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“Digital inclusion” is one of the more troubling, broad, and amorphous problems of our time. The digital haves are getting richer, more efficient, and more creative while the digital have nots are being left behind.
It is one of the issues Fortune addressed in a CEO-level working group Tuesday at the annual meeting of the CEO Initiative, an event in San Francisco that explores how businesses can improve the world while pursuing profits.
There are parts of the world that don’t have the Internet, and some where smartphones remain scarce. But even where these digital tools are ubiquitous a gap remains. Technical acumen is uneven. Job requirements often ask for credentials that shut out those with the skills, but not the pedigree, to win the jobs. Artificial intelligence, the culmination of decades of computational advancement, scares the heck out of tomorrow’s workforce.
What to do?
The working group I moderated had three broad suggestions:
- Change the narrative. I was skeptical when Tiger Tyagarajan, CEO of consulting firm Genpact, proposed this. But the more he talked the more I realized he was right. Yes, AI is frightening. But it also opens new opportunities that will make life easier for many. One significant example: Remote healthcare powered by AI will bring medical care to multitudes who simply don’t have it—and never have.
- Change how technology is adopted. Great technology typically has been invented for and marketed to rich people. Academic Vivek Wadhwa is engaged in financing medical products for the “bottom of the pyramid,” a lucrative market if properly approached.
- Change requirements. Non-profit head Byron Auguste of Opportunity@Work has documented the number of jobs that require technical or advanced degrees that can be done by non-academic credentialed people—if only they get the opportunity.
None of these ideas will change the world or eliminate digital exclusion by themselves. Together, they’re examples of actions companies can take to share the technology wealth—and make money in the process.
Can’t quit you. Less than six months after prohibiting all digital currency-related ads, Facebook is easing the ban. Ads for the scam-filled niches of initial coin offerings and binary options will remain banned. But ads for cryptocurrencies themselves and “related content” will be allowed after going through a Facebook vetting process. The giant social network also announced it is abandoning an effort dubbed Aquila to build solar-powered drones that could offer Internet service in rural areas. Google dumped its similar Titan project last year.
Boiling the ocean. After years of building its massive online ad service with acquisitions, Google on Wednesday announced a grand unification and simplification of its offerings. Everything was divided into one of three new units: Google Ads, Google Marketing Platform, and Google Ad Manager. Fast Company calls the changes “mostly aesthetic–putting a Google branding atop products the company acquired over the last 10-plus years.”
Trying to quit you. Twitter is taking steps to get rid of spammers and fake accounts. The service will soon require new accounts to confirm an email address or phone number. It’s a small step but one that may complicate life for bad actors.
Blasting upwards. Still don’t think e-gaming is a thing? Amazon’s Twitch network reported almost 3 million people were simultaneously watching video game contests at the E3 conference on June 10. Total views during E3 hit 97.6 million, up 71% from last year, and the total minutes watched doubled.
Starmaker. With many of its rivals adding original content, Spotify announced on Tuesday it was hiring Dawn Ostroff as its new chief content officer. Ostroff, who previously led Condé Nast Entertainment and helped launch cable network The CW, will lead Spotify’s content partnerships for music, audio, and video.
Less biased computing. As noted in yesterday’s food for thought, AI apps can run into problems of bias based on how they are trained. But efforts are moving ahead to teach image recognition apps to better evaluate pictures of people who aren’t white. IBM announced it was making available a data set of pictures for training such apps that is “equally distributed across all ethnicities, genders and ages.” Microsoft also said its photo recognition app had dramatically reduced error rates for identifying women and men with darker skin.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
The online dating industry is one of the most competitive and hard fought markets in the digital world, with Match Group’s line up of Tinder, OkCupid and more going against eHarmony, Bumble, and, soon, Facebook’s new service. Fortune’s Leigh Gallagher takes a look at the state of the industry in a new feature story. Potential online daters have a lot of choices, she notes:
Match Group is the conglomerate parent to 40-plus brands in more than 42 languages, including Match.com, the granddaddy of the industry most popular with 30- to 50-year-old relationship-seekers; OkCupid, which took hold among urban hipsters by asking daters to answer a list of quirky ice-breaker questions (“Would you ever sleep with a serial killer?” “Are you annoying?”); Plenty of Fish, popular in the non-coastal U.S.; and Tinder, the revolutionary dating app that gave the world the “swipe” and all that came with it.
The company’s biggest competitors include eHarmony, known for its ads featuring founder Neil Clark Warren and its focus on long-term relationships; Spark Networks, the $135 million publicly traded (ticker symbol: LOV) parent of Jdate, Christian Mingle, and others; Badoo, which claims 380 million users worldwide but is used primarily overseas; and Bumble, the fast-growing upstart created in 2014, which allows only women, not men, to initiate contact.
For those singles who want something a bit more, well, specific, there are hundreds of other special-interest sites, from FarmersOnly.com to GlutenFreeSingles to ClownDating.com (slogan: “Everybody loves a clown … let a clown love you”).
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Google Maps Will Now Give You Personalized Recommendations. Here’s How to See Them By Lisa Marie Segarra
Why Apple May Be Lowering iPhone Prices This Year By Aaron Pressman
BEFORE YOU GO
Once confused with Chess, the Viking board game hnefatafl (pronounced “neffa-tafel”) was actually something quite different. After years of studying boards and pieces recovered from Viking burial sites, scientists say the game was a core element of the society’s culture. Atlas Obscura has a deep dive, if you’re interested in learning more.