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Gideon Rosenblatt
Works at The Vital Edge
Attended Wharton School
Lives in Seattle
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Gideon Rosenblatt

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Human Behavior, as Guided by Artificial Intelligence

This was a fascinating piece to write. It's about neuroscientist Jeffrey Lin, who is dramatically reducing people’s toxic behavior in online gaming at Riot Games - by using artificial intelligence. This isn't some future vision. They flipped the switch a few months ago and it's working. 

What Riot has built is an artificial intelligence system that automates responses to toxic behavior in its flagship game, League of Legends. Think of it as an artificial immune response system.
Though I'm not personally a gamer, I felt compelled to understand how this system came to be. I wanted to understand how it worked and what its implications might be for influencing human behavior in other contexts. 

There are so many interesting facets to this story. I find it frightening in some ways, and very inspiring in others. 

Riot is clearly out front in applying artificial intelligence in gaming. I predict the next large-scale applications of crowdsourced artificial intelligence will be in social networks. Facebook and Google have snapped up the leaders of a particularly promising type of machine learning called Deep Learning, and Twitter is ramping up its artificial intelligence investments too. Demis Hassabis, CEO of Google’s DeepMind acquisition, recently noted that “In six months to a year’s time we’ll start seeing some aspects of what we’re doing embedded in Google Plus, natural language and maybe some recommendation systems.”

Hassabis made that comment about artificial intelligence here in Google+ just about six months ago. What do you think he was hinting at? Will it be used to better understand and match people's interests here? Also, Google+ is pretty tame on the toxic behavior bar when compared to sites like YouTube, reddit, 4chan, and online gaming, but could something like this be applied here too? Do we need it? Would we want it?

I will probably end up diving back into this story again soon. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it.

#humanbehavior   #ai   #artificialintelligence   #leagueoflegends   
Artificial intelligence is reducing toxic behavior in online gaming and could mark the future of influencing human behavior.
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Awesomeness! Please subscribe me +Gideon Rosenblatt​ thank you! 🌝 
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Automating Media Publishing

For those of you who may have missed this piece when it was first published on the Vital Edge, I'm now republishing it on Medium. 

It's longish, so the two sets of people most likely to be interested in this are: 
1) People in media and publishing
2) People interested in automation and technological unemployment

Lots of research went into this one and there are lots of good stats on employment, pricing and other impacts of automation in book, magazine and newspaper publishing. 

#media   #publishing   #technologicalunemployment  
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Thanks +Stuart O'Neill! And thanks for the comments over on Medium. Working on something right now, but will get to them later. 
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Pinterest as Google+'s New Target

If it's not abundantly clear already, Pinterest is emerging a much more clear competitive frame for understanding the future of Google+. It's an over-simplification, as there are significant difference, but it's still a useful one. 

A Newly Emerging Google Plus Strategy
The catalyst for this post were some thoughts from Bradley Horowitz just a couple hours ago: 

"Relieved of the notion of integrating with every other product at Google, Google+ can now focus on doing what it’s already doing quite well: helping millions of users around the world connect around the interest they love. Aspects of the product that don’t serve this agenda have been, or will be, retired. But you’ll also see a slew of improvements that make this use case shine."

Connecting people around "interests they love" is another way of saying connecting people through an "interest graph." The battle for the social graph is pretty much over, and Facebook clearly won. Google's new strategy is a clear acknowledgement of this and an indication that it sees the battle for the interest graph as: a) important and b) far from decided. 
So, why is the interest graph so important, you ask? 

Supporting the Knowledge Graph 
Google is making a huge bet on its Knowledge Graph, as a central strategy for maintaining the technological superiority of its search engine. In fact, you could say that this service is actually in the midst of transforming from a search engine to a knowledge engine. Google Now is the visible end of this wedge, a wedge which will soon emerge as a Virtual Personal Assistant, and eventually as a much more powerful artificial intelligence agent. 

Understanding which people care about and have influence on particular topics will be one of the very valuable products of deepening Google+ investments in the interest graph. That, in turn, will strengthen the company's ability to execute on its Knowledge Graph strategy. 

The Bigger Battle with Amazon
In the big picture, the real competitive battle that Google faces as a company - is with Amazon. People were recently asked their top three places for researching gift purchases in the holiday season. “Online search” registered 45%, down from 49% a year ago. Meantime, the channel growing the most in popularity was the one that includes Amazon, jumping to 37% from 31%. 

The Google-Amazon battle is actually a battle of business models, with Google running an advertising strategy and Amazon a commerce strategy. Sure, there are exceptions, and the lines can get very blurry with things like "buy now" button ads, but by and large, that is how the competition is falling out. When you think about it, the searches that Amazon is increasingly winning from Google are searches that are most closely tied to actual sales. They are, in other words, some of the most lucrative advertising that Google has. 

Going back to the interest graph, perhaps more than any other company in the world, Amazon has a very detailed and extremely valuable mapping of the products and services you care about. It has, in short, a very lucrative interest graph, deeply embedded into its commerce business model. 

As noted above, monetization isn't the only reason that Google is building its interest graph. That said, it will be monetizing its interest graph, and it will be doing that through an advertising strategy - not primarily a commerce strategy like Amazon's. 

The Pinterest Opportunity
Pinterest was founded in 2010, one of many startups launched around that timeframe based on the premise of the interest graph. The rest have long-since failed, but Pinterest is now valued at $11 billion and its revenue generating potential is just starting to build steam. 

Pinterest's monetization efforts around things like "buy now" buttons are generating lots of intrigue, but I believe the company represents something more than that. They are a kind of fusion between online advertising and a retail environment. Pinterest's CEO Ben Silbermann likes to differentiate Pinterest from Google by noting that the service is about "discovery," not "search." People like to browse collections in Pinterest, to become inspired, to have their interests piqued, to discover stuff through seeming serendipity that they weren't specifically seeking in the first place. In other words, there's a kind of grazing, browsing behavior on Pinterest that does sort of feel like a retail store. 

In other words, Pinterest, with its strength in discovery, falls someplace in between the Amazon and Google commerce and advertising strategies. Just as importantly, behind the scenes, Pinterest is building an interest graph, tied to commercially valuable topics. And unlike Amazon, they're not integrating this interest graph with the core competencies of warehousing, returns, fulfillment and other aspects of a commerce company. In short, they're building the kind of interest graph that's of interest to an advertising giant; an interest graph chock-full with all kinds of insights into what end users care most about. 

Like Google. 

The Differences
Just to be clear: I'm not saying that Google+ will or should suddenly start looking and behaving like Pinterest. Despite the new Collections feature, Google+ is a very different beast. I would be very surprised if we woke up one day to find "buy it now" buttons showing up on Google+. And I don't even think that we'll be seeing many collections of "my favorite lipsticks" or "my favorite dresses" - the kinds of collections that are very common and natural on Pinterest. 

That just isn't the culture here on Google+. No, I don't see Google attempting to replicate the kind of "retail" environment strategy that Pinterest seems to be headed towards. The management here is smart enough to recognize the culture differences between G+ and Pinterest. Although now that Google+ is freed from its broader corporate mandates, which I think helped it take a pass on revenue-generating expectations, I will go on record here saying that I would not be at all surprised to find Google reversing its policy of 'no ads' here on Google+ - possibly within the next year or two.

What I do see quite clearly is Google moving down a path where Google+ becomes a more powerful addition to its interest graph building capacity. Search is already a very powerful tool for tracking end user interests over time. What it's missing is the ability to note interest in a more passive browsing mode. This is the discovery mode that Pinterest makes so much of, and it maps nicely to the streams, photos and sharing that now describes the team that will be remaking Google+. 

Bradley Horowitz post on Google+ changes:

Pinterest CEO and co-founder Ben Silbermann, talking about Pinterest's strategy and the central importance of the interest graph:

The Interest Graph Maps Our Connections to Ideas and Things

Google’s  Biggest Competitor…is Amazon

What is Google+ (Really)?

#sharedinterestgraph   #pinterest   #amazon   #googleplus  
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+Peter Vogel Collections is somewhat useful and about 1/3 of a good idea, but suffers from both design and implementation. As does much on G+.
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Petrichor: The Smell of Rain
Yesterday, I was outside with my older son as a light rain was just starting to fall - the first rain here in Seattle for a while. We were both struck by the power of that wonderful smell; so much so in fact, that I had to try to understand what it was. I rarely excerpt Wikipedia at length, but in this case, I'll make an exception because it's so awesome. 

Petrichor (/ˈpɛtrɨkɔər/) is the earthy scent produced when rain falls on dry soil. The word is constructed from Greek, petra, meaning ‘stone’, + ichor, the fluid that flows in the veins of the gods in Greek mythology.

The term was coined in 1964 by two researchers, Isabel Joy Bear (Australian) and Roderick G. Thomas (British), for an article in the journal Nature. In the article, the authors describe how the smell derives from an oil exuded by certain plants during dry periods, whereupon it is absorbed by clay-based soils and rocks. During rain, the oil is released into the air along with another compound, geosmin, a metabolic by-product of certain Actinobacteria, which is emitted by wet soil, producing the distinctive scent; ozone may also be present if there is lightning. In a follow-up paper, Bear and Thomas (1965) showed that the oil retards seed germination and early plant growth. This would indicate that the plants exude the oil in order to safeguard the seeds from germination under duress.

Some scientists believe that humans appreciate the rain scent because ancestors may have relied on rainy weather for survival.

Wikipedia on Petrichor:

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Smell is our very powerful scent and, consciously or not, it brings back memories that we sometimes forget or take time to process.  For example, when I first opened up a bottle of tea tree oil which, at the time was " new " to me, I was blown away at the smell, which reminded me of the school / summer camp nurse's office of my childhood - well over 50 years ago.  I forgot that tea tree oil was part of the medicinal cabinet then ( I believe it was then referred to simply as a disinfectant ).  Just my 2 cents' worth :=)
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Rich Answer Box: Drop Downs

Check out the image below. I'm used to seeing Rich Answer Boxes at this point, but this is the first time for me to see a dropdown "People also ask" related questions in the search results. When I clicked on "Who developed behavioral therapy?", I got a Rich Answer Box for that question. 

cc: +David Amerland and +Mark Traphagen (who have probably already seen this, I'm guessing)

#RichAnswerBox   #Google   #Search   #semanticsearch  
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Thank you all for sharing this 
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Web as TV

A worthwhile read from someone who had a forced absence from the web for many years in an Iranian prison. 

One of the central arguments here is this: 

But the Stream, mobile applications, and moving images: They all show a departure from a books-internet toward a television-internet. We seem to have gone from a non-linear mode of communication — nodes and networks and links — toward a linear one, with centralization and hierarchies.

Thanks +Leland LeCuyer and +Denis Wallez for catching this one. +Yonatan Zunger, I've got a feeling you will find this one interesting. 
The Web We Have to Save
The rich, diverse, free web that I loved  —  and spent years in an Iranian jail for  —  is dying.
Why is nobody stopping it?

This long essay by +Hossein Derakhshan has not received the notice or attention I believe it deserves. The only person in my G+ Circles who shared this was +Denis Wallez. Why? Derakhshan deserves our full and focused attention if only because of the steep price he paid for reaching out to us. He writes from the authority of experience.

Derakhshan's imprisonment afforded him a Rip van Winkle lens through which to view the direction that the internet is heading. His critique of social media, including Google and G+, ought make us feel uncomfortable with its direction as well as with our own carefree joyride as passengers and sometime drivers. Many criticisms Derakhshan makes echo what I've heard from many of you from time to time, but we lack what the ancient Greeks termed pathe mathos or "the authority of suffering."

Here's a few trends Derakhshan noted:

• People used to carefully read my posts and leave lots of relevant comments, and even many of those who strongly disagreed with me.

• The hyperlink provided a diversity and decentralisation that the real world lacked

• The hyperlink was a way to abandon centralization  —  all the links, lines and hierarchies  —  and replace them with something more distributed, a system of nodes and networks.

• Nearly every social network now treats a link as just the same as it treats any other object  —  the same as a photo, or a piece of text  —  instead of seeing at as a way to make that text richer.

• Social networks tend to treat native text and pictures  —  things that are directly posted to them  —  with a lot more respect than those that reside on outside web pages.

• But hyperlinks aren’t just the skeleton of the web: They are its eyes, a path to its soul.

• When a powerful website  —  say Google or Facebook  —  gazes at, or links to, another webpage, it doesn’t just connect it  —  it brings it into existence; gives it life. Metaphorically, without this empowering gaze, your web page doesn’t breathe.

• But apps like Instagram are blind  —  or almost blind. Their gaze goes nowhere except inwards, reluctant to transfer any of their vast powers to others, leading them into quiet deaths. The consequence is that web pages outside social media are dying.

• The Stream now dominates the way people receive information on the web.

• The Stream means you don’t need to open so many websites any more.

• It feels great not to waste time in finding interesting things on so many websites. But are we missing something here? What are we exchanging for efficiency?

• Not only do the algorithms behind the Stream equate newness and popularity with importance, they also tend to show us more of what we’ve already liked. These services carefully scan our behaviour and delicately tailor our news feeds with posts, pictures and videos that they think we would most likely want to see.

• The diversity of themes and opinions is less online today than it was in the past. New, different, and challenging ideas get suppressed by today’s social networks because their ranking strategies prioritize the popular and habitual.

• The centralization of information also worries me because it makes it easier for things to disappear.

• But the scariest outcome of the centralization of information in the age of social networks is something else: It is making us all much less powerful in relation to governments and corporations.

• Maybe it’s that text itself is disappearing. Are we witnessing a decline of reading on the web in favor of watching and listening?

• But the Stream, mobile applications, and moving images: They all show a departure from a books-internet toward a television-internet. We seem to have gone from a non-linear mode of communication  —  nodes and networks and links  —  toward a linear one, with centralization and hierarchies.

• The web was not envisioned as a form of television when it was invented. But, like it or not, it is rapidly resembling TV: linear, passive, programmed and inward-looking.

• This is not the web I knew when I went to jail. This is not the future of the web. This future is television.

• I miss when people took time to be exposed to different opinions, and bothered to read more than a paragraph or 140 characters. I miss the days when I could write something on my own blog, publish on my own domain, without taking an equal time to promote it on numerous social networks; when nobody cared about likes and reshares. That’s the web I remember before jail. That’s the web we have to save.
The rich, diverse, free web that I loved — and spent years in an Iranian jail for — is dying. Why is nobody stopping it?
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Social media kills the web ...
and replaces it with some kind of monoculture.

Very interesting essay by +Hossein Derakhshan 

Thanks for bringing this to my attention +Gideon Rosenblatt !
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Ethereum Launches

We may look back on this day in history as the start of something important. Ethereum just went live. 

It's too soon to know just how transformative this new blockchain-based technology platform will prove to be, but I'm excited about its potential. 

#ethereum   #blockchain   #DAO  
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Google is attaching be sensors to its Street View cars in order to monitor pollution levels:

In the first pilot, three Street View cars collected 150 million air quality data points over a month of driving around Denver, Colorado. They measured for chemicals that are hazardous to breathe, like nitrogen dioxide, nitric oxide, ozone, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, methane, black carbon, particulate matter, and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).
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The earth is fine. The only ones in danger are the puny humans.
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Boosting Creativity with Software that Reduces Social Conformity

The trick is to avoid clustering, where the same people have the same experiences. We want Mike and Beth to see and discuss each other’s ideas, and Beth to interact the same way with Dan, but we don’t want Dan to loop back into Mike’s ideas. No two people see the same batch of ideas, so each person retains an independence that helps to combat social convergence. These partial connections within the overall group of participants provide some diversity while diminishing the pressure for conformity. You still have plenty of interaction, but it’s distributed across the full group, which can be of any size.

Good catch, +John Hagel​.
The paradox of collective intelligence - it can leverage diversity but also increase pressure for conformity
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Robert Wagner's profile photoDante Johnson's profile photoRaja Mitra's profile photoLightofthemoon Ahweheyu's profile photo
Yes, that's a good connection, +Leland LeCuyer​. I think that this touches on one of the really interesting systems design challenges in a world where more and more people have the potential to contribute ideas.
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Google Maps Will Help You Track Your Movements Over Time

Think of it as a personal scrapbook where you can pick and choose which locations you want to save and memories you'd want to preserve -- only you don't have to do much to record those moments. Google will do it for you.

#contextualcomputing #placebasedsoftware 
Google Maps has started rolling out a Timeline feature to desktops and Android users that shows their location history and associated information.
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Tighter Belts at Google

Google's new CFO, Ruth Porat, may well represent Google's peace offering to Wall Street. Let's hope this move doesn't mess the company up too badly for the long-haul. 

Google will still pursue long-term projects that have the potential to open new opportunities, Porat added, but she pledged to focus on “tight governance to ensure that the resourcing for them is appropriate.”

Porat developed a reputation for astute budget management while serving as CFO for Morgan Stanley before she defected to Google. Her hiring was widely interpreted as a concession to Wall Street, which had become frustrated with Google’s penchant for free spending. That exasperation was compounded by Google’s power structure, which gives Page and fellow co-founder Sergey Brin voting control over the company’s direction.

“There are some investors who have been looking at Google and saying, ‘They spend like crazy and I have zero recourse to change the direction, so I don’t want to be involved with them,’ ” Gillis said. “Their attitude had ruled out a whole class of investors.”

#shareholderprimacy   #DivineRightOfCapital  
Investor hopes for a more austere Google are largely tied to the arrival of a new chief financial officer, Ruth Porat, hired in May. Thursday’s release of Google’s report covering the second quarter indicates that Porat already may be shaking things up.
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Google homeservices, Nest, robots, Energy, wearables, IoT, fiber, fi, venture capital, $70 billion cash sounds like a cross between GE and Berkshire.
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Another hot trend, once again led by Seattle. Grunge, jets, mass market coffee shops, and now colorful armpit hair. 

Sounds like it's pretty much just women leading the way, but I'll be sure to let you know if I jump in.

I'm thinking blue. 
The Internet is up to its armpits with women who dye theirs. It’s a trend in Seattle.
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I just had to chip in that this will not work with me ever, but its a nice costume.
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I'm a technologist with a background in business and social change. I write about the impact of technology on organizations and society.
  • The Vital Edge
    Publisher and Writer, 2013 - present
    Disruptively good business.
  • Alchemy of Change
    Writer, 2010 - 2012
    Executive Director, 2001 - 2010
  • Microsoft
    Product Unit Manager, 1991 - 2001
  • US China Business Council
    1985 - 1989
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Beijing - Tokyo - Philadelphia - Washington, DC - Salt Lake City
What do we want our organizations and technologies to be when they wake up?
I'm a writer with a background in technology, business and social change. 

Most of my writing these days is at The Vital Edge, where I explore how technology affects organizations and the way people work. I am particularly interested in artificial intelligence, automation and networks and what they hold for the future of humanity. 

I believe in the human soul, and I believe it deserves a place in our understanding of organizations and technology. I have no interest in pushing religion or any particular spiritual point of view, but I do believe in exploring technology and human organization on a deeper level than is typical for these topics today. 

When it comes to my presence on Google+, most of my effort here is really aimed at connecting with people who are drawn to the questions I explore through my writing. I am active on Twitter (@gideonro) as well, and share content more frequently there, but my deepest online engagement is still here on Google+. 

My Story
For nine years, I ran Groundwire, a mission-driven technology consulting group, dedicated to building a more sustainable world. Groundwire specialized in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) databases, websites, social media communications, and engagement strategy as a way to help organizations mobilize people around sustainability causes.

Prior to Groundwire, I worked at Microsoft for ten years (back when it was cool), in various marketing, product development and management positions. While there, I developed CarPoint, one of the world's first large-scale e-commerce websites. I also marketed the world’s first digital encyclopedia and dictionary, and other innovative multimedia works.
I was raised in Utah, lived and worked in Japan and China for several years, and now live in Seattle with my wife, CJ, and two boys. Oh, and I am a proud board member of YES! Magazine.

#AI #automation #organization #technology #GoodBusiness #soul 
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  • Wharton School
    MBA, 1989 - 1991
  • Lewis and Clark College
    International Relations
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