Ford Exec: ‘We Know Everyone Who Breaks The Law’ Thanks To Our GPS In Your Car – Business Insider

Ford Exec: ‘We Know Everyone Who Breaks The Law’ Thanks To Our GPS In Your Car – Business Insider.

While Ford’s VP of Global Marketing and Sales has since tried to retract his statements, it is fairly obvious that his original assertion that “[Ford] know[s] everyone who breaks the law, we know when you’re doing it. We have GPS in your car, so we know what you’re doing.”  is, in fact, spot-on the truth. While Ford may not be currently doing nefarious things with the data is collects from the GPS devices is it now installing in all of its vehicles, it does highlight the fact that companies that create products we buy and own are now collecting data on us over which we, as consumers, have zero control or ownership.

Data collection of this scope and nature raises huge privacy concerns, and certainly offers even further potential in-roads for the government to collect surveillance data on individuals. As you may be aware, recent court decisions have held that law enforcement cannot palce GPS trackers on automobiles without first obtaining a warrant from a court to do so. With the collection of this kind of data by car companies such as Ford, there is now no deed for law enforcement to obtain a warrant to track a suspect. They can simply demand the records maintained by Ford, for which, based on current case law, there is no requirement for a warrant.

While I am neither a Luddite decrying the dangers of technology, nor a paranoiac assuming that either the Governement or “Big Business” are out to get us, this sort of widespread and pervasive data collection clearly points out the need for a robust public debate over the meaning and boundaries of privacy in the digital age. While there is immense good (economic, social, and otherwise) that we can do with all the data we are now capable of (and are in fact) collecting and analyzing, there comes with it significant dangers of destroying personal privacy altogether and eroding the civil rights accorded to U.S. citizens under the U.S. Constitution.

While this debate had begun to come to the forefront of many people’s consciousness with the revelations of the activities of the NSA by Snowden, it is increasingly clear that the definition of privacy and privacy rights of individuals (and even businesses) is something that requires wide ranging thought, analysis, robust public debate, and in the end decisive legal action. Both our economy and our personal freedoms depend the outcome of the process. We cannot simply afford to sit by and “see what happens”. The statekes are far to great.

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Tech patent system criticism: Judge Posner dishes following Apple case

Tech patent system criticism: Judge Posner dishes following Apple case.

Judge Richard Posner, who recently dismissed the Apple-Motorola patent case, is again speaking out on the issue of software patents.

In a recent interview with Reuters, Judge Posner questions the utility of applying patent law to computer software. Citing the relatively lower cost of R&D for software (vs. other industries, like pharmaceuticals) and the growing complexity of electronic devices, such as smart phones, which may incorporate thousands of components, each of which may be the subject of multiple patents, raises the specter of courts clogged with endless patent litigation .

While there are strong arguments available both for and agasint applying patents to software, the increasing discourse, even among jurists, of the implications of the current course of patent law and patent enforcement makes it clear that there is clear need for reform in the system. Rationalizing the competing interests of incentivizing innovation by protecting intellectual property and preventing the creation of technological roadblocks to further innovation is an acute need. Nor can we move towards a balancing of these interests too quickly, as the other thing that rational markets need are predictable rules by which to play. Currently, the rules are anything but predictable, and this retards investment in technology.

In a still-sputting economy, disincentives for new investment and new innovation are the last things that we need.

Where the jobs are: How innovation sparks growth — Tech News and Analysis

Where the jobs are: How innovation sparks growth — Tech News and Analysis.

This article is comprised of three short videos from Enrico Moretti, a UC Berkley economics professor and author of the “The New Geography of Jobs.”

The series examines the importance of innovation hubs, the effect that such innovation hubs have on the wider economy (“halo effects”), as well as what the characteristics of a successful innovation hub are.

The “article” highlights the essential nature of innovation to our economy and that the creation, care, and feeding of the innovation sector(s) is the sine qua non of a sustainable, thriving economic future.

Content does not want to be free (nor should it)!

A thought-provoking article by David Lowery (one of my music heroes) about the impact of piracy on musicians and other artists. While I have many issues with how our intellectual property laws have failed to adequately and meaningfully keep up with technological changes, David very correctly (and persuasively) calls out those who seem to feel that creative content should be available for free.
Creative content is neither free to produce nor is is without value. If we are not willing to pay those who create and distribute content, then there will be no incentive to create and distribute this content. With no incentive, the availability of content will wither. This is neither moral nor economically (let alone aesthetically) desirable.
While I continue to believe that we need to find ways to update our intellectual property laws to make them more flexible and able to deal with the changes that technology is bringing to our economy. (Not only can we not put the genie of technology back into the bottle, we should not wish to.) That does not mean, however, that we can or should want to sacrifice our morals or the economic necessity of incentivizing artists and other creators of content we want to consume on the alter of disruptive change.

Technology has already brought many changes to our economy and it will continue to do so. This evolution of the information economy does not change the fundamental fact that intellectual property has real and tangible value and that those who create and distribute it should be able to enjoy the benefits of this value.

The Trichordist

Recently Emily White, an intern at NPR All Songs Considered and GM of what appears to be her college radio station, wrote a post on the NPR blog in which she acknowledged that while she had 11,000 songs in her music library, she’s only paid for 15 CDs in her life. Our intention is not to embarrass or shame her. We believe young people like Emily White who are fully engaged in the music scene are the artist’s biggest allies. We also believe–for reasons we’ll get into–that she has been been badly misinformed by the Free Culture movement. We only ask the opportunity to present a countervailing viewpoint.


My intention here is not to shame you or embarrass you. I believe you are already on the side of musicians and artists and you are just grappling with how to do the right thing. I applaud your courage in admitting…

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Exclusive: Housing chief leaves Morgan to launch buy-to-rent fund | Reuters – Risk and Opportunities Abound

Exclusive: Housing chief leaves Morgan to launch buy-to-rent fund | Reuters.

Another sign of not only improvements int he housing market in general, but of the opportunities investors are seeing in the creation of buy-to-rent portfolios.

There is, however, still considerable risk in such ventures. BC&S has been working with several such funds as the housing market has bottomed out and opportunities for investment have bloomed. Successful investment funds require significant financial and tax planning, risk mitigation, and appropriate operational and structural infrastructure to take optimum advantage of the opportunities in this type of investment. For those willing to “do it right”, though, many opportunities lie ahead.

Fundable debuts as a Kickstarter for corporate set — Tech News and Analysis

Fundable debuts as a Kickstarter for corporate set — Tech News and Analysis.

Here is another platform which is being launched in the wake of the growing crowd-sourced funding revolutions.  (See my earlier post on others riding this wave:   Kickstarter Rescues Startups that VCs Won’t Touch – But Here’s What’s Missing )

This new platform steers away from the more creative venture base, in which Kickstarter finds its roots, and aims squarely at companies seeking to raise money to build projects or reach business goals.

The crowd-source funding market is a quickly growing and very interesting space. While there is danger in unsophisticated investment, there is clearly room in the capital markets for democratization and disruptive innovation. If these two goals can lead to better, faster, cheaper, and more flexible access to money for business innovation, then it may be that we are truly standing at the edge of the next great economic revolution.

Interesting times!

Innovation isn’t dead, it just moved to the cloud vs. The Golden Age of Silicon Valley is Over — FIGHT!

Point: ‘The Golden Age of Silicon Valley Is Over, and We’re Dancing on its Grave’

Counterpoint: Innovation isn’t dead, it just moved to the cloud — Cloud Computing News.

Two set of opposing views on the state of innovation. One decries VC in Silicon Valley chasing short money on the next big social media product instead of sinking money into cancer research or computer chips. The other posits that we need to redefine innovation.

Both of these articles are interesting and have many valid points, but they largely get lost as they both mix (somewhat indiscriminately) several very different (albeit intersecting) sets of issues. One is the state of Silicon Valley itself as an start-up environment. Another issue are current trends in VC investing. Yet another issue is the role (both philosophical and economic) of VCs in driving and shaping  innovation. And finally is the current state of innovation in the IT field.

Perhaps it is impossible to address any of the these in a vacuum. Clearly there are nearly unbreakable lines of intersections between these.

It would probably take a doctoral dissertation length paper to meaningfully address the confluence of these factors. My take-away from these articles, is several-fold:

1) There are significant problems with permitting our economy to be driven to greatly by investment premised largely on short term maximization of return. In order to incentiveize investors there must be tangible and realizable gain. But if that gain is more about “How quick can we cash out?” then we stand a great risk of failing to fund fundamental, longer-term science and technology innovation which can take far longer to develop and mature than consumer services type products.

2) There appears to be significant danger created by the over concentration of investment in silicon valley versus other emerging technology hubs. There is much to be said about the efficiencies of concentrating investment in environments with high numbers of qualified workers (and dreamers), where there are many synergistic companies that can cross pollinate. Conversely, over concentration lends itself towards the development of a monolithic, self-referential mind-set. If everyone is running int he same circles, looking at the same competitors, drawing from the same talent pools, and clustering around the same educational institutions, true “innovation” becomes harder and harder and what you are more likely to end up with is either “differentiation” or “evolution”.

Even these two points alone could take up a lot of words (and doubtless, a number of them will be mine over coming blog entries).

I think that the central premise that I come to in these articles is that, while Silicon Valley neither is going away nor should it, our nation (and the world) desperately needs to lavish greater attention and money on other hubs of innovation: Atlanta, Boston, The North Carolina Research Triangle, Waterloo (Canada), just to name a few. These are all areas where there are tremendous concentrations of talent and the necessary infrastructure to create centers of innovation that could serve to both counterbalance the march to the monlothic occurring in Silicon Valley and which could provide the competitive catalyst needed to drive a more robust innovation economy.