2018-06-02

Tech Review | Internet Trends 2018, What Mary Meeker Missed

graphic "Tech Review" ©2017 DomainMondo.com
Tech Review (TR 2018-06-02)--Domain Mondo's weekly review of tech news with commentary, analysis and opinion: Features • 1) Internet Trends 2018, What Mary Meeker Missed, 2) Most Hyperscale Data Centers are Operating in the U.S., 3) Investing: The Week, Investing Notes: Fallout from Italy's political crisis,  4) ICYMI Tech News.

1) Internet Trends 2018
2018 Internet Trends by Mary Meeker, Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers

Editor's note--takeaways:
  • In 2017 smartphone unit shipments did not increase over the previous year.
  • Internet user growth slowed to 7 percent in 2017, down from 12 percent in 2016. More than half the world is now online, affluent developed and developing markets have reached saturation.
  • Amount of time spent online increased, for U.S. adults, to 5.9 hours per day in 2017, up from 5.6 hours in 2016, of which 3.3 hours were spent on mobile devices. Mobile is the source of overall growth in digital media consumption.
  • Global average selling price of smartphones continues to decline, and lower prices drive smartphone adoption in less-developed markets--Apple may be grabbing most of the profits, but Android continues to win market share.
  • Mobile payments are becoming easier for consumers and China continues to lead the rest of the world with over 500 million active mobile payment users in 2017.
  • The Privacy Paradox: technology companies are trying to use data to provide better consumer experiences yet avoid violating consumer privacy.
  • Technology companies are becoming a larger share of U.S. business, corporate R&D and capital spending. In April, tech accounted for 25 percent of U.S. market capitalization. 
  • E-commerce sales growth continues to accelerate, growing 16 percent in the U.S. in 2017, up from 14 percent in 2016, but Amazon is taking a bigger share of those sales at 28 percent in 2017. Brick-and-mortar retail sales continue to decline.
  • Big tech now competes on more fronts: e-commerce giant Amazon is moving into advertising, while Google expands from an ads platform to a commerce platform (e.g., Google Express).

Editor's note--analysis--what Mary Meeker missedMeeker, a partner in Silicon Valley VC firm Kleiner Perkins, was apparently afraid to deal with several important core issues now arising in technology, for example:
“The search engine is the most powerful source of mind control ever invented in the history of humanity,” according to Robert Epstein, senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology in California. “The fact that it’s mainly controlled by one company in almost every country in the world, except Russia and China, just astonishes me ... We have determined, through our research, that the search suggestion effect can turn a 50/50 split among undecided [voters] into a 90/10 split just by manipulating search suggestions.”
See, e.g., Vice.com May 31, 2018: Less than a week before the California primary, Google listed “Nazism” as the ideology of the California Republican Party:
Vice.com's screenshot of a portion of Google.com search page results
Vice.com reported "... voters looking for information by searching “California Republicans” or “California Republican Party” were getting “Nazism” next to their search results until Google took the listing down later Thursday after a query from VICE News."
Google later issued a statement: "We don't bias our search results toward any political party. Sometimes people vandalize public information sources, like Wikipedia, which can impact the information that appears in search. We have systems in place that catch vandalism before it impacts search results, but occasionally errors get through, and that's what happened here."
But Google did not disclose how many people in California were exposed to the misinformation Google propagated on the internet--California page views data available to Google via its own geolocation analytics--millions? 

What should be the consequences when a $784Billion search engine monopoly propagates obvious factual misinformation to an electorate searching for "factual information" right before an election? This "misinformation" was presented by Google as "factual content" on the right side of its search results page--not just links in response to a search query--Google makes most of its money from advertising, but Google has also chosen to be in the content publication business on its search engine results pages, and no one is holding Google accountable for its propagation of factually incorrect content to a gullible public, except, perhaps, the European Union.

In a 2015 study, Epstein and Ronald E. Robertson reported the discovery of what they consider “one of the largest behavioral effects ever identified”the search engine manipulation effect (SEME). Simply by placing search results in a particular order, they found, voters’ preferences can shift dramatically, “up to 80 percent in some demographic groups.” See The search engine manipulation effect (SEME) and its possible impact on the outcomes of elections | pnas.org.

This is far beyond any alleged Russian manipulation via Facebook or Twitter, or "fake news" propagated in the form of "infotainment" by the likes of CNN, MSNBC, FOX, ABC, CBS, NBC, et al, or even the now comical Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS) bias regularly exhibited by members of the Washington, D.C., press corps, including Washington Post and New York Times.

And the issue goes deeper than just manipulating elections. Tristan Harris, a former design ethicist at Google who has since become one of Silicon Valley’s most influential critics, and co-founded the Center for Humane Technology | humanetech.com, an organization seeking to change the culture of the tech industry, described the tech industry as an “arms race for basically who’s good at getting attention and who’s better in the race to the bottom of the brainstem to hijack the human animal.”

Of course, the above is just one of many issues Meeker missed--here's another: A Constitutional Conundrum That’s Not Going Away—Unequal Access to Social Media Posts | Electronic Frontier Foundation | eff.org: "Among the many privacy challenges posed by social media, one has flown largely under the radar: balancing defendants’ due process rights to access exculpatory information against the crucial privacy protections of the Stored Communications Act (SCA). Here’s the problemprosecutors have broad powers to demand access to stored communications [data] as necessary to pursue their case, but defendants do not ..."

2) Most Hyperscale Data Centers are Operating in the U.S. | Statista.com:
Hyperscale data centers have a minimum of 5,000 servers and are at least 10,000 sq. ft. in size but many are much larger. The data in the chart considers operations by 24 of the world’s major cloud and internet service firms, including Amazon/AWS, Microsoft, IBM, Google, Oracle, Alibaba, Apple, Twitter, Facebook, eBay, LinkedIn, Yahoo, Tencent, and Baidu. See Hyperscale Data Center Count Approaches the 400 Mark; US Still Dominates | Synergy Research Group | srgresearch.com: the next most prominent locations after the U.S., are China, Japan and the UK.

3) Investing
graphic: "INVESTING"  ©2017 DomainMondo.com
The Week-- NASDAQ Composite +1.6% | S&P 500 Index +0.5% | DJIA -0.5% --Investors welcomed strong economic reports, including a solid jobs data for May, while shrugging off concerns over Italian politics and trade wars.
Investing Notes: Fallout from Italy's political crisis (apparently averted for now)--Investors mistakenly assumed the world was in a phase of synchronized growth, economist Mohamed El-Erian said on Tuesday, noting "People are now realizing the only economy with real legs to it was the U.S. economy"-- cnbc.com.
"The European Union is mired in an existential crisis. For the past decade, everything that could go wrong has gone wrong. How did a political project that has underpinned Europe’s postwar peace and prosperity arrive at this point?"--George Soros--"The strength of the dollar is already precipitating a flight from emerging-market currencies. We may be heading for another major financial crisis."
See also:

4) ICYMI Tech News:
graphic: "ICYMI Tech News" ©2017 DomainMondo.com

-- John Poole, Editor, Domain Mondo  

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