Technological Progress Often Involves Minor Regress of Some Feature

(p. A1) The same types of electric-powered motors that propel Teslas past 150 mph and the Chevy Bolt as far as 238 miles on a charge, are a total buzz kill for AM reception. Instead of sports, oldies or news, it’s more like all-static, all-the-time radio.

As auto makers race headlong into an electrified future, AM radios are getting kicked to the curb, joining cassette decks, eight-track players and ashtrays.

. . .

(p. A14) One web developer offers a smartphone app that, when used with a diagnostic port adapter, can activate the dormant AM radio reception in a BMW i3 EV.

The German auto maker warns that may void the warranty, but using the app is easy, said Art Isabell, 74, a 2014 BMW i3 owner. He retired from Apple as a software support engineer and lives in Honolulu.

Even though the AM reception in his electric vehicle is sketchy, Mr. Isabell said, he wants the option: “I rarely listen to AM radio, but I want to have it available as another potential source of information during emergency situations such as severe weather, tsunamis or North Korean missile attacks.”

For the full story, see:

Chester Dawson. “Electric Cars Get Static on AM Radio.” The Wall Street Journal (Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018): A1 & A14.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Nov. 6, 2018, and the title “Your Tesla Can Go Zero to 60 in 2.5 Seconds But Can’t Get AM Radio.”)

Mandated Long Clinical Trials Favor Trivial Incremental Drugs and Impede Magic Bullet Cures

(p. B1) AstraZeneca PLC’s new cancer research chief, José Baselga, wants the company to prioritize early-stage cancers over advanced disease when developing new cancer drugs. If successful, his unorthodox strategy could reap rewards for both patients—the potential to cure cancer is much greater when it is treated early—and company coffers.

The approach turns the tried-and-tested model of cancer drug development on its head. Typically, drug companies aim their new cancer drugs at patients with advanced forms of the disease who have exhausted other treatment options. Of the more than 30 new drugs for solid tumors approved for sale in the U.S. since the start of 2014, just two targeted early cancer.

That is largely because there is a clear-cut case for testing new drugs on patients with advanced cancer, as they don’t have other options. What’s more, measuring a new medicine’s effect in advanced cancer is straightforward: a meaningful extension in survival can usually be measured in months. Such patients are also often more willing to try experimental drugs, and regulators have smoothed the path for treatments that show they can prolong lives by delaying tumor growth in advanced cancer.

. . .

(p. B5) “One thing with early stage disease, you have to be able to cure patients,” said Daniel Chen, who spent more than a decade running cancer drug development projects at Roche Holding AG. “The majority of cancer drugs delay cancer growth, they don’t cure patients.” Dr. Chen is now chief medical officer at biotech startup IGM Biosciences Inc.

Running clinical trials could also be difficult, as it would involve persuading patients to try experimental drugs when they might already be cured.

Another challenge is measuring the drug’s effectiveness. In patients whose cancer is diagnosed and treated early, it would take years to determine whether a new drug meaningfully extended survival, making for very long clinical trials.

For the full story, see:

Denise Roland. “Drug Giant Tests Bold Tactic to Battle Cancer.” The Wall Street Journal (Tuesday, May 28, 2019): B1 & B5.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date May 27, 2019, and has the title “Drug Giant Tries New Tactic to Fight Cancer.”)

iPhone Made Internet “Almost Ubiquitous”

(p. B3) By essentially compressing a powerful, networked computer into a pocket-size device and making it easy to use, Steve Jobs made the internet almost ubiquitous and fundamentally altered decades-old consumer habits in areas like music and books. What’s more, the functionality packed into the iPhone made it a digital Swiss Army knife, supplanting existing tools from email to calendar to maps to calculators.

. . .

Along the way, smartphones disrupted communication. By offering faster, easier ways to communicate—text, photo, video and social networks—“the iPhone destroyed the phone call,” says Joshua Gans, professor at the University of Toronto and author of the book, “The Disruption Dilemma.” “It’s funny we even call it a phone.”

For the full story, see:

Betsy Morris. “What the iPhone Wrought.” The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, June 24, 2017): B3.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date June 23, 2017, and the title “From Music to Maps, How Apple’s iPhone Changed Business.”)

The Gans book mentioned above, is:

Gans, Joshua. The Disruption Dilemma. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2016.

FAA to Slightly Ease Regulation of Supersonic Test Flights

(p. B3) . . . , the FAA is poised to propose first-of-their-kind noise standards targeting takeoffs and landings of supersonic aircraft during test flights. Such maneuvers can exceed current standards for comparably sized conventional aircraft operating around airports. Some of the proposed supersonic jetliners are projected to be about one-third longer than the roughly 120-foot length of an older Boeing Co. 737.

Based on size, the FAA wants to permit more takeoff noise for supersonic craft than would be allowed under existing standards, but in every case no more than is now permitted for the largest wide-body airliners.

The FAA’s primary goal, according to Mr. Elwell, is to make sure “we don’t become a hindrance to the movement of this technology” into commercial applications.

Bombardier has restructured its aviation division over the past two years, highlighted by its joint venture with Airbus that put the European plane maker in charge of the production and sales of the 110- to 130-seat planes that the Montreal company had originally conceived as the CSeries. Those jets are now rebranded as the Airbus A220.

. . .

The anticipated regulations won’t deal with noise constraints at higher altitudes and supersonic speeds, where controlling sonic boom remains a major design and operational challenge requiring a new generation of quieter, more fuel-efficient engines. But for some time, supersonic proponents have lobbied Congress and tried to persuade the FAA to take preliminary steps to remove hurdles to development flights.

For the full story, see:

Andy Pasztor. “Supersonic Flights Poised for Return.” The Wall Street Journal (Tuesday, June 18, 2019): B3.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date June 17, 2019, and has the title “FAA Seeks to Enable Return of Supersonic Passenger Aircraft.”)

IBM’s Watson AI Platform Is Not Curing Cancer

(p. B1) Can Watson cure cancer?

That’s what International Business Machines Corp. IBM 0.03% asked soon after its artificial-intelligence system beat humans at the quiz show “Jeopardy!” in 2011. Watson could read documents quickly and find patterns in data. Could it match patient information with the latest in medical studies to deliver personalized treatment recommendations?

“Watson represents a technology breakthrough that can help physicians improve patient outcomes,” said Herbert Chase, a professor of biomedical informatics at Columbia University, in a 2012 IBM press release.

Six years and billions of dollars later, the diagnosis for Watson is gloomy. Continue reading “IBM’s Watson AI Platform Is Not Curing Cancer”

Huawei “Spent All Their Resources Stealing Technology”

(p. B1) On a summer evening in 2004, as the Supercomm tech conference in Chicago wound down, a middle-aged Chinese visitor began wending his way through the nearly abandoned booths, popping open million-dollar networking equipment to photograph the circuit boards inside, according to people who were there.

A security guard stopped him and confiscated memory sticks with the photos, a notebook with diagrams and data belonging to AT&T Corp. , and a list of six companies including Fujitsu Network Communications Inc. and Nortel Networks Corp.

The man identified himself to conference staff as Zhu Yibin, an engineer. The word on his lanyard read “Weihua”—an accidental scramble, he said, of his employer’s name: Huawei Technologies Co.

. . .

(p. B6) A review of 10 cases in U.S. federal courts, and dozens of interviews with U.S. officials, former employees, competitors, and collaborators suggest Huawei had a corporate culture that blurred the boundary between competitive achievement and ethically dubious methods of pursuing it. Continue reading “Huawei “Spent All Their Resources Stealing Technology””

“Only 5% to 10% of Jobs Can Have the Human Element Removed Entirely”

(p. A15) Careful studies using a task-based view of this sort find that, although substantial parts of many jobs can be automated—that is, technology can help still-needed workers become more productive—only 5% to 10% of jobs can have the human element removed entirely. The rate of productivity growth implied by the coming wave of automation would thus look similar to historical rates.

. . .

. . . the best insights into the future of work may be found in the trenches of everyday management. Take “Human + Machine,” by Accenture leaders Paul Daugherty and Jim Wilson, which opens in a BMW assembly plant where “a worker and robot are collaborating.” In their view, “machines are not taking over the world, nor are they obviating the need for humans in the workplace.”

The authors explain, for instance, why making robots operate more safely alongside humans has been critical to factory deployment—the very breakthrough emphasized by Dynamic’s CEO, but ignored by Mr. West. They describe AI’s role alongside existing workers in decidedly unsexy fields like equipment maintenance, bank-fraud detection and customer complaint management. And they illuminate the promise and pitfalls of implementing new processes that allocate some tasks to machines, requiring new forms of oversight and coordination.

Even in their overuse of acronyms and the word “reimagine,” the authors bring to life the realities of modern management. Readers gain a tactile sense of how technology changes business over time and why “the robots are coming” is no scarier an observation than ever before.

For the full review, see:

Oren Cass. “BOOKSHELF; Reckoning With the Robots; Automation rarely outright destroys jobs. It instead augments—taking over routine tasks while humans handle more complex ones.” The Wall Street Journal (Monday, June 25, 2018): A15.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date June 24, 2018, and has the title “BOOKSHELF; ‘The Future of Work’ and ‘Human + Machine’ Review: Reckoning With the Robots; Automation rarely outright destroys jobs. It instead augments—taking over routine tasks while humans handle more complex ones.”)

The book under review, in the passages above, is:

Daugherty, Paul R., and H. James Wilson. Human + Machine: Reimagining Work in the Age of AI. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press, 2018.