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The Sundar-ing

12 December Subscribe
Tech news with a HAT perspective 
Issue 62

“In Technology we Trust?”  

It was the World Economic Forum's big knees up this week, which takes place every year in Davos, Switzerland. Let's be real, it was basically a tech conference this year, wasn't it.

Okay fine, it was a tech and Trump show.

Uber Detoxifier in Chief Dara Khosrowshahi let slip that Uber is planning a premium service, where riders can request higher rated drivers. Google kept banging its AI drum, with CEO Sundar Pichai announcing it as 'more profound than electricity and fire'. There was also a crypto panel who reportedly did not mention Ethereum once.

Some serious shade was also thrown. George Soros (the Hungarian-American hailed as one of the most successful investors in the world) gave Facebook and Google some major major takedowns: 'obstacles to innovation', 'inducing people to give up their autonomy', 'monopolistic', 'discriminatory pricing' – just a few of his words on the subject. It's accusations we've all heard before, but put suggestively in The Economist or The New York Times. This is one of the first times that tech giants have been taken to task so publicly, so directly, from someone so high profile in the world of venture capital, in a setting as high in economic credibility as it goes. 'Davos is a good place to announce that their days are numbered.'

Davos is burning. 

Geek Out

Everyone's favourite futurist and dark comedian, Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker, did the weirdest most wonderful Desert Island Disks ever. I mean it's a treat. Most of his tracks have never been on the show before. When asked why he chose the GameBoy RoboCop theme, his answer was, well, flawless…

The Doghouse

Running app Strava made headlines this week for giving away the location of Secret U.S. Army bases around the world. Oops. Back in November Strava released a heat map, showing all the activity ever recorded in their app – more then 3 trillion individual data points. What they didn't consider is that soldiers on international service go running too, and their routes light up the location of their bases on the heat map.

A tracking pixel was used as evidence for treason by Recep Erdogan's government in Turkey, after its failed coup in 2016. Up to 30,000 people accused of treason due to the presence of this tracking pixel are now being cleared. The extent of the accusations based on this kind of tracking is extreme, but what's going on now doesn't seem to be an exposure of this level of surveillance, but that so many people were wrongly accused because of it. Let’s see what develops....

Elsewhere in Techland

It's the new diamond heist. A Japanese cryptocurrency exchange, Coincheck, suffered what has been confirmed to be the worst crypto hack to date. It announced its losses at 58 billion yen (~588 million dollars). It's unclear what kind of compensation will be available to users, if any, although company bosses said they are looking into this.

Netflix is still booming. Netflix reported that it had around 2 million more subscribers than it has forecasted for this quarter. Like finding a tenner in your pocket, right? But, with the money it's spending on content, it will still have to raise prices in order to make money. So, is Netflix indispensable enough to inflate its prices and not affect its user base? I think it might be…

The content wars rage. While Netflix users continue to rise, Apple is making good on its threat to move in on content, announcing a series it will make with La-La Land director, Damien Chazelle… although its being annoyingly hush hush about just about every single detail. It's the eighth project Apple have announced, including the remake of Spielberg's Amazing Stories announced last year.

Better late than never? Apple Home Pod was meant to launch this week, but it's been pushed back again to 9th February. It's strangely one of the most underwhelming Apple product launches ever, and it missed the Christmas frenzy (where Echo gained significant ground). Remember iPod launches pre-2011? You literally could not escape them. You had to kind of look for this one… 

Leila Trilby, Editor-in-chief
HAT News

The HAT Scandi tour continues, with Irene giving a keynote in Sweden this week. The #ENTER2018 conference in Jönköping is focused around travel and tourism, and the impacts of digital in this sector; check our Irene's slides on the importance of personal data – and personal data ownership and control – in this area. 

And back to London. HAT will be at ESPC Europe Business School's Tech Days lecture series tomorrow, 'At the Crossroad between Management and Technology'. Irene will be leading a session tomorrow on the Hub of All Things Private Data Account. 

HAT on Medium! We decided to give Medium a whirl as a way of communicating longer articles and blog posts to our community and beyond, and we're sorta starting to hit our stride. Visit our page, give some articles a read, and we'd always love to know what you think about any of it. 

Important questions. We're researching some new features for the HAT App (exciting stuff), and we'd really like to test these ideas with as many of you as we can. Here's the links to our two most recent UX Research surveys, and we're eternally grateful for every single reply we get, whether you're already a user of the HAT App or not! 

Jonathan Holtby, Community Manager

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