After organizing the protest, Stapleton said she complained to human resources that her manager had demoted her. She hoped HR would provide a mediator to help find a solution. Instead a human resources counselor told Stapleton to try mindfulness techniques to improve her relationship with her manager, according to Stapleton.
“Yes, hello, I think I’ve been wrongfully demoted, can we look into that?”
“But have you tried mindfulness techniques?”
I can tell you right now this is how craters take the place of office buildings. There are many ways by which HR in Greece is more of a joke than this but no HR rep has the gall to hope to get away with saying anything like that. I mean, for starters, no one would believe such a line wasn’t told in jest, “jest” being the most charitable way to put it.
There is a way around this, known as Fully Homomorphic Encryption (FHE). FHE enables the ability to take encrypted data, transfer it to where it needs to go, perform calculations on it, and get results without ever knowing the exact underlying dataset.
You don’t have to understand such a process to accept that the description alone sounds like magic. We’re a long way from homomorphic encryption being something on the consumer’s mind but, well, damn, this sounds amazing.
The world, particularly the United States, has been a massive beneficiary, especially in 2020: when people were stuck at home, what was the company they depended on more than any other to deliver supplies? When companies had to go remote overnight, what was the infrastructure that made that possible? When time needed to be filled with entertainment, games, or video calls, where did those services run? The answer in all cases was Amazon, and the companies that rose up to compete with it. That is one heck of a crowning achievement for a career that changed the industry and the world.
Ben Thompson’s provides a great overview of the quiet revolution Amazon has amounted to, a revolution that clearly stems from the very specific mindset of Jeff Bezos. No one is an angel of course, but that is beside the point here, which is why I urge you to read the whole piece.
I singled out one paragraph for a reason though as what Thomson describes may sound and feel familiar to public infrastructure. Business miracles aside, I always take the time to highlight that when a private business becomes essential, not just on a national but —in Amazon’s case— an international level even, we all have to be very, very careful. There’s a reason public infrastructure and public utilities, even when private from the off or privatised at any point in time, come along with a minimum level of regulatory and government scrutiny.
Such apprehension may sound paranoid, I get it. But it doesn’t take too much for any powerful organisation to flex the wrong muscle with consequences being quite far-reaching, just by nature of the scale of a company. There are always signs if you care to look. Such as Amazon being the only company that refuses to let digital libraries stock and lend its books. We’ll so lucky if that’s the extent of our worries for Amazon or any other huge company with influence.
We’d better tread lightly.
You want it to go and experiment. If it can come up with a meaningful combination of targeting dimensions to reach people that are relevant for you, you don’t want to slow that down by telling it “No, I think actually you should be targeting people that are of this age or that live in this city”. There’s no way for you to intuit what those dimensions are and the reason for that is because you are targeting, if I go into Facebook and I create a campaign and I want to target based on interests, that’s based on my assumptions about who would like this product. Facebook doesn’t need to use assumptions, it has historical data. It knows that this person made purchases in an app like yours or in a DTC web shop like yours, it doesn’t need to make any assumptions about anything, it has behavioral history. A lot of time I’ve been very shocked, just having worked for many gaming companies, at who the high monetizers are. There’s basically no pattern, the only surprise is that you’re surprised. It’s just groups of random people that probably have nothing in common if you put them in a room together.
I’m linking to Ben Thompson’s work twice in one go as this is a transcription of a very interesting conversation with Eric Seufert on what the latest convulsions in the digital ad space can look from different sides. Despite my aversion of Facebook for a number of reasons, it’s only right to acknowledge that the data its systems have at hand stay in such a state no matter who gets their hands on it, its usefulness in a different set of hands might just be fantasy. Some perspective also helps understanding what Apple’s moves mean or may mean in the long run. It’s a long read but it’s worth it. I bet it will keep your mind occupied for a while too.