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All posts tagged Waze

Technological Disruption Is Evolving Beyond Our Control.

Technological Disruption has been on my mind for several months and yesterday it came to boiling point.

I wrote about this first in this post.

Technological Disruption: Truth and Consequences

Working backwards from yesterday we can see that unfettered disruption without testing and validation of the ramifications in the wild have major consequences:

The first death of a pedestrian by autonomous vehicle occurred yesterday in the US and while law enforcement are claiming that the car may not be responsible. Do pedestrians know how to interact with autonomous vehicles in the wild? Simple answer: NO. Especially as these vehicles fundamentally look just the same as your everyday vehicles. Where are the Asimov 3 Laws of Robotics?

Technology disruption - robotsImage courtesy of Microsoft Paint3D – Remix 3D library

Facebook and Cambridge Analytica have made us all feel naked and vulnerable due to the massive exploitation of our collective social footprints, our digital identities being taken without knowledge and used to effectively socially engineer us all regarding the 2016 US Elections. Freemium apps mean just this, you are ceding control of your digital identity when you freely share things. Our mobile devices have evolved around this whole precept but we have strong expectations of how that data is used and the transparency behind its use.

Technological disruption - Facebook

A few months ago an acquaintance was talking about how Waze has changed their quiet street where kids can play into a dangerous bypass route that cars speed down, anytime the adjacent major roads are blocked. Speaking to Waze (Google) and their City officials hadn’t made dent in the issue at last check.

AirB&B & Uber along with other sharing economy startups have a huge issue with background checks for hosts, guests, drivers and passengers … and the list goes on, not even counting data breaches like Equifax.

The Warptest POV

So I’m asking again, how do these companies challenge themselves to explore or test the ethical ramifications of their disruptive products before and after they reach the real world? Or is the genie out of the bottle and we need to learn how to live with this modern-day Frankenstein’s Monster.

Video clip from YouTuber iiAFX
This takes a special kind of mindset able to see technology as a product, an ability to perceive its place in different cultures and environments and how it interacts with all kinds of people in different demographics. Ultimately it needs a fearless mindset, a willingness to ensure that as an agent of change, the change is positive and beneficial.

Reliance on legislators is not a solution, whilst the EU are counting down to the deadline for GDPR compliance, other countries will legislate different standards eventually but these will be based on a variety of factors, not least the ability of public servants and politicians to comprehend what technological disruption is, how it works and the impacts we can expect. We can reasonably assume that different countries laws might end up being contradictory or intentionally in conflict. Good luck with that.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes – Who watches the Watchmen?

Facebook and others will need to police themselves better but ultimately freemium apps rely on us, our data, our willingness to exist in their virtual worlds. We are their fuel and their monetization.

I am not advocating like some a mass deletion of our Facebook profiles, remember the same company also owns your much loved Instagram and ubiquitous WhatsApp. Still Facebook, Twitter and others need to make this a priority. We are talking about a  fundamental comprehension that symbiosis beats mutually assured destruction.

Ironically, much of what is being suggested online to resolve these things is a symptom of the problem. Issues like this cannot be solved with a hashtag, 14 characters or a snarky meme going viral.

For years we have heard how important DRM Digital Rights Management is for music, movies etc. where is our personal DRM? Can we disrupt Technological Disruption without inhibiting innovation?

These disruptive companies need to be much more transparent about their practices but also about the ethical challenges their technologies face and how they are solving these issues.

So if you want to comment, share ideas on the subject or just chime in.. Feel free.

If you know of a company that has a Chief Ethics Officer or a team that tests the ethical impact of their products then for sure let me know.

One thing I promise, whatever you share.. I will only be using that data for good.

Startups By Their Nature Are On The Cutting Edge…

… Some get acquired and in my previous post I mentioned Waze and their acquisition by Google. I suggested that Google could leverage drone technology to enhance the real-time geo-data provided by Waze.

This led to a fascinating conversation on Twitter with one of my favorite tweeps
@AWSOMEDEVSIGNER on the controversy and challenges related to drone usage in the civilian domain.

 

Real World Tech, Real World Consequences

When people create new technologies or find new uses for existing tech, especially in our daily lives in the real world there is a question that has to be asked,

What are the ramifications of releasing our idea into the world unfettered?

In a lot of cases the legislature is not able to keep up with the need for new laws to address these issues. Google Glass is a classic example, should it be legal to drive whilst wearing and using Glass? Should the law require all wearable technology that requires user interaction (read distraction) to have a Driving Mode?

In the case of Glass a user in California was already issued with a ticket for driving whilst wearing Glass (the ticket was allegedly contested and thrown out on a technicality) meanwhile, NYPD are beta testing Glass , but under what constraints and conditions?

A hat tip to the awesome @OrenTodoros for directing me to Google’s Do’s and Don’ts for Glass.

In some cases just how easily can certain innovations be weaponized or used for malicious intent? Foursquare had to contend with privacy and stalking concerns and seems to have done so admirably.

You don’t have to look hard to see that cutting edge technology will always be ahead of legislation. Several TV shows have made the issue of technology and ethics a core part off their story e.g. Intelligence or Almost Human.

Intelligence - Startup Ethics
Almost Human - Startup Ethics

With thanks to IMDB for the images for each show above.

The Warptest POV

Do the Startups have a moral responsibility to consider the ramifications of their innovations before opening Pandora’s Box? Will a failure to do so eventually result in more draconian legislation in reaction? As a result of my conversations (as mentioned earlier) IMHO Startups should be considering then need for a senior member of the company, even a VP of Ethics to research these ramifications and raise concerns early in the design stages.

By working with the Product Manager, even guiding the Testing team to include tests to ensure not just functional but ethical quality a Startup that is launching a technology into the real world and our daily life is more likely to find best practice and prevent privacy invasions, data leaks, malicious abuses and other ethical problems.

So if you are reading this and you are building a Startup, do you have role in your company to confront the ethics behind your innovation?

Don’t be shy now, let me know what you think.

 

Waze Is As Near To Ubiquitous…

… As any mobile app is going to get. Certainly in the day-to-day real world arena.

The acquisition by Google last year was a welcome move for anyone who is a frequent visitor / user of Google Maps.

The addition of Waze Social Traffic reporting geo-data layer makes Google Maps into probably the best application in its field.

Waze plus Google Maps

Do I Like Maps?

You might have guessed it or read it in other posts here that I have a background in Geography, Cartography, GIS and testing Location Based Apps. Maps are also something of a passion for me.

A map on my wall at home - not Waze

1 A map hanging at home on the wall

Several years ago I was put in the position of having to explain to a roomful of engineers how GPS works and the underlying principles behind map coordinate systems. At the end of my talk (which I sweated bullets over for several days prior to giving the talk) an engineer came over to me and thanked me for making the subject come alive for him.

Just the other day I was cleaning out a drawer and found my Lensatic compass and cartography pens; I don’t have much call to use them but I cleaned them off for sentimental reasons.

retro lensatic compass - not Waze

So yes, you might say I love maps and all things related.

Where Does Google Come In?

So here we have a vertical teeming with action: Microsoft investing in Foursquare, Yahoo licensing data from Yelp, Google adding Waze geo-data to its own. In addition to exposing more users to Waze data through Google Maps what else is Google bringing to the pot?

  • Android and iOS apps have built in Google Search
  • Waze Map Editor incorporates Street View and Satellite imagery as of August 20, 2013.

Google clearly have given some thought to the ensuring added value in both directions. Waze as an app and Google Maps both benefit here.

The Warptest POV

Two main areas of Google’s endeavors struck me as adding value here: –

  1. Google Glass: the official site shows that Glass has some form of Google Maps but does/will this incorporate Waze? More to the point is driving wearing Glass going to come under legislative scrutiny with a ticket already issued in California for one Glass wearer but at the same time NYPD testing how they can incorporate it into law enforcement.

Google Glass - Will it use Waze

2 From the official Google Glass site

  1. Autonomous Robots: Google has been investing in the autonomous car for some time, in addition in 2013 they bought Boston Dynamics famous for their advances in (somewhat eerie) robotics but perhaps the most interesting area might be in taking a leaf from Amazon’s announced desire to use drones and add this to Google Maps / Waze.

The primary use case for this would be either to have aerial drones full-time over high traffic congestion zones providing users with real-time aerial photography or drones could be triggered by reports of a road accident to arrive on-scene and provide the same real time data. Obviously like Amazon this will be subject to FAA approval but perhaps ground level real-time imagery via Boston Dynamics robotic creations is an interim measure.

Boston Robotics - Can it help Waze

Is there a scenario where the autonomous cars will react to Waze reports? Something to consider.

Meanwhile, concept cars like the Renault Kwid with its own onboard aerial drone are going to have to think about what happens when a bunch of Kwids have drones in the air in the same locale.

One thing is certain, the potential for adding real-time data is already exists in other projects at Google. When do you think we will see this as a Waze feature?

facebook home

Facebook was in the news again…

Yesterday Facebook was featured in two major stories:

Firstly the blogosphere went wild over the news that they are once again in advanced negotiations for the purchase of Israeli social traffic navigation startup Waze.

Waze Splash Screen

Secondly they announced new features being added to Facebook Home on Android and hitting 1 million downloads.

Yes there is a connection…

It hasn’t taken that long a time for Facebook Home to get to their 1 million downloads but not everyone is pleased to have Facebook takeover the start screen of their Smartphone. For those not clued in Facebook Home is just that, a Facebook Start Screen when you turn on your Smartphone. Right now it’s on Android and Microsoft were fast to point out that Windows Phone did this from the get-go anyhow.

Facebook Home Dev Blog

If they manages to acquire Waze they have an incredible and much needed popular App with a huge user base to build into the next iteration of Facebook Home.

The Missing Link

To truly realize the ROI of buying Waze it can’t just sit there; there needs to be some degree of intelligent automated behavior. Facebook Home needs to react to environmental changes in the physical world around the phone.

IFTTT Web

Zuck and team should be taking a long, hard look at Israeli Startup IFTTT who wrote the rulebook on this for web applications and Microsoft (specifically the Israel R&D division) who released an Android App called on{X} last year. This is a rule based App that detects a condition and responds with the appropriate rule running.

Faceb ook Home Secret Sauce

In Facebook Home’s case what’s needed would be something like this use case:

If Accelerometer or GPS detect motion > footspeed then activate Waze from Facebook Home.

Warptest POV

Whatever the truth is about Facebook acquiring Waze, I definitely wish Waze good luck and hope that Facebook realize that simply trying to dominate the Start Screen real estate on Smartphones is not a mobile strategy. It’s firing the first salvo.

What do you think Facebook will do on mobile next?