Monthly Archives: October 2018

Netflix’s Cash-Fueled Road to Streaming Dominance

Description: The streaming service surprised Wall Street with huge gains in subscribers in the third quarter. The results showed why AT&T and Disney spent big on their latest acquisitions

Source: NYTimes.com

Date: Oct 17. 2018

Netflix’s appetite for content means it has to spend big, resulting in what’s known as “negative free cash flow.” More money is going out the door than coming in, a difference that Netflix covers by borrowing even more.

But Netflix can also show a profit because accounting rules allow entertainment companies to record most of their production or licensing costs later on.

A show like “Stranger Things,” entirely funded and owned by Netflix, costs as much as $8 million per episode. Netflix pays for all of that upfront, but the cost isn’t counted until the show is available on the service, often a year or more after production. The next season is expected to be released in the summer of 2019. read rest of story

Questions:

  1.  Analyze NetFlix’s business model?
  2. What is NetFlix’s competitive advantage and is it sustainable? Why? or Why not?
  3. What is NetFlix’s greatest threat and threat strength and opportunity?
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Hopper raises more $ for its AI-based travel app

Description:

Hopper — a mobile-only travel booking app cofounded by a former Expedia executive in Montreal, Canada that uses artificial intelligence to help you search for and book hotels and flights — has gained a little elevation of its own today.  Read Story

Source: TechCrunch

Date: October 12th, 2018

Discussion

1) “Hopper has carved out a distinct place for itself by building an AI framework that not only helps people find good deals, but also discover trips they may have not known that they specifically wanted to take.”  Is this a gimmick or useful? explain

2) What is Hopper’s business model? and what is their competitive advantage?

This Company Is Bringing High-Resolution Data Analytics To Farms

Description: The past few years have seen big data impact a number of industries—from supply chains to manufacturers to transpiration—by being able to see how changes in even the smallest part of a system can manifest big impacts.

Source: Forbes.com

Date: Sept 30. 2018

Historically, when farmers and agricultural consultants have tried to figure out how a fertilizer or other treatment impacts crops, they would basically treat two strips in the same field differently, with the strips covering multiple acres of farmland. The results were then averaged out over the two areas. But by taking advantage of sensors and other in-field technology, the AgVeritas software is able to see how the treatment impacts particular parts of a field to about a 60-by-60-foot area.

“The unique thing with AgVeritas is that you can see a variability of response across a field,” said Chad Godsey, an agricultural consultant in Colorado. read rest of story

 

Questions:
1.  What is the business model of this technology?

2. What other uses of this technology do you foresee?

From Agriculture to Art — the A.I. Wave Sweeps In

Description:Artificial intelligence is a technology of low-cost prediction and discovery. It exploits the new resource of the digital age — vast amounts of data — to identify patterns and make predictions. Much of what A.I. does today can be thought of as a prediction. What product to recommend, what ad to show you, what image is in that picture, what move should the robot make next — all are automated predictions.

Source: NYTimes.com

Date: Oct 21. 2018

This concept of A.I. as an engine of predictive decision-making is the main theme of a new book by three economists at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, “Prediction Machines: The Simple Economics of Artificial Intelligence” (Harvard Business Review Press). The authors, Ajay Agrawal, Joshua Gans and Avi Goldfarb, argue that A.I.-powered decision-making is poised to alter virtually every industry. To explain, they start with an A.I. leader, Amazon. The online retail giant is constantly learning more and more about its customers’ buying habits and tastes, and the data is steadily improving the predictive power of its A.I. algorithms. read rest of story

Questions:
1.  What industry do you see AI making big inroads into? Why?

A Dark Consensus About Screens and Kids Begins to Emerge in Silicon Valley

Description: The people who are closest to a thing are often the most wary of it. Technologists know how phones really work, and many have decided they don’t want their own children anywhere near them.

Source: NYTimes.com

Date: Oct 26. 2018

A wariness that has been slowly brewing is turning into a regionwide consensus: The benefits of screens as a learning tool are overblown, and the risks for addiction and stunting development seem high. The debate in Silicon Valley now is about how much exposure to phones is O.K.

“Doing no screen time is almost easier than doing a little,” said Kristin Stecher, a former social computing researcher married to a Facebook engineer. “If my kids do get it at all, they just want it more.”

Ms. Stecher, 37, and her husband, Rushabh Doshi, researched screen time and came to a simple conclusion: they wanted almost none of it in their house. Their daughters, ages 5 and 3, have no screen time “budget,” no regular hours they are allowed to be on screens. The only time a screen can be used is during the travel portion of a long car ride (the four-hour drive to Tahoe counts) or during a plane trip.

Recently she has softened this approach. Every Friday evening the family watches one movie. read rest of story

Questions:
1.  Will you buying your future children smartphones? Why or why not?

2.  How does this make you feel about your own smart phone usage?

How UPS delivers quicker using $8 headphones & code that decides when dirty trucks get cleaned

Description:  Inside EDGE: the shipping giant’s ambitious, tech-driven bid to keep Amazon and others at bay.

Source: MIT Technology Review

Date: Feb 16. 2018

UPS workers make dozens of decisions every day, and the wrong ones—from placing a box on the wrong conveyor belt inside a processing facility to loading it onto the incorrect delivery vehicle—could keep you from getting your packages on time.

Avoiding those mistakes, and doing so efficiently, is key to the company’s survival. The boom in e-commerce means UPS now delivers as many as 31 million packages a day. Keeping track of all that is an immensely difficult problem. It’s made worse because fulfilling online orders often requires driving to far-flung residences. That is more expensive for UPS than delivering to businesses, where drivers typically can leave and pick up multiple packages at each stop. read rest of story

Questions:
1.  What are the two biggest threats to UPS going forward?

2. What are the two biggest opportunities for UPS going forward?

How Artificial Intelligence Is Coming Into Our Lives

Description: Artificial intelligence is here — and it’s bringing new possibilities, while also raising questions. Do these gadgets and services really behave as advertised?

Source: NYT.com

Date: Feb 12. 2018

Marc Benioff, the chief executive of Salesforce, blasted companies like Facebook on Tuesday for addicting children to their products and renewed his calls for more government regulation of the tech industry.

Mr. Benioff compared a new Facebook Messenger product for children to candy cigarettes, which he used to pretend to smoke as a boy.

“What do you think they were trying to get us to do with those?” Mr. Benioff asked onstage at the New Work Summit. “I don’t think this is any different now. They’re focused on the addictive nature of these user interfaces. At some point, we have to say, ‘Hold on.’”

Silicon Valley is nearing the point where moral lines will have to be drawn by the government since the industry is not regulating itself and does not seem to be guided by a “strong hand of ethics,” he said.  read rest of story

Questions:
1.  What are the two biggest opportunities for society presented by AI?

2. What are the two biggest problems for society presented by AI?