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3 June Subscribe
Tech news, HAT-slanted 
Issue 121

Bad ads

The ICO and Ofcom put out a report last month on online advertising and AdTech. All of the problems with that industry (and many facing technology and connected society today) can be summed up in the last of their opening paragraphs: 

“…Research finds that more than half (54%) of participants would rather see relevant online adverts. But while 63% of people initially thought it acceptable for websites to display adverts, in return for the website being free to access, this fell to 36% once it was explained how personal data might be used to target adverts.”

A WSJ piece earlier this month documented the shift from Google to Amazon in some brands’ spending, prompting questions about the difference between marketing and advertising (if it’s a banner or a spot it’s advertising but if you buy product placement on a store front its marketing…if you buy placement on an online storefront is it marketvertising?…also who cares?). And there were already questions about that with podcasting (Gimlet media looked at sponsored content early and is making pretty good cash doing it). 

What do we want from advertising?

The exec summary of the ICO’s research was that most people accept a “free websites, but I put up with ads” model, but that “all the information points typically used [] are frequently deemed unacceptable.” ALL are frequently deemed unacceptable. We are walking around in an Internet where 100% of the things that are being used about us for advertising make us uncomfortable.


Yours in HAT,

Leila Trilby, Editor-in-chief

The doghouse

Several Chinese apps in the Google Play Store are buying their way to 50 million downloads and sending all the data back to China.

Venture Capital takes money from white men and gives it to other white men. (Not news, but when it’s Melinda Gates talking about it…)

Intense and multilingual swearing.

Last week we wrote that Amazon was occasionally listening to your conversations on Alexa? They’re doing it to a much more concerted degree than we wrote about, as the firm uses thousands of human listeners to help train the system to understand people. I mean, we’re still not shocking anybody, but it is worth noting that when people think “well of course someone is listening to that technology device that is literally just a microphone (and a speaker),” they are obviously correct. Someone is listening.

A massive (failed) test for “ethical tech.” A vast facial recognition system in China is being used to track and control Muslim Uighurs in what the NYT calls “first known example of a government intentionally using artificial intelligence for racial profiling.” Chinese treatment of Uighurs in their Western region has been widely condemned, including for holding as many as a million of them in detention camps. The technology is still bad (or it was in 2017) but it isn’t going to stay that way.

^^ Plus, Microsoft’s getting in on it.

The present

The future

Ahhh, others are getting in on the Edge game! "Google continues to deploy 'differential privacy' - machine learning where the your data is analyzed on your device and the implications fed back to the system (so it gets better at recognizing cats) but Google never actually gets your data. Apple was an early advocate of this, and it's spreading, especially as Google looks more and more at moving computing to your phone (see also Facebook's privacy push)." (From the Ben Evans weekly newsletter last week)

HAT News

Dos Apps. A warm welcome to Mark and Maven, who are now officially our second live application building on HATs. They're hiring a role for client Pleo if you'd like to experience for yourself what a HAT-supported job application process might feel like (and have skills in partner development!).

DataSwift. We're considering new ventures in the US, Australia, and Malaysia. Get in touch to learn more if you're in those countries.

Jonathan Holtby, HAT Community Manager

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