The hands-off tech era is over


It is clearer than ever that governments will no longer leave technology alone.

Europe mandatory standard phone chargers for wearable electronics while Texas passed one controversial law to limit online speech surveillance by social media companies. Tech companies can look forward to more changes like this as government watchdogs look into how they do business and how we use their products.

That most likely means new technologies like Driverless cars and facial recognition systems will take longer to spread throughout the world than they may have. For many tech advocates, more thought and oversight will slow invention. For others, that’s exactly the point.

I wanted to address this in today’s newsletter because it’s easy to get overwhelmed (or blinded) by all the attempted government regulation. Just in the past few weeks, journalists have been writing about pending Congressional legislation data privacy and Tech Antitrust; the employment classification of drivers for companies like Uber; Several countries implement standards how data can and cannot move around the globe; the Netherlands force Apple overhaul payment options for dating apps; and two Condition legislation on social media speech.

All of this is the result of a still-evolving rethinking of what has been a relatively laissez-faire approach to technology since the 1990s. With exceptions, the prevailing attitude has been that new internet technologies, including digital advertising, e-commerce, social media, and “gig” employment through apps, are too novel, marginal, and useful for governments to constrain them with many rules.

As TV and radio did when that medium was new, many tech companies promoted regulation of light, saying it would bring about change for the better, elected officials were too clumsy and clueless to oversee it effectively, and government intervention would screw up progress.

Just one example: A decade ago, Facebook imposed US rules requiring TV and radio to disclose who paid for election-related advertising should not refer to this company. The US elections agency “should not stand in the way of innovation”. said a Facebook lawyer at the time.

These ad disclosures are not always effective, but after Russian-backed propagandists spread social media To sue and free posts too spark American political divisions In 2016, Facebook voluntarily began creating more transparency about political advertising.

Better laws or disclosure of advertising probably wouldn’t have stopped hostile foreign actors from abusing Facebook to wage information wars in the US or other countries. But the conventional wisdom of keeping hands off most likely contributed to the feeling that those responsible for engineering should be left alone to do as they pleased.

“We realized that we unleashed these powerful forces and failed to take proper safeguards,” said Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group. “We could have just said at the beginning that every technology has to be regulated in a sensible way.”

Now regulators feel empowered. The legislature has stepped in to enact rules for the use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement agencies. There will be more laws like the one in Texas to take power away from the handful of tech leaders who Set free speech rules for billions from people. Other countries will force Apple and Google to do so redesign the app economy. More regulation is already possible is changing the way kids use technology.

Again, not everything will be good government intervention. But there is more evidence that people create technology also want more government oversight Or at least pay lip service to it. Any discussion of new technologies, including artificial intelligence Illustration software Dall-E and cryptocurrencyregularly includes reflections on the potential harms and how regulation could minimize them.

This does not mean that there is agreement on how government supervision should look like. But the answer is almost never no government intervention at all. And this is different.

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  • Over a 10-month period, nearly 400 auto accidents in the US were associated with advanced driver assistance technologiesaccording to federal data reported by my colleagues Neal Boudette and Cade Metz. As I wrote above, federal agencies are trying to better understand the real-world safety of technologies like Tesla’s Autopilot as they become commonplace.

  • What has been lost in the debate about AI and human intelligence: A Google employee’s fear that an artificial intelligence software has gained consciousness — it hasn’t — distracted from pressing concerns Bloomberg News wrote about AI, including the bias built into the technology and all the humans required for supposedly automated systems. (Subscription may be required.)

  • The Sports Streaming Scramble: Apple paid $2.5 billion for the right to broadcast Major League Soccer games on the TV app for Apple devices, the Athletic reported. In India, two companies Pay $3 billion to stream cricket games. These deals are another sign that companies are betting on sports to convince people to pay for video streaming services.

I’ll watch every single video of a cat playing poker like this one.

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