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This is the ustwo newsletter, which is about interesting things happening in Digital, Design and Transformation. You can subscribe here or unsubscribe at any time. You can find out more about ustwo here

Google’s self-driving taxi launches

Google-owned Waymo is launching its self-driving taxi service in an Arizona city. While GM, Tesla and Uber might be frustrated that Waymo looks quite far ahead in autonomy, Uber will be more worried that One is a taxi service, and Google has an investment in Uber’s rival Lyft.

Early reports of the driving experience are that it is reassuringly dull or perhaps unnervingly haunted by another kind of intelligence (both of those pieces are worth a read). But it pretty much works, if a little cautiously - and doesn’t “cautiously” seem like the right way to launch a service with a safety dimension? The view presented to the passenger is an edited representation of what the car “sees”, and is designed to reassure you that, yes, the car is keeping track of that vehicle and that human.

Closed on Black Friday

Holiday shopping events like Black Friday are usually about amazon amazing deals for consumers and amazing volume for retailers. Inevitably, Amazon and Alibaba did very well this holiday season.

This is more interesting: some companies go the other way, shutting to make a point about mindless consumerism or worker conditions, and building some brand and customer loyalty as a by-product. Artisanal jeans co Hiut closed its online shop for 24 hours on Black Friday. Outdoor gear retailer REI does the same (and seems to be one of very few in the US), as did car co Dacia and others.

Digital health

Will new, data-driven medicine result in increasing health inequality? It’ll definitely help people, but it may help some more than others: “it’s that they will increase health inequality - not just among those who can afford it and those who cannot, but among those who can undertake the research and take advantage of the new techniques and those who cannot”.

Also in digital health: NHS Digital Health conference - 13 Feb 2019, London. More insurers doing free Apple Watches, and Apple releases its ECG app.

Teams and individual genius

How a pair of programmers pushed Google’s infrastructure and AI efforts forward. It’s brilliantly written because the people fully inhabit the story. However, we’re always wary of the “10x programmer” narrative (to be fair the author is too) - we think that strong teams create the conditions to individuals make leaps.

Fintech and personal finance

Monzo bank raised 20m in 2 days from its customers on Wednesday, most of which came in a couple of hours. The money will be put to good use of course, but the greater value is probably in cementing customer loyalty: it now has 36,000 shareholders.

Some fun

Country sizes compared in overlaid maps, and interesting to think about how the translation from three-dimensional globe to two-dimensional map distorts how we think about geography.

A cheap 2G mobile that’s also a fidget spinner, though sadly not in UK.

ustwo news

Designing for a new immersive reality - future directions and opportunities in Augmented Reality and VR. “AR has the potential to become a truly social experience, with more than 2 billion Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook users engaging with AR technology every day without even realising it.”

Also: new fundraising model for creative businesses from ustwo Adventure. And jobs at ustwo games.

We salute our readers and wish you all the very best holiday seasons. Thanks for reading. You can subscribe here or unsubscribe at any time. You can find out more about ustwo here

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