Wise Guys on WHO Radio
Please note: These show notes may be in various stages of completion -- ranging from brainstormed notes through to well-polished monologues. Please excuse anything that may seem rough around the edges, as it may only be a first draft of a thought and not be fully representative of what was said on the air.
In the news this week
The FTC has settled a case against the people who promoted the Lumosity "brain games" products, saying that the company used false advertising to convince consumers to pay up for products to enhance cognition, when those products weren't actually proven to have those effects. Three things are interesting about this case: First, the FTC statement on the settlement specifically notes that the company used not just mass media but specific Google AdWords to target consumers who were worried about things like dementia and Alzheimer's. The fact they used the notion of targeted advertising itself as part of their case should send some shivers down a lot of spines in Mountain View, California. That kind of government action could have a chilling effect on Google's core advertising product. Second, the FTC says it has suspended a $50 million judgment against the company "due to its financial condition after the company pays $2 million to the Commission". In other words, "We could bankrupt you, but we'll just take $2 million instead and leave you to bleed." Interesting. Third, there is a risk that an over-zealous application of the FTC's standard (that the company must "have competent and reliable scientific evidence before making future claims about any benefits") could have a serious chilling effect on future commercial development of these kinds of tools. In other words, just because one company overstated its case doesn't mean the concept itself is bogus -- but by putting the hammer down, the FTC might just be discouraging useful innovations that others might seek to commercialize. A not-insignificant number of scientists have indicated their general worries about this very effect. That doesn't mean the government shouldn't tamp down the hype artists -- but there are other consequences that need to be borne in mind, too.
Why? Probably just because they can. Other sports would probably be more fun to watch in VR mode.
That's down from 81% in 2008
Your role in cyberwar
American systems are likely to be highly vulnerable to cyberattack, too. This should be cause for serious alarm. The investigative work is complicated, but what was targeted (and how) points pretty clearly in the direction of Russian attackers.
Street-smart social media
Gadget of the week
If we can't cure the disease, we can at least mitigate the symptoms. A fantastic use of technology to make people's lives better.
You ought to follow...
Well-run businesses try to make good use of machine uptime, but what about people's uptime? Putting a lot of people in a room has a meaningful cost, so there had better be a return on that investment.
Dispatches from the flying-car future
Reusable launch technology has moved far and fast since commercial developers got involved
Brian's Big Picture
Politics of technology
Listen again on-demand
- Podcast of this episode - segment 1 (FTC shuts down promises from "brain games" maker)
- Podcast of this episode - segment 2 (fixing problesm with predictive texting)
- Podcast of this episode - segment 3 (cyberattacks can take out power grids -- demand answers from the candidates)
- Podcast of this episode - segment 4 (technology news speed round)