What we've been reading: Dating, Stoicism and a double dose of AI

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Welcome to What We've Been Reading, the AccountingWEB editors’ weekly round up of the stories that have caught their attention.

It’s Friday. You’ve made it! And as your reward, here’s some lovely reading material for you to enjoy. This week, we’ve got guest appearance from our colleague Kat Haylock, too. So it’s not just AccountingWEB.

We’ve been reading a mixed bag this week: Dating apps, Marcus Aurelius’ stoic philosophising, and AI. Enjoy and if you’ve read, watched or listened to something good this week, comment below. Or if you’d like to just berate us for our sub-standard taste, then feel free to do that as well.

Francois - Tinder and Bumble are seriously at war

You may or may not be aware of the dating apps Tinder and Bumble. If you haven’t used it, then it’s likely your kids or someone you know have.

Both apps are enormously popular (and quite similar). Both apps present the user with potential matches and the user then swipes the picture left or right (left is no, right is yes). If they swipe right, too, well you got a match.

This similarity isn’t incidental. The founder of Bumble, Whitney Wolfe Herd, was the co-founder of Tinder until she was fired amid swirling accusations of sexism and sexual harassment.

Now Wolfe Herd has built her own dating empire - and it’s war. Tinder tried to acquire Bumble and was rebuffed, now they’ve opted to sue. And Bumble has counter-sued accusing Tinder of all manner of skullduggery.

At the core of the case here are IP and patents. Like who owns the right to the word ‘swipe’? To me, it’s an example of just how constrictive and anti-innovative patents can be. As for all the personal intrigue, well that makes for compelling reading, too.

Valme - Meditations

The personal writings of Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor during the second century AD, were never written with the intention of being read by anyone but himself. And yet, it is still one of the most read manuals on how to live a good life, selling thousands of copies every year.

The article “More Seneca and less anxiolytics” (in Spanish) recently reflected on what this renovated editorial interest in stoicism says about the world we live in. Admittedly, we live in a society where individuals hide the fragility of their ego behind a facade of vanity, and where we rely too much on what others think about us and other outside circumstances to determine our happiness. In turn, this creates a society full of scared and anxious individuals.

In a world so obsessed with achieving perfection, Marcus Aurelius words are still key to understand that we will only find happiness when we accept that our inner peace cannot be affected, or determined by anything external. We cannot avoid difficult and unforeseen circumstances, but we can control our attitude towards them. Just “choose not to be harmed — and you won’t feel harmed.”

Tom - How AI will impact the future of work, as explained by pop music

There isn’t a day that goes by without a sensationalist headline about robots taking our jobs. Whether it’s accountants being replaced by sophisticated tax bots or journalists battling news-writing computer programs, no one seems safe from the cold, relentless march of the machines. In reality things are always more nuanced, and this take from Dan Kopf over at Quartz reflects this.

Pop musician Taryn Southern composed and produced her upcoming album, I am AI, with artificial intelligence. However, what Southern did not do is simply push a button to generate her tracks. The album’s creation was an involved, iterative process where Southern would set the AI music composition tools certain parameters (such as the style, tempo or key she wanted), receive an ‘original’ composition and then spend countless hours tweaking it.

In Southern’s words, she has gone from a pure composer to part-composer, part-editor - something which many people, including accountants, will recognise from their own working lives.

In general, the article concludes, as AI permeates more aspects of our jobs the people who will benefit most are the ones who figure out how best to harness the technology.

Kat - Who is going to make money in AI?

I’m also here to write about AI, because let’s face it – AI is everywhere.

Despite it still being early days, AI is already helping doctors diagnose diseases, banks assess customer loan risks, farmers predict crop yields, marketers target customers and manufacturers improve quality control. It’s hard to imagine the impact it will have on society.

Tech heavyweights are sinking billions into AI development, and the European Union are in talks over a £20+ billion AI investment, as it fears falling behind China and the US. There’s serious money in getting it right – so who’s going to get a piece at the end?

AI might have become lightweight PR fodder, but this article is not. It’s a comprehensive examination of who’s ahead in the race, factoring in companies like Facebook (models and algorithms), GSK (corporates), Alibaba Cloud (platforms and infrastructure) and Salesforce (enterprise solutions).

As author Simon Greenman writes, will it just be the brave, the few and the large who hit gold? Or can the snappy upstarts grab their nuggets?

Get a cup of tea and dive in deep.

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