Weekly Axis Of Easy #60
This week’s quote: “There is no such thing as a future fact” — by ???
Last Week’s Quote was “True religion is the life we lead, not the creed we profess ” —by Louis Nizer, winner David Martyn.
THE RULES: No Googling the answer, must be posted below in the comments.
The Prize: First person to post get their next domain or hosting renewal is on us.
In this issue:
- Facebook suffers greatest one day loss of market cap in history
- New York AG candidate wants to break up Google and Facebook
- Lifelock bug exposes millions of customer email addresses
- Who needs libraries when we have Amazon?
- Google building AI to replace call-centre agents
- HTTPS is now effectively mandatory, so why aren’t a lot of large companies doing it?
- Kissinger on AI: We may be screwed
After a disappointing earnings call last week, Facebook suffered the greatest one-day loss in value of any company in stock market history – shedding nearly 20% of its stock value which pencils out to about $166 Billion in market cap. Bloomberg attributed it to the myriad scandals around abusing user privacy catching up with it, as earnings and user growth slows.
The next day Twitter’s share price lost 15% after disclosing the network shed 1 million users (the company says they were bots, which is still a problem if it turns out that’s what was fueling its meteoric rise in users).
This reminds me of a similar situation in another lifetime, when seemingly unassailable tech behemoths guided lower, ringing the bell for the top of their apogee. They had names like Nortel, and Lucent and they presaged the collapse of the dot-com bubble. Not that I think Facebook would ever completely disappear the way those two companies did, but it could very well go the way of Yahoo, and limp on for decades in some eerie graveyard where out-of-favour social networks go…. (classmates, friendster…. and myspace).
It didn’t take long for the lawsuits to start rolling in, the first one filed the very next day accusing Facebook CFO David Wehner and CEO Zuckerberg of failing to disclose the slowing trends on earlier calls. The suit is seeking class action status.
New York attorney Zephyr Teachout is running to be that state’s next attorney general. Part of her platform is exploring the idea of breaking up Google and Facebook. “As attorney general I would work with my colleagues in other states to launch a major antitrust investigation to look into the ways in which Facebook and Google are wielding and may be abusing their duopoly powers.”
The company whose core value proposition is that it protects you from identity theft found itself in the awkward position of admitting that it suffered a data leak, exposing millions of customer email addresses. “The company just fixed a vulnerability on its site that allowed anyone with a Web browser to index email addresses associated with millions of customer accounts, or to unsubscribe users from all communications from the company.” Oops.
Who needs libraries when we have Amazon?
Forbes stepped in it last week when it ran a “thought piece” by Panos Mourdoukoutas, a PHD and Chair of the Department of Economics at at LIU Post in New York, the TL,TR being “Amazon should open their own bookstores in all local communities. They can replace local libraries and save taxpayers lots of money, while enhancing the value of their stock.”, yes that is a direct quote.
The Internet went nuts, and Forbes pulled the article. It is still visible via Google cache, and I took the liberty of saving a snapshot to archive.is.
I know it’s not an exact analogy, but for some reason this incident reminds me of that scene in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels where Michael Cain’s character says to the rich dowager he’s wining and dining (and about to con) “You were about to explain to us why the poor shouldn’t be allowed into museums”.
The snapshot: https://archive.fo/iDpmS
Last week at its Cloud Next conference, Google confirmed earlier speculations that it is, in fact, building AI systems to field incoming calls to call centres, help route them, cull answers from an internal database and only ring through to a real human if it cannot figure out what to do next. With Google’s “Contact Center AI” they boast that it would be “unlikely a customer would know they’re talking to a robot unless it was disclosed at the beginning of the call” (I doubt it, but hey, let ‘em dream).
Let me state, for the record, that when you call easyDNS, 1-855-321-EASY (3279), now, and evermore – you will always talk to a real human being, and this is a critical function of how we do business with you that we will never automate away. Despite the orgiastic evangelical enthusiasm for eliminating every job on the planet and replacing them with empty, non-thinking algorithms, I don’t think you, the customer, will ever prefer talking to one than talking with the kind of real, down-to-earth and clueful support reps we hire here. Two things we’ll never inflict on you: call scripts, and robots (ok, that’s one thing).
Last week Google began shipping Chrome 68, which makes https connections to websites a requirement. Any websites still serving pages over http:// will be flagged by the browser as “not secure”. This has been a long time coming (I’m pretty sure we mentioned this in a previous issue of #AxisOfEasy, didn’t we?) and yet, many large, established websites are still not serving over https://. Security researchers Troy Hunt and Scott Helme have launched a website to catalog which large websites are still not using secure transport.
Some of the entities still using http include espn.com, Twitter’s t.co shortner, and many Chinese sites, including search giant Baidu.com (I am guessing there is lower incentive for doing it because that would interfere with the Chinese government’s mass, ubiquitous surveillance efforts.)
(Keep in mind we offer numerous TLS/SSL certs via easyDNS, including RapidSSL which will secure your site and appease Google for a mere $25/year. There are even free options like LetsEncrypt but their constant re-registration requirement makes it more suitable for non-business sites in my book).
In an op-ed piece for The Atlantic, former Secretary of State of near mythological stature (or infamy, depending on who you ask), Henry Kissinger warns of the dangers posed by Artificial Intelligence. The piece is titled “How The Enlightenment Ends” and ruminates that while all previous ages had a defining narrative to explain the world: religion in the Middle Ages, “reason” during the Enlightenment and “ideology” in the 20th; our current era, the one now emerging with AI at the helm as yet has no defining narrative, and what’s worse, it may be the AI’s, not us, who end up defining what that will be.
My own views on AI have evolved over the past 2 years and I had somewhat of an “aha” moment when I read Kissinger’s article. I started writing a blog about it and hope to have it up soon.
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