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Benedict's
Newsletter

This is a weekly newsletter of what I've seen in tech and thought was interesting. I work at Andreessen Horowitz. See more or subscribe at www.ben-evans.com.
News

Google moved its self-driving car effort into a new unit called 'Waymo'. There's clearly a reconfiguration of this team going on (several people have left), and most people in the field still see full autonomy as 5-10 years away, so one wonders how this fits into Google's newfound 'financial discipline'. AVs will be huge (indeed, everything), but will not be here in the next few quarters, and of course it's not clear what the value chain will look like (will Google make is own cars? Yes! No! Maybe!). But, Google is as far ahead with the tech itself as anyone. Link

Google is looking at ways to deal with offensive search suggestions. Easy to criticize, harder to come up with a scalable solution. Link

Facebook is looking at ways to flag 'fake news'. Party a spam problem (Macedonian teenagers making stuff up for clicks and ad impressions), partly an adverse-selection problem, partly a displacement problem ("if only Facebook had done x we'd have won the election!"), but, as for Google, not as easy to solve as it looks. Link

Uber decided to start testing its 'autonomous cars' in SF without a permit for such testing, on the grounds that the cars have two engineers in them and so aren't actually 'autonomous' at all. Well, yes, but also no. An injunction landed later that day. Dash-cam footage of an not-actually-autonomous Uber running a red light didn't help (though one could argue that just shows the machine has learned how people drive in SF). Link

Nintendo, stubborn hold-out against mobile, finally launched an iPhone game based on Mario (ask your parents). Top of the charts immediately, but the reaction is somewhat mixed. Link

1bn more Yahoo accounts have been hacked. Another illustration of how profoundly the security environment has changed and how strong the argument for encryption becomes. Link

The Wynn (huge high-end hotel in Las Vegas) will put an Amazon Echo in every room. Hotels seem like an ideal use-case for voice assistants - there are only a few questions you'll ask (i.e nice narrow domain) and you don't already know where the light switch is. Link

Line (biggest east-Asian messaging app that inspires Facebook but isn't WeChat) is restructuring. Link

Blog posts

Mark Zuckerberg on what he learnt by building his own AI. Link

Tony Fadell (iPod, Nest): "Detroit needs a culture change". Link

Mobile money in Zimbabwe. Fascinating. Link

'Lunch with the FT': Susan Wojcicki, head of YouTube. Link

Google's deal with Improbable (a16z investment). Link

The problem with AI hype. Link

Long feature in the NY Times explaining the machine learning explosion, in the context of Google rebuilding Translate around it. Link

Presentation (from a16z GP Peter Levine) - the end of cloud computing and the return to the edge. Link

Statistics

The music industry is bigger than you think. Link

Instagram is now at 600m MAUs, up 100m in the last 6 months (i.e. despite Snapchat).  Link

 
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