WHO: just 25 Covid vaccine doses administered in low-income countries

India and South Africa have led a push at the WHO to waive intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines and treatments, which activists say could significantly increase supplies of both by allowing any qualified manufacturer to produce them without fear of being sued or prosecuted.

Countries including the UK, US and Canada have opposed the IP waiver while at the same time buying up or reserving enough vaccine to inoculate their populations at least four times over, should all the candidates they have pre-purchased be approved.

Horrible. Say what you will about China but the rest of the world aren’t falling over themselves to treat this global pandemic at the scale itself implies. Opposing an IP waiver makes sense in a capitalist world. Private companies have spent money (not just their own though) to design and manufacture vaccines and it’s not irrational for them to be compensated for it. But having counties ordering many times the doses they need (just in case) while low-income countries can’t score a single proper order by the looks of it is an insult. At the same time, it’s good to remember that supply doesn’t seem to be much of an issue while distribution is. So there are definitely more wrinkles here.

Online speech and publishing

Facebook has close to 2bn users, posting over 100bn things each day. The global SMS system, at its peak, had 20-25bn messages a day.

This is not a ‘publisher’, in the sense that a newspaper or radio station are publishers – or if it is, then we’ve stretched the word ‘publisher’ so far as to become meaningless. A human editor chooses ten stories for the front page of a newspaper, and ten stories for the 9 o’clock news, but there is no-one sitting in Menlo Park choosing a hundred photos for your Instagram feed each morning.

But on the other hand, a phone company does not write rules about what you can say, and social network do write rules, or try to, and they make decisions about what kinds of things should be in your feed, and why. This is not a publisher, but it’s not a phone company either, nor a restaurant.

This article almost perfectly encapsulates my issues with current discourse on what social media are more like and especially with people’s insistence on pretending they’re publishers despite lack of proper editorial control and complete lack of entry barriers for users which of course means anyone starts out able to post anything at any time.

I agree they’re not publishers. I also agree they’re not phone companies or anything that would be considered a utility based on how we’re used to defining utilities. But the fact that they have their own rules, while a fact indeed, is something we should be focusing more on. We might take that for granted but should they have their own rules. Why and when should or shouldn’t they? This is what’s missing from the ongoing conversation, I believe.

Predictions For Asia’s Videogame Market In 2021

Japan is an anomaly in the Asia-10 region as the country’s esports scene has yet to evolve, due to laws and regulations that equate esports tournament prizes with gambling, and the small number of Japanese games that are played in esports. Japan’s Consumer Affairs Agency has recently stated that esports prize pools are work compensation, not gambling prizes, and other domestic institutions are pushing forward to create a bigger esports scene in the country. This should cause a livelier esports scene to emerge in Japan this year.

For flavour, in Japan stores can sell mystery bags for a set price during the holidays. Consumers pay first and then they get to see what they got. There are some very good deals to be had this way indeed, but how that’s not a gamble but winning at eSports and getting a prize could be, I don’t really get.

Sometimes laws are just funny.

Monitoring of Employees Faces Scrutiny in Europe

Regulators in Europe need to clarify how companies can use certain technologies as they evolve, such as artificial intelligence, Mr. Roethig said. For example, surveillance could be combined with algorithms to try to predict employee behavior, including taking steps to join a labor union, and inform decisions about how to treat those people, he said.

It’s not so much that’s it’s happening as that it could happen eventually if no safeguards are instituted. What is happening though, is AI being used to go through resumes to make recruiters’ work more manageable. Much simpler, much more benign a scenario but even there there are still issues that are creeping out these days.

Twitter chief says Trump ban was right decision but sets ‘dangerous precedent’

Dorsey said that it was the right decision for the company but that such actions “fragment the public conversation”.

“They divide us,” he continued. “They limit the potential for clarification, redemption, and learning. And sets a precedent I feel is dangerous: the power an individual or corporation has over a part of the global public conversation.”

If Twitter’s head is conflicted about and wary of such power, shouldn’t we?

Should we celebrate Trump’s Twitter ban? Five free speech experts weigh in

Note how even Trump’s political opponents aren’t necessarily in favour of his deplatforming.

Twitter’s decentralized social network project takes a baby step forward

We are trying to do our part by funding an initiative around an open decentralized standard for social media. Our goal is to be a client of that standard for the public conversation layer of the internet,” he tweeted simply.

It’s a long way to go till such a system comes to be but it’s quite the play. Not only can it be designed so as to be more secure than not, but by having Twitter turning into a client for such a standard would move some responsibilities elsewhere I believe. I’m intrigued.

‘The Big Shift’: Internal Facebook Memo Tells Employees to Do Better on Privacy

In a follow-up note to his division, Bosworth said they’d invert their product development process. “Instead of imagining a product and trimming it down to fit modern standards of data privacy and security,” he said, “we will start with the assumption that we can’t collect, use, or store any data. The burden is on us to demonstrate why certain data is truly required for the product to work.”

Think of word count restrictions in a magazine. Sure, you can massage the layout a bit, gain or lose some text space but there’s always a hard limit that just can’t be negotiated. Now imagine some ignoring that hard limit and trying to nip and tuck text after the fact, while others take it into account from the start. Whose work do you think has potential to be consistently better?

And now think that the hard limit in Facebook’s case is privacy and security, the limit that has been ignored and then massaged to fit. If this “Big Shift” comes to pass, I’d argue Facebook products will, in time, become better products.

The rise of recurrent revenue

Service-based companies trade at multiples in the range of 10-20 times revenue, compared to the 2-5x revenue for product-based firms. That is a massive difference and reduces the cost of capital. On the short term that’s a nice to have; on the long term access to cheap capital is a must because publishers will be competing over IP and talent. And neither of those are getting cheaper, as Take-Two recently found out when EA elbowed it out of the way to buy Codemasters.

You make good products, sell them at a profit and make money, your valuation is 2x-5x your revenue. You make good services, sell them at a profit and make money, your valuation is 10x-20x your revenue. So you turn a game into a service, company value goes up, money (loans) gets cheaper, acquisitions get easier etc.