In the 1930s, psychologist B.F. Skinner put rats in boxes and taught them to push levers to receive a food pellet. The pushed the levers only when hungry, though. To get the rats to press the lever repeatedly, even when they did not need food, he gave them a pellet only some of the time, a concept now known as intermittent variable rewards.… Read More
In a videoconference hosted by Indian startup media publication Inc42, I gave entrepreneurs some advice that startled them. I said that instead of trying to invent new things, they should copy and steal all the ideas they can from China, Silicon Valley and the rest of the world. A billion Indians coming online through inexpensive… Read More
WhatsApp differentiates itself from Facebook by touting its privacy and end-to-end encryption. “Some of your most personal moments are shared with WhatsApp”, it says, so “your messages, photos, videos, voice messages, documents, and calls are secured from falling into the wrong hands”. A WhatsApp founder expressed… Read More
For the past 30 years, most of us around the globe have welcomed modern technology with few questions and fewer reservations. We have treated each new product as a “solution” and paid little attention to its accompanying problems.
The past six months, though, has seen a rapid change of opinion in the United States, … Read More
To borrow a punch line from Duke professor Dan Ariely, artificial intelligence is like teenage sex: “Everyone talks about it, nobody really knows how to do it, everyone thinks everyone else is doing it, so everyone claims they are doing it.” Even though AI systems can now learn a game and beat champions within hours, they are hard … Read More
Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking and others have been warning about runway artificial intelligence, but there may be a more imminent threat: quantum computing. It could pose a greater burden on businesses than the Y2K computer bug did toward the end of the ’90s.
Quantum computers are straight out of science fiction. Take the “traveli… Read More
Massive open online courses (MOOCs) were supposed to bring a revolution in education. But they haven’t lived up to expectations. We have been putting educators in front of cameras and shooting video — just as the first TV shows did with radio stars, microphone in hand. This is not to say the millions of hours of online content are not… Read More
Facebook’s recent acknowledgment that social media may be making its users feel bad in some cases is a significant milestone. So far, the technology industry hardly has talked about the downsides of their products. Now a realization seems to be setting in that perhaps something has gone wrong along the way.
Academic research that… Read More
During the late ’90s, Silicon Valley venture capitalists and New York City investment bankers used phrases such as “monetizing eyeballs,” “stickiness,” and “B2C” to justify the ridiculous valuations of Internet companies. They claimed conventional methods were inapplicable in valuing the dot-com companies — which had no… Read More
Ever since the Chinese Government banned Facebook in 2009, Mark Zuckerberg has been making annual trips there attempting to persuade its leaders to let his company back in. He learned Mandarin and jogged through the smog-filled streets of Beijing to show how much he loved the country. Facebook even created new tools to allow China… Read More