Memorial Day is almost here and with it the unofficial start of summer. I celebrate Memorial Day each year with an annual camping trip with my brothers, my two boys, and my nephews. I’ll confess to not being the biggest fan of camping. I like the idea of camping. But somewhere between the idea of sleeping in the great outdoors and doing it is where camping seems to go wrong for me. Unfortunately one of my brothers likes to increase our camping difficulty each year. For example: What if we camped on an island only accessible by boat? What if that remote island didn’t have the basic amenities required for human life? What if that boat could barely bring two passengers safely to the island, but there will be twelve of us with luggage? So while you are sipping margaritas on the beach this weekend, please think of me living like Mad Max in my Adirondacks Thunderdome.
Okay, let’s get started with my thoughts on the tech news this week:
The Future of Work
With Covid cases declining and vaccinations rising, the debate over the future of work is heating up. I particularly liked Jacyln Greenberg’s Wired article on why you should never ever make her go into an office ever again for the rest of her life - like, ever. A close second was the Wall Street Journal’s article profiling the experiences of businesses as they return to the office. The Suits versus Pajama wars are here in full force. As Yoda said: “Begun, the Pajama Wars have.”
Fortnight vs Apple
You’ve all heard the Three Billy Goats Gruff tale about the troll under the bridge? In my modernized version of the story, the billy goat is Epic Games and the troll is… well, Apple. Yes, Epic Games is suing Apple for removing their app from the Apple Store after the company deliberately worked around in-store purchases. Head Troll, Tim Cook, says he is just trying to give the people crossing the bridge an “integrated solution of hardware, software, and services”. He also said that if he let people crossing the bridge know there are other ways across the stream, “we would in essence give up our total return on our IP.” I can’t say how this story will end, but Three Billy Goats Gruff has one of the most uplifting endings in bedtime stories for children: “And then he flew at the troll, and poked his eyes out with his horns, and crushed him to bits, body and bones, and tossed him out into the cascade, and after that he went up to the hillside.”
IRS Wants Your Crypto
What is it with President Biden and taxes? For years we’ve had a simple and understandable tax code in this country. While I am not a professional accountant, I believe the tax code reads something like this: (1) if you make a lot of money, you pay very little in taxes, (2) if you make less money, you pay a lot more in taxes, (3) if you are Big Tech, you don’t have to pay taxes, and (4) what is crypto? But Joe Biden wants to ruin all this by making people pay their fair share. In his latest salvo, he is proposing the disclosure of all crypto transactions over $10K. When it comes to taxes, he’s like a dog with a bone. Or as they say in the White House: like Major with a staffer’s leg.
Were you born between 1980 and 1985? If so, you may be suffering from an undiagnosed condition known as generation label deficiency. It is a serious condition in which you are too young for Generation X, but yet too old to be called a Millennial. You are in essence: without a generation label. Well, that is until this month. After much debate at the Global Millennial Leadership Conference in Davos, a decision was reached to include this “lost generation” in their community. This hard earned victory comes with a catch: all the trophies you will be awarded as a Millennial will refer to you as a... a Geriatric Millennial. The good news? As a newly minted Millennial, you now only have to work eight weeks before asking for your next promotion.
Charlie Bit My Finger
Well, it’s official: the NFT for Charlie Bit My Finger just sold for over $700K. Congratulations winner: you now own the only authentic copy of this viral video. If someone wants to see this incredible work of art, they must either visit the digital art gallery in your mansion - or they can just watch it on one of the millions of sites that still host the video. But you can be safe and secure in knowing that while anyone can view the video, they won’t get the same “authenticated” experience available to you and your guests. One of my favorite benefits listed on the auction site: the opportunity to "recreate a hilarious modern-day rendition of the classic clip (that will feature) the original stars, Harry and Charlie". Oh so fun! Totally worth $700K!
Ever since I learned to program at age 11 on the Apple II, I have been a devoted Steve Wozniak fanboy. So it makes me sad that after launching Woz U, an education platform for teaching computers and technical skills to adults, Woz was promptly sued for $1M. Apparently Woz agreed to launch a similar platform in 2011 called the Woz Institute of Technology (move over MIT, here comes WIT). Per the plaintiff, the deal was sealed with a photo of him shaking hands with Woz. So if you are someone with a photo of Woz shaking your hand - also known as someone who has gone to any trade show since 1978 - you too can now bring a frivolous lawsuit against him. I personally plan to sue him for that overpriced universal TV remote control he created in the late 1980s.
AI Writes Disinformation
Over the last six months, a group of researchers at Georgetown University used an algorithm called GPT-3 to automatically produce disinformation in response to news articles. For example, in response to an article on climate change, their software said: “I don't think it's a coincidence that climate change is the new global warming. They can't talk about temperature increases because they're no longer happening.” The project has been so successful, the researchers decided to give it the highest honor you can bestow on any disinformation software: a new code name of... Kellyanne Conway (okay, made that last part up).