Inside Apple’s rocky road to Hollywood, and what happened to Dr. Dre’s show (AAPL)

Glenn Close, Zack Van Amburg, and Jamie Erlicht

Last week, Apple finally hired a head of video programming — actually two — in a moment that Hollywood had been waiting for since Netflix and Amazon crashed into Los Angeles with billions of dollars to spend on TV shows and movies.

By hiring veteran Sony Pictures Television execs Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, who were responsible for hits like “Breaking Bad” and “The Crown,” Apple sent a signal that it’s looking to become a major player in the market. The pair of execs will be Apple’s equivalent of Netflix’s Ted Sarandos, or Amazon’s Roy Price, and oversee “all aspects of video programming,” reporting to Apple services boss Eddy Cue.

These hires help clarify a video strategy that was murky to people both inside and outside of Apple.

Up until now, Apple had been taking a bunch of meetings, and had a few TV-quality projects in development, including its “Shark Tank”-style show “Planet of the Apps,” which debuted this month on Apple Music. But in conversations with half a dozen people who worked for Apple or on Apple productions, there was a lack of clarity about who was spearheading Apple’s overall video efforts.

Cue, along with music industry legend Jimmy Iovine, VP of content and media apps Robert Kondrk, and Apple Music content boss Larry Jackson, were all involved in ways that varied between projects. And Apple’s participation in the production of the shows varied as well, with the company sometimes being almost completely hands-off, while at other times taking a more active role in a show’s creation.

Put plainly: Apple’s first forays into TV didn’t feel like part of a cohesive strategy to disrupt the industry. What we’ve seen over the past few months have been a handful of TV projects tied to Apple Music, some of which have been delayed or re-shot, and the first of which was walloped by critics.

Apple wasn’t trying to become Netflix, yet.

“The idea that Apple is chasing Netflix, that’s the wrong way to think about it,” a former Apple Music manager told Business Insider when describing its video efforts and the upcoming “Carpool Karaoke” in particular. “They are not. No one gives a sh– … I think what is happening is that Jimmy [Iovine] sees a way to, not just within music, connect to the brand promise of Apple.”

Iovine, the Interscope Records cofounder who became involved in Apple when it purchased Beats for $3 billion in 2014, has been preaching the marriage of technology and pop culture for years, the former Apple manager said. Video was one piece of that.

But by hiring Sony veterans Erlicht and Van Amburg, Apple has taken a step in a more expansive direction, and looks to be marshaling for a video effort that transcends music.

Jimmy Iovine

The Apple way or the highway

Apple’s TV saga didn’t start with Iovine or Apple Music; it’s been a hot topic in tech and entertainment for the better part of a decade.

For years, Apple has tried intermittently to get together its own TV bundle, particularly a so-called “skinny bundle” which would give customers a small number of marquee channels for a lower price. But Apple’s plans never quite came together. One reason multiple Apple insiders cited was Apple’s tendency to negotiate in a way TV execs didn’t like.

“Eddy [Cue] is extremely smart,“ a former Apple Music staffer said, but Cue is “very aggressive” in negotiations with people outside Apple. “In that area , Eddy negotiates like they need Apple. Not everybody is on board that they need Apple.” With the music industry, Apple had a lot more leverage than with TV, this person explained.

“They were trying TV stuff, but things would always fall through with networks,” another former Apple Music employee said. This person said that everyone in Apple Music had a great deal of respect for Cue, and that he was a smart guy, but that he could be overbearing in negotiations (“like a dictator” was the exact phrasing).

With the entrance of Iovine in 2014, another exec was added into the TV mix. But though Iovine has deep connections in the entertainment industry and has been the catalyst for some Apple TV-style projects, he’s not a TV producer. He comes from music. Until last week, Apple didn’t have a TV big-shot to guide its programming strategy.

Still, Iovine has been a shot of energy in getting projects done.

“Jimmy is not a normal person, he is extraordinary,” one former Apple Music employee said. “A typical Silicon Valley person would underestimate him,” but Iovine moves seamlessly in the world of entertainment, something Apple has lacked.

Iovine sparked the conversations that led to “Planet of the Apps” and “Carpool Karaoke,” Apple Music’s first two big shows, he told Bloomberg in a recent interview. That spark and finesse in Los Angeles is probably something Apple is looking to get more of with Erlicht and Van Amburg.

Eddy Cue

Where is ‘Vital Signs?’

One big question mark around Apple’s TV-style efforts on Apple Music has been the whereabouts of “Vital Signs,” helmed by Dr. Dre, who, like Iovine, came into Apple’s orbit with the acquisition of Beats in 2014. “Vital Signs” was meant to be Apple’s first scripted show, in the form of a six-part semi-autobiographical series about Dre’s life.

“Vital Signs” began shooting back in February, 2016, a person who worked on the production told Business Insider. But it still hasn’t arrived, or gotten a firm release date from Apple.

“American Gods” and “Deadwood” star Ian McShane, who is in the series, talked about the show recently on “Late Night with Seth Meyers.”

“Dre was great, this was an Apple project, by him,” McShane said. “It’s about his sort of story … There’s three of us … We play parts of Dre’s imagination who actually come to life at various points in this … Sam Rockwell plays ego, who’s very funny, and Michael K. Williams, the charismatic Omar the gay assassin from ‘The Wire,’ plays negativity, and I play vengeance.”

At the time “Vital Signs” was shot, there didn’t seem to be much Apple involvement on the ground, according to sources close to the production.

“From my experience, and what I saw on-set and in-office, Apple was almost completely hands-off,” a person on the “Vital Signs” production told Business Insider. “My guess would be that Apple was a bit green around the ears in terms of film production and may not have realized the importance of a studio or financial backer in their position to be invested with eyes and ears on the ground, especially when they have final approval on the product,” that person continued.

Even beyond Apple input, Dre wasn’t satisfied with the product. Multiple sources said that there were reshoots on “Vital Signs” after the initial filming. A source close to the production characterized the reshoots as part of Dre’s creative process, and “Vital Signs” as his passion project.

Ian McShane said during his Seth Meyers appearance that “Vital Signs” will be out in August, but Apple hasn’t said anything, and other Apple insiders aren’t clear about a time frame. It’s also good to note that Dr. Dre fans had to wait over a decade for him to release his last album, and when it arrived it wasn’t called “Detox.”

Apple doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to get “Vital Signs” out the door until it’s happy with it, and that may continue to an even greater extent in the era of Erlicht and Van Amburg, since it’s not their project.

Dr. Dre

More delays

“Vital Signs” isn’t the only Apple Music series to have had timeline hiccups.

“Carpool Karaoke,” Apple’s spinoff of the popular sketch on the “Late Late Show with James Corden,” was delayed four months, though Apple did not specify why.

Late last month, Eddy Cue announced that the show would be airing on Apple Music starting August 8. This announcement came after a premiere party in March, and then a launch party in April, were both cancelled.

Planet of the Apps

Enter the critics

The Apple Music show that has already arrived, “Planet of the Apps,” has not exactly been greeted with fanfare.

You can think of “Planet of the Apps” as a “Shark Tank” for app developers. App makers get help from celebrity mentors like Jessica Alba and Will.i.am, and then pitch venture capital firm Lightspeed Venture Partners, hoping they’ll invest some of the $10 million Lightspeed promised to the show.

Variety’s critic slammed the show’s first episode as a “bland, tepid, barely competent knock-off of ‘Shark Tank.’” My colleague Avery Hartmans followed suit.

Apple appears to have been more involved with “Planet of the Apps” than with other projects, which makes sense given the topic. Apple’s VP of content and media apps, Robert Kondrk, is not listed as an executive producer on the show, but essentially played that role. Apple also collaborated on building the set, which involves an escalator from which contestants pitch their app ideas.

But Apple was still hands-off in some ways. Gwyneth Paltrow, one of the celebrity judges, told The Hollywood Reporter that Apple wasn’t that involved in the creative process. “They were pretty hands off,” Paltrow said, though she did add that Apple execs were more involved with how the show would be distributed. The 10-episode series is available on Apple Music, for subscribers only, with a new episode debuting at 9 p.m. PST every Tuesday (from June 6).

The poor critical reception for the first “Planet of the Apps” episode means that Erlicht and Van Amburg’s hiring comes at an opportune time, since they bring firm hands with proven TV programming chops to Apple.

And with that in place, along with Apple’s pile of over $250 billion in cash, Apple has the opportunity to make compelling video that might not be possible other places.

One former Apple Music staffer mentioned “808: The Movie,” which shows the impact of Roland’s TR-808 drum machine, as a special moment that’s happened already, without Erlicht and Van Amburg.

“That’s a really remarkable piece of work,” the former staffer said. “It only could be created at a place like Apple.”

If you know anything more about Apple’s original TV plans, tip the author at nmcalone@businessinsider.com.

SEE ALSO: ‘Game of Thrones’ fans picked their favorite villains, heroes, seasons — and which deaths were most satisfying

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    These are the watches worn by some of the most powerful tech CEOs

    watch

    Since it was invented over 200 years ago, the wristwatch has been an integral component of fashion.

    In addition to their practical functionality of telling time, a watch serves as a collectible piece of art that communicates the personality and style of its wearer.

    With the help of Crown & Caliber, an Atlanta-based pre-owned luxury-watch marketplace, we’ve put together a list and commentary about the wristwatches worn by nine of the most powerful CEOs in the tech industry.

    SEE ALSO: These are the watches worn by some of the most powerful men in finance

    SEE ALSO: The incredible life and career of Warren Buffett, the billionaire every investor looks to for inspiration

    Melissa Mayer, former CEO of Yahoo

    The Wisconsin native was appointed the head of Yahoo in 2012 following a 13-year career at Google. Verizon officially closed its $4.48 billion purchase of Yahoo, the company announced Tuesday. Mayer will step down with a $23 million package.

    Omega Deville Symbol Quartz — $4,900

    Mayer’s watch, an Omega Deville Symbol Quartz, retails for $4,900 but can be purchased pre-owned on Portero, a watch marketplace, for $985.

    Tim Cook, CEO of Apple

    Apple’s market cap surpassed $800 billion in May. As such, the iPhone-maker is one of the world’s most valuable companies. And the man at the helm of it all is Tim Cook. He assumed the position as CEO in 2011.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider


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      Lexus, Volvo, Audi — 3 great choices when it comes to luxury SUVs

      Audi Q7 41

      The SUV market has been booming for the past few years, and that means the luxury SUV market has also been on the rise.

      Business has gotten so good that brands that never did SUVs in the past — Jaguar, Lamborghini, Bentley, Maserati — are getting into the game.

      Consumers have more luxury SUV choices than ever, so choosing the right vehicle can be difficult. Over the past year, we’ve sample three good choices: The Lexus RX 350, the Volvo XC90, and the Audi Q7. 

      They’re all excellent. So how to chose among them?

      Read on:

      SEE ALSO: The Ford Focus RS is almost too much fun to drive

      THE LEXUS RX 350: This midsize crossover SUV has been in the Lexus lineup since 1998 and is perhaps the luxury brand’s most important vehicle in the US market, where SUVs rule the road these days. Pricing starts at about $43,000.

      The RX 350 is a core product for Lexus — the Lexus that Lexus can’t afford to screw up. The vehicle was redesigned for the 2016 model year, and our conclusion after we reviewed it was that Lexus did a fine job.

      The RX 350 remains the default luxury family hauler in the segment. Basically, everything about it is good. Well, almost everything. But we’ll get to that in a second.

      Our test car had a 3.5-liter V6 that served up 295 horsepower, with an all-wheel-drive system could handle nasty weather. This is a perfectly capable powerplant that won’t leave anyone wanting. 

      The luxury level is sort of high-medium. The materials are excellent, the fit and finish is wonderful, and the overall comfort level of superb. Nothing on the RX 350 blows you away, but there’s also very little to complain about. There’s a reason this thing has been going strong since the late 1990s. 

      The new styling is mildly controversial, but over a week, we got used to it.

      Infotainment is a weak spot for the RX 350. Lexus is lagging the competition here, but not by all that much.

      Here’s what we said in our review:

      The infotainment system runs off a substantial center screen that’s controlled with a puck-like thingy that resides between the seats. The screen doesn’t retract, and while it satisfies all the necessary functions — audio, navigation, Bluetooth connections, and so on — it simply doesn’t feel as up-to-date as what you can get in a Cadillac, Audi, or BMW.

      We’ve made this complaint about all the Lexus vehicles we’ve tested. This is in no way a dealbreaker because the system works fine, once you get the hang of it. But infotainment is the main place where owners interact with vehicle technology, and as Apple CarPlay and greater levels of connectivity come online in autos, some new standards are being established.

      Overall, we try to put ourselves in the mind of an owner when we review a vehicle, and we think that RX 350 will ultimately be irritated by some of the SUV’s infotainment quirks.

      VERDICT: You really can’t go wrong with the RX 350. This is the one that doesn’t require a lot of thought.

      Lexus has been selling this car since the late 1990s, and it should keep selling it until humanity decides that luxury SUVs are going the way of the Conestoga wagon.

      “The 2016 RX 350 was one of those cars that tested out exactly as expected,” we wrote. “OK, the design is going to be a bit much for the ‘burbs. But otherwise the crossover that started it all is holding up its responsibilities admirably.”

      For the price, it’s an easy choice. But maybe you don’t want an easy choice. So read on.

      See the rest of the story at Business Insider


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        Watch SpaceX launch and land its second used rocket of the year

        SpaceX is on a roll.

        It has successfully launched and landed its second used rocket of the year. This makes 8 successful rocket launches for 2017, so far, and 12 overall rocket landings.

        SpaceX also helped Bulgaria make history today by sending the nation’s first telecommunications satellite into orbit. Not bad for a Friday!

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          Upday is an Apple News rival that’s only available on Samsung phones

          Upday app

          The Upday app is used by millions of people to catch up with the news, but unless you own a Samsung Galaxy phone, you probably won’t have heard of it.

          The app acts as an aggregator, pulling in stories from different news sources like the Telegraph, the Daily Mirror, and the BBC. The concept is similar to Apple News.

          It ranks stories by importance and, as you use the app over time, it learns what sort of headlines interest you and learns accordingly.

          Stories show as “cards,” which you swipe through.

          Every now and then, you’ll see an ad among the cards. According to Upday’s UK managing director, Robin Hough, you’ll see an ad every four to eight cards.

          Upday

          Stories are pulled in from the RSS feeds of publishers like the BBC and, yes, Business Insider. They’re generally sorted algorithmically, but top stories are curated by Upday’s local editorial teams. Each country has a “quality content team” that makes sure Upday isn’t pulling in fake news.

          So far, so news aggregator. What’s unusual about Upday is that it’s a joint venture between German publisher Axel Springer (which owns Business Insider), and Samsung. That means it’s only available on Samsung devices — if you own any other brand of phone, you can’t download it. More on that relationship later.

          The app launched on the Galaxy S7 last year, and is now available on the new S8, the cheaper J Series of phones, and the Gear 2 smartwatch, among other devices.

          According to Hough, Upday has 11 million monthly unique users. As a comparison, Apple News has 70 million users, according to November 2016 figures.

          Back to that Samsung exclusivity agreement, which seems like the company’s biggest risk factor.

          The major upside is that the app comes pre-installed on Samsung devices. That means Upday skips an app marketing hurdle because it doesn’t have to spend any money buying an audience — it just has to persuade people to open the app and stay engaged.

          But this is less great for people who don’t like “bloatware” — uninstallable software put there by the phone manufacturer. If you do a Google search for “Upday app”, the first result is a PC Advisor article with the headline: “How to remove Upday from Galaxy S7 & S7 edge.”

          Upday removal

          Samsung also uses Upday as free channel to push out its own marketing content — to promote new Galaxy phones, for example.

          “You can’t please everybody,” Hough said of users who don’t like pre-installed apps. “We want to be a one-stop shop. There’s no fake news, and no filter bubble.” 

          And there’s the fact Upday might be vulnerable to any sudden changes in direction from Samsung. The firm might build its own news app, or simply scrap the Upday partnership altogether. What then?

          But Hough is outwardly confident.

          “At the moment, our relationship is totally wedded to Samsung,” he said. “We are very close to them, we have a great relationship, and they seem to be going from strength to strength. Obviously we’re integrated into their premium phones — during the S8 launch there was a reference to Upday.”

          What is in Hough’s control is trying to turn Upday into a household name, and enticing more advertisers on board.

          So far it’s going well, with the firm in “rude health” commercially.

          Samsung is the biggest smartphone maker in the world, according to TrendForce, meaning there are hundreds of millions of Samsung devices out there with the Upday app installed. As we know, Upday’s usage is in the tens of millions.

          Hough added that people spend more than five minutes a day on Upday. That’s pretty good going — as a comparison, Snapchat’s users spend about 25 minutes a day in its app.

          Upday

          Upday tends to have “premium brand” advertisers, such as Microsoft Cloud, Audi, and VW he added, who are attracted by the type of user who can afford a premium Samsung phone.

          The three formats are display — full-screen ads that take the same card format as Upday’s news stories; a native format which sends you to the advertiser’s website; and sponsored content.

          Not everyone sees the same ads, either. Given Upday knows what kind of news interests you, it can target ads that are more likely to get you to click.

          The next step is pushing up that user growth number.

          Upday has expanded from its four original markets last March — France, the UK, Germany, and Poland — to 16 territories in total. That should mean that 11 million user number goes up, Hough said, as the teams in each country bed in.

          “We’re expecting massive growth,” he said.

          Join the conversation about this story »

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            THE SMARTWATCH REPORT: Forecasts, adoption trends, and why the market isn’t living up to the hype (AAPL, FIT, GOOG)

            smartwatches

            This is a preview of a research report from BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service. To learn more about BI Intelligence, click here.

            When they first broke onto the scene, smartwatches were touted as the next generation of devices set to transform consumers’ lives. And brands, service providers, and the healthcare segment were ready to capitalize on their “always on” nature, which promised to provide greater insight into consumer habits. But while the market initially grew rapidly, it has begun to cool off, as consumers become impatient with the technology’s lack of distinct capabilities, such as LTE connectivity and device-specific apps.

            In the next few years, the smartwatch market will likely see the addition of new functionality and increased capabilities, which will see the device shipments grow at an annualized rate of 18% through 2021 to reach 70 million units.

            However, smartwatches are reliant on a number of factors in order to generate any sort of meaningful consumer demand. Until such a time, adoption of smartwatches will likely be sluggish, as consumers wait for vendors to produce products that can run independently from their phones and provide more useful functions.
            So what does this mean for the device championed as the replacement for the smartphone? Should vendors manage to implement a lower price point, better functionality, and expanded use cases, there is a vast potential for accelerated global growth. Moreover, because of the low adoption rate thus far, there is still ample opportunity for new entrants to join the market, and capture mind share.

            In a report from BI Intelligence, we examine all areas of the smartwatch market, including a five-year forecast, key growth trends, market leaders, consumer demand, and more. We also discuss the need for the inclusion of standalone capabilities in smartwatches, the importance of bringing both better apps to the devices and greater consumer awareness of capabilities. Lastly, we will explore the nascent smartwatch app market, including its shortcomings and how it can be improved.

            Here are some of the key takeaways:

            • Demand for smartwatches has cooled as consumers wait for better functionality. But early demand suggests the market could take off when functionality improves. 
            • Apple will continue to drive a large portion of the overall market, however, Android Wear devices will quickly catch up as emerging markets begin to adopt the technology.
            • Health and fitness remain a dominant segment of the smartwatch market, providing healthcare workers and hospitals with savings opportunities. As technology and app development advances, the benefits of smartwatches within these segments will become even more robust.
            • The future of the smartwatch market remains somewhat unclear, however, there is profound opportunity for businesses and developers to begin exploring the nascent smartwatch market. This will give them a head start against competitors.

            In full, the report:Smartwatch Report Cover

            • Forecasts smartwatch shipments through 2021 for both overall device shipments as well as by operating system.
            • Provides an overview of the main players in both hardware and software, and how they will size up in the future.
            • Demonstrates the effect of Apple’s entrance into the market, and why it’s unlikely to dictate future growth.
            • Gives insight into what technologies need to be worked on in order to incentivize future growth, the effects they will have on the market, and how they can be used.
            • And much more.

            Interested in getting the full report? Here are several ways to access it:

            1. Subscribe to an All-Access pass to BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report and over 100 other expertly researched reports. As an added bonus, you’ll also gain access to all future reports and daily newsletters to ensure you stay ahead of the curve and benefit personally and professionally. >> Learn More Now
            2. Access the Ultimate Mobile, Apps & Platforms Reports Bundle and save 95% today. You will gain immediate access to the Chatbots Explainer and 75 other comprehensive research reports covering the most important topics impacting the mobile. >> Bundle & Save Now
            3. Purchase & download the full report from our research store. >> Purchase & Download Now

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              10 things in tech you need to know today (AMZN, MSFT, SNAP, AABA)

              Crunchies Spiegel

              Good morning! Here’s the technology news you need to know this morning.

              1. President Trump met with 18 tech CEOs yesterday at the White House. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos reportedly encouraged the US government to use things like artificial intelligence and machine learning.

              2. Amazon is reportedly planning to cut jobs at Whole Foods. Thousands of jobs could be on the line.

              3. Morgan Stanley said Microsoft shares could jump 46% in the next year. Analysts pointed to rising earnings and Microsoft’s growing cloud business.

              4. Snap stock jumped 3% yesterday following news of a $100 million (£78.4 million) deal with Time Warner. The media company will pay Snap to develop shows for Snapchat and advertise in the app.

              5. Atari has confirmed that it’s working on a new games console. There aren’t any details on what the console will actually be like, though.

              6. Spotify is testing “sponsored song” ads that let labels promote singles to free users. The ads only appear for users who haven’t paid to subscribe to the service.

              7. The company formerly known as Yahoo began its life as Altaba yesterday. It has the ticker symbol AABA.

              8. JAY-Z is releasing a new album — and it’s going to be a Tidal exclusive. “4:44″ will be released on June 30.

              9. The CEO of Whole Foods said he dreamt about selling to Amazon over a year ago. John Mackey said the deal has been a “whirlwind courtship.”

              10. Nintendo created a real-life “Super Mario” world for E3 in Los Angeles. We took a look at New Donk City.

              Join the conversation about this story »

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                AI could predict how much time people have left to live by analyzing body scans

                elderly aging old man walking

                There’s an elusive innovation that would revolutionize medicine: a way to detect disease before it becomes obvious.

                A study recently published in the journal Scientific Reports could bring us a step closer to that capability. The paper reveals how artificial intelligence analyses of routine medical scans could be turned into powerful predictors of a person’s health and risk of death.

                For the study, researchers used a machine learning algorithm to analyze routine chest CT scans from 48 adults, all of whom were over 60 years of age. By comparing data between the scans, the system was able to predict the chances that study participants would die within 5 years with about 70% accuracy — about as accurate as mortality predictions by a human expert, according to the study. (The researchers used old data from patients who had already either survived or died within five years, which enabled them to verify the AI’s predictions.)

                Chest scans are excellent ways to measure health because they allow doctors to see key organs and tissues like the heart, lungs, and major blood vessels, among other things. Experts usually use these images to check for biomarkers like tumors and to measure traits like the quantity of atherosclerotic plaque — an indicator of dangerous buildup in arteries. The machine learning system works in a different way, identifying subtle variations between patients as a way to find potentially dangerous abnormalities.

                That means that researchers can’t be sure exactly which factors the system learned to associate with increased chance of mortality. They do know, however, that with a much bigger dataset, the system could get even better at differentiating abnormalities. The researchers are now conducting a similar study with more than 12,000 participants.

                The promise of “precision radiology”

                The most immediate application of this AI technology is that it could theoretically analyze more routine chest CT scan data and provide risk calculations without a human expert taking the time to go through each scan.

                But it’s the study’s longer term implications that really excite the researchers.

                “Although for this study only a small sample of patients was used, our research suggests that the computer has learnt to recognize the complex imaging appearances of diseases, something that requires extensive training for human experts,” lead study author Dr. Luke Oakden-Rayner of the University of Adelaide’s School of Public Health said in a press release. “Our research opens new avenues for the application of artificial intelligence technology in medical image analysis, and could offer new hope for the early detection of serious illness, requiring specific medical interventions.”

                The basic idea behind precision medicine is that large quantities of health data can be analyzed to determine how small differences between people affect their health outcomes. That analysis can then help individuals understand how their unique traits make them more or less susceptible to a given disease or condition.

                da vinci vitruvian man anatomyDeveloping this type of technology is in large part the goal of ongoing research efforts like the Precision Medicine Initiative.

                Much of the precision medicine research that exists so far has focused on genetics, since the human genome holds a vast array of information about our health, including clues about predisposition to certain illnesses.

                But genetics is less useful in understanding chronic and age-related diseases like cardiac disease, cancer, and diabetes. These diseases kill more people than any other causes, but according to the study, 70-90% of the observable characteristics of those conditions are non-genetic. Because lifestyle and environment play a major role, genetics can only give us limited information about those illnesses.

                To apply a precision-medicine approach to those conditions, researchers need a different source of health data — something non-invasive that provides large quantities of information from many people. That’s where CT scans and radiology come in.

                As the researchers behind the study explained in their article, a simple scan can reveal all kinds of information about a person’s internal organs. And that’s one of the first places where signs of many major diseases will appear — even before a patient notices something is wrong. A system that could analyze CT scans and automatically check for indicators of disease might therefore be able to predict the development of many different kinds of illnesses.

                Although this recent study is promising, it only looked at a small number of patients and focused solely on data from chest scans. Much more research is needed, but scientists are hopeful that a similar approach applied more broadly could help doctors catch diseases early and intervene before things got too serious.

                That would be pretty revolutionary.

                “Instead of focusing on diagnosing diseases, the automated systems can predict medical outcomes in a way that doctors are not trained to do, by incorporating large volumes of data and detecting subtle patterns,” Dr Oakden-Rayner said.

                SEE ALSO: Neil deGrasse Tyson is creating a ‘Space Odyssey’ video game that’s scientifically accurate

                Join the conversation about this story »

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                  Tech companies keep using the word ‘exclusive’ in a misleading way

                  Andy Rubin Essential Phone

                  Last week, buzzy startup Essential announced that its debut phone would be exclusive to Sprint when it launches in the US later this summer.

                  Except, it’s not actually “exclusive” to Sprint. You can buy the phone unlocked through Essential’s website, buy a SIM card from any of the four major carriers, and use the device on whichever carrier you want. You likely won’t have to deal with annoying Sprint bloatware, either.

                  Prior to that announcement, Microsoft held its annual Xbox showcase at the E3 video games expo in Los Angeles, where it announced a number of games it described as “exclusive” to its Xbox One platform.

                  Before the trailers for games like “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” and “Ashen” aired, the lights in the Galen Center would dim, and a booming voice would rumble through the speakers:

                  “Exclusive.”

                  Screen Shot 2017 06 16 at 5.42.06 PM (2)Again, nope. Virtually every game Microsoft displayed at the event will at least be available on the PC; a handful of them will land on rival consoles like the PlayStation 4. “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” has already become a smash hit on the PC over the past several months.

                  Misleading marketing is nothing new in the tech industry, but its continued debasing of the word “exclusive” seems to have only amplified as of late.

                  When Google launched its long-anticipated Pixel phones last year, for instance, it signed a deal with Verizon to market and distribute the devices. As a result, advertisements for the Pixel were run on TV, on billboards, and through banners across the web — all saying the Pixel was available “only on Verizon.” It just wasn’t true; Pixels are available unlocked through Google’s online store and work perfectly well on other carriers. 

                  google pixel verizonThe video-game industry has been particularly bad with this. Have a look at this excellent explainer from Kotaku’s Kirk Hamilton: Publishers have managed to warp five different meanings out of the word, and they’ve bludgeoned them so hard into industry watchers’ heads that the nuances are just kind of understood at this point. 

                  With regards to a commodity, the Oxford Dictionary defines the word “exclusive” as meaning “not obtainable elsewhere.” An exclusive thing is only available in one place. This is reality.

                  You already know why this kind of doublespeak happens happens. Essential could use a carrier to help with marketing money, and Sprint would love a phone it can wave around as a differentiator and sell to Android enthusiasts. Microsoft needs hits it can sell as not being available on the PlayStation, and in return, the team behind “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” gets a nice little windfall. It goes on and on. 

                  There’s nothing wrong with businesses making deals. But when it comes at the expense of honest marketing, preying on people who aren’t going to bother checking phone specs and looking up LTE network bands for compatibility, potentially leading them to spend more on a platform they don’t need, it’s bad form.

                  And yet, here’s a snippet of what you see when you search Google News for “Essential exclusive.” The obvious takeaway — if you want the Essential Phone, you’ll have to go to Sprint — is entirely false. But the feeling of exclusivity is already there:

                  Screen Shot 2017 06 16 at 4.33.26 PMThere’s no end in sight for this. The onus will remain on you, the consumer, to be vigilant. Remember that words have meaning, and approach the tech world’s claims of purported “exclusivity” with caution. There may be more flexibility than you first think.

                  SEE ALSO: Verizon and AT&T both launched misleading services this week — and it points to a larger problem

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                    Reddit is reportedly looking to raise money at a $1.7 billion valuation

                    Alexis Ohanian

                    Reddit is looking for more funding, Bloomberg reports, and it’s aiming for a $1.7 billion (£1.3 billion) valuation.

                    The website has previously raised money from investors including Marc Andreessen, Peter Thiel, Jared Leto, and Snoop Dogg.

                    Now Reddit is reportedly looking to raise around $150 million (£117 million) in funding.

                    CEO and cofounder Steve Huffman returned to Reddit in 2015 and took over from former CEO Ellen Pao, who was the target of controversy following the departure of Reddit community manager Victoria Taylor.

                    Reddit last raised money in 2014 when it brought in around $50 million (£39 million) in funding. That round of funding was led by Sam Altman, the head of Silicon Valley startup incubator Y Combinator.

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