domingo, 17 de febrero de 2019

Los cerebros ‘hackeados’ votan (por @harari_yuval en @elpais_inter )

 La propaganda y la manipulación no son ninguna novedad, desde luego. Antes actuaban mediante bombardeos masivos; hoy, son, cada vez más, munición de alta precisión contra objetivos escogidos.

Yuval Noah Harari: Los cerebros ‘hackeados’ votan | Internacional | EL PAÍS
La democracia liberal se enfrenta a una doble crisis. Lo que más centra la atención es el consabido problema de los regímenes autoritarios. Pero los nuevos descubrimientos científicos y desarrollos tecnológicos representan un reto mucho más profundo para el ideal básico liberal: la libertad humana. 
… 
Haga usted mismo la prueba. ¿Cree que la gente debe elegir a su Gobierno en lugar de obedecer ciegamente a un monarca? ¿Cree que una persona debe elegir su profesión en lugar de pertenecer por nacimiento a una casta? ¿Cree que una persona debe elegir a su cónyuge en lugar de casarse con quien hayan decidido sus padres? Si responde sí a las tres preguntas, enhorabuena, es usted liberal. 
… 
Por desgracia, el libre albedrío no es una realidad científica. Es un mito que el liberalismo heredó de la teología cristiana. Los teólogos elaboraron la idea del libre albedrío para explicar por qué Dios hace bien cuando castiga a los pecadores por sus malas decisiones y recompensa a los santos por las decisiones acertadas. 
… 
Los seres humanos, sin duda, tienen voluntad, pero no es libre. … Los seres humanos toman decisiones, pero nunca son decisiones independientes. Cada una de ellas depende de unas condiciones biológicas y sociales que escapan a mi control. … En 1776 y en 1939 no era muy grave creer que nuestras convicciones y decisiones eran producto del libre albedrío, y no de la bioquímica y la neurología. 
… 
Para conseguir piratear a los seres humanos, hacen falta tres cosas: sólidos conocimientos de biología, muchos datos y una gran capacidad informática. … de aquí a unos años, los sensores biométricos podrían proporcionar acceso directo a nuestra realidad interior y saber qué sucede en nuestro corazón.
… 
A veces la gente piensa que, si renunciamos al libre albedrío, nos volveremos completamente apáticos, nos acurrucaremos en un rincón y nos dejaremos morir de hambre. La verdad es que renunciar a este engaño puede despertar una profunda curiosidad. Mientras nos identifiquemos firmemente con cualquier pensamiento y deseo que surja en nuestra mente, no necesitamos hacer grandes esfuerzos para conocernos. Pensamos que ya sabemos de sobra quiénes somos. Sin embargo, cuando uno se da cuenta de que “estos pensamientos no son míos, no son más que ciertas vibraciones bioquímicas”, comprende también que no tiene ni idea de quién ni de qué es. Y ese puede ser el principio de la aventura de exploración más apasionante que uno pueda emprender. …si bien los filósofos son gente muy paciente —pueden discutir sobre un tema durante 3.000 años sin llegar a ninguna conclusión—, los ingenieros no lo son tanto. Y los políticos son los menos pacientes de todos. 
… 
Por desgracia, no son preguntas que suela hacerse la mayoría de la gente. En lugar de investigar lo que nos aguarda más allá del espejismo del libre albedrío, la gente está retrocediendo en todo el mundo para refugiarse en ilusiones aún más remotas. En vez de enfrentarse al reto de la inteligencia artificial y la bioingeniería, la gente recurre a fantasías religiosas y nacionalistas que están todavía más alejadas que el liberalismo de las realidades científicas de nuestro tiempo. Lo que se nos ofrece, en lugar de nuevos modelos políticos, son restos reempaquetados del siglo XX o incluso de la Edad Media.

domingo, 27 de enero de 2019

VTC y TAXI

En estos casos siempre recuerdo el chiste de la película Philadelphia.
¿Qué son dos abogados en el fondo del mar?
–…
Un buen comienzo.

¿A qué viene esto? A cuenta de que el conflicto entre los VTC y los taxis se deriva, primero, de una regulación (excesiva) y, segundo, de una regulación absolutamente arbitraria.
Y la regulación suele ser cosa de abogados…

Un taxi y un VTC son lo mismo exactamente, “una empresa” que compra una licencia para transportar pasajeros en un vehículo con conductor. Por lo tanto, la solución a este conflicto presenta soluciones alternativas sencillas y evidentes:

1.- Bajar la licencia a los taxistas 
2.- Subir la licencia a los VTC
y dejar a ambos con las mismas reglas de juego (cerradas o abiertas): horarios, descansos, precios, etc.

En definitiva, igualar y liberar el mercado. Hacen lo mismo, servir como vehículo de conveniencia a los que no queremos usar (o tener) vehículo propio para llevarnos de un sitio a otro. Es un servicio que ayuda a disminuir el uso del vehículo propio en la ciudad (principalmente), disminuyendo su tráfico y nivel de contaminación, con algunas ventajas (por ejemplo, servicio puerta a puerta) frente al autobús (espero que si aumenta el número de autobuses, los taxistas no se consideren atacados también).

Posiblemenete la cuestión sería subir la licencia a las VTC, porque si ahora se baja a los taxistas, a los que la compraron antes se les penaliza en cierto sentido… quizá empezar todos igual e ir rebajando el precio a medida que se renuevan.

Se trata de crear competencia y los clientes decidirán cuánta oferta es suficiente y qué servicio es el que prefieren. El coste es el que es y por debajo de ese importe nadie quiere trabajar; el que resulte muy caro no se usará.

Si se hace que paguen todos la misma licencia…
¿Qué sentido tiene que los taxis se puedan “llamar” estando en tránsito y que los VTC no? No podría ser que el VTC solo pudiera salir de una base.
¿Por qué no puede haber VTC en las paradas de taxi (paradas de SP de transporte)? El cliente elegiría el vehículo en el que se quiere desplazar.
¿Por qué tendrían que tener los taxis festivos y precios fijados artificialmente?

La plataforma electrónica para "llamarlos" es anecdótica, pero está claro que es muy práctica para que cada persona usuaria tenga su vehículo reservado… porque en días de lluvia es un incordio intentar coger un taxi porque siempre hay una persona listilla que se ponga algo más abajo en la calle según vienen los vehículos para interponerse y que lo recojan primero.

“Full disclosure” (siempre he querido decir esto…): he sido un ávido usuario de Mytaxi.
Es más barato que los VTC en caso de reserva y hay más cantidad de vehículos, por lo que también son más rápidos en las recogidas (aunque es más impredecible en la rutas y el precio)…  perfectamente podría seguir combinando ambos servicios.


Pero no quiero hacerlo con una patronal del taxi ensañada con los usuarios de VTC, destrozando la herramienta de trabajo de los trabajadores de VTC, que bloquea ciudades enteras con sus protestas, una patronal que no propone soluciones, solo restriccciones a los VTC. 

Andar, autobus, metro, patinete/bicicleta/motocicleta "on-demand" y VTC…

domingo, 20 de enero de 2019

I have a 300-year plan ~Masayoshi Son

 via @exponentialview Why SoftBank's Masayoshi Son is Silicon Valley's power broker by @fastcompany

‘The entrepreneur’s ambition is the only cap to the company’s potential,’ 

There is no one on the planet right now in a better position to influence this next wave of technology as Son. Not Jeff Bezos, not Mark Zuckerberg, not Elon Musk. They might have the money but not Son’s combination of ambition, imagination, and nerve. The network of companies within the Vision Fund, if they succeed, will reshape critical pieces of the economy: the $228 trillion real estate market,



the $5.9 trillion global transportation market,



the $25 trillion retail business



We won’t be able to turn Vision Fund–backed services and technologies off like computers and smartphones. They will, ultimately, have minds and thoughts of their own.



sábado, 19 de enero de 2019

Business Model Canvas vs Lean Startup vs Disciplined Entrepreneurship

via @detoolbox Building a Bulletproof Startup: Business Model Canvas vs Lean Startup vs Disciplined Entrepreneurship:
An in-depth overview of the methodologies reveals a hidden truth: none of them is universally valid. As I said, there is no one Startup Bible that guarantees redemption from uncertainty and the perilous journey. Each of them focuses on very different aspects of a startup. Using them together, as different tools and toolboxes in the arsenal of an entrepreneur, is the best approach to building a successful venture. Instead of choosing one and hope for the best possible outcome, I would recommend combining them.


Business Model Canvas 

-Pros
Visual, easy
Focuses on value
Helps with understanding the customer beyond simple marketing parameters

-Cons
It’s a map of the destination, but with no compass
It has a fixed architecture
Being very minimal, it can give a false impression


vs Lean Startup 

-Pros
Provides the right mindset for entrepreneurs to deal with uncertainty
Focus directed at user/customer
Important concepts as MVP and pivoting

-Cons
Could give entrepreneurs a false illusion of progress through failure
Encourages focus on product vs business (build/measure/learn)
Process leaves a lot of room for founders to avoid hard questions and take the wrong approach


vs Disciplined Entrepreneurship

-Pros
Focus on business side of a startup
Clear and detailed map from beginning to end
Focuses on numbers and process to reduce uncertainty

-Cons
The steps metaphor gives the false impression of a linear process
Lot of effort in dealing with multiple unknown business variables before getting to the enjoyable part of the process (building the product or technology)
Focus on the path & tools, not on how to be an explorer or the clarity of the destination

viernes, 18 de enero de 2019

Jean-Louis Gassée's memories on Apple

 excerpts from @Gassee memories on its years at Apple

Starting Apple France

After two rounds of interviews, I sign my employment agreement over dinner at the (now defunct) Le Duc restaurant in Geneva on December 12th, 1980… the very day of Apple’s IPO.

Undeterred, I land at SFO in February, 1981, and immediately drive down to Apple’s Silicon Valley mothership in Cupertino, CA. When and where is the training course? You know, like at Data General where they run a tight induction curriculum with eliminations along the way?

Nothing of the sort.

Well, how about an Apple ][ I can take to the hotel so I can learn on my own at night?
I had pored through the Apple ][ technical documentation on the plane, was struck by the elegant simplicity of Steve Wozniak’s design, and wanted to get moving. … After much hemming and hawing a kind staffer lends me her machine.

I arrive at the Sunnyvale Hilton late at night and am met with apologies… Up in the suite I delicately place the Apple ][ onto the bed (there’s no desk), gently toggle the power switch, and behold the perfection of… VisiCalc.

…seeing my three-piece pinstripe suite and befuddled mien, the officer took pity on me… 
The suit felt out of place as I entered a conference room on what would one day become my first Cupertino office, a building known as Bandley 3. Steve Jobs was sitting cross-legged on a credenza, picking his toenails. I felt relieved, I was leaving the Exxon stiffs and rejoining the tribe of unhinged techies.

…the package labels said AppleWriter, a modestly serviceable word processor written by Paul Lutus. I inquired about sales volumes and found out that Apple had shipped more word processing programs in one month than the entire word-processing industry (where I just came from) in one year.

I had made the right decision.

Pre-EU Common Market regulations simplified the movement of goods across borders, so we used procedures originally designed for vegetables and fruits (pun unintended) to move computers from The Netherlands, a friendlier trading nation, into France. A company called Seedrin (last three letters of my name plus last four of my street) was set up in my name as sole proprietor, with a total capital of 20,000 Francs (about $3K), and given an exclusive contract to take orders and deliver goods from an Apple warehouse situated in an ex-US Military camp in Zeist, Netherlands.… All we needed were offices and a buffer warehouse. We soon located a building that Pharma company Choay no longer needed. Luckily, it was close to my old HP France, a target for recruitment efforts. I soon met Choay’s CEO who demanded to know how a $3K-capital company was going to make rent. I explained that this was just a disguise to go around government hurdles. This, as he thoroughly disliked regulators, pleased him greatly and led him to give us the furniture for free.



Different Apple Distribution Game

The Apple ][ was a fantastic machine; the always-clever marketing campaigns were becoming more insouciant and (in retrospect) “Apple-like”; the distribution logistics hummed along… but there was one thing that bothered me: Sales. Not the sales numbers, but Sales’ attitude towards retailers.

With a long and friendly history with their current distributor Sonotec, a family business run by the avuncular and flexible Georges Zimmeray, they had mixed feelings about Apple taking over its own distribution.

our sales people didn’t work on commission. To add a bit of “competitive encouragement”, I set up a small PFS:File program that tallied daily, weekly, and monthly sales-per-person. Every morning, I printed the latest and passed it out to the entire team

And it was more than just Apple products. In my first Cupertino visit, I chanced upon a demo by French hardware developers Mssrs. Chaillat and Chaligné. They had designed an Apple ][ extension card that bypassed the mediocre native NTSC and, instead, provided a clean RGB display using the French mandated Peritel connector that was available for a number of display devices, included the ubiquitous Trinitron monitor. … This sort of impulse buy wasn’t exactly standard company policy, but the product looked very good, so did the numbers, and Apple management was otherwise preoccupied… a perfect illustration of the freedom and benign neglect that I found so compelling during my years at Apple — in France.



A Resonant Apple France Message


I fondly (and nostalgically) recall how the company published an Apple Magazine with, if my recollection is correct, a story by Johnathan Livingston Seagull’s author Richard Bach in one issue, and a Ray Bradbury poem titled Ode To The Quick Computer in another. I only recall the poem’s last verse: So cowards, what are you afraid of

We got along nicely and he smilingly approved of my simplified view of his trade: Marketing’s primary task is positioning, defining identity. Put another way, if you don’t have a clean, clear, resonant identity, there no story to tell — and your efforts and budgets are wasted.

We zeroed on the raison d’être of Personal Computers, and on what Apple PCs did for humans.
Symbols, the alphabet and Hindu-Arabic numerals were humankind’s one of, if not the, most important inventions. With symbol strings, one could write Elizabethan poetry, religious scriptures, math, physics, Wall Street greed…

Steve Jobs, who would later position Apple at the intersection of technology and liberal arts, called his machines bicycles for the mind. In France, at the time, we used ULMs (Ultralight Motorized planes) as a metaphor.

So, we endeavored to put more specifics on the mind-body extension virtues of our PCs. Because we all need simple, sharp taxonomies, we decided our personal computers helped with five activities: Think, Organize, Communicate, Learn and Play. And we pointed to software products as examples.



Almost Illicit Fun


Lionel’s most notable creation for us was La Fondation Apple pour le Cinéma. When he began outlining the project, I told him we couldn’t possibly afford the cost of such an operation. In fact, he told me, he knew of a need we could inexpensively fulfill: helping young and always cash-strapped movie directors promote their movies. For 30,000 francs (say $20K today) the Foundation could pay for posters on downtown columns advertising movies and theater shows. He’d assemble an unpaid jury of actors and scriptwriters friends, take everyone to Martinique, expenses paid, for a few days of relaxation and movie reviewing, and of naming a winner to be drummed up.

at the Cannes Film Festival, a French radio reporter put a microphone in my face and demanded to know what a computer company had to do with the movie business. This was a golden opportunity to explain how Apple was different, how we stood for tools for creative pursuits, as opposed to instruments of oppression mechanizing office tasks. The gent chuckled, everyone understood what/whom I meant.

While, in the US, Apple marketeers were struggling to promote the company as a worthy opponent to Big Blue and its clones, at Apple France, we decided a frontal attack was the road to perdition. Early in our existence, we had decided to position Apple as providing tools for creative pursuits, only occasionally getting our machines in the forbidden office fortress through the side door…

I need to add this worked in a French culture that didn’t particularly like IBM, and where Apple’s California Chic, helped by Steve Jobs’ already mythicized charisma, made us the People’s Liberation Army From Computing Oppression.

I inserted myself in the heated exchange and asked the unhappy customer if he wanted us to buy his system back because “we couldn’t afford a single unhappy Apple patron…”. The answer was a resounding NO, he wanted to keep his Apple ][. Next, I arranged for the customer to bring the dead system to our service department. As a special favor, we’d recycle a board from an otherwise dead machine and bring his machine back to life. Lastly, I asked for his child’s age. Why? For the t-shirt, of course (Apple t-shirts were items then); I want to thank you for the opportunity to make things right.

From then on, we made giving t-shirts to complainants an unofficial practice.
...
Because she had an extremely seductive, clear radio voice, my dream was to have her read stories to callers as they waited. She immediately accepted, told me she’d do it for free as a thank you, and that she’d write the stories herself. These were sweet little tales that markedly changed the mood of callers. Some even asked to be put back on hold because they wanted to hear the end of the tale
...
Mac trouble was to become my opportunity, and an occasion to make a series of cultural mistakes when landing in Cupertino in the Spring of 1985



Mac Hopes And Troubles

It’s November, 1983; I’m sitting in the auditorium at Apple’s worldwide sales meeting in Honolulu. The house lights dim and “1984” begins. Conceived by ad agency Chiat/Day, directed by Ridley Scott of Blade Runner fame, and destined to be aired nationally only once (during the 1984 Super Bowl)…
...
To this day I remember the electrifying effect on the audience, and troubled thoughts regarding mass persuasion —criticized on screen and, without irony, performed right in the room.

Apple’s assembled sales organization was delighted by the Mac’s enchanting presentation, its (almost) never-seen-before user interface. But there was a nervous energy under the surface: Would the Macintosh save Apple from the IBM PC and its clones?

Born in 1981, almost three years before the repeatedly delayed Mac, the 16-bit IBM PC had made mincemeat of the 8-bit Apple ][ (and of the troubled Apple ///). With the introduction of the PC XT and advent of Lotus 1–2–3 in 1983, the competitive situation had become even more severe. The XT sported an integrated hard disk, something Apple machines lacked. …
For a supposedly stodgy company, IBM’s PC marketing was surprisingly clever. They appropriated Charlie Chaplin as a mascot and ran a very successful TV ad campaign that positioned their machine as the personal computer. I was stunned: They’re stealing our song!

Apple replied with cheeky “Welcome IBM” ads. At the time, I felt this was twice mistaken. Not only did it make us sound presumptuous, but why were we spending money advertising the opposition’s ware? (I realized, later, that I was wrong about the former count: It was a good idea to position Apple as an equal — and precursor — of IBM.)

sales of the original 128k Macintosh were hobbled by its relatively high price ($2,495) and the same lack of features that hurt the Apple ][ — no hard disk, no office productivity software, no Lotus 1–2–3.…

By early 1985, Mac sales still weren’t taking off and sinking sales of the Apple ][ were to lead to the shutdown of the company’s Texas manufacturing plant and the company’s first-ever layoff. Something had to be done.

Having gained something of a foothold in the “creative space” and education applications, Jobs thought we could sell the French government on having a large local company such as Thomson take a license to build Macs and sell them to the education market, thus creating a success story and fatter numbers.
I recall how I felt when Mitterrand expressed his vision of Computing For The People: This is our pitch. And we promptly and efficiently took up the refrain. Luckily, our US masters were launching a Kids Can’t Wait marketing blitz targeting the Education market. We piggy-backed on it, called it L’Avenir N’attend Pas (The Future Can’t Wait), exploited government regulations again, and sold beaucoup Apple ][ machines as well as the color monitors we had had “made to measure” by Philips Italy. (The monitors were the idea of Michael Spindler, the recently departed and much-missed friend who was then European Marketing Chief.)

A talk that Sculley gave to our staff describing Apple’s future was the best business talk I had ever heard, and I told him so. I wasn’t flattering him, it was my honest feeling and my hope for the company’s coming years.

To counter the Mac’s perceived and real weakness in business productivity apps, Jobs came up with the concept of a Macintosh Office including a Local Area Network (LAN), a File Server (essentially a networked hard drive), and a networked laser printer. This was vintage Jobs: A grand vision supported by a spectacular demo. Unfortunately, it was only a demo.
....
I addressed a pair of notes to Sculley in which I dissected Jobs’ story. The Mac Office concept was never going to become a reality (I wrote), and even if the fantasy could be true, it wouldn’t solve our Corporate America market problem.

My memos were not universally well-received, to say the least, but neither was the 1985 Mac Office. (However, the LaserWriter and the AppleTalk LAN were later to become key components of Apple’s Desktop Publishing push.)

Also, strange as it may seem, I was a rarity compared to most Cupertino senior execs: I had actual, repeated computer technology experience. All of the above led to an invitation to move to Cupertino in the Spring of 1985. Or, to put it another way: “Enough criticizing. If you’re so sure, why don’t you come over and help us fix things?”



Hard Landing In Cupertino. Steve Jobs Fired

Initially, I was to work on a putative “Software Division”… The idea was to encourage third-party developers to write software for the Mac, and to help them make a living doing it.

I was to report directly to CEO John Sculley… Caught between the two, I was adamant: I couldn’t work for Apple’s mercurial and controlling co-founder. Previous trips to Cupertino and Jobs’ visits to Europe had convinced me that I didn’t (yet) have the temperament or the inner sense of security to “collaborate” with him.

In the spring of 1985, Jobs brought things to a head by approaching members of Apple’s exec team, asking them to side with him and run Sculley out of town. It backfired; the coup failed and Jobs was deposed. In the reorganization that followed, I became VP of Product Development.

The Jobs I knew in 1985 had no experience outside of Apple. As Bill Gates once felicitously said, “success is a terrible teacher”. … The success of the Apple ][ might have seduced Jobs into believing that he knew…
NeXT was different story. It was a technical success but not a commercial one. When Apple came calling in late 1996… NeXTStep, the company’s foundational software, had lain fallow for some years; the company was focused on WebObjects, a set of software tools aimed at helping businesses develop e-commerce and other web-based applications.

Back to 1985, I found myself in a dangerous, paradoxical position. I, too, lacked experience. I had never run an engineering organization, my knowledge of computer technology was largely acquired on the job and on weekends torturing hardware and software. And yet, I was given the reins to Apple’s engineering organization
The Mac group was ailing but thought of itself as much superior to the “traditional” (read stodgy) Apple ][ engineers, calling them bozos and other charming names. The Apple ][ people thought the Mac folks were a bunch of arrogant, ungrateful bastards. After all (they said), it was the Apple ][ that paid everyone’s salaries; the Mac was just a pretty demo.

My mission was simple — or simple to state, at least: Get the Mac out of the ditch and create a cohesive organization that unites the engineers.

As we’ll see in the next two parts of this series, culture (not technology) and my own emotions were to be the most difficult challenges.



Getting The Mac Out Of The Ditch

When I landed in Cupertino in May 1985, I had a few simple ideas for short and medium improvements that would help sales, and was happily surprised by the support that most of these ideas got inside the engineering community.

I count 30 faces around the conference table. That’s one too many. As Apple’s newly-appointed VP of Product Development, according to a temporary org chart, I start with 29 direct reports…
Engineers liked to call HR the Thought Police, KGB, Gestapo… and insisted these were meliorative nicknames. …tended to create political turmoil as they overplayed their power-behind-the-throne role at the highest levels of the company. Even more regrettably, I allowed myself to get sucked into the turbulence.

May, 1985: Apple ][ sales are falling; the Mac has yet to take off. We need to make some changes, pronto, that will attract new customers and keep the old ones coming back.
…the proposed Apple IIGS (“G” for graphics, “S” for sound) was undeniably superior to earlier Apple ][s and the current Mac, but it used a virtually unknown processor with a doubtful future and offered so-so compatibility with earlier Apple ][ models…

On the Mac side, I suggested we needed to do three things: Implement a few quick improvements that will make the Mac feel more muscular, design an “open” Mac with interface card slots and color display capabilities, and slide a robust operating system kernel under the existing Mac OS.
…made their way into the next Mac offering, the Macintosh Plus, announced in January, 1986. The most important new feature was the incorporation of a SCSI connector that let you plug in an external hard drive. Less conspicuous were double-sided floppies, a larger ROM, and a doubling of internal memory (RAM) to 1MB

Unfortunately, the suggestion that we introduce a kernel into the Mac OS was completely unsuccessful.

I’ll venture that Jobs’ decision to “go light” with the Mac was a result of the Lisa. The Lisa had a proper, home-grown multitasking OS that was far ahead of its time

We didn’t have time to write such a complex piece of code, so we looked at companies such as Hunter & Ready who would license a kernel. Problem almost solved.

But then we realized that the task of delicately lifting the existing Mac software base, disconnecting and reconnecting blood vessels and nerves —that, too, would take time that was beyond our budget…
As we got busy with the short and medium term fixes for the Mac product line, Apple engineer Sam Holland came up with another, longer term idea: Let’s develop a quad processor of our own for future Apple personal computers
To simulate the microprocessor, codenamed Aquarius, we bought a Cray supercomputer and used AT&T Microelectronics as our development partner. This wasn’t the AT&T that we now love to loathe as a wireless carrier, it was the technology giant whose Bell research labs gave us Nobel laureates such as Arno Penzias and Steve Chu, and a long list of inventions including the transistor, cellular telephony, the C programming language, the Unix operating system, the original non-blocking telephone switch and many more.

…Also noteworthy: The AT&T Microelectronics relationship led to the Newton project, and then on to another company’s hardware… but that’s a later chapter.



Cupertino Culture Trouble

Moving from Paris to Cupertino, from running a distribution company to heading Apple’s engineering proved more challenging than I had naively expected.

I land in Cupertino in May 1985 with three strikes against me:
– I’m a true Parisian.
– I’ve been the head of a successful team running Apple France.
– I have no experience running an engineering organization.



… It isn’t just that my unfiltered comments aren’t well received, but that I’m disoriented by the lack of engagement; there’s no ritual give-and-take that ultimately clears the air. It’s as if an invisible steel curtain has descended between the engineers and me.

The ever-present HR parson (felicitous typo gratefully accepted) who’s attached to this new alien suggests that I ask questions rather than give immediate and unmediated feedback. … They wonder why a marketing person is leading Apple’s engineers.



Following the HR rep’s suggestion, I start to ask questions. Actually, a single two-part question: What are you doing, and Why?

For the What, I rely on a variant of my old I Can’t Be Stupid gambit: If I don’t understand what you’re saying, either you don’t actually know what you’re talking about, or you’re withholding something. As for the Why, please don’t say you’re just following orders — I know you have a mind of your own; and don’t hide behind “marketing demanded it” as if you respect marketing. Tell me how your work serves the common purpose. Does it improve performance, reduce cost, increase reliability, forge a killer feature?

…But after the “recalibration” my interactions with the engineers are the best part of my five years in Cupertino. …

The not-best part combines past habits of the heart and mind from my Apple France role, my own insecure, assoholic behavior, and what I perceive to be the fearful incompetence of the marketing side of the house.



I also vociferously disagree with marketing’s obsession with “winning” Corporate America through a frontal attack on IBM and its clones. Indeed, we are doomed if we take that approach, the opposition is too firmly entrenched. I argue that Desktop Publishing is a perfect example of a “side door” approach that’s ready-made for Apple and the Mac. 

The suggestion falls on deaf ears. Not only are my past ventures in field sales dismissed as irrelevant because they happened in an alien country, I’m now seen, by the marketing folks, as a mere techie who has wandered out of the labs. I can’t win.


… One particularly perceptive individual tries to set me straight when I protest that I respect his role. “Indeed, you respect the function…but you show too much disdain for the person.”


But, in the end, the engineers’ strong work saves me.

In March 1987, we announce the Mac II; the Open Mac promised on my license plate; and the Mac SE, an evolution of the original Mac with an internal disk drive. (The machine earns us justified gibes for its noisy fan, but it sells quite well, nonetheless.)
…getting promoted to a broader role greased the path to my exit from Apple.


Firing Frankness

My boss asks me what I really think of him. HR advises me to tell the truth. I’m fired.



As we wait for our cars, Sullivan puts his arm around my shoulder: “Jean-Louis, I’m proud of you…” After half a decade in Cupertino, I know what this means: What I have done is irreparable.

Soon, engineers are marching outside with placards that read Jean-Louis Don’t Go.
The demonstration, small and brief as it is, changes the course of what should have been a typical, quick departure. Apple management is concerned that some engineers might elect to follow me, wherever I may land. My protest that I wouldn’t dream of such a thing is met with disbelief (perhaps I was a bit too sincere). As a result, the terms of my departure are altered: I’m asked to “stay around” until the end of the company’s fiscal year in September.

Thus begins a paradoxically pleasant eight months. As a minister without a portfolio, I’m occasionally called upon to offer clarification on unimportant issues, but otherwise I have little to do. Some HR staffers who had their own views of my firing are sympathetic; they ask me what the company can do to make my “stay” more comfortable. Perhaps I’d be interested in courses on Japanese calligraphy and conversation?


He had been my benefactor in the past, and he’s still the boss. When the general and his lieutenant disagree too much, the lieutenant must go. Sculley has made the right decision.

It had taken less than three years to go from the high of shipping the Mac II and the Mac SE to the fateful dinner.

He wants to form a new company that will develop a tablet featuring handwriting recognition. I should give him a pep talk, point out that Apple is in great shape with so many interesting projects ahead of us. Without thinking, I ask him if he needs a CEO.
…a dedicated building on Cupertino’s Bubb Road. Thus, the Newton project is born.

My responsibilities are expanded, a fancy “Senior” is added to my title…

Another project, the Mac Portable, isn’t as successful. Convinced it’s going to be too big and heavy, I want to bench the project lead and ask Sony to partner with us to develop a much smaller portable Mac. …I get strong push back on the proposed moves, complete with accusations of being anti-American. I lose my nerve and capitulate. … (I get the last laugh, however: In October, 1991, the PowerBook 100, the “tenth greatest PC of all time”, is released…designed and manufactured by Sony.)


… Just for crossing the street, I’m rewarded with an even fancier President (of Apple Products) title, and add Manufacturing and Product Marketing to my portfolio. The Manufacturing part is especially exciting: I can’t wait to head over to the factory to “work” on the production line…where I immediately embarrass myself by puncturing the loudspeaker while affixing a part to the Mac’s front bezel.

…Some of the other execs question the value of working a few days on the line: How much can I really learn there? “Certainly more than if I hadn’t,” is my defiant answer.



By this time I’m really on the ropes, politically. Proximity to the executives has proven to be the diplomatic disaster I had anticipated; my “raise prices” advice is openly scorned; my behavior is considered strange, almost embarrassing. So imagine my surprise when I get the highest exec bonus for the fiscal year ending in September. I feel vindicated, but the bonus is actually just a cadeau de rupture, a breakup gift. The next January, Sculley invites me to dinner in Palo Alto.

During my calligraphy hiatus, I briefly contemplate an offer to be moved back to France, perhaps as the head of Apple Europe, an arrangement that would appear less spectacular than being fired. But after a rainy Sunday afternoon spent reading Barbarians At The Gate, and an animated evening dinner with a group of French expats, including Philippe Kahn and Eric Benhamou, I realize: “This is where I want to be and what I want to do.”

miércoles, 9 de enero de 2019

Time for us to quietly contemplate who and what we are.

 by @gassee Valley Spirituality – Monday Note

While our range of worship choices is, in general, commendable, it’s easy to become disconcerted by the anything-goes, make-your-own-religion attitude. But I’m not completely confused: Even if they intersect, I don’t equate religion with spirituality. Actually, I fear the excesses of organized religions, amply documented over centuries of oppression and bloodshed.

As the title of Les’ and Teresa’s book signals, we’re yearning for something better than our material selves. This hunger, or worry, is gaining intensity as technical innovations force us to contemplate our nature. The gene manipulation that’s “permitted” by promising and potentially lifesaving technologies such as Crispr has recently led to gene-edited infants. Are we just things? Will we use technology to create new and better things, smarter students, better soldiers, more obedient factory workers, and, (why not?) slaves?

I chose to see the meeting as an example of spiritual pursuits living in quiet, comfortable coexistence with hardcore business.

So is Buddhism the answer to our spiritual quests? That’s above my pay grade. But what I can say is that Buddhism is alive and well in the Bay Area. …

By now you can accurately guess one of my 2019 New Year wishes: Time for us to quietly contemplate who and what we are.

domingo, 30 de diciembre de 2018

La Educación

No soy filósofo, ni sociólogo, pero creo que el conflicto armado, la disputa con las manos, la intolerancia, la violencia … no son posibles cuando entre las dos partes en confrontación se es capaz, a través de la educación, de diferenciar la diversidad de opiniones de la necesidad de liarse a tortas.

Un poco por estas consideraciones y también un poco por prepararme para unos cursos que era posible que tuviera que impartir, decidí realizar el CAP (Curso de Aptitud Pedagógica) y en la memoria utilicé unas ideas de un documento de Apple que cayó en mis manos y del que, sorprendentemente, he conseguido borrar todo rastro... 

El documento habla de la enseñanza personalizada, como contraoferta a la enseñanza de "café para todos" existente en la actualidad y esta era mi manera de expresar algunas de sus ideas:

"Con los medios tecnológicos actuales y la mayor parte de las infraestructuras ya implementadas, por qué no se financia la inversión tecnológica (y no solo los ordenadores, sino las telecomunicaciones, porque es en la red donde reside la fuerza de los mismos) para orientarnos a una enseñanza personalizada. Cuando nos hemos convertido en un país de servicios, dejando la era industrial detrás, tanto por la deslocalización empresarial como por la propia evolución de nuestra economía, nuestra educación sigue respodiendo a un modelos de enseñanza industrial, de café para todos, en la que no se cuenta con el bagaje cultural, las preferencias educativas, las ambiciones ni las capacidades (o incapacidades) de los alumnos.

Con un planteamiento de enseñanza personalizada el profesor se liberaría de la dieta única para sus alumnos, frustrante puesto que no todos la pueden seguir igual ni les va a afectar igual. El profesor podría ser creativo y, por lo tanto, al desarrollarse interiormente, alcanzar una mayor plenitud en su realización profesional, una de las de mayor vocación.

Con la enseñanza personalizada, la edad y la procedencia geográfica de los alumnos no tiene mayor importancia. Simplemente se agrupan en las materias de su interés, de las que los profesores, en lugar de limitarse a los libros de texto o a los PDFs en la intranet, orientarán a los alumnos para que éstos encuentren por sí mismos el conocimiento en otras fuentes.

A través de la enseñanza personalizada y las clases virtuales, los alumnos descubrirán que no se trata de aprender sobre tecnología, sino de aprender sobre el lenguaje, como escuchar, como escribir y cómo expresarse claramente.

Lógicamente el absentismo bajaría a través de la enseñanza personalizada, no hay que llegar a clase ni trabajar en el horario establecido, sino cuando a uno le convenga, de este modo los alumnos trabajan más y la calidad de la enseñanza mejora. El ritmo de estudios, además mejora de manera sustancial, puesto que un alumnos puede pasar de ser “el último de la clase” (y desmotivarse) a descubrir que a su ritmo puede ir superando obstáculos, marcándose sus propios objetivos. De esta manera la disciplina se la impone el mismo alumno.

El aislamiento es uno de los miedos en la enseñanza personalizada, pero se ha de considerar que la personalización difiere de la individualización en su enfoque colaborativo. Los alumnos no se sentirán aislados en un foro que los agrupe, no por edades, sino por intereses. De esta manera, a través de la ayuda que se presta a otros en los foros, se cataliza el propio aprendizaje. Suena ligeramente a “wikipedia”, pero el reto de los profesores es controlarla sin censurarla y su motivación para estar al día. Si a ello añadimos un ambiente de enseñanza virtual, con una buena intranet con recursos, control de trabajos, resultados, recogida de opinión de los alumnos… encontraremos que el aislamiento no es un factor a temer.

La enseñanza personalizada es la construcción frente a la instrucción. El paso de los libros de texto a los PDFs no es suficiente. La verdadera enseñanza no es distribuir contenidos educativos a los alumnos, sino la interacción con las personas y los contenidos para crear tu propia enseñanza. Este misma afirmación, desde el punto de vista del alumno es válida igualmente: el aprendizaje no es que te den “algo que estudiar”, sino que a través del intercambio de opiniones con otras personas y de la criba entre diferentes contenidos el alumno se genere su aprendizaje.

Del mismo modo, la enseñanza personalizada es la creación frente al consumo. Aprender a través de proyectos imaginativos que requieran crear algo, mucho más que a través de consumir información, sea ésta o no digital. Hay que ayudar a los alumnos a que se ayuden a sí mismos. Es el modelo de negocio de Google: no tienen la información pero te ayudan aencontrarla por ti mismo. O el de eBay: no venden nada pero te ayudan a comprarlo a quién sí lo quiere vender. 

Del mismo modo, la web antes era un montón de “sites” mandando información a quién los visitaba. ¿Qué es hoy? La web 2.0, un lugar donde los usuarios crean el contenido. La enseñanza personalizada significa que el estudiante puede hacer sus propias contribuciones. En cuanto a los profesores… efectivamente podría darse el caso de que los alumnos dominen más la herramienta que el propio profesor, pero ahí está el reto y va decreciendo en la medida en que los formadores se renuevan. Evidentemente el perfil tecnológico de quien se jubila dentro de 10 años no coincide en nada con el del que se incorpora ahora, tras un proceso de estudios “normal”.

Es el momento de iniciar la transición de las “fábricas de enseñanza” del siglo pasado a la enseñanza personalizada, que trata de hacer un traje a medida de las habilidades, la cultura y las ambiciones del estudiante.

A través de la enseñanza personalizada se elevarán los estándares educativos porque:
  • Crece la atracción del estudiante por sus estudios (los elige él, en base a su persona) 
  • Crece la motivación de los profesores porque les permite pasar del café para todos a una enseñanza a medida, más creativa 
  • Ayuda a los estudiantes a superar los límites geográficos y de edad respecto a lo que quieren aprender y a despojarse de la tímidez o el pánico de ser “el último de la clase” 
  • Sin desatender que, a diferencia de la enseñanza individual, la enseñanza personalizada parte de un planteamiento colaborativo y que reside en el profesor animar a los alumnos a hacer dar un enfoque creativo a su aprendizaje y supervisar el resultado.

Lo que significa que la enseñanza personalizada requiere un cambio de paradigma en la práctica educativa desde la instrucción hacia la construcción."

lunes, 17 de diciembre de 2018

Second annual AI index report (@verge via @exponentialview)

 an interesting article The AI boom is happening all over the world, and it’s accelerating quickly - The Verge

…findings from a group of experts were published in an ongoing effort to help answer those questions. The experts include members of Harvard, MIT, Stanford, the nonprofit OpenAI, and the Partnership on AI industry consortium, among others, and they were put together as part of the second annual AI Index.

“There is no AI story without global perspective. The 2017 report was heavily skewed towards North American activities. This reflected a limited number of global partnerships, not an intrinsic bias,” reads the 2018 report’s introduction. “This year, we begin to close the global gap. We recognize that there is a long journey ahead — one that involves collaboration and outside participation — to make this report truly comprehensive.”

In that spirit of global analysis, the second AI Index report finds that commercial and research work in AI, as well as funding, is exploding pretty much everywhere on the planet. There’s an especially high concentration in Europe and Asia, with China, Japan, and South Korea leading Eastern countries in AI research paper publication, university enrollment, and patent applications. In fact, Europe is the largest publisher of AI papers, with 28 percent of all AI-related publications last year. China is close behind with 25 percent, while North America is responsible for 17 percent.

When it comes to the type of AI activity, the report finds that machine learning and so-called probabilistic reasoning is far and away the leading research category by a number of published papers. 
Not far behind, however, is work on computer vision, which is the foundational sub-discipline of AI that’s helping to develop self-driving cars and power augmented reality and object recognition, and neural networks, which, like machine learning, are instrumental in training those algorithms to improve over time. Less important, at least in the current moment, are areas like natural language processing, which is what lets your smart speaker understand what you’re saying and respond in kind, and general planning and decision making, which is what will be required of robots when automated machines are inevitably more integral facets of daily life.
China is heavily focused on agricultural science, engineering, and technology, while Europe and North America are focused more on the humanities and medical and health sciences, though Europe is generally more well-rounded in its approach to research.
As far as performance goes, AI continues to skyrocket, especially in fields like computer vision. By measuring benchmark performance for the widely used image training database ImageNet, the report finds that the time it takes to spin up a model that can classify pictures at state-of-the-art accuracy fell “from around on hour to around 4 minutes” in just 18 months. That equates to a roughly 16x jump in training speed. Other areas like object segmentation, which is what lets software differentiate between an image’s background and its subject, has increased in precision by 72 percent in just three years.
AI will only continue to get more sophisticated, but there are a number of hurdles, both technological and with regard to bias and safety, before such software could be reliably used without error in hospitals, education systems, airports, and police departments.



sábado, 15 de diciembre de 2018

Testing the resilience of Europe’s inclusive growth model,

The New McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) research,  focuses on prospects for inclusive growth in the period to 2030—possibly the largest driver of citizens’ life satisfaction.

Europe’s inclusive growth model and the European Union’s (EU) welfare-based social contract appear to be under threat amid limited growth in median income in recent years, falling trust in institutions (both EU and national), discomfort about mass migration, worries about security as well as the resilience of global agreements, and a rise in populist politics that challenges the status quo.

Europe now needs to respond to six global—and interacting—megatrends that could push inequality higher within EU member states and among them and increase social and economic divergence, placing the inclusive growth part of the EU social contract in even more peril.

Given these trends, Europe needs to be proactive about testing new ways in which the social contract might work in the case of the future of work, low-carbon lifestyles, and technology ethics, for instance. Overall, however, we find that Europe may be able to preserve the essence of its welfare-style social contract, if it delivers superbly on all its current initiatives that are linked to, and aim to respond to, the megatrends.

Among initiatives with the best outcomes for inclusive growth, the EU and European countries might have to scale up green and technological innovation and develop new skills. While inequality will likely grow as new social policies unfold, these new approaches might be financed by the returns on those policies, and, in the process, mitigate rising inequality, and helping to head off anti-EU sentiment. Social divergence within member countries is likely to persist and must be tackled with the EU complementing the actions of member states.





It simulates the challenges and opportunities ahead in several scenarios and focuses on the impact of the six megatrends.

-Much of Europe has returned to growth, but its inclusiveness remains under pressure


-Six megatrends could test the resilience of Europe’s inclusive growth model
  1. Ageing demographics
  2. Digital technology, automation and AI
  3. Increased global competititon
  4. Migration
  5. Climate change and pollution
  6. Shifting geopolitics


-The megatrends may mean that Europe faces higher inequality and more social divergence




-Action in three areas is required to strengthen Europe’s inclusive growth model:
  1. Fully execute a deliver scenario
  2. Complement growth with improved measures to promote income equality within and across countries
  3. Amend the parameters of the social contracts



Executive summary






jueves, 6 de diciembre de 2018

The Spatial Web

The Spatial Web Will Map Our 3D World—And Change Everything In the Process

Over the next two to five years, the world around us is about to light up with layer upon layer of rich, fun, meaningful, engaging, and dynamic data. Data you can see and interact with.

This magical future ahead is called the Spatial Web and will transform every aspect of our lives, from retail and advertising, to work and education, to entertainment and social interaction.

Massive change is underway as a result of a series of converging technologies, from 5G global networks and ubiquitous artificial intelligence, to 30+ billion connected devices (known as the IoT), each of which will generate scores of real-world data every second, everywhere.

…the Spatial Web refers to a computing environment that exists in three-dimensional space—a twinning of real and virtual realities—enabled via billions of connected devices and accessed through the interfaces of virtual and augmented reality.

In this way, the Spatial Web will enable us to both build a twin of our physical reality in the virtual realm and bring the digital into our real environments.

It’s the next era of web-like technologies:
  • Spatial computing technologies, like augmented and virtual reality;
  • Physical computing technologies, like IoT and robotic sensors;
  • And decentralized computing: both blockchain—which enables greater security and data authentication—and edge computing, which pushes computing power to where it’s most needed, speeding everything up.
Geared with natural language search, data mining, machine learning, and AI recommendation agents, the Spatial Web is a growing expanse of services and information, navigable with the use of ever-more-sophisticated AI assistants and revolutionary new interfaces.

– – – – – –
How the Spatial Web Will Fix What's Broken About the Internet

To recap, while Web 1.0 consisted of static documents and read-only data, Web 2.0 introduced multimedia content, interactive web applications, and participatory social media, all of these mediated by two-dimensional screens—a flat web of sensorily confined information.

During the next two to five years, the convergence of 5G, AI, a trillion sensors, and VR/AR will enable us to both map our physical world into virtual space and superimpose a digital layer onto our physical environments.

Web 3.0 is about to transform everything—from the way we learn and educate, to the way we trade (smart) assets, to our interactions with real and virtual versions of each other.

And while users grow rightly concerned about data privacy and misuse, the Spatial Web’s use of blockchain in its data and governance layer will secure and validate our online identities, protecting everything from your virtual assets to personal files.

In this second installment of the Web 3.0 series, I’ll be discussing the Spatial Web’s vast implications for a handful of industries:
  • News & Media Coverage
  • Smart Advertising
  • Personalized Retail