Cambre’s #TechAways - Issue #19

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29 September 2017

Even by Uber’s headline-grabbing standards, this week has been a big one. The shock decision by Transport for London (TfL) to revoke Uber’s licence from Sunday is the latest in the company’s long line of reputational and regulatory headaches.

This blow to Uber in what had seemed to be its safest European harbour is a tough first test for new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who swiftly issued an apology. As Khosrowshahi tries to take the company in an empathetic new direction, especially pertaining to its relationship with regulators around the globe, this London setback could be a blessing in disguise and offer an opportunity to shape up with the eyes of the world watching. With much of the public clearly on the company’s side, it’s time to show the regulators some love.

For a deeper dive into the issue, especially on the topic of how Uber sets itself up a platform and the structure’s impact on issues of liability, read this. h/t Frances Robinson.

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The rise of on-demand data-driven insurance [Economist]

Insurance has traditionally relied on static data points to reveal risks. Well, the rise of big data and connected devices is about to change that. Case in point: the drone sector. Flock, a new London-based startup, is beginning to insure drones on a per-flight basis with rates set by a digital-risk assessment. The app will rely on a range of data including weather forecasts, live information about nearby aircraft and traffic, urban typography as well as data from the drone itself. The system will crunch this data into a risk score which underwriter Allianz will turn into a price. Is the insurance sector ready for a data-driven revolution?

US promises fast-track for success in healthcare for big tech players [CNBC]

Health isn’t just a passing fad for some of the world’s most valuable tech companies. They’re moving from wellness wearables into the highly regulated medical sector. Luckily, they’ve found an important ally within the US government. This week, the FDA said it will offer fast-track regulatory approvals for medical software made by Alphabet, Apple, Fitbit and Samsung. Apple recently reported that it has teamed up with Stanford University to create an Apple Watch that can detect a heart rhythm disorder called atrial fibrillation. Is a personal doctor coming to a wrist near you sooner than we think?

Sit back, relax, and enjoy your trading [Quartz]

Kumesh Aroomoogan, was once yelled at for taking his eye off the news feeds at Citibank to go to the bathroom. From this traumatic experience Accern was born, a service capable of analysing data from over 300 million news websites, blogs, social media and financial documents. Quant hedge funds, where investment decisions are based on quantitative analysis, are Accern’s biggest customers. Accern aims to spot market-moving news much faster than any traditional trader. The goal: eliminate the manual process of dissecting multiple financial news websites and allow traders to go to the bathroom with a clear conscience.

Google helps media find new subscribers [Les Echos]

Much criticised for its impact on traditional media, Google has decided to make amends and to help companies like News Corp, the Financial Times and the New York Times to boost their subscriber base. Using AI and its own data, Google will help to identify potential new readers and propose tailor-made offers. Media outlets seem willing to dive deeper into the digital world to find new tech-driven ways to increase their revenues. To regain public confidence, they must invest in quality journalism, as discussed at a conference hosted by the Greens/EFA at the European Parliament. To find new sources of funding and to keep readers coming back, creativity is a must.

Do dating apps know you better than you know yourself? [The Guardian]

One very special Tinder user requested access to the personal data the dating app had gathered on him over the years. Shockingly – or not? - he got a whole lot back. Nearly 800 pages. Tinder’s privacy policy states honestly that “you should not expect that your personal information, chats, or other communications will always remain secure”. And yet its 50 million users either don’t care or don’t know about the implications. What happens if the data is hacked – or sold? The EU is working hard on making sure our private communications online are protected, but the question remains – will this be enough?

The Coming Software Apocalypse [The Atlantic]

We talk about devices and robots taking over, but we forget that all hardware is fuelled by software – lines and lines of code. Systems such as cars that were once built mechanically now rely on this code. While systems powering sectors from aviation to shipping have became more complex, coding has not. Codes operating today have created a new level of complexity that can cause unforeseen and complicated problems. Programmer and journalist James Somers believes that this will lead to more dark days of software failures. Coding evolution needs to gain steam as more and more lives depend on digital infrastructure.

In case you haven’t had enough:

The network effect means Uber is always likely to win in London [Wired]

How worried should we be about artificial intelligence? I asked 17 experts. [Vox]

Facebook’s war on free will [The Guardian]

Two women founders show way to top in tech outside Silicon Valley [Financial Times]

 

#TechAways is brought to you by Cambre’s Technology Practice led by Victoria Main and featuring François Barry, Zachery Bishop, Svenja Mai, Anne-Claude Martin, Simos Piperidis and Teodora Raychinova.

Questions, comments or ideas to zbishop@cambre-associates.com.

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