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On November 15, 2018, LoremIpsum commented on Grupo Aval: Utilizing open innovation to build a new business model :

Amazingly well-written article, Ignacio! I find Grupo Aval’s strategy to leverage the smartest minds across the country (and the world) to develop a competitive edge in the fintech space. In addition to helping the business evolve, I believe that this will attract talent to the company, and will prove to be an effective and inexpensive recruiting tactic, while also earning them some free press.

The questions you posed towards the end are definitely thought-provoking. I believe they can sustain their leadership position if they leverage the data they get from these open innovation challenges to identify and retain top talent, while also understanding trends and challenges that are attracting the ‘external entrepreneurs’. Maintaining close relations with an open innovation community can help them sustain their pole position in the longer run.

Fintech disruptions can definitely pose a threat, but it seems that the community Grupo Aval is developing relations with can help them stay on top of current industry trends, and defuse any threats they perceive.

However, in a space as centered around security and data privacy as fintech is, it makes me wonder if some of these ‘entrepreneurial’ coders can insert a backdoor in their programs that may compromise Grupo Aval’s systems and solutions, and how the company may establish controls to ensure that this does not happen. This may translate to heavy costs for the company, and they may want to define for themselves how the advantages from open innovation weigh against potential problems resulting from the same.

On November 15, 2018, LoremIpsum commented on The Death of the Starving Artist: Patronage via Patreon :

This essay is very well-written. I enjoyed the critical take on Patreon’s changing business ecosystem, and how stakeholders (both users and artists) may feel insecure about using it for different reasons. Also, given the low barrier to entry, competitors with a slightly different business model can easily enter and disrupt this space, and Patreon has to always stay cognizant of potential threats.

As Patreon has been drifting away from what it initially was – a marketplace of sorts to connect artists and patrons, and is becoming more of a social experience for artists to interact with each other and co-create concepts and art by integrating with third-party social platforms, they may consider evolving into a social network for artists. They may do so by developing collaboration tools and avenues, enabling in-person networking opportunities (vis-a-vis meetups.com), connections with galleries and so on, and can use this for monetization. Also, they may work on developing better featuring algorithms and other recommendations engines to ensure that patrons are matched with artists of their choice.

I agree with you that ‘being a payment processor’ is not a valuable proposition. It might even incentivize artists to create their own platforms to attract patrons outside Patreon, so that Patreon does not take a cut of the transaction. They will have to consider adding value to the artist-patron interactions to prevent such churn-out from the platform.

This is a great piece! I love how Nike has been employing additive manufacturing techniques for both product innovation and process improvements, and are successful at both. In particular, as a brand that is known for constant prototyping of products before they release the final version to ensure perfection, Nike can definitely leverage the reduced costs and improved throughput time associated with additive manufacturing. At scale, though, the positive effects of additive manufacturing may not persist, and as a company that often produces at large volumes, this might actually prove detrimental to Nike.

As Nike and Adidas are competing head-to-head in the ‘additive manufacturing for footwear’ space, I believe it is possible for smaller startups with more differentiated value propositions may come up because of the ‘unsealing’ effects afforded by additive manufacturing. It is very important for Nike to recognize this threat, and be alert to any niche market segments they may be losing out in. For instance, it is now possible for a footwear startup to sell uniquely personalized luxury footwear through additive manufacturing, given the smaller fixed costs, which may infringe upon some of Nike’s market.

Also, as your touched upon in your write-up, 3D printing can be used to build extremely customized footwear for athletes to optimize performance, but it is important to ensure that there are no quality concerns with these products.

I believe that Nike should consider introducing new product lines that leverage additive manufacturing to bring about better customization, and possibly price them higher. 3D printing technology is still not mature enough to risk being deployed for mass manufacturing or customization, and a market leader like Nike should be cautious about experimenting with a large fraction of their customers.

On November 15, 2018, LoremIpsum commented on Additive manufacturing of hearing aid requiring anatomical precision :

Thank you for this interesting piece! One of my closest friends uses a hearing aid, and is often prone to losing it. In my opinion, making hearing aids less expensive to purchase will definitely be a very useful value proposition to most customers. I also agree with your recommendation that Earlens consider other distribution mechanisms like direct mail. This ties directly in with the customization options offered by Earlens, and once a customer’s data is stored on those database, the customer can order a replacement online and get it at his/her home without having to go to the store/clinic. However, I am concerned that the products may not be mechanically robust enough to be sent via postal mail, without having to be carefully packaged in a potentially cost-restrictive way.

I believe that immediate consultation may have a huge impact on customer purchase decisions, and more importantly, customer retention. Since users can be easily trained to install their own hearing aids, this will not require Earlens to bear a huge cost, but will definitely improve the perceived experience of customers who do need service and help with installation.

Also, additive manufacturing definitely has a long way to go, but given the rapidly improving trajectory it is on, I believe that the mechanical and design attributes can definitely be improved. Given that this seems to be a solution that can benefit from scaling effects, I definitely see the product quality improve with burgeoning growth.

Another recommendation I have for Earlens is to offer customizable design options to make hearing aids fashionable and trendy, and make wearing them an enjoyable experience.

On November 15, 2018, LoremIpsum commented on The Limits of Autonomy :

I am very excited to see how Waymo dominates the future (or not?) after reading this essay. Since many autonomous car startups have been coming up, I have always been interested to understand how Waymo differentiates itself from its competitors, and this essay has thrown some light on how they have been working on developing their models to achieve level 5 autonomy. With improved sensor systems and enhanced V2X (vehicle-to-everything communications, that Team Mongeese above me alluded to) picking up speed, Waymo is likely to get closer to their vision, particularly given the large amount of data they have been collecting.

The ethics question you raise (the ‘Trolley Problem’) has invited opinions from experts in all fields, and is a real problem we struggle with even today. This paper has an interesting take on the problem, and has been discusses in academia for a few decades now – Thomson, Judith Jarvis. “The trolley problem.” Yale LJ 94 (1984): 1395. I believe that such ethical conundrums should be solved by Way in conjunction with governments and people across the world, once the technology is mature and ready to be accepted by the masses.

The role of government is very interesting and widely discussed as well. Most autonomous driving companies believe that they will have to liaise with each other and the government to establish a set of protocols and regulations soon, and that the onus is on them to drive regulation, as governments lack the mechanisms to test and regulate this technology today. The process has already begun, with lobbyists from Waymo, Uber and other companies coming together to persuade local governments to partner with them in on-road trials.

On November 15, 2018, LoremIpsum commented on Dial-an-Algorithm: Using Machine Learning for Child Welfare Screenings :

This is an excellent take on how machine learning can be used to improve performance in jobs that have traditionally been performed by humans. In particular, I find it very impressive that machine learning can be used to address a very sensitive and important social situation that has long evaded being solved by policy.

However, a 27% false negative rate seems exceedingly high. Since the false positive rate is not as important, I am curious to know if there is a possibility of reducing the number of high-risk cases that are ignored by the system, while potentially increasing the number of low-risk cases that are flagged, as the latter does not seem to pose a critical problem.

I love the discussion on the ethical considerations of the racial and ethnic biases, but respectfully disagree with the quote from Marc Cherna’s report (paragraph 1 under ‘Algorithm Implications and Next Steps’). If the system is selectively rejecting high-risk cases of a certain ethnic group, I believe that it is very critical that this bias be acted upon, or that human operators intervene in such situations.