Four articles we read over the weekend, and one awesome contributor post

Kevin McSpadden
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Four articles highlighted by death of Robert Taylor, a Facebook Live tragedy and the ‘third wave’ in Southeast Asia’s tech scene. 

Ahhhh weekend reading in Southeast Asia — it is hard to imagine it getting much better. Even for those of us in the startup economy (AKA probably poor), nothing beats grabbing a book, article or magazine, heading to the park and enjoying the warm, sunny, weather.

Plus, those sudden rainstorms are a convenient way to justify moving on with the day.

“I guess I am done with this for now”.

Let’s take a look at the four stories we read this weekend (and one awesome post from our contributors).

Four + One Stories

Robert Taylor, Innovator Who Shaped Modern Computing, Dies at 85

A sad reality of our modern age is the ‘age of the computer’ forefathers are beginning to pass away. Robert Taylor, an engineer living in Woodside, California, was one of the most important figures for building the internet.

As e27 readers will know, nobody invented the internet — rather it was the result of many instances of collaboration and teamwork that eventually grew into a world-changing network. That being said, of these people, Taylor stands out as a leader.

In 2017, we might call him an intrapreneur (someone who disrupts their company). Solving a serious office problem within in the Pentagon eventually became the building blocks for the modern internet.

After taking a new position in the government, Taylor saw that his agency was running three separate projects on three different computer communications systems. Taylor decided the projects needed to be connected on one network so they could communicate with one another.

This idea eventually grew to become ARPANET, one of the first iterations of what we would eventually become the internet.

Facebook Streams a Murder, and Must Now Face Itself

The most cynical of Hollywood predictions for Facebook Live has come to pass. While it appears that the murder itself was not live streamed (it was uploaded later), Facebook must now reflect on its responsibility as a company.

This tragedy has once again brought up the problem of Facebook distinguishing itself as a tech company, and not a media company. As the article points out, Facebook Live has streamed suicides, torture and rape. What is different about this occasion is this appears to be the first time someone has streamed themselves pre-meditating a murder and then following through with the act.

While a dark story, it is also important as we grapple with the role of technology in our everyday lives.

How to Make Decisions Like Jeff Bezos

One of my old professors used to tell our class two ideas every day (both have stuck). The first was ‘take the punch’ — which meant to ‘toughen-up buttercup’ and stop being sensitive.

The second is ‘perfection is the enemy of good’. While industries like accounting, engineering and safety operations demand perfection, in most areas of life, becoming paralysed by the desire to be perfect is a serious problem.

Bezos, in his annual shareholder letter, says he makes decisions when he has “70 per cent of the data you wish you had”. No decision will ever be perfect, and even one with 99 per cent of the data is reasonably going to be the wrong choice.

The strategy for Bezos helps Amazon move quickly and not get bogged-down by debate and discussion.

Ben Horowitz worries about who will debug artificial intelligence

AI is becoming a more important global topic because the technology has progressed to a point in which it is entering our everyday lives. Some technologists warn that, unless we take a step back, it will enslave humanity. Ben Horowitz (of Andreessen Horowitz fame) says he is not concerned this is an imminent problem.

What could be an issue is debugging AI. He says,

“To me, the bigger risk than AI becoming self-aware and self-conscious and taking on the humans is that … if something goes wrong with AI, we [won’t] know why.”

Southeast Asia is going through an accelerated pace of disruption, leading to the third wave innovations in real world sectors

Steve Case’s book ‘The Third Wave‘ is one of the most important technology books ever written. It details an economy in which the Internet is disrupting practically every economic industry.

In Southeast Asia, we now have companies that are using drones to bring big data to agriculture, or startups trying to automate the legal industry. Industries that have long been “traditional” are now being touched by the startup economy.

In this guest post from Dondi Hananto, the author argues that over the last 10 years, Southeast Asia has been going through the Three Waves at an accelerated pace. This means that while the startups are dealing with natural barriers like regulations, government and traditional MNCs, they will have to do so while working with a consumer-base that is still learning how to use the internet.

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