Wednesday, April 25, 2018

More on us dumb fucks!

In a number of posts, like in this one where I wrote about the dumb fucks that we are, I have been worried not merely about Facebook, but about the the Frightful Five, as Farhad Manjoo so wonderfully described them: Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Alphabet, the parent company of Google.

The country and the world have kind of sort of started worrying about Facebook. But, we have not even started looking at the dangers that these five, and other rapidly growing AI companies, represent.

Consider Amazon:
Of the top 10 US industries by GDP (information, manufacturing non-durable goods, retail trade, wholesale trade, manufacturing durable goods, healthcare, finance and insurance, state and local government, professional and business services, and real estate), Amazon has a finger in all but real estate.
Amazon is everywhere.  And knows a lot about you and me.
 What makes Amazon so frightening for rival businesses is that it can use its expertise in data analytics to move into almost any sector.
“Amazon has all this data available. They track what people are searching for, what they click, what they don’t,” said Greer. “Every time you’re searching for something and don’t click, you’re telling Amazon that there’s a gap.”
Amazon knows where you live, who you live with, your current location (if you use an Amazon smartphone app), what TV shows you watch, what music you listen to and what websites you visit.
Remember, for instance, how Amazon swiftly moved in and bought Whole Foods?  It was not a whimsical move.
When Amazon bought Whole Foods, grocery chains’ stock prices crashed. Two months later, when Amazon announced it would cut Whole Foods’ prices, grocery stocks plummeted again. The meal kit maker Blue Apron’s stock price fell 11% after the news that Amazon was filing for a meal kit trademark. A vague announcement from Amazon that it was collaborating with JP Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway on some kind of non-profit healthcare venture sent healthcare stocks on a downward slide.
What's good for Amazon might not be good for us though.
“The algorithms are designed to serve up things that best serve Amazon, steering us to some books and not others,” said Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. “You have a company that can shape whether a particular author is able to find an audience, and whether they can even get published.”
The algorithms effectively create a world in which you don't even know what you are missing.  “Amazon is just getting started,” said [ Tuck School of Business professor Vijay] Govindarajan.

The manner in which we politically govern the problems is not equipped to deal with the rapidly evolving technologies.
Amazon’s business strategies and current market dominance pose anticompetitive concerns that the consumer welfare framework in antitrust fails to recognize.
Instead of addressing such complex issues, we have a narcissistic megalomaniac who tweets about Amazon and the US postal system.  What dumb fucks we are!

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