MadHATTERS HATTERs Bulletin Board Free trial

Talk profitably to me, Bezos

14 August Subscribe
Tech news with a HAT perspective 
Issue 88
Who can hear you (talking in your sleep)
Of all the theses in consumer tech today (the peculiarities of personal data being simply one such), the smart speaker is probably among the most interesting.

Speaking pessimistically, understanding Smart Speakers is about understanding why over 100 million people would collectively decide to give up every semblance of privacy for a speaker system that speaks English as a second language.
 
Speaking optimistically, voice is the next, maybe the only relevant user interface of record for the 21st century.
 
This week, data from Amazon leaked which identified that of the Echo devices they have sold, only 2% were used to make an Amazon purchase. 90% of those only did so once. So, for now at the very least, Alexa isn't about buying things, as so many feared/thought they would be (see this week's comic). Is it about something else that's specifically important? Is it about everything else?
 
There is a good argument to be made that voice isn't a great way to buy stuff, and that having an Alexa just keeps us tied to Amazon Prime - but even in today's upside-down universe that doesn't seem like enough to ensure continual consent to constant data harvest. There must be at least some tacit additional upside, and choosing music with our mouths doesn't seem like it's enough.
 
Personally, I'm bullish on voice. I think that machine learning making great NLP, recurring attempts on fun wearables, and the coming of edge computing are going to make it more likely we'll walk down the street talking to our laptops, not less. But if we don't use it to buy stuff, what do we use it for?
 
Alexa settled the debate about what we as consumers would put up with as regards to our privacy - pretty much anything as it turns out. Now let's all go back to the more interesting question of what we'll ask for it in return when we give it away. What do we want from the technology world, and will we recognize it when we get it?
 
Yours in HAT,

Leila Trilby, Editor-in-chief

The Doghouse

Reddit was hacked - blame the SMS company in their 2FA.

And Elon Musk is messing around with us (and the SEC) about taking Tesla private with Saudi investors, because he doesn't like being a public company. I can't blame him, it's a tough racket - but also don't be a cry-baby, ya billionnaire.

On the Horizon

There's an electric car startup from China that started production last month, has created less than 10,000 vehicles, and is raising USD $1.8 billion on the NYSE (#asyoudo). It will likely be the second-largest US IPO by a Chinese company this year (after iQiyi).

Oh, and you can't go pee in South Korea anymore. There are tiny spy cams that are being used by peeping Toms in public bathrooms, so now people have to scan the stalls with detection kits before they go. People have taken to the streets! Crazy.

 Comic of the Week

c/o all the good people at xkcd
HAT News

We movin'. The HAT has new digs in London, Cambridge, and...well, everywhere really. We're coworking out of Regus starting in September and will be traveling around as a team a bit more.

Events and such. The HAT is planning out our annual events schedule. If you have something you'd like us to work with you on or attend, get in touch.

Till next week,

Jonathan Holtby, Community Manager

Previous Issues