5 min read

Weekly Digest Of Must-Read Articles (18.10)

Written by
Pavlo Fedykovych
Published on
October 18, 2019
May 29, 2024

Every week we meticulously browse through tons of articles, read a variety of editorials and features to find 10 most interesting pieces you can’t miss on any occasion. This week you’ll find out what Mark Zuckerberg should’ve mentioned in his latest speech, but failed to. You’ll learn why climate change deepens social inequality. With the Techcrunch’s exclusive, you’ll have your press communications 101. Read all of this and more in our new weekly digest of 10 articles we’d like you to like.

Are We on the Cusp of the Next Dot-Com Bubble? — The Atlantic

“The problem with tech today isn’t so much that software failed to eat the world, but that the most celebrated unicorns weren’t actually software companies. They have struggled to achieve liftoff because their feet are stuck in the mud of the physical world—whether it’s labor costs for Uber and Lyft, or real-estate costs for WeWork. These upstart renegades are getting cut down in the public square, while enterprise-software companies are building profitable businesses by selling shovels at the gold rush—or cloud services at the consumer-tech fair.” Read the article.

What Climate Change Will Do to Three Major American Cities by 2100. — Quartz

“Climate change is already here. It’s not something that can simply be ignored by cable news or dismissed by sitting US senators in a Twitter joke. Nor is it a fantastical scenario like The Day After Tomorrow or 2012 that starts with a single crack in the Arctic ice shelf or earthquake tearing through Los Angeles, and results, a few weeks or years later, in the end of life on Earth as we know it.

Instead, we are seeing its creeping effects now—with hurricanes like Maria and Harvey that caused hundreds of deaths and billions of dollars in economic damage; with the Mississippi River and its tributaries overflowing their banks this spring, leaving huge swaths of the Midwestern plains under water. Climate change is, at this very moment, taking a real toll on wildlife, ecosystems, economies, and human beings, particularly in the global south, which experts expect will be hit first and hardest. We know from the increasingly apocalyptic warnings being issued by the United Nations that it will only get worse.” Read the article.

What Mark Zuckerberg’s Big Talk About Free Speech Left Out. — The Verge

“On Thursday, Mark Zuckerberg had his say. In a 45-minute speech at Georgetown University, Facebook’s CEO made his case for internet services that promote the maximum amount of free speech. (Here’s a transcript and a link to the video.)

The speech began with a major tactical and factual error, in which Zuckerberg attempted to awkwardly retcon the founding of Facebook into a story about giving students a voice during the Iraq war. (“I remember feeling that if more people had a voice to share their experiences, maybe things would have gone differently.”) All previous reporting on the subject suggests that the truth was much, much hornier, and the fact that Zuckerberg’s speech began so disingenuously caused lots of the folks I read to tune out the rest.” Read the article.

The Stark Inequality of Climate Change. — The New Yorker

“As Hurricane Florence moved across the Atlantic in early September of 2018, state officials issued evacuation orders for communities along the Virginia and Carolina coasts. The writer and law professor Jedediah Purdy, who was teaching at Duke at the time, was situated well inland, where the Atlantic coastal plain meets the Piedmont, and in his new book, “This Land Is Our Land,” he writes about his own surge of disaster preparation. Stocking up on canned goods and candles, he was also cataloguing his dependencies, contemplating how his household might get along without stocked shops and available gasoline. Could he make a cup of coffee if the electricity went out or remember loved ones’ phone numbers without the use of a smartphone? Human beings, at least we modern ones, are “an infrastructure species,” he writes, dependent on elaborate systems for shelter, electricity, and water. Purdy contemplates the potential devastation—the friendliest, nearest-term end of the the disaster-scenario spectrum laid out by David Wallace-Wells in “The Uninhabitable Earth,” but still no picnic—and thinks of the fate of what King Lear calls “unaccommodated man,” defenseless and soggy, ‘like an oyster ripped from its shell.’” Read the article.

The Long Road Ahead to Self-Driving Cars. — Quartz

“The autonomous vehicle industry is in the process of rerouting. Early AV leaders said fully autonomous cars would hit the mass market by 2020 or 2021—Elon Musk even promised a self-driving Tesla by 2017. But with the end of the decade in sight, two things are certain: The autonomous future remains a long way off, and AV-makers are going to have to change their plan for how to get there.” Read the article.

Getting Press for Your Startup: The True Role of Communications. — Techcrunch

“Early on, most founders and investors focus on getting positive press, but if they’re unfortunate or make mistakes, mitigating bad coverage becomes a common goal. Broadly, communications consists of how and what information to share, both inside and outside of the company, touching domains like management, recruiting, marketing, and business development. It’s also highly optimizable and often, mission critical — the difference between dramatic success and catastrophic failure.” Read the article.

Snapchat’s Targeting Direct-Response Advertisers With New Dynamic Ads Product. — Digiday

“With Snapchat’s new dynamic ads product, the company is targeting direct-response advertising spending from retailers and direct-to-consumer brands.

Dynamic ads, which have been in beta testing for more than a year, enable marketers to create ads on the fly. Because the ads connect directly to product catalogs, that means they’re always up-to-date, and they can also be automatically created and targeted based on a Snapchat user’s past behavior.

Previously, compared to its competitors such as Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, Snapchat had some catching up to do with regard to targeting and campaign management. For the past two years, it’s had a self-serving Ads Manager, but that feature didn’t automatically create and target ads for marketers like the new dynamic ads product does.” Read the article.

Drone Delivery Is One Step Closer to Reality. — NPR

“Sounding like a huge swarm of angry bees or maybe a hedge trimmer on steroids, a small quadcopter lifts up off of a landing pad in front of the main hospital building on the WakeMed campus in Raleigh, N.C. Underneath it is a metal box — smaller than a shoebox — with vials of blood samples inside of it that are now heading across the campus to the lab for analysis, guided by a drone operator on the ground. It's not a long trip.” Read the article.

Greg Brockman and Drew Houston Talk About How AI Can Benefit Humanity. — Dropbox

“Greg Brockman, CTO and co-founder of OpenAI, joined Dropbox CEO Drew Houston for a conversation at our first Work in Progress conference last month in San Francisco. OpenAI’s mission is to make sure that artificial general intelligence benefits all of humanity. Along the way to that aspiration their research is pushing the field of artificial intelligence forward in ways that promise to make people’s working lives better in the near term. 

OpenAI has gotten a lot of attention for its focus on AI safety and policy recommendations. They’ve testified before the US Congress on AI safety issues, and actively consider the potential for abuse before releasing new capabilities.” Watch.

How Unity Built the World’s Most Popular Game Engine. — Techcrunch

“Founded in a small Copenhagen apartment in 2004, Unity Technologies’ makes a game engine — a software platform for building video games. But the company, which was recently valued around $6 billion and could be headed toward an IPO, is becoming much more than that.

“Unity wants to be the 3D operating system of the world,” says Sylvio Drouin, VP of the Unity Labs R&D team.

Customers can design, buy, or import digital assets like forests, sound effects, and aliens and create the logic guiding how all these elements interact with players. Nearly half of the world’s games are built with Unity, which is particularly popular among mobile game developers.” Read the article.

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