Some level of mainstream machine learning has been present in the lives of ordinary folks like you and me since iPhoto first did facial recognition well over a decade ago. Other AI or AI-like tech has become increasingly pervasive, but quite limited. Now, a flood of “experience this now” machine learning is drowning out past years’ “imagine if this were just a bit better” tech. Two tools to utilize such tech are worth your attention right now.
There used to be a joke — well, we said it was a joke — among photographers: when shooting family groups and weddings, put the inlaws at the ends of the line of people. It would then be easier to crop them from the picture if things didn’t work out.
My good friend and fellow OFB writer Dennis E. Powell and I met years ago on a group that championed Free/Open Source software, much for the same sorts of reasons he advocates for his new phone configuration over Apple’s offerings. OFB itself was founded, in fact, to promote such open software, especially Linux, so why would I defend locked down systems from Apple? That’s a story that started 19 years ago, before the iPhone even existed.
The IOS update that killed my original iPhone SE was the last straw. I was done with Apple. They’d already skated far out onto the thin ice when they killed the excellent Dark Sky weather application and replaced it with their more-is-less Weather application, which took what was once quick, convenient, easy, and comprehensive — Dark Sky — and replaced it with a jumble of information, often not the information being sought, on a too-busy screen. It would have been forgivable if they had provided a setting that restored the look, feel, and functionality of Dark Sky. They didn’t. They never do. Apple knows best.
Probably all of us have some frustration with one or more of the Tech Giants who are being targeted by Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s “Ending Platform Monopolies Act.” It is tempting to cheer on efforts to offer a cure to common Big Tech disease, checking their power over us. But, like a layperson coming up with the wrong treatment for a serious illness, this and other similar proposals, dangerously operate on oversimplification that threatens to make our technology much worse while ignoring the genuine Big Tech problems staring us down.