Spillikins №594. Facial recognition in the US - refusal of corporations to work with the police

The world continues to go into protests, they have spread almost all over the planet, and the epidemic has not disappeared anywhere. On the other hand, in Moscow there is a complete feeling that the epidemic as an event has ceased to exist - the streets are filled with people, they are walking, sitting at the tables of “closed” cafes and restaurants. As if there was no quarantine and the disease is no more. This is a very dangerous behavior that will provoke a new increase in the number of cases, otherwise it simply cannot be. However, this is clearly seen in other countries, where all restrictions have been abruptly lifted. But we will not talk about this, but will focus on the protests and how they affected technology. Let's go!

Content

Face recognition and corporate refusal to work with the police in the US

An amazing phantasmagoria is unfolding before our eyes, in the USA they justify shop robberies, vandalism of monuments, as this is considered a form of protest. Of course, it is impossible to say that such manifestations of aggression, the lack of a minimum education are characteristic of the whole society, but judging by the news feeds, this is a noticeable part of the ongoing events. The polarity of opinions goes off scale not only in America, but also in other countries, for example, in the UK, there were judgments that Winston Churchill was a notorious racist and therefore a monument to him in central London was decorated with inscriptions. And the government hid it in an iron box so that they would not try to demolish it, as they did in several cities in America with a monument to Columbus. What Christopher Columbus did wrong is not very clear, but there is an underlying feeling that the struggle against racial prejudices and racism has gradually developed into a war of the uneducated part of society that does not receive modern benefits, against those who can somehow join them. Under what slogans it goes is not so important, it rather comes to the fore how it happens.

The problem with the “protesters” and their open clashes with the police, robberies of shops and other illegal actions is that today they get into photographs, videos and further it is a matter of technology how to find these people and bring them to justice. Having succumbed to emotions and taken clothes, electronics or something similar out of the store, the protesters become defendants in criminal cases, and the very photos and videos, including those taken by security cameras, and not by other people, serve as evidence. Therefore, breaking into the stores, the “oppressed” demolish the cameras with such frenzy, they recognize them as a threat.

Mass demonstrations are somewhat reminiscent of a DDoS attack, the number of threats is so great that the police cannot be in a hundred places at the same time, and therefore robberies go on with such ease. But the security systems record what is happening, moreover, the existing facial recognition systems quite confidently show who was involved in the robberies. And not only in them, but also in attacks on the police, other citizens, and so on.

Spikers #594. Face Recognition in the US - Corporations Refusing to Work with the Police

Source: Matt Rourke/AP

And do you know what is happening in America against this background? What can be called a logical and understandable phenomenon is in no way possible. Corporations are starting to publicly refuse to work with police departments in different cities, they stop selling them facial recognition software. Sounds unbelievable? But this is true, but not all.

The first company to refuse to work with the police in this area was IBM, their position in this market, to put it mildly, is none Watches Wallet Belt and Spray. Accordingly, the corporation does not incur any noticeable losses, but this is far from the reason. There are currently no laws in the US that govern the use of facial recognition. Moreover, the results of police operations, in which the initial data is obtained using facial recognition, are questioned in court, as the accuracy is quite low. Even more interestingly, recognition accuracy drops for people with black or dark skin, which many have already dubbed racism. But the fact lies elsewhere, AI algorithms were trained on a sample of different people, but there were clearly more whites in it. The fact that there is no problem in what kind of persons to train the systems we see in China, where such tracking systems are effective and widespread, the country is a leader in such developments and their practical application. Interestingly, there are several teams in Russia that have achieved an extremely high level of facial recognition, their technologies are among the most advanced in the world, but the general public does not know about it.

Immediately following IBM's announcement, Amazon put a moratorium on one year and stopped providing their facial recognition systems to the police, just like IBM, they asked the government and the Senate to create a set of laws that would regulate the use of this technology .

Such a unanimous speech by such different companies seems to the protesters to support them, but everything is much more prosaic. In the absence of state laws, these tools are in a gray area. And in the courts, good lawyers can challenge their application, as well as the accuracy of recognition. As a result, each erroneous recognition will bring millions of dollars in losses, which can be received by the victim. This risk was negligible until recently, as the number of detentions and arrests using only facial recognition was small. And at the same time, there were always other clues that unambiguously pointed to a person. In protests that have taken a very different approach to the US, corporations are waiting for mass arrests based only on photos, videos and subsequent facial recognition. The number of erroneous detentions could skyrocket, as could subsequent legal claims by detainees. There is no support for the protest, this is an assessment of one's own risks and an attempt to avoid losses. Today, America's corporations are not fighting the police, but forcing the latter to put pressure on the government to pass laws that will exempt them from any prosecution in court, protect them from the cost of paying victims when systems malfunction. Therefore, when you read articles about how some Americans praise the conscience of the same Amazon, you are amazed at the naivety. Even just looking through the news about how Amazon is doing its business, you will have a clear understanding that there are no flirting with employees, this is the most severe sweatshop, where the safety of individuals does not play a big role. And suddenly this company is on the side of the protesters? Utopia.

Many people around the world do not want to believe in the real world, they are poisoned by Hollywood films and stories about equality, freedom of speech and the opportunity to speak openly about what is happening. The protests themselves have a lot to do with this, with the cognitive dissonance between what is happening in reality and what the propaganda shows. In past Spillikins, we touched a little on the topic of social networks and the fact that Donald Trump is outright lying in his tweets. As a result, Twitter flagged such tweets, indicating that the information in them does not correspond to reality.

Spikers #594. Face Recognition in the US - Corporations Refusing to Work with the police

Facebook, where exactly the same information was posted, had no tagging. This caused serious discussions within the company, some employees were outraged by the silence of the management. Zuckerberg met with some of the employees in the company's office, tried to defuse the situation, but it didn't work out very well. So, during the meeting, many asked why the company took a position in relation to Donald Trump that violates the rules of Facebook. Any other person would have received a warning or been permanently banned for saying things the President of the United States does. Facebook did nothing of the sort, but simply remained silent and did not discuss this issue.

What happened next? One of the company's engineers, Brandon Dail, has been publicly critical of the company's management, and has done so repeatedly. Moreover, he publicly accused his colleague of not including words of support for the Black Live Matters movement in a developer paper he was working on. As a result, he was fired. Facebook, of course, did not comment on the reasons for the dismissal, but confirmed that it took place.

In my opinion, everything that is possible is mixed here again. Facebook employees often confuse company policy with big politics and believe that Facebook management's statements should be unambiguous. But it so happened that Facebook simply does not share them and therefore punishes those who become too active in the public field. Exactly the same thing happened last year at Google, this year it also happened at Amazon. The punishment for those who break corporate rules is quick and easy enough, public flogging for everyone else to keep their mouths shut. This is the reality of our world, and not what is shown in the movies. Moreover, all these companies are focused on extracting maximum profit and have succeeded in this. So as long as states pay for their technology and allow them to avoid problems, they will work with them and they do not care about the rights of certain groups of people. They are stopped by only one threat, the possibility of incurring losses. Rough? Yes. But this is the real world, and not fiction of PR specialists for wide use. Let's look at another fudge that upsets the protesters - the NYPD budget.

New York City has some of the highest police spending in the US, with the New York Police Department being one of the most technologically advanced, implementing systems that only later appear elsewhere. But the inhabitants of the city do not know anything about most of them. A couple of years ago, New Yorkers turned to the city council, they wanted the city to disclose information about what systems the police have, how citizens are being monitored. The difference in approach is visible even at the verbal level - what residents call surveillance, the mayor's office considers security systems. And it's like with scouts and spies, the assessment depends solely on which side you are on. The mayor of New York has repeatedly rejected all requests regarding the systems used and the disclosure of the principle of their work, the motivation sounds logical - the criminals do not understand how the police work is organized, which makes it possible to effectively prevent many offenses.

One of the main providers of software for security systems in New York is Microsoft, the company has bundled together different sensors, cameras into a cloud system, access to which is regulated at the level of each service. The Domain Awareness System (DAS) is very complex in every sense, it has cameras that read license plates on the streets and in tunnels, sensors that evaluate weather conditions and the content of chemicals in water / air, radiation sensors and much more.

A very detailed list of technologies used, with a detailed description of each of them, can be found here.

From the above, I was surprised by trucks with “X-ray” installations (I think that the type of technology there is completely different, but it’s rather a sonorous name), which allow you to shine through cars and look behind the walls of houses, in search of something like that. A system of sound sensors that focuses on the sounds of shooting in the city, and not only on them. Very advanced, diverse systems, the NYPD budget is so high precisely because of the saturation of technology, and for no other reason.

But the protesters believe that a huge budget goes to the police, to their salaries. Which of course is not true at all. The level of their earnings corresponds to the standard of living in New York, and with this in mind, even lower than in many other cities in America. Another thing is that the technical equipment is noticeably better, there are more technical specialists who service the hardware and software.

Do you know what is happening in America today with law enforcement agencies in terms of unrest, how the technical component is changing? The police and not only she suddenly needed large amounts of storage in data centers, they store all the information they can reach - social media records, videos and photos. And in the future, they will simply look for signs of the participation of all detainees in the riots in order to add trouble and problems to them, to increase their sentences. During the first week of riots in the United States, about 10 thousand people were detained, the police do not make any difference in what they were detained for, such statistics do not exist.These are both those who robbed shops and civilians who participated in demonstrations. And in some ways these detainees were lucky, because while the databases do not have all the information about the riots, their faces are not driven through the latest information about the crimes, it will appear later. But there is no doubt that the bases will be filled and used to search for those who participated in the offenses. So the police will be allowed to blow off steam when the situation calms down a bit. For some reason, I have no doubts that the detentions will be rude, emphatically aggressive. It will be a reality, not a movie world.

How Yandex offended Sberbank and it began to complicate the life of the IT giant

Sberbank, under the leadership of Gref and at his suggestion, sees itself as an IT company, and in many ways it is becoming one. The clumsy monster is gradually accelerating, which is helped by the fact that Sberbank's resources within the perimeter of the Russian market can be considered conditionally infinite. And for Yandex, this acceleration, coupled with the restructuring of many processes, threatens to directly lose the market in those niches where the company considered itself completely safe. The primordial strengths of Yandex will soon be tested for strength and it will be a serious struggle for the future.

In private conversations, many attribute the root of the spat between Sberbank and Yandex to the incompatibility of German Gref and Arkady Volozh, too different views on business and how to conduct it. An attempt to combine strengths turned out to be a total failure, Yandex.Market never took off (including Beru), and Yandex.Money may disappear in the near future. Rumors claim that there is a personal grudge and a desire to drown Yandex. I didn’t hold a candle, but based on what is happening on the market, I can say that Sberbank is doing everything possible to weaken Yandex as much as possible, to make it impossible for it to live comfortably in Russia.

For example, for Sberbank's own projects related to topics that have already been developed within Yandex, employees of the latter are eagerly recruited. At the same time, they are offered significantly higher wages, which has already created difficulties for Yandex, since they either need to pay the same amount to retain people, or look for new employees, which in theory will then go back to a direct competitor. Such price pressure, with the help of salaries, inflates the labor market for certain specialties, where there is already a shortage of personnel. Raising the cost of development in Sberbank hit on the most sick, namely the price of projects. But this is only part of a big story, a strategy in which Sberbank consistently attacks Yandex, slowly and inevitably.

In late 2019, Sberbank and Yandex began considering the purchase of 2GIS, a Russian mapping service based in Novosibirsk. Interestingly, in the fall of 2019, Grigory Bakunov from Yandex (Director for Technology Dissemination) discussed the audience of this service together with the presenters on Ekho Moskvy in the Tochka program. The host called the audience of the service 20 million people, and then Bakunov commented on this, “Perhaps these are all the people who, in one way or another, have passed through the page in the entire history of this product. We do not know what kind of audience 2GIS actually has. I suspect that the figure of 20 million is grossly overestimated.”

The level of understanding of the market at Yandex has always been lame, the company lives in its own illusory world, and this comment proves it well. 2GIS was not too lazy to answer Yandex and simply published statistics, for example, here is such an analytics on the number of active users in 2018 for different applications, 2GIS overtakes cartography from Yandex (later combining two Yandex applications is an attempt to fight 2GIS, it looks exactly like this).

Spikers #594. Face Recognition in the US - Corporations Refusing to Work with the Police

At the time of the comment, 2GIS has 39.1 million users in Russia (already more than 50 million), 20 million only on the Mediascope panel.

Spikers #594. Face Recognition in the US - Corporations Refusing to Work with the Police

Another quote from Bakunov, - “As far as I have seen, 2GIS has stagnated in recent years, of course, because, let me remind you, most phones have pre-installed maps. And there is, of course, the most popular Yandex.Maps service, here we are leading by a wide margin.

2GIS commented on this simply, the growth of the 2GIS audience in two years was 45%, while in Moscow the growth was 94%, in St. Petersburg 76%, these are traditionally strong markets for Yandex.Maps. In 2GIS, Yandex very nicely clicked on the nose and poked into complete ignorance of the market in which the company operates. This is generally typical for Yandex in recent years, the company does not understand what they are doing, why and how (read below about the columns, it will also be interesting how Yandex is preparing to fall in love with the market, which they began to develop first in Russia).

Both Sberbank and Yandex considered buying 2GIS (Russian Forbes writes about Yandex and their attempt to buy it), but the prize went to Sberbank, as the company does not spare money for development and is practically unlimited in investment opportunities. The valuation of 2GIS amounted to 14.3 billion rubles, the share of Sberbank will be 72% after the closing of the transaction. O2O Holding will have a 3% stake in 2GIS, a joint venture between Sberbank and Mail.ru to develop food and taxis.

So, what will happen to Yandex.Maps after 2GIS falls under the wing of Sberbank? Let's start with the obvious - all Sberbank projects will get maps from 2GIS, exactly the same awaits mail.ru projects, which are considered competitors for projects from Yandex. Like it or not, but only this will give a surge in the use of 2GIS in the Russian market. The advantage of 2GIS will be achieved in a very short time, which will create certain problems for Yandex.Maps.

But another point is even more interesting, Yandex has already lost the map presets for Samsung smartphones, there, by default, 2GIS is included in the Russian software package. Approximately the same thing happens for other manufacturers, they set 2GIS by default. Here Yandex was strongly pressed. Due to the cooperation of Sberbank with Huawei / Honor, the appearance of pre-installed cards on these smartphones (and this is a third of the Russian market) is also a matter of the near future. And here the business conditions for Yandex are deteriorating greatly, in addition to the availability of Google Maps, which are used by international companies in their applications, a strong competitor appears, which provides not only maps, but is capable of providing many other goodies from Sberbank. Competition is escalating and Yandex was simply not ready for this. It was important for the company to buy 2GIS at any cost in order to stop Sberbank. With resources like this bank, Yandex will not be able to win in the long run.

On my own behalf, I want to note that since March of this year I have been using 2GIS (maps were preinstalled on my smartphone) and for me they have become a discovery, there are a lot of POIs, routes are perfectly laid. In a word, try it, it's a cool product.

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In the future, 2GIS will receive many improvements, and for third-party developers, that is, maps will spread even faster than it was today. And for Yandex, this is very sad news, since the competitor is not just the strongest, it will replace Yandex. Cards from their positions in a short time, it will take relatively little time. And the cost of promoting your cartography for Yandex will increase significantly, as well as all other business expenses.

Of course, you can continue to rest on your laurels, consider your products the best, which has not been the case for a long time. And as a result, to receive such greetings from direct competitors that they begin to advance on all fronts. It is difficult to underestimate the consequences of the deal with 2GIS for the entire market, a big redistribution has already begun and Yandex is the loser in it.

Smart speakers - another front of attack on Yandex

There are already several players on the Russian market that offer smart speakers and their integration with smart home systems. Yandex was the first to enter this market, trying to get ahead of the arrival of Google Home, which never officially took place. After that, people who worked on columns from Yandex went to work in Mail.ru, Sberbank, MTS and not only, today only the lazy one does not try to create his own voice assistant. But the rate of market development is rather low, in America such assistants are evolving much faster. And the problem here is not so much algorithms as a rather low user base, which does not allow training algorithms. Vicious circle.

One of the players in 2020 will try to break this market and do what Yandex was originally supposed to do - offer smart speakers for free, along with a subscription to services. At Yandex, the subscription model did not take off, such columns are practically inaccessible.

Spikers #594. Facial recognition in the US - corporations refusing to work with the police

The new player will offer columns for free, and their number will gradually be increased to three. The free distribution model will assume that a person uses the services of the company and the cost of the column is paid off by what he does on it - orders a taxi, buys pizza or something else. Moreover, the correctness of the approach is that you cannot sell a raw product, without a good voice assistant (and no one except Google has such) for the full price. You need to give it away for free to create a user base and then develop the product.

And then Yandex will only have to respond to this, make the subscription model the main one. For the company, this will mean very high hardware costs (and they need to find money somewhere to buy Uber's stake in Yandex.Taxi, which is far from a penny). The year for Yandex is clearly unsuccessful, since the attack on various services, read the company's businesses, begins on all fronts. And the company does not have a ready-made recipe for how to resist this, what to oppose to other players. The cost of doing business will increase as competition increases and becomes fierce. Perhaps this characteristic most fully describes what is happening on the market.

From the point of view of Yandex's financial performance, this year will not be stunning, either in positive or negative aspects. But next year, we will see the consequences of the offensive of other companies, how they eat off the share of Yandex, and also make the company's business less profitable. In some ways, Yandex could support the IPO of Yandex.Taxi, but this is clearly not the time when it can and should be carried out.

Microsoft Surface Go 2 tablet - what is it for?

Microsoft continues to develop the Surface line and now the second generation of Surface Go has hit the shelves, in the US the cost of this tablet starts at $399. The positioning hints that Microsoft created this device to compete on store shelves with the Apple iPad, a sort of answer to Apple's tablet. But this is a classic thoughtless approach, when your solution is created with an eye on the desired cost, and not on the opportunities that the buyer receives.

Spikers #594. Facial recognition in the US - corporations refusing to work with the police Spikers #594 Face Recognition in the US - Corporations Refusing to Work with the Police

What's the problem with Go 2? The answer lies in the processor, the Pentium Gold is a very slow processor for any version of Windows 10, even cut down in applications (do not upgrade to Windows 10 Home, it will hurt even more). In the basic version of 4/64 GB, everything is very slow, since 4 GB is barely enough for the system, and you won’t run regular Windows applications here (the question of course is which ones you need - the browser will work slowly). Built-in eMMC memory is also a minus and horror-horror.

Spikers #594. Face Recognition in the US - Corporations Refusing to Work with the police Spikers #594 Face Recognition in the US - Corporations Refusing to Work with the Police

In a word, it turns out that as a tablet for watching movies, web pages, the device is so-so, for something more serious it is not suitable at all. And it was released for show, to compete with the iPad, but the competition itself is clearly not working.

It's another matter if you take a Core m3 model, the processor, although quite old, is still productive. But there is already 8/128 GB, there is a regular SSD, and visually everything works quickly. You can buy an external keyboard case ($100, old models will do), a Microsoft stylus if you plan to draw ($70).

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The initial cost of such a tablet on m3 is from $ 630 for the WiFi version and this is the option that can only be considered, all the lower versions of this model suffer greatly in performance.

Spikers #594. Face Recognition in the US - Corporations Refusing to Work with the police

I absolutely do not like the approach of companies when the model is built not on the needs of a person, not on what he will receive, but on the need to fill a certain price limit. This is exactly what happened in this case, the younger Surface Go 2 can be bought out of ignorance, on the recommendation of the seller. And then disappointed in him. And why Microsoft needs this is completely unclear, because with its own hands the company repels those who should buy new versions of Surface in the future. And those who receive such tablets or two-in-one devices in schools and other educational institutions will definitely not be particularly happy with them - they are too slow. And again we come to the conclusion that they will not become buyers of such devices, they will not recommend them. What task Microsoft is solving at the moment is clear, but at the end it hits sales in future periods.

Books. Quality country. Mark-Uwe Kling

Bookstores are open, which means you can raid them and return with loot that turns out to be unexpected. “Country of Quality” became such a book, I didn’t hear anything about it, it literally jumped into my hands. A mixture of "Black Mirror" and many other books about the future, which excites the mind and makes you think.

Spikers #594. Face Recognition in the US - Corporations Refusing to Work with the police

What will happen when the algorithms begin to determine what you need and predict your desires to deliver goods to you. How your life will change if social rating determines what you can afford. Why people will suddenly lose their emotions, and computer programs will suddenly acquire them and become less self-confident.

This book is a satire about the future we are heading towards and what it could become. Satire is sharp on the tongue, our world is guessed in it. For example, the hot headline job, "These ten megastars slept with their kids." And then clicking on the title, people saw the full text, - "These ten megastars slept with children

Spillikins №594. Facial recognition in the US - refusal of corporations to work with the police

The world continues to go into protests, they have spread almost all over the planet, and the epidemic has not disappeared anywhere. On the other hand, in Moscow there is a complete feeling that the epidemic as an event has ceased to exist - the streets are filled with people, they are walking, sitting at the tables of “closed” cafes and restaurants. As if there was no quarantine and the disease is no more. This is a very dangerous behavior that will provoke a new increase in the number of cases, otherwise it simply cannot be. However, this is clearly seen in other countries, where all restrictions have been abruptly lifted. But we will not talk about this, but will focus on the protests and how they affected technology. Let's go!

Content

Face recognition and corporate refusal to work with the police in the US

An amazing phantasmagoria is unfolding before our eyes, in the USA they justify shop robberies, vandalism of monuments, as this is considered a form of protest. Of course, it is impossible to say that such manifestations of aggression, the lack of a minimum education are characteristic of the whole society, but judging by the news feeds, this is a noticeable part of the ongoing events. The polarity of opinions goes off scale not only in America, but also in other countries, for example, in the UK, there were judgments that Winston Churchill was a notorious racist and therefore a monument to him in central London was decorated with inscriptions. And the government hid it in an iron box so that they would not try to demolish it, as they did in several cities in America with a monument to Columbus. What Christopher Columbus did wrong is not very clear, but there is an underlying feeling that the struggle against racial prejudices and racism has gradually developed into a war of the uneducated part of society that does not receive modern benefits, against those who can somehow join them. Under what slogans it goes is not so important, it rather comes to the fore how it happens.

The problem with the “protesters” and their open clashes with the police, robberies of shops and other illegal actions is that today they get into photographs, videos and further it is a matter of technology how to find these people and bring them to justice. Having succumbed to emotions and taken clothes, electronics or something similar out of the store, the protesters become defendants in criminal cases, and the very photos and videos, including those taken by security cameras, and not by other people, serve as evidence. Therefore, breaking into the stores, the “oppressed” demolish the cameras with such frenzy, they recognize them as a threat.

Mass demonstrations are somewhat reminiscent of a DDoS attack, the number of threats is so great that the police cannot be in a hundred places at the same time, and therefore robberies go on with such ease. But the security systems record what is happening, moreover, the existing facial recognition systems quite confidently show who was involved in the robberies. And not only in them, but also in attacks on the police, other citizens, and so on.

Spikers #594. Face Recognition in the US - Corporations Refusing to Work with the Police

Source: Matt Rourke/AP

And do you know what is happening in America against this background? What can be called a logical and understandable phenomenon is in no way possible. Corporations are starting to publicly refuse to work with police departments in different cities, they stop selling them facial recognition software. Sounds unbelievable? But this is true, but not all.

The first company to refuse to work with the police in this area was IBM, their position in this market, to put it mildly, is none Watches Wallet Belt and Spray. Accordingly, the corporation does not incur any noticeable losses, but this is far from the reason. There are currently no laws in the US that govern the use of facial recognition. Moreover, the results of police operations, in which the initial data is obtained using facial recognition, are questioned in court, as the accuracy is quite low. Even more interestingly, recognition accuracy drops for people with black or dark skin, which many have already dubbed racism. But the fact lies elsewhere, AI algorithms were trained on a sample of different people, but there were clearly more whites in it. The fact that there is no problem in what kind of persons to train the systems we see in China, where such tracking systems are effective and widespread, the country is a leader in such developments and their practical application. Interestingly, there are several teams in Russia that have achieved an extremely high level of facial recognition, their technologies are among the most advanced in the world, but the general public does not know about it.

Immediately following IBM's announcement, Amazon put a moratorium on one year and stopped providing their facial recognition systems to the police, just like IBM, they asked the government and the Senate to create a set of laws that would regulate the use of this technology .

Such a unanimous speech by such different companies seems to the protesters to support them, but everything is much more prosaic. In the absence of state laws, these tools are in a gray area. And in the courts, good lawyers can challenge their application, as well as the accuracy of recognition. As a result, each erroneous recognition will bring millions of dollars in losses, which can be received by the victim. This risk was negligible until recently, as the number of detentions and arrests using only facial recognition was small. And at the same time, there were always other clues that unambiguously pointed to a person. In protests that have taken a very different approach to the US, corporations are waiting for mass arrests based only on photos, videos and subsequent facial recognition. The number of erroneous detentions could skyrocket, as could subsequent legal claims by detainees. There is no support for the protest, this is an assessment of one's own risks and an attempt to avoid losses. Today, America's corporations are not fighting the police, but forcing the latter to put pressure on the government to pass laws that will exempt them from any prosecution in court, protect them from the cost of paying victims when systems malfunction. Therefore, when you read articles about how some Americans praise the conscience of the same Amazon, you are amazed at the naivety. Even just looking through the news about how Amazon is doing its business, you will have a clear understanding that there are no flirting with employees, this is the most severe sweatshop, where the safety of individuals does not play a big role. And suddenly this company is on the side of the protesters? Utopia.

Many people around the world do not want to believe in the real world, they are poisoned by Hollywood films and stories about equality, freedom of speech and the opportunity to speak openly about what is happening. The protests themselves have a lot to do with this, with the cognitive dissonance between what is happening in reality and what the propaganda shows. In past Spillikins, we touched a little on the topic of social networks and the fact that Donald Trump is outright lying in his tweets. As a result, Twitter flagged such tweets, indicating that the information in them does not correspond to reality.

Spikers #594. Face Recognition in the US - Corporations Refusing to Work with the police

On Facebook, where exactly the same information was posted, there were no marks. This caused serious discussions within the company, some employees were outraged by the silence of the management. Zuckerberg met with some of the employees in the company's office, tried to defuse the situation, but it didn't work out very well. So, during the meeting, many asked why the company took a position in relation to Donald Trump that violates the rules of Facebook. Any other person would have received a warning or been permanently banned for saying things the President of the United States does. Facebook did nothing of the sort, but simply remained silent and did not discuss this issue.

What happened next? One of the company's engineers, Brandon Dail, has been publicly critical of the company's management, and has done so repeatedly. Moreover, he publicly accused his colleague of not including words of support for the Black Live Matters movement in a developer paper he was working on. As a result, he was fired. Facebook, of course, did not comment on the reasons for the dismissal, but confirmed that it took place.

In my opinion, everything that is possible is mixed here again. Facebook employees often confuse company policy with big politics and believe that Facebook management's statements should be unambiguous. But it so happened that Facebook simply does not share them and therefore punishes those who become too active in the public field. Exactly the same thing happened last year at Google, this year it also happened at Amazon. The punishment for those who break corporate rules is quick and easy enough, public flogging for everyone else to keep their mouths shut. This is the reality of our world, and not what is shown in the movies. Moreover, all these companies are focused on extracting maximum profit and have succeeded in this. So as long as states pay for their technology and allow them to avoid problems, they will work with them and they do not care about the rights of certain groups of people. They are stopped by only one threat, the possibility of incurring losses. Rough? Yes. But this is the real world, and not the inventions of PR specialists for wide use. Let's look at another fudge that upsets the protesters - the NYPD budget.

New York City has some of the highest police spending in the US, with the New York Police Department being one of the most technologically advanced, implementing systems that only later appear elsewhere. But the inhabitants of the city do not know anything about most of them. A couple of years ago, New Yorkers turned to the city council, they wanted the city to disclose information about what systems the police have, how citizens are being monitored. The difference in approach is visible even at the verbal level - what residents call surveillance, the mayor's office considers security systems. And it's like with scouts and spies, the assessment depends solely on which side you are on. The mayor of New York has repeatedly rejected all requests regarding the systems used and the disclosure of the principle of their work, the motivation sounds logical - the criminals do not understand how the police work is organized, which makes it possible to effectively prevent many offenses.

One of the main providers of software for security systems in New York is Microsoft, the company has bundled together different sensors, cameras into a cloud system, access to which is regulated at the level of each service. The Domain Awareness System (DAS) is very complex in every sense, it has cameras that read license plates on the streets and in tunnels, sensors that evaluate weather conditions and the content of chemicals in water / air, radiation sensors and much more.

A very detailed list of technologies used, with a detailed description of each of them, can be found here.

From the above, I was surprised by trucks with “X-ray” installations (I think that the type of technology there is completely different, but it’s rather a sonorous name), which allow you to shine through cars and look behind the walls of houses, in search of something like that. A system of sound sensors that focuses on the sounds of shooting in the city, and not only on them. Very advanced, diverse systems, the NYPD budget is so high precisely because of the saturation of technology, and for no other reason.

But the protesters believe that a huge budget goes to the police, to their salaries. Which of course is not true at all. The level of their earnings corresponds to the standard of living in New York, and with this in mind, even lower than in many other cities in America. Another thing is that the technical equipment is noticeably better, there are more technical specialists who service the hardware and software.

Do you know what is happening in America today with law enforcement agencies in terms of unrest, how the technical component is changing? The police and not only she suddenly needed large amounts of storage in data centers, they store all the information they can reach - social media records, videos and photos. And in the future, they will simply look for signs of the participation of all detainees in the riots in order to add trouble and problems to them, to increase their sentences. During the first week of riots in the United States, about 10 thousand people were detained, the police do not make any difference in what they were detained for, such statistics do not exist.These are both those who robbed shops and civilians who participated in demonstrations. And in some ways these detainees were lucky, because while the databases do not have all the information about the riots, their faces are not driven through the latest information about the crimes, it will appear later. But there is no doubt that the bases will be filled and used to search for those who participated in the offenses. So the police will let off steam when the situation calms down a bit. For some reason, I have no doubts that the detentions will be rude, emphatically aggressive. It will be a reality, not a movie world.

How Yandex offended Sberbank and it began to complicate the life of the IT giant

Sberbank, under the leadership of Gref and at his suggestion, sees itself as an IT company, and in many ways it is becoming one. The clumsy monster is gradually accelerating, which is helped by the fact that Sberbank's resources within the perimeter of the Russian market can be considered conditionally infinite. And for Yandex, this acceleration, coupled with the restructuring of many processes, threatens to directly lose the market in those niches where the company considered itself completely safe. The primordial strengths of Yandex will soon be tested for strength and it will be a serious struggle for the future.

In private conversations, many attribute the root of the spat between Sberbank and Yandex to the incompatibility of German Gref and Arkady Volozh, too different views on business and how to conduct it. An attempt to combine strengths turned out to be a total failure, Yandex.Market never took off (including Beru), and Yandex.Money may disappear in the near future. Rumors claim that there is a personal grudge and a desire to drown Yandex. I didn’t hold a candle, but based on what is happening on the market, I can say that Sberbank is doing everything possible to weaken Yandex as much as possible, to make it impossible for it to live comfortably in Russia.

For example, for Sberbank's own projects related to topics that have already been developed within Yandex, employees of the latter are eagerly recruited. At the same time, they are offered significantly higher wages, which has already created difficulties for Yandex, since they either need to pay the same amount to retain people, or look for new employees, which in theory will then go back to a direct competitor. Such price pressure, with the help of salaries, inflates the labor market for certain specialties, where there is already a shortage of personnel. Raising the cost of development in Sberbank hit on the most sick, namely the price of projects. But this is only part of a big story, a strategy in which Sberbank consistently attacks Yandex, slowly and inevitably.

In late 2019, Sberbank and Yandex began considering the purchase of 2GIS, a Russian mapping service based in Novosibirsk. Interestingly, in the fall of 2019, Grigory Bakunov from Yandex (Director for Technology Dissemination) discussed the audience of this service together with the presenters on Ekho Moskvy in the Tochka program. The host called the audience of the service 20 million people, and then Bakunov commented on this, “Perhaps these are all the people who, in one way or another, have passed through the page in the entire history of this product. We do not know what kind of audience 2GIS actually has. I suspect that the figure of 20 million is grossly overestimated.”

The level of understanding of the market at Yandex has always been lame, the company lives in its own illusory world, and this comment proves it well. 2GIS was not too lazy to answer Yandex and simply published statistics, for example, here is such an analytics on the number of active users in 2018 for different applications, 2GIS overtakes cartography from Yandex (later combining two Yandex applications is an attempt to fight 2GIS, it looks exactly like this).

Spikers #594. Face Recognition in the US - Corporations Refusing to Work with the Police

At the time of the comment, 2GIS has 39.1 million users in Russia (already more than 50 million), 20 million only on the Mediascope panel.

Spikers #594. Face Recognition in the US - Corporations Refusing to Work with the Police

Another quote from Bakunov, - “As far as I have seen, 2GIS has stagnated in recent years, of course, because, let me remind you, most phones have pre-installed maps. And there is, of course, the most popular Yandex.Maps service, here we are leading by a wide margin.

2GIS commented on this simply, the growth of the 2GIS audience in two years was 45%, while in Moscow the growth was 94%, in St. Petersburg 76%, these are traditionally strong markets for Yandex.Maps. In 2GIS, Yandex very nicely clicked on the nose and poked into complete ignorance of the market in which the company operates. This is generally typical for Yandex in recent years, the company does not understand what they are doing, why and how (read below about the columns, it will also be interesting how Yandex is preparing to fall in love with the market, which they began to develop first in Russia).

Both Sberbank and Yandex considered buying 2GIS (Russian Forbes writes about Yandex and their attempt to buy it), but the prize went to Sberbank, as the company does not spare money for development and is practically unlimited in investment opportunities. The valuation of 2GIS amounted to 14.3 billion rubles, the share of Sberbank will be 72% after the closing of the transaction. O2O Holding will have a 3% stake in 2GIS, a joint venture between Sberbank and Mail.ru to develop food and taxis.

So, what will happen to Yandex.Maps after 2GIS falls under the wing of Sberbank? Let's start with the obvious - all Sberbank projects will get maps from 2GIS, exactly the same awaits mail.ru projects, which are considered competitors for projects from Yandex. Like it or not, but only this will give a surge in the use of 2GIS in the Russian market. The advantage of 2GIS will be achieved in a very short time, which will create certain problems for Yandex.Maps.

But another point is even more interesting, Yandex has already lost the map presets for Samsung smartphones, there, by default, 2GIS is included in the Russian software package. Approximately the same thing happens for other manufacturers, they set 2GIS by default. Here Yandex was strongly pressed. Due to the cooperation of Sberbank with Huawei / Honor, the appearance of pre-installed cards on these smartphones (and this is a third of the Russian market) is also a matter of the near future. And here the business conditions for Yandex are deteriorating greatly, in addition to the availability of Google Maps, which are used by international companies in their applications, a strong competitor appears, which provides not only maps, but is capable of providing many other goodies from Sberbank. Competition is escalating and Yandex was simply not ready for this. It was important for the company to buy 2GIS at any cost in order to stop Sberbank. With resources like this bank, Yandex will not be able to win in the long run.

On my own behalf, I want to note that since March of this year I have been using 2GIS (maps were preinstalled on my smartphone) and for me they have become a discovery, there are a lot of POIs, routes are perfectly laid. In a word, try it, it's a cool product.

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In the future, 2GIS will receive many improvements, and for third-party developers, that is, maps will spread even faster than it was today. And for Yandex, this is very sad news, since the competitor is not just the strongest, it will replace Yandex. Cards from their positions in a short time, it will take relatively little time. And the cost of promoting your cartography for Yandex will increase significantly, as well as all other business expenses.

Of course, you can continue to rest on your laurels, consider your products the best, which has not been the case for a long time. And as a result, to receive such greetings from direct competitors that they begin to advance on all fronts. It is difficult to underestimate the consequences of the deal with 2GIS for the entire market, a big redistribution has already begun and Yandex is the loser in it.

Smart speakers - another front of attack on Yandex

There are already several players on the Russian market that offer smart speakers and their integration with smart home systems. Yandex was the first to enter this market, trying to get ahead of the arrival of Google Home, which never officially took place. After that, people who worked on columns from Yandex went to work in Mail.ru, Sberbank, MTS and not only, today only the lazy one does not try to create his own voice assistant. But the rate of market development is rather low; in America, such assistants are evolving much faster. And the problem here is not so much algorithms as a rather low user base, which does not allow training algorithms. Vicious circle.

One of the players in 2020 will try to break this market and do what Yandex was originally supposed to do - offer smart speakers for free, along with a subscription to services. At Yandex, the subscription model did not take off, such columns are practically inaccessible.

Spikers #594. Face recognition in the US - corporations refusing to work with the police

The new player will offer columns for free, and their number will gradually be increased to three. The free distribution model will assume that a person uses the services of the company and the cost of the column is paid off by what he does on it - orders a taxi, buys pizza or something else. Moreover, the correctness of the approach is that you cannot sell a raw product, without a good voice assistant (and no one except Google has such) for the full price. You need to give it away for free in order to create a user base and then develop the product.

And then Yandex will only have to respond to this, make the subscription model the main one. For the company, this will mean very high hardware costs (and they need to find money somewhere to buy Uber's stake in Yandex.Taxi, which is far from a penny). The year for Yandex is clearly unsuccessful, since the attack on various services, read the company's businesses, begins on all fronts. And the company does not have a ready-made recipe for how to resist this, what to oppose to other players. The cost of doing business will increase as competition increases and becomes fierce. Perhaps this characteristic most fully describes what is happening on the market.

From the point of view of Yandex's financial performance, this year will not be stunning, either in positive or negative aspects. But next year, we will see the consequences of the offensive of other companies, how they eat off the share of Yandex, and also make the company's business less profitable. In some ways, Yandex could support the IPO of Yandex.Taxi, but this is clearly not the time when it can and should be carried out.

Microsoft Surface Go 2 tablet - what is it for?

Microsoft continues to develop the Surface line and now the second generation of Surface Go has hit the shelves, in the US the cost of this tablet starts at $399. The positioning hints that Microsoft created this device to compete on store shelves with the Apple iPad, a sort of answer to Apple's tablet. But this is a classic thoughtless approach, when your solution is created with an eye on the desired cost, and not on the opportunities that the buyer receives.

Spikers #594. Facial recognition in the US - corporations refusing to work with the police Spikers #594 Face Recognition in the US - Corporations Refusing to Work with the Police

What's the problem with Go 2? The answer lies in the processor, the Pentium Gold is a very slow processor for any version of Windows 10, even cut down in applications (do not upgrade to Windows 10 Home, it will hurt even more). In the basic version of 4/64 GB, everything is very slow, since 4 GB is barely enough for the system, and you won’t run regular Windows applications here (the question of course is which ones you need - the browser will work slowly). Built-in eMMC memory is also a minus and horror-horror.

Spikers #594. Face Recognition in the US - Corporations Refusing to Work with the police Spikers #594 Face Recognition in the US - Corporations Refusing to Work with the Police

In a word, it turns out that as a tablet for watching movies, web pages, the device is so-so, for something more serious it is not suitable at all. And it was released for show, to compete with the iPad, but the competition itself is clearly not working.

It's another matter if you take a Core m3 model, the processor, although quite old, is still productive. But here it’s already 8/128 GB, it costs a regular SSD, and visually everything works quickly. You can buy an external keyboard case ($100, old models will do), a Microsoft stylus if you plan to draw ($70).

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The initial cost of such a tablet on m3 is from $ 630 for the WiFi version and this is the option that can only be considered, all the lower versions of this model suffer greatly in performance.

Spikers #594. Face Recognition in the US - Corporations Refusing to Work with the police

I absolutely do not like the approach of companies when the model is built not on the needs of a person, not on what he will receive, but on the need to fill a certain price limit. This is exactly what happened in this case, the younger Surface Go 2 can be bought out of ignorance, on the recommendation of the seller. And then disappointed in him. And why Microsoft needs this is completely unclear, because with its own hands the company repels those who should buy new versions of Surface in the future. And those who receive such tablets or two-in-one devices in schools and other educational institutions will definitely not be particularly happy with them - they are too slow. And again we come to the conclusion that they will not become buyers of such devices, they will not recommend them. What task Microsoft is solving at the moment is clear, but at the end it hits sales in future periods.

Books. Quality country. Mark-Uwe Kling

Bookstores are open, which means you can raid them and return with loot that turns out to be unexpected. The “Country of Quality” became such a book, I didn’t hear anything about it, it literally jumped into my hands. A mixture of "Black Mirror" and many other books about the future, which excites the mind and makes you think.

Spikers #594. Face Recognition in the US - Corporations Refusing to Work with the police

What will happen when the algorithms begin to determine what you need and predict your desires to deliver goods to you. How your life will change if social rating determines what you can afford. Why do people suddenly lose their emotions, and computer programs suddenly acquire them and become less self-confident.

This book is a satire about the future we are heading towards and what it could become. Satire is sharp on the tongue, our world is guessed in it. For example, the hot headline work, "These ten megastars slept with their kids." And then clicking on the headline, people saw the full text, - "These ten megastars slept with children

Spillikins №594. Facial recognition in the US - refusal of corporations to work with the police

The world continues to go into protests, they have spread almost all over the planet, and the epidemic has not disappeared anywhere. On the other hand, in Moscow there is a complete feeling that the epidemic as an event has ceased to exist - the streets are filled with people, they are walking, sitting at the tables of “closed” cafes and restaurants. As if there was no quarantine and the disease is no more. This is a very dangerous behavior that will provoke a new increase in the number of cases, otherwise it simply cannot be. However, this is clearly seen in other countries, where all restrictions have been abruptly lifted. But we will not talk about this, but will focus on the protests and how they affected technology. Let's go!

Content

Face recognition and corporate refusal to work with the police in the US

An amazing phantasmagoria is unfolding before our eyes, in the USA they justify shop robberies, vandalism of monuments, as this is considered a form of protest. Of course, it is impossible to say that such manifestations of aggression, the lack of a minimum education are characteristic of the whole society, but judging by the news feeds, this is a noticeable part of the ongoing events. The polarity of opinions goes off scale not only in America, but also in other countries, for example, in the UK, there were judgments that Winston Churchill was a notorious racist and therefore a monument to him in central London was decorated with inscriptions. And the government hid it in an iron box so that they would not try to demolish it, as they did in several cities in America with a monument to Columbus. What Christopher Columbus did wrong is not very clear, but there is an underlying feeling that the struggle against racial prejudices and racism has gradually developed into a war of the uneducated part of society that does not receive modern benefits, against those who can somehow join them. Under what slogans it goes is not so important, it rather comes to the fore how it happens.

The problem with the “protesters” and their open clashes with the police, robberies of shops and other illegal actions is that today they get into photographs, videos and further it is a matter of technology how to find these people and bring them to justice. Having succumbed to emotions and taken clothes, electronics or something similar out of the store, the protesters become defendants in criminal cases, and the very photos and videos, including those taken by security cameras, and not by other people, serve as evidence. Therefore, breaking into the stores, the “oppressed” demolish the cameras with such frenzy, they recognize them as a threat.

Mass demonstrations are somewhat reminiscent of a DDoS attack, the number of threats is so great that the police cannot be in a hundred places at the same time, and therefore robberies go on with such ease. But the security systems record what is happening, moreover, the existing facial recognition systems quite confidently show who was involved in the robberies. And not only in them, but also in attacks on the police, other citizens, and so on.

Spikers #594. Face Recognition in the US - Corporations Refusing to Work with the Police

Source: Matt Rourke/AP

And do you know what is happening in America against this background? What can be called a logical and understandable phenomenon is in no way possible. Corporations are starting to publicly refuse to work with police departments in different cities, they stop selling them facial recognition software. Sounds unbelievable? But this is true, but not all.

The first company to refuse to work with the police in this area was IBM, their position in this market, to put it mildly, is none Watches Wallet Belt and Spray. Accordingly, the corporation does not incur any noticeable losses, but this is far from the reason. There are currently no laws in the US that govern the use of facial recognition. Moreover, the results of police operations, in which the initial data is obtained using facial recognition, are questioned in court, as the accuracy is quite low. Even more interestingly, recognition accuracy drops for people with black or dark skin, which many have already dubbed racism. But the fact lies elsewhere, AI algorithms were trained on a sample of different people, but there were clearly more whites in it. The fact that there is no problem in what kind of persons to train the systems we see in China, where such tracking systems are effective and widespread, the country is a leader in such developments and their practical application. Interestingly, there are several teams in Russia that have achieved an extremely high level of facial recognition, their technologies are among the most advanced in the world, but the general public does not know about it.

Immediately following IBM's announcement, Amazon put a moratorium on one year and stopped providing their facial recognition systems to the police, just like IBM, they asked the government and the Senate to create a set of laws that would regulate the use of this technology .

Such a unanimous speech by such different companies seems to the protesters to support them, but everything is much more prosaic. In the absence of state laws, these tools are in a gray area. And in the courts, good lawyers can challenge their application, as well as the accuracy of recognition. As a result, each erroneous recognition will bring millions of dollars in losses, which can be received by the victim. This risk was negligible until recently, as the number of detentions and arrests using only facial recognition was small. And at the same time, there were always other clues that unambiguously pointed to a person. In protests that have taken a very different approach to the US, corporations are waiting for mass arrests based only on photos, videos and subsequent facial recognition. The number of erroneous detentions could skyrocket, as could subsequent legal claims by detainees. There is no support for the protest, this is an assessment of one's own risks and an attempt to avoid losses. Today, America's corporations are not fighting the police, but forcing the latter to put pressure on the government to pass laws that will exempt them from any prosecution in court, protect them from the costs of paying victims in case of erroneous operation of systems. Therefore, when you read articles about how some Americans extol the conscience of the same Amazon, you are amazed at the naivety. Even just looking through the news about how Amazon is doing its business, you will have a clear understanding that there are no flirting with employees, this is the most severe sweatshop, where the safety of individuals does not play a big role. And suddenly this company is on the side of the protesters? Utopia.

Many people around the world do not want to believe in the real world, they are poisoned by Hollywood films and stories about equality, freedom of speech and the opportunity to speak openly about what is happening. The protests themselves have a lot to do with this, with the cognitive dissonance between what is happening in reality and what the propaganda shows. In past Spillikins, we touched a little on the topic of social networks and the fact that Donald Trump is outright lying in his tweets. As a result, Twitter flagged such tweets, indicating that the information in them does not correspond to reality.

Spikers #594. Face Recognition in the US - Corporations Refusing to Work with the police

Facebook, where exactly the same information was posted, had no tagging. This caused serious discussions within the company, some employees were outraged by the silence of the management. Zuckerberg met with some of the employees in the company's office, tried to defuse the situation, but it didn't work out very well. So, during the meeting, many asked why the company took a position in relation to Donald Trump that violates the rules of Facebook. Any other person would have received a warning or been permanently banned for saying things the President of the United States does. Facebook did nothing of the sort, but simply remained silent and did not discuss this issue.

What happened next? One of the company's engineers, Brandon Dail, has been publicly critical of the company's management, and has done so repeatedly. Moreover, he publicly accused his colleague of not including words of support for the Black Live Matters movement in a developer paper he was working on. As a result, he was fired. Facebook, of course, did not comment on the reasons for the dismissal, but confirmed that it took place.

In my opinion, everything that is possible is mixed here again. Facebook employees often confuse company policy with big politics and believe that Facebook management's statements should be unambiguous. But it so happened that Facebook simply does not share them and therefore punishes those who become too active in the public field. Exactly the same thing happened last year at Google, this year it also happened at Amazon. The punishment for those who break corporate rules is quick and easy enough, public flogging for everyone else to keep their mouths shut. This is the reality of our world, and not what is shown in the movies. Moreover, all these companies are focused on extracting maximum profit and have succeeded in this. So as long as states pay for their technology and allow them to avoid problems, they will work with them and they do not care about the rights of certain groups of people. They are stopped by only one threat, the possibility of incurring losses. Rough? Yes. But this is the real world, and not fiction of PR specialists for wide use. Let's look at another fudge that upsets the protesters - the NYPD budget.

New York City has some of the highest police spending in the US, with the New York Police Department being one of the most technologically advanced, implementing systems that only later appear elsewhere. But the inhabitants of the city do not know anything about most of them. A couple of years ago, New Yorkers turned to the city council, they wanted the city to disclose information about what systems the police have, how citizens are being monitored. The difference in approach is visible even at the verbal level - what residents call surveillance, the mayor's office considers security systems. And it's like with scouts and spies, the assessment depends solely on which side you are on. The mayor of New York has repeatedly rejected all requests regarding the systems used and the disclosure of the principle of their work, the motivation sounds logical - the criminals do not understand how the police work is organized, which makes it possible to effectively prevent many offenses.

One of the main providers of software for security systems in New York is Microsoft, the company has bundled together different sensors, cameras into a cloud system, access to which is regulated at the level of each service. The Domain Awareness System (DAS) is very complex in every sense, it has cameras that read license plates on the streets and in tunnels, sensors that evaluate weather conditions and the content of chemicals in water / air, radiation sensors and much more.

A very detailed list of technologies used, with a detailed description of each of them, can be found here.

From the above, I was surprised by trucks with “X-ray” installations (I think that the type of technology there is completely different, but it’s rather a sonorous name), which allow you to shine through cars and look behind the walls of houses, in search of something like that. A sound sensor system that focuses on the sounds of shooting in the city, and not only on them. Very advanced, diverse systems, the NYPD's budget is so high precisely because of the saturation of technology, and for no other reason.

But the protesters believe that a huge budget goes to the police, to their salaries. Which of course is not true at all. The level of their earnings corresponds to the standard of living in New York, and with this in mind, even lower than in many other American cities. Another thing is that the technical equipment is noticeably better, there are more technical specialists who service the hardware and software.

Do you know what is happening in America today with law enforcement agencies in terms of unrest, how the technical component is changing? The police and not only she suddenly needed large amounts of storage in data centers, they store all the information they can reach - social media records, videos and photos. And in the future, they will simply look for signs of the participation of all detainees in the riots in order to add trouble and problems to them, to increase their sentences. During the first week of riots in the United States, about 10 thousand people were detained, the police do not make any difference in what they were detained for, such statistics do not exist.These are both those who robbed shops and civilians who participated in demonstrations. And in some ways these detainees were lucky, because while the databases do not have all the information about the riots, their faces are not driven through the latest information about the crimes, it will appear later. But there is no doubt that the bases will be filled and used to search for those who participated in the offenses. So the police will let off steam when the situation calms down a bit. For some reason, I have no doubts that the detentions will be rude, emphatically aggressive. It will be a reality, not a movie world.

How Yandex offended Sberbank and it began to complicate the life of the IT giant

Sberbank, under the leadership of Gref and at his suggestion, sees itself as an IT company, and in many ways it is becoming one. The clumsy monster is gradually accelerating, which is helped by the fact that Sberbank's resources within the perimeter of the Russian market can be considered conditionally infinite. And for Yandex, this acceleration, coupled with the restructuring of many processes, threatens to directly lose the market in those niches where the company considered itself completely safe. The primordial strengths of Yandex will soon be tested for strength and it will be a serious struggle for the future.

In private conversations, many attribute the root of the spat between Sberbank and Yandex to the incompatibility of German Gref and Arkady Volozh, too different views on business and how to conduct it. An attempt to combine strengths turned out to be a total failure, Yandex.Market never took off (including Beru), and Yandex.Money may disappear in the near future. Rumors claim that there is a personal grudge and a desire to drown Yandex. I didn’t hold a candle, but according to what is happening on the market, I can say that Sberbank is doing everything possible to weaken Yandex as much as possible, to make it impossible for it to live comfortably in Russia.

For example, for Sberbank's own projects related to topics that have already been developed within Yandex, employees of the latter are eagerly recruited. At the same time, they are offered significantly higher wages, which has already created difficulties for Yandex, since they either need to pay the same amount to retain people, or look for new employees, which in theory will then go back to a direct competitor. Such price pressure, with the help of salaries, inflates the labor market for certain specialties, where there is already a shortage of personnel. Raising the cost of development in Sberbank hit on the most sick, namely the price of projects. But this is only part of a big story, a strategy in which Sberbank consistently attacks Yandex, slowly and inevitably.

In late 2019, Sberbank and Yandex began considering the purchase of 2GIS, a Russian mapping service based in Novosibirsk. Interestingly, in the fall of 2019, Grigory Bakunov from Yandex (Director for Technology Dissemination) discussed the audience of this service together with the presenters on Ekho Moskvy in the Tochka program. The host called the audience of the service 20 million people, and then Bakunov commented on this, “Perhaps these are all the people who, in one way or another, have passed through the page in the entire history of this product. We do not know what kind of audience 2GIS actually has. I suspect that the figure of 20 million is grossly overestimated.”

The level of understanding of the market at Yandex has always been lame, the company lives in its own illusory world, and this comment proves it well. 2GIS was not too lazy to answer Yandex and simply published statistics, for example, here is such an analytics on the number of active users in 2018 for different applications, 2GIS overtakes cartography from Yandex (later combining two Yandex applications is an attempt to fight 2GIS, it looks exactly like this).

Spikers #594. Face Recognition in the US - Corporations Refusing to Work with the Police

At the time of the comment, 2GIS has 39.1 million users in Russia (already more than 50 million), 20 million only on the Mediascope panel.

Spikers #594. Facial Recognition in the US - corporations refusing to work with the police

Another quote from Bakunov, - “As far as I have seen, 2GIS has stagnated in recent years, of course, because, let me remind you, most phones have pre-installed maps. And there is, of course, the most popular Yandex.Maps service, here we are leading by a wide margin.

2GIS commented on this simply, the growth of the 2GIS audience in two years was 45%, while in Moscow the growth was 94%, in St. Petersburg 76%, these are traditionally strong markets for Yandex.Maps. In 2GIS, Yandex very nicely clicked on the nose and poked into complete ignorance of the market in which the company operates. This is generally typical for Yandex in recent years, the company does not understand what they are doing, why and how (read below about the columns, it will also be interesting how Yandex is preparing to fall in love with the market, which they began to develop first in Russia).

Both Sberbank and Yandex considered buying 2GIS (Russian Forbes writes about Yandex and their attempt to buy it), but the prize went to Sberbank, as the company does not spare money for development and is practically unlimited in investment opportunities. The valuation of 2GIS amounted to 14.3 billion rubles, the share of Sberbank will be 72% after the closing of the transaction. O2O Holding will have 3% of 2GIS, this is a joint company of Sberbank and Mail.ru for the development of food and taxis).

So, what will happen to Yandex.Maps after 2GIS falls under the wing of Sberbank? Let's start with the obvious - all Sberbank projects will get maps from 2GIS, exactly the same awaits mail.ru projects, which are considered competitors for projects from Yandex. Like it or not, but only this will give a surge in the use of 2GIS in the Russian market. The advantage of 2GIS will be achieved in a very short time, which will create certain problems for Yandex.Maps.

But another point is even more interesting, Yandex has already lost the map presets for Samsung smartphones, there, by default, 2GIS is included in the Russian software package. Approximately the same thing happens for other manufacturers, they set 2GIS by default. Here Yandex was strongly pressed. Due to the cooperation of Sberbank with Huawei / Honor, the appearance of pre-installed cards on these smartphones (and this is a third of the Russian market) is also a matter of the near future. And here the business conditions for Yandex are deteriorating greatly, in addition to the availability of Google Maps, which are used by international companies in their applications, a strong competitor appears, which provides not only maps, but is capable of providing many other goodies from Sberbank. Competition is escalating and Yandex was simply not ready for this. It was important for the company to buy 2GIS at any cost in order to stop Sberbank. With resources like this bank, Yandex will not be able to win in the long run.

On my own behalf, I want to note that since March of this year I have been using 2GIS (maps were preinstalled on my smartphone) and for me they have become a discovery, there are a lot of POIs, routes are perfectly laid. In a word, try it, it's a cool product.

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In the future, 2GIS will receive many improvements, and for third-party developers, that is, maps will spread even faster than it was today. And for Yandex, this is very sad news, since the competitor is not just the strongest, it will replace Yandex. Cards from their positions in a short time, it will take relatively little time. And the cost of promoting your cartography for Yandex will increase significantly, as well as all other business expenses.

Of course, you can continue to rest on your laurels, consider your products the best, which has not been the case for a long time. And as a result, to receive such greetings from direct competitors that they begin to advance on all fronts. It is difficult to underestimate the consequences of the deal with 2GIS for the entire market, a big redistribution has already begun and Yandex is the loser in it.

Smart speakers - another front of attack on Yandex

There are already several players on the Russian market that offer smart speakers and their integration with smart home systems. Yandex was the first to enter this market, trying to get ahead of the arrival of Google Home, which never officially took place. After that, people who worked on columns from Yandex went to work in Mail.ru, Sberbank, MTS and not only, today only the lazy one does not try to create his own voice assistant. But the rate of market development is rather low, in America such assistants are evolving much faster. And the problem here is not so much algorithms as a rather low user base, which does not allow training algorithms. Vicious circle.

One of the players in 2020 will try to break this market and do what Yandex was originally supposed to do - offer smart speakers for free, along with a subscription to services. At Yandex, the subscription model did not take off, such columns are practically inaccessible.

Spikers #594. Facial recognition in the US - corporations refusing to work with the police

The new player will offer columns for free, and their number will gradually be increased to three. The free distribution model will assume that a person uses the services of the company and the cost of the column is paid off by what he does on it - orders a taxi, buys pizza or something else. Moreover, the correctness of the approach is that you cannot sell a raw product, without a good voice assistant (and no one except Google has such) for the full price. You need to give it away for free to create a user base and then develop the product.

And then Yandex will only have to respond to this, make the subscription model the main one. For the company, this will mean very high hardware costs (and they need to find money somewhere to buy Uber's stake in Yandex.Taxi, which is far from a penny). The year for Yandex is clearly unsuccessful, since the attack on various services, read the company's businesses, begins on all fronts. And the company does not have a ready-made recipe for how to resist this, what to oppose to other players. The cost of doing business will increase as competition increases and becomes fierce. Perhaps this characteristic most fully describes what is happening on the market.

From the point of view of Yandex's financial performance, this year will not be stunning, either in positive or negative aspects. But next year, we will see the consequences of the offensive of other companies, how they eat off the share of Yandex, and also make the company's business less profitable. In some ways, Yandex could support the IPO of Yandex.Taxi, but this is clearly not the time when it can and should be carried out.

Microsoft Surface Go 2 tablet - what is it for?

Microsoft continues to develop the Surface line and now the second generation of Surface Go has hit the shelves, in the US the cost of this tablet starts at $399. The positioning hints that Microsoft created this device to compete on store shelves with the Apple iPad, a sort of answer to Apple's tablet. But this is a classic thoughtless approach, when your solution is created with an eye on the desired cost, and not on the opportunities that the buyer receives.

Spikers #594. Facial recognition in the US - corporations refusing to work with the police Spikers #594 Face Recognition in the US - Corporations Refusing to Work with the Police

What's the problem with Go 2? The answer lies in the processor, the Pentium Gold is a very slow processor for any version of Windows 10, even cut down in applications (do not upgrade to Windows 10 Home, it will hurt even more). In the basic version of 4/64 GB, everything is very slow, since 4 GB is barely enough for the system, and you won’t run regular Windows applications here (the question of course is which ones you need - the browser will work slowly). Built-in eMMC memory is also a minus and horror-horror.

Spikers #594. Face Recognition in the US - Corporations Refusing to Work with the police Spikers #594 Face Recognition in the US - Corporations Refusing to Work with the Police

In a word, it turns out that as a tablet for watching movies, web pages, the device is so-so, for something more serious it is not suitable at all. And it was released for show, to compete with the iPad, but the competition itself is clearly not working.

It's another matter if you take a Core m3 model, the processor, although quite old, is still productive. But there is already 8/128 GB, there is a regular SSD, and visually everything works quickly. You can buy an external keyboard case ($100, old models will do), a Microsoft stylus if you plan to draw ($70).

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The initial cost of such a tablet on m3 is from $ 630 for the WiFi version and this is the option that can only be considered, all the lower versions of this model suffer greatly in performance.

Spikers #594. Face Recognition in the US - Corporations Refusing to Work with the police

I absolutely do not like the approach of companies when the model is built not on the needs of a person, not on what he will receive, but on the need to fill a certain price limit. This is exactly what happened in this case, the younger Surface Go 2 can be bought out of ignorance, on the recommendation of the seller. And then disappointed in him. And why Microsoft needs this is completely unclear, because with its own hands the company repels those who should buy new versions of Surface in the future. And those who receive such tablets or two-in-one devices in schools and other educational institutions will definitely not be particularly happy with them - they are too slow. And again we come to the conclusion that they will not become buyers of such devices, they will not recommend them. What task Microsoft is solving at the moment is clear, but at the end it hits sales in future periods.

Books. Quality country. Mark-Uwe Kling

Bookstores are open, which means you can raid them and return with loot that turns out to be unexpected. The “Country of Quality” became such a book, I didn’t hear anything about it, it literally jumped into my hands. A mixture of "Black Mirror" and many other books about the future, which excites the mind and makes you think.

Spikers #594. Face Recognition in the US - Corporations Refusing to Work with the police

What will happen when the algorithms begin to determine what you need and predict your desires to deliver goods to you. How your life will change if social rating determines what you can afford. Why do people suddenly lose their emotions, and computer programs suddenly acquire them and become less self-confident.

This book is a satire about the future we are heading towards and what it could become. Satire is sharp on the tongue, our world is guessed in it. For example, the hot headline work, "These ten megastars slept with their kids." And then clicking on the headline, people saw the full text, - "These ten megastars slept with children

Spillikins №594. Facial recognition in the US - refusal of corporations to work with the police

The world continues to go into protests, they have spread almost all over the planet, and the epidemic has not disappeared anywhere. On the other hand, in Moscow there is a complete feeling that the epidemic as an event has ceased to exist - the streets are filled with people, they are walking, sitting at the tables of “closed” cafes and restaurants. As if there was no quarantine and the disease is no more. This is a very dangerous behavior that will provoke a new increase in the number of cases, otherwise it simply cannot be. However, this is clearly seen in other countries, where all restrictions have been abruptly lifted. But we will not talk about this, but will focus on the protests and how they affected technology. Let's go!

Content

Face recognition and corporate refusal to work with the police in the US

An amazing phantasmagoria is unfolding before our eyes, in the USA they justify shop robberies, vandalism of monuments, as this is considered a form of protest. Of course, it is impossible to say that such manifestations of aggression, the lack of a minimum education are characteristic of the whole society, but judging by the news feeds, this is a noticeable part of the ongoing events. The polarity of opinions goes off scale not only in America, but also in other countries, for example, in the UK, there were judgments that Winston Churchill was a notorious racist and therefore a monument to him in central London was decorated with inscriptions. And the government hid it in an iron box so that they would not try to demolish it, as they did in several cities in America with a monument to Columbus. What Christopher Columbus did wrong is not very clear, but there is an underlying feeling that the struggle against racial prejudices and racism has gradually developed into a war of the uneducated part of society that does not receive modern benefits, against those who can somehow join them. Under what slogans it goes is not so important, it rather comes to the fore how it happens.

The problem with the “protesters” and their open clashes with the police, robberies of shops and other illegal actions is that today they get into photographs, videos and further it is a matter of technology how to find these people and bring them to justice. Having succumbed to emotions and taken clothes, electronics or something similar out of the store, the protesters become defendants in criminal cases, and the very photos and videos, including those taken by security cameras, and not by other people, serve as evidence. Therefore, breaking into the stores, the “oppressed” demolish the cameras with such frenzy, they recognize them as a threat.

Mass demonstrations are somewhat reminiscent of a DDoS attack, the number of threats is so great that the police cannot be in a hundred places at the same time, and therefore robberies go on with such ease. But the security systems record what is happening, moreover, the existing facial recognition systems quite confidently show who was involved in the robberies. And not only in them, but also in attacks on the police, other citizens, and so on.

Source: Matt Rourke/AP

And do you know what is happening in America against this background? What can be called a logical and understandable phenomenon is in no way possible. Corporations are starting to publicly refuse to work with police departments in different cities, they stop selling them facial recognition software. Sounds unbelievable? But this is true, but not all.

The first company that refused to work with the police in this area was IBM, their position in this market, to put it mildly, is no Watches Wallet Belt and Spray. Accordingly, the corporation does not incur any noticeable losses, but this is far from the reason. There are currently no laws in the US that regulate the use of facial recognition. Moreover, the results of police operations, in which the initial data is obtained using facial recognition, are questioned in court, as the accuracy is quite low. Even more interestingly, recognition accuracy drops for people with black or dark skin, which many have already dubbed racism. But the fact lies elsewhere, AI algorithms were trained on a sample of different people, but there were clearly more whites in it. The fact that there is no problem in what kind of persons to train the systems we see in China, where such tracking systems are effective and widespread, the country is a leader in such developments and their practical application. Interestingly, there are several teams in Russia that have achieved an extremely high level of facial recognition, their technologies are among the most advanced in the world, but the general public does not know about it.

The first company that refused to work with the police in this area was IBM, their positions in this market, to put it mildly, are none Watches Wallet Belt and Spray Watches Wallet Belt and Spray . Accordingly, the corporation does not incur any noticeable losses, but this is far from the reason. There are currently no laws in the US that govern the use of facial recognition. Moreover, the results of police operations, in which the initial data is obtained using facial recognition, are questioned in court, as the accuracy is quite low. Even more interestingly, recognition accuracy drops for people with black or dark skin, which many have already dubbed racism. But the fact lies elsewhere, AI algorithms were trained on a sample of different people, but there were clearly more whites in it. The fact that there is no problem in what kind of persons to train the systems we see in China, where such tracking systems are effective and widespread, the country is a leader in such developments and their practical application. Interestingly, there are several teams in Russia that have achieved an extremely high level of facial recognition, their technologies are among the most advanced in the world, but the general public does not know about this.

Immediately following IBM's announcement, Amazon put a moratorium on one year and stopped providing their facial recognition systems to the police, just like IBM, they asked the government and the Senate to create a set of laws that would regulate the use of this technology .

Such a unanimous speech by such different companies seems to the protesters to support them, but everything is much more prosaic. In the absence of state laws, these tools are in a gray area. And in the courts, good lawyers can challenge their application, as well as the accuracy of recognition. As a result, each erroneous recognition will bring millions of dollars in losses, which can be received by the victim. This risk was negligible until recently, as the number of detentions and arrests using only facial recognition was small. And at the same time, there were always other clues that unambiguously pointed to a person. In protests that have taken a very different approach to the US, corporations are waiting for mass arrests based only on photos, videos and subsequent facial recognition. The number of erroneous detentions could skyrocket, as could subsequent legal claims by detainees. There is no support for the protest, this is an assessment of one's own risks and an attempt to avoid losses. Today, America's corporations are not fighting the police, but forcing the latter to put pressure on the government to pass laws that will exempt them from any prosecution in court, protect them from the cost of paying victims when systems malfunction. Therefore, when you read articles about how some Americans praise the conscience of the same Amazon, you are amazed at the naivety. Even just looking through the news about how Amazon is doing its business, you will have a clear understanding that there are no flirting with employees, this is the most severe sweatshop, where the safety of individuals does not play a big role. And suddenly this company is on the side of the protesters? Utopia.

Many people around the world do not want to believe in the real world, they are poisoned by Hollywood films and stories about equality, freedom of speech and the opportunity to speak openly about what is happening. The protests themselves have a lot to do with this, with the cognitive dissonance between what is happening in reality and what the propaganda shows. In past Spillikins, we touched a little on the topic of social networks and the fact that Donald Trump is outright lying in his tweets. As a result, Twitter flagged such tweets, indicating that the information in them does not correspond to reality.

Facebook, where exactly the same information was posted, had no tagging. This caused serious discussions within the company, some employees were outraged by the silence of the management. Zuckerberg met with some of the employees in the company's office, tried to defuse the situation, but it didn't work out very well. So, during the meeting, many asked why the company took a position in relation to Donald Trump that violates the rules of Facebook. Any other person would have received a warning or been permanently banned for saying things the President of the United States does. Facebook did nothing of the sort, but simply remained silent and did not discuss this issue.

What happened next? One of the company's engineers, Brandon Dail, has been publicly critical of the company's management, and has done so repeatedly. Moreover, he publicly accused his colleague of not including words of support for the Black Live Matters movement in a developer paper he was working on. As a result, he was fired. Facebook, of course, did not comment on the reasons for the dismissal, but confirmed that it took place.

In my opinion, everything that is possible is mixed here again. Facebook employees often confuse company policy with big politics and believe that Facebook management's statements should be unambiguous. But it so happened that Facebook simply does not share them and therefore punishes those who become too active in the public field. Exactly the same thing happened last year at Google, this year it also happened at Amazon. The punishment for those who break corporate rules is quick and easy enough, public flogging for everyone else to keep their mouths shut. This is the reality of our world, and not what is shown in the movies. Moreover, all these companies are focused on extracting maximum profit and have succeeded in this. So as long as states pay for their technology and allow them to avoid problems, they will work with them and they do not care about the rights of certain groups of people. They are stopped by only one threat, the possibility of incurring losses. Rough? Yes. But this is the real world, and not fiction of PR specialists for wide use. Let's look at another fudge that upsets the protesters - the NYPD budget.

New York City has some of the highest police spending in the US, with the New York City Police Department being considered one of the most technologically advanced, implementing systems that only later appear elsewhere. But the inhabitants of the city do not know anything about most of them. A couple of years ago, New Yorkers turned to the city council, they wanted the city to disclose information about what systems the police have, how citizens are being monitored. The difference in approach is visible even at the verbal level - what residents call surveillance, the mayor's office considers security systems. And this is about the same as with scouts and spies, the assessment depends solely on which side you are on. The mayor of New York has repeatedly rejected all requests regarding the systems used and the disclosure of the principle of their work, the motivation sounds logical - the criminals do not understand how the police work is organized, which makes it possible to effectively prevent many offenses.

One of the main providers of software for security systems in New York is Microsoft, the company has bundled together different sensors, cameras into a cloud system, access to which is regulated at the level of each service. The Domain Awareness System (DAS) is very complex in every sense, it has cameras that read license plates on the streets and in tunnels, sensors that evaluate weather conditions and the content of chemicals in water / air, radiation sensors and much more.

A very detailed list of technologies used, with a detailed description of each of them, can be found here.

From the above, I was surprised by trucks with “X-ray” installations (I think that the type of technology there is completely different, but it’s rather a sonorous name), which allow you to shine through cars and look behind the walls of houses, in search of something like that. A system of sound sensors that focuses on the sounds of shooting in the city, and not only on them. Very advanced, diverse systems, the NYPD budget is so high precisely because of the saturation of technology, and for no other reason.

But the protesters believe that a huge budget goes to the police, to their salaries. Which of course is not true at all. The level of their earnings corresponds to the standard of living in New York, and with this in mind, even lower than in many other cities in America. Another thing is that the technical equipment is noticeably better, there are more technical specialists who service the hardware and software.

Do you know what is happening in America today with law enforcement agencies in terms of unrest, how the technical component is changing? The police and not only she suddenly needed large amounts of storage in data centers, they store all the information they can reach - social media records, videos and photos. And in the future, they will simply look for signs of the participation of all detainees in the riots in order to add trouble and problems to them, to increase their sentences. During the first week of riots in the United States, about 10 thousand people were detained, the police do not make any difference in what they were detained for, such statistics do not exist.These are both those who robbed shops and civilians who participated in demonstrations. And in some ways these detainees were lucky, because while the databases do not have all the information about the riots, their faces are not driven through the latest information about the crimes, it will appear later. But there is no doubt that the bases will be filled and used to search for those who participated in the offenses. So the police will let off steam when the situation calms down a bit. For some reason, I have no doubts that the detentions will be rude, emphatically aggressive. It will be a reality, not a movie world.

How Yandex offended Sberbank and it began to complicate the life of the IT giant

Sberbank, under the leadership of Gref and at his suggestion, sees itself as an IT company, and in many ways it is becoming one. The clumsy monster is gradually accelerating, which is helped by the fact that Sberbank's resources within the perimeter of the Russian market can be considered conditionally infinite. And for Yandex, this acceleration, coupled with the restructuring of many processes, threatens to directly lose the market in those niches where the company considered itself completely safe. The primordial strengths of Yandex will soon be tested for strength and it will be a serious struggle for the future.

In private conversations, many attribute the root of the spat between Sberbank and Yandex to the incompatibility of German Gref and Arkady Volozh, too different views on business and how to conduct it. An attempt to combine strengths turned out to be a total failure, Yandex.Market never took off (including Beru), and Yandex.Money may disappear in the near future. Rumors claim that there is a personal grudge and a desire to drown Yandex. I didn’t hold a candle, but according to what is happening on the market, I can say that Sberbank is doing everything possible to weaken Yandex as much as possible, to make it impossible for it to live comfortably in Russia.

For example, for Sberbank's own projects related to topics that have already been developed within Yandex, employees of the latter are eagerly recruited. At the same time, they are offered significantly higher wages, which has already created difficulties for Yandex, since they either need to pay the same amount to retain people, or look for new employees, which in theory will then go back to a direct competitor. Such price pressure, with the help of salaries, inflates the labor market for certain specialties, where there is already a shortage of personnel. Raising the cost of development in Sberbank hit on the most sick, namely the price of projects. But this is only part of a big story, a strategy in which Sberbank consistently attacks Yandex, slowly and inevitably.

In late 2019, Sberbank and Yandex began considering the purchase of 2GIS, a Russian mapping service based in Novosibirsk. Interestingly, in the fall of 2019, Grigory Bakunov from Yandex (Director for Technology Dissemination) discussed the audience of this service together with the presenters on Ekho Moskvy in the Tochka program. The host called the audience of the service 20 million people, and then Bakunov commented on this, “Perhaps these are all the people who, in one way or another, have passed through the page in the entire history of this product. We do not know what kind of audience 2GIS actually has. I suspect that the figure of 20 million is grossly overestimated.”

The level of understanding of the market at Yandex has always been lame, the company lives in its own illusory world, and this comment proves it well. 2GIS was not too lazy to answer Yandex and simply published statistics, for example, here is such an analytics on the number of active users in 2018 for different applications, 2GIS overtakes cartography from Yandex (later combining two Yandex applications is an attempt to fight 2GIS, it looks exactly like this).

At the time of the comment, 2GIS has 39.1 million users in Russia (already more than 50 million), 20 million only on the Mediascope panel.

Another quote from Bakunov, - “As far as I have seen, 2GIS has stagnated in recent years, of course, because, let me remind you, most phones have pre-installed maps. And there is, of course, the most popular Yandex.Maps service, here we are leading by a wide margin.

2GIS commented on this simply, the growth of the 2GIS audience in two years was 45%, while in Moscow the growth was 94%, in St. Petersburg 76%, these are traditionally strong markets for Yandex.Maps. In 2GIS, Yandex very nicely clicked on the nose and poked into complete ignorance of the market in which the company operates. This is generally typical for Yandex in recent years, the company does not understand what they are doing, why and how (read below about the columns, it will also be interesting how Yandex is preparing to fall in love with the market, which they began to develop first in Russia).

Both Sberbank and Yandex considered buying 2GIS (Russian Forbes writes about Yandex and their attempt to buy it), but the prize went to Sberbank, as the company does not spare money for development and is practically unlimited in investment opportunities. The valuation of 2GIS amounted to 14.3 billion rubles, the share of Sberbank will be 72% after the closing of the transaction. O2O Holding will have a 3% stake in 2GIS, a joint venture between Sberbank and Mail.ru to develop food and taxis.

So, what will happen to Yandex.Maps after 2GIS falls under the wing of Sberbank? Let's start with the obvious - all Sberbank projects will get maps from 2GIS, exactly the same awaits mail.ru projects, which are considered competitors for projects from Yandex. Like it or not, but only this will give a surge in the use of 2GIS in the Russian market. The advantage of 2GIS will be achieved in a very short time, which will create certain problems for Yandex.Maps.

But another point is even more interesting, Yandex has already lost the map presets for Samsung smartphones, there, by default, 2GIS is included in the Russian software package. Approximately the same thing happens for other manufacturers, they set 2GIS by default. Here Yandex was strongly pressed. Due to the cooperation of Sberbank with Huawei / Honor, the appearance of pre-installed cards on these smartphones (and this is a third of the Russian market) is also a matter of the near future. And here the business conditions for Yandex are deteriorating greatly, in addition to the availability of Google Maps, which are used by international companies in their applications, a strong competitor appears, which provides not only maps, but is capable of providing many other goodies from Sberbank. Competition is escalating and Yandex was simply not ready for this. It was important for the company to buy 2GIS at any cost in order to stop Sberbank. With resources like this bank, Yandex will not be able to win in the long run.

On my own behalf, I want to note that since March of this year I have been using 2GIS (maps were preinstalled on my smartphone) and for me they have become a discovery, there are a lot of POIs, routes are perfectly laid. In a word, try it, it's a cool product.

In the future, 2GIS will receive many improvements, and for third-party developers, that is, maps will spread even faster than it was today. And for Yandex, this is very sad news, since the competitor is not just the strongest, it will replace Yandex. Cards from their positions in a short time, it will take relatively little time. And the cost of promoting your cartography for Yandex will increase significantly, as well as all other business expenses.

Of course, you can continue to rest on your laurels, consider your products the best, which has not been the case for a long time. And as a result, to receive such greetings from direct competitors that they begin to advance on all fronts. It is difficult to underestimate the consequences of the deal with 2GIS for the entire market, a big redistribution has already begun and Yandex is the loser in it.

Smart speakers - another front of attack on Yandex

There are already several players on the Russian market that offer smart speakers and their integration with smart home systems. Yandex was the first to enter this market, trying to get ahead of the arrival of Google Home, which never officially took place. After that, people who worked on columns from Yandex went to work in Mail.ru, Sberbank, MTS and not only, today only the lazy one does not try to create his own voice assistant. But the rate of market development is rather low, in America such assistants are evolving much faster. And the problem here is not so much algorithms as a rather low user base, which does not allow training algorithms. Vicious circle.

One of the players in 2020 will try to break this market and do what Yandex was originally supposed to do - offer smart speakers for free, along with a subscription to services. At Yandex, the subscription model did not take off, such columns are practically inaccessible.

The new player will offer columns for free, and their number will gradually be increased to three. The free distribution model will assume that a person uses the services of the company and the cost of the column is paid off by what he does on it - orders a taxi, buys pizza or something else. Moreover, the correctness of the approach is that you cannot sell a raw product, without a good voice assistant (and no one except Google has such) for the full price. You need to give it away for free in order to create a user base and then develop the product.

And then Yandex will only have to respond to this, make the subscription model the main one. For the company, this will mean very high hardware costs (and they need to find money somewhere to buy Uber's stake in Yandex.Taxi, which is far from a penny). The year for Yandex is clearly unsuccessful, since the attack on various services, read the company's businesses, begins on all fronts. And the company does not have a ready-made recipe for how to resist this, what to oppose to other players. The cost of doing business will increase as competition increases and becomes fierce. Perhaps this characteristic most fully describes what is happening on the market.

From the point of view of Yandex's financial performance, this year will not be stunning, either in positive or negative aspects. But next year, we will see the consequences of the offensive of other companies, how they eat off the share of Yandex, and also make the company's business less profitable. In some ways, Yandex could support the IPO of Yandex.Taxi, but this is clearly not the time when it can and should be carried out.

Microsoft Surface Go 2 tablet - what is it for?

Microsoft continues to develop the Surface line and now the second generation of Surface Go has hit the shelves, in the US the cost of this tablet starts at $399. The positioning hints that Microsoft created this device to compete on store shelves with the Apple iPad, a sort of answer to Apple's tablet. But this is a classic thoughtless approach, when your solution is created with an eye on the desired cost, and not on the opportunities that the buyer receives.

What's the problem with Go 2? The answer lies in the processor, the Pentium Gold is a very slow processor for any version of Windows 10, even cut down in applications (do not upgrade to Windows 10 Home, it will hurt even more). In the basic version of 4/64 GB, everything is very slow, since 4 GB is barely enough for the system, and you won’t run regular Windows applications here (the question of course is which ones you need - the browser will work slowly). Built-in eMMC memory is also a minus and horror-horror.

In a word, it turns out that as a tablet for watching movies, web pages, the device is so-so, for something more serious it is not suitable at all. And it was released for show, to compete with the iPad, but the competition itself is clearly not working.

It's another matter if you take a Core m3 model, the processor, although quite old, is still productive. But here it’s already 8/128 GB, it costs a regular SSD, and visually everything works quickly. You can buy an external keyboard case ($100, old models will do), a Microsoft stylus if you plan to draw ($70).

The initial cost of such a tablet on m3 is from $ 630 for the WiFi version and this is the option that can only be considered, all the lower versions of this model suffer greatly in performance.

I absolutely do not like the approach of companies when the model is built not on the needs of a person, not on what he will receive, but on the need to fill a certain price limit. This is exactly what happened in this case, the younger Surface Go 2 can be bought out of ignorance, on the recommendation of the seller. And then disappointed in him. And why Microsoft needs this is completely unclear, because with its own hands the company repels those who should buy new versions of Surface in the future. And those who receive such tablets or two-in-one devices in schools and other educational institutions will definitely not be particularly happy with them - they are too slow. And again we come to the conclusion that they will not become buyers of such devices, they will not recommend them. What task Microsoft is solving at the moment is clear, but at the end it hits sales in future periods.

Books. Quality country. Mark-Uwe Kling

Bookstores are open, which means you can raid them and return with loot that turns out to be unexpected. “Country of Quality” became such a book, I didn’t hear anything about it, it literally jumped into my hands. A mixture of "Black Mirror" and many other books about the future, which excites the mind and makes you think.

What will happen when the algorithms begin to determine what you need and predict your desires to deliver goods to you. How your life will change if social rating determines what you can afford. Why people will suddenly lose their emotions, and computer programs will suddenly acquire them and become less self-confident.

This book is a satire about the future we are heading towards and what it could become. Satire is sharp on the tongue, our world is guessed in it. For example, the hot headline job, "These ten megastars slept with their kids." And then clicking on the title, people saw the full text, - "These ten megastars slept with children