Data Sheet—Thursday, October 20, 2016

Oct 20, 2016

Did you know that the origin of the term “red tape” comes from red ribbons used to tie up oodles of legal documents? Me neither. I learned it in Brian O’Keefe’s masterful explication of the pesky problem of red tape, which appears on the cover of the just-out issue of Fortune.

This is one of the articles we now refer to as “longform.” It can’t be summarized in a tweet, or even an essay topping a daily newsletter about the technology industry. What I can tell you briefly is that the problem is more persistent than you think. Combating red tape has confounded many a well-meaning crusader against it. Indeed, O’Keefe surfaces an argument that yards of red tape come from an unlikely source: business lobbyists who layer on restrictions and provisos to regulations that themselves become problematic rules that take armies of compliance officials to follow.

If there’s a bright spot in this report, it is the potential for technology to provide solutions. One analyst notes that the U.S. rulemaking machine is adept at adding rules but not removing them. There’s also no database of complaints about rules and therefore no “way to analyze the patterns and identify overlaps that need addressing.” If ever there were a perfect opportunity to unleash the power of deep learning, this is it.

Indeed, O’Keefe notes that IBM recently bought the consulting firm Promontory Financial Group, which helps clients navigate regulations. It plans to marry Promontory’s expertise with the artificial intelligence of its Watson technology to make better compliance systems. David Kenny, the head of IBM’s Watson unit, suggests the approach could work with other industries, including pharmaceuticals and self-driving cars. “After all,” concludes O’Keefe, “humans haven’t been able to eliminate red tape. We might as well let the computers have a try.”

Have an uncomplicated day.

Adam Lashinsky
@adamlashinsky
adam_lashinsky@fortune.com

BITS AND BYTES

Apple: Mark your calendars for Oct. 27. Apple sent out invitations to a press event slated for next Thursday. Analysts anticipate the electronics giant to refresh its line of Mac laptops, which have become less of a priority for Apple compared to the cash cow iPhone of late. Expect thinner and lighter devices featuring a USB-C port and touch-sensitive screen. (Fortune)
Verizon and eBay slide. The online marketplace eBay's shares tumbled 8% after the company forecast revenue of $2.36 billion to $2.41 billion for the crucial upcoming holiday season, lower than the $2.4 billion analysts anticipated on average. Verizon, meanwhile, said it had added far fewer monthly subscribers than projected—442,000 instead of analysts' estimated 766,300—causing the company's stock to plunge 6.7% on the news. (FortuneFortune)
LeEco puts ambitions on display. The Chinese tech company, little known in America, is determined to break into the U.S. consumer market. CEO Jia Yueting hosted a coming out party in San Francisco yesterday. LeEco wants to compete with household names like Apple, Samsung, Google, Tesla, and Amazon by undercutting prices on TVs, smartphones, video streaming services, self-driving cars, and more. (Fortune)
Meet Nintendo's new game console. The Japanese gaming company plans to release a three minute teaser video about its upcoming gaming system today at 10 a.m. ET. Little is known about the console, codenamed NX, other than that its debut is set for March. Nintendo's share price hiked 4% on the news. (Fortune)
By the way, starting today Fortune has a new logo. This is the tenth time in the magazine's 86-year history that the design has changed. You can view a chronology of the nameplate's evolution here.

THE DOWNLOAD

Google CFO Ruth Porat said at Fortune's Most Powerful Women summit that she empathizes with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Porat is no stranger to being singled out because of her gender. During Google parent company Alphabet’s annual meeting this summer, the company’s financial chief faced blatant sexism from a shareholder who referred to her as “the lady CFO” while referring to a man, Alphabet corporate secretary David Drummond, by name.
Speaking at a Wednesday morning panel at the 2016 Fortune MPW Summit in Laguna Niguel, Calif., Porat said she believes Clinton, too, faces gender discrimination. Read (and watch) more on Fortune.com.

ONE MORE THING

All new Tesla cars now have full self-driving tech. Elon Musk, the electric automaker's cofounder and CEO, said Wednesday that all the company's new cars are being assembled with hardware such as radar systems, cameras, and computers that give them complete autonomy. The move arrives early, as Musk said: "It will take us some time in the future to achieve validation of the software and acquire regulatory approval" before the cars can fully drive themselves. (Fortune)

This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Robert Hackett.
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