None will represent a massive shift, but the expectation of larger-screens and cheaper versions of the iPhone X is garnering interest.

1. For the iPhone, the rumors and reports about the new lineup have been remarkably consistent.

  • All predict three models: an updated version of the iPhone X, an even-larger screen version of the X, and a lower-cost big-screen model built around a less expensive LCD screen, rather than the X's OLED display.
  • Suggested names for the products have been all over the map, but let's be clear — the names don't really matter.

2. New hardware, besides the iPhones, could also be on tap. According to reports, the most likely is an update to the Apple Watch that will add a larger screen but fit with existing bands. Also possible for Wednesday...

  • The AirPower could be launched. When Apple introduced the first wireless charging-capable iPhones last year, it previewed AirPower, a wireless charging station capable of powering up multiple devices. It was promised for 2018 and has yet to debut. Bloomberg reported it was planned for a June launch, but pushed to September due to production challenges.
  • Updates to iPad Pro and/or AirPods headphones, possibly with wireless charging abilities, are possible.
  • A successor to the venerable MacBook Air could be unveiled, as Apple is said to be working on this. Plus, a Mac debut is less likely to be shown at what's traditionally a mobile event.
  • Of note: We might also see another Apple event later in the fall.

3. New content could be discussed. We've heard a lot about Apple's video plans piecemeal — a deal with Oprah, plans for several TV shows, and most recently the rights to two upcoming films.

  • But at some point soon (though perhaps not on Wednesday), we will finally hear about how Apple plans to bring the efforts together.
  • It's not just video that has Apple's eye. Earlier this year, the company acquired Texture, the so-called Netflix of magazines. Now, per Recode, it's reportedly also trying to get big newspapers to sign on to a subscription service.
2. Next in the cloud — fiddling with your brain

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

For artificial intelligence to begin approximating human know-how, scientists will need to create models of how people think — such as simulations of our actual brains. That's when the trouble may begin, writes Axios' Kaveh Waddell.

The big picture: In this future, we will voluntarily upload these virtual versions of our brains onto platforms like Facebook or Elon Musk's aptly named Neuralink, which may conduct experiments on them. When they do, it will be only a little removed from fiddling with the real us.

Brain uploading, or whole-brain emulation, is one way to simulate intelligence. Although the science remains well out of reach today, Ray Kurzweil, Google’s director of engineering and an AI pioneer, argues it will be possible within decades.

One way brain simulations will be used is to better personalize commercial products and services. But in getting there, companies will raise numerous Frankenstein's monster scenarios of tinkering with people's very essence.

  • We risk a future "in which a handful of private companies own and monetize a map of our lives, ourselves, and how we think and feel at any given moment," said Meredith Whittaker, executive director of AI Now and a research scientist at New York University.
  • How about this freakish thought: By understanding your virtual brain, companies could advertise exactly what you want when you want it — perhaps useful, but incredibly intrusive.
  • "They could know us better than we know ourselves," Whittaker told the O’Reilly AI Conference in San Francisco last Thursday.

What's happening now: Even without a perfectly accurate copy of your brain, scientists are designing systems that try to imitate how humans make decisions. Basic behavior modeling is the bread and butter of social networks like Facebook, often used to improve advertising.

  • For now, the profiles Facebook creates from users’ browsing habits can be laughably off-base. But data taken directly from brains might say a lot more about people than inferences from their likes and shares, and could power much more accurate predictions.
  • Facebook is already building technology that would allow people to type with their thoughts.
  • Companies could be compelled to share this data with the government in certain cases, Whittaker said, or could build a business selling it to employers or health insurers.
3. Investors eyeing cybersecurity insurance

Cybersecurity insurance is getting a lot of attention from investors right now as more companies try to manage their increasing risks, Axios' Shannon Vavra writes.

The trend: There will “absolutely” be consolidation in the cybersecurity insurance market, in particular for firms that assess the risk of companies seeking insurance, Ken Gonzalez, a managing director at investment firm NightDragon Security, tells Axios. And M&As could mean big money for investors.

Likely acquirers will include traditional vulnerability management vendors, security services vendors, fintech companies and insurance companies, Gonzalez says.

By the numbers: Global premiums for cybersecurity insurance are expected to surpass $20 billion by 2025, according to Allianz.

  • 76% of U.S. executives today have some form of cybersecurity insurance, per Ovum and FICO. A year ago, 50% had none.
  • 5 years ago, cybersecurity risk was ranked the 15th most important business risk, according to the Allianz Risk Barometer, based on a survey of global insurers and brokers. Now it's seen as the second most important.

The context: Cyber coverage has been around since the late 1990s and used to be bundled in some traditional insurance offerings, like liability, property and crime insurance. But because cyber threats are so complex, the industry found it needed to pull it out as standalone coverage.

What to watch: Cyber insurance purchases spike in the aftermath of a prominent and expensive incident, according to Marsh's index. The growth of cyber insurance purchases is fastest for small-to-medium enterprises, per Trend Micro, a cybersecurity company.

  • A more structured regulatory environment could boost companies’ interest in obtaining cybersecurity insurance. All 50 states now have data breach notification laws. Europe’s new General Data Protection Regulation threatens massive fines for failure to keep data safe.

The other side: Skeptics say cybersecurity insurance might not go very far because almost no insurance policy is able to remedy the long-term business consequences of reputation damage — which accounted for almost 89% of losses in one cyber incident in a Deloitte modeling.

Go deeper: Read Shannon's full story.

4. Verizon looks toward 5G

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Verizon is betting its future on 5G, and executives tell Axios that includes a more aggressive push to focus its media brand Oath on building over-the-top (OTT) brands with a lot of live streaming content, Sara Fischer reports from Mobile World Congress in Los Angeles.

Why it matters: Oath chief Tim Armstrong is reportedly on his way out, raising questions about Verizon's media arm and the company's overall media ambitions

Yes, but: Verizon Wireless group president Ronan Dunne tells Axios that the rumor mill is missing the bigger picture.

  • Oath will provide fertile ground for the company to deliver immersive experiences through 5G, which will in turn help it drive engagement and bundle its services, as well as build custom brand experiences that it can sell as a business to consumer service, he says. 
  • RYOT will be one of the first to reap 5G benefits. RYOT, the entertainment studio within Oath, will create new forms of storytelling that can be distributed on the high-speed network, Dunne says.
  • The bottom line, per Axios’ Kim Hart: "Verizon has made 5G its huge bet, and it's looking for ways to differentiate itself from what has become a crowded field of 5G competitors including AT&T, which also has OTT ambitions with its new Time Warner content."

Separately, Verizon is launching its first-ever 5G EdTech challenge today to encourage 5G-based projects in classrooms to narrow the digital divide, Sara reports.

  • The challenge, in partnership with NYC MediaLab, will award $100,000 to the top 10 projects, in addition to access to 5G nodes and training from experts to implement their ideas in schools. 
5. Automated law firm raises more VC cash

Atrium, a business law firm startup that automates much its attorneys’ routine work, has raised $65 million in new funding led by Andreessen Horowitz, Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva reports.

The intrigue: Historically, the legal field hasn't had much incentive to work more efficiently. As Atrium co-founder and CEO Justin Kan tells Axios:

"When you figure out how to do something faster, you lose money."

The details: Kan adds that the company already has more than 250 corporate clients, who pay per project or monthly subscriptions, rather than on an hourly rate.

  • They include: Bird, MessageBird, SiftScience, and a number of Y Combinator alumni.
6. Take Note

On Tap


  • A piece in yesterday's Login incorrectly stated the percentage of teens that say they have been cyber bullied. It's 13% of teens, not 35%.

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7. After you Login

I can confirm — that's not how it works.

Ina Fried