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Mar 31, 2023 9 min read

🤔 Wiser! #119: Why China banned TikTok | Delivery Drones | Biometric Payments | Virtual Models | Deepfakes | NFT Tickets

Wiser! #119: Drones, palm scanners, and NFT Tickets to foil the touts. These are some of the stories of innovation and the utility of tech in the Wiser! Newsletter.

🤔 Wiser! #119: Why China banned TikTok | Delivery Drones | Biometric Payments | Virtual Models | Deepfakes | NFT Tickets
Table of Contents

w/Wiser! #119 - 31st March 2023


It's only been 2 weeks since OpenAI released GPT-4 to the general public and already it's caused quite a stir. In this article, I list 15 of the most interesting things that the imaginative and creative have asked GPT to do. Then there are the stories of the utility of technology, such as Coca-Cola using GPT in a marketing campaign, or Panera Bread rolling out Amazon's biometric palm reading tech. Or Levi Strauss using AI generated models to appeal to a wide and diverse consumer base.

But for the Premium article this week, I take a look at TikTok in the wake of the 5 hour hearing between the US congress and the CEO. I don't subscribe to the China narrative when it comes to TikTok, not until I see evidence rather than conjecture about the harms and dangers of the app. Facebook and Instagram have more to answer for than TikTok, IMHO.

Finally, longer versions of the 5 stories I summarise in this issue of Wiser! can all be found on Wiser! Tech, including a longer list of headlines and insights from the tech economy.

ATB, Rick

P.S. Remember: Insight and Information Gives You Leverage!

P.P.S There will be a much shorter Wiser! next Friday. Partly because it's Easter and partly because I've got some updates to the website I need to get done. And there's only so many hours in the day!

“You keep impressing me with Wiser!” Rosa M, Digital Strategy Manager, Madrid

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The narrative to ban TikTok has momentum

The calls to ban TikTok are increasing. The latest government to ban the app from official mobiles is France. Although it’s worth saying that France has taken the more obvious route, which is to ban all personal/recreational apps from government devices, which is bleeding obvious anyway, right? Why should tax payers pay?

France joins the USA, Canada, the UK and the European Union in banning the app from government issued/funded mobiles. But none of these nations have gone as far as India, who banned the app in 2019, along with 56 other Chinese apps, on the fear and suspicion that the apps were secret surveillance tools for the Chinese Communist Party.

Last week, the US Congress had a 5 hour hearing with the boss of TikTok. CEO Shou Chew is from Singapore. He was educated in the UK before moving to the US to work and meet his American wife. When the TikTok CEO appeared before the US congress committee, it was the opportunity for America’s lawmakers to set the record straight. get to the bottom of the big questions about TikTok:

  • Is TikTok working for the Chinese Communist Party?
  • Are the CCP spying on American citizens?
  • How much of American behaviour is influenced by the CCP’s control of TikTok?
  • Is TikTok manipulating teenage minds with pro-China, anti-American content

Genuine questions that are worth asking of the social media app that’s, frankly, eating America’s lunch.

In this week's Premium article, I breakdown the origins of TikTok, the secrets of its success, and how the US lawmakers are woefully incapable of banning the app they're so keen to get rid off.


1. Zipline - drone delivery is about to get super interesting!

Zipline is an autonomous delivery drone that's about to change everything. The unmanned delivery drone has already clocked up over half a million deliveries across 40 million commercial miles, including getting more than 8 million vaccines to remote locations in Africa.

Here's The Thing: drones make a lot of sense when you've got to get smaller items from A to B quickly. Zipline claim they are 7x faster than motor deliveries, covering a 10 mile journey time in 10 minutes. They also have a huge advantage over cars when it comes to emissions and comparisons with both petrol and electric vehicles.

Continue reading...➜ (for more facts about Zipline, a video demonstrating the drone in action, and how Ikea are using drones for stock control.)


2. Panera to use Amazon’s palm reading tech for cashless payments and loyalty programme

Panera Bread, the bakery-café chain, has announced plans to roll out Amazon's palm scanners that can access a customer's credit card and loyalty account using only a wave of their hand.

"Our philosophy has been centered around leveraging best-in-class technology to create a better Panera experience," Panera's CEO said in the press release.

Here's The Thing: Amazon is all about convenience, and there's nothing mroe convenient than palm scanning biometric tech. But there's also growing concern about Amazon’s palm-recognition technology. In 2021, a group of US senators questioned Amazon's data collection practices and specifically whether biometric data is being used for advertising and tracking purposes.

Continue reading...➜ (for more details about Panera's use of emerging technology and a video demonstration of Amazon One.)


3. Levi Strauss to use AI generated virtual models

The global jeans brand is partnering with, a digital fashion company that specialises in AI-generated fashion models, to showcase their clothing items. Levi's plans to use AI-generated clothing models to diversify its online shopping experience.

Here’s The Thing: Levi's plan to use AI-generated clothing models is intended to make the brand more body-inclusive and also create greater personalisation for customers. The intention is to help customers who are frustrated with the limited representation in traditional models. The question is can the AI generated images really replace human models enough to create a significant enough personalised shopping experience?

Continue reading...➜(for more details about Levi's controversial use of AI appropriation, and Calvin Klein's announcement that they will use an ai-generated virtual influencer in Thailand.


4. Ticketmaster launches NFT-gated services

Ticketmaster made a big move in the world of cryptocurrency this week. The ticketing giant will introduce NFT-gated services that allow artists to reward fans with special presales, prime seats, exclusive concert experiences, and more, all using NFTs.

Here’s how it works:

  • Fans purchase the NFT tied to their favorite artists
  • They connect their digital wallet to Ticketmaster to verify ownership
  • That’s it!

Here’s The Thing: The concept is interesting. It means that fans no longer have to worry about buying overpriced tickets from touts or competing with bots just to get a ticket. If you’ve ever sat at your desk, waiting for the online sale to open, you’ll know how frustrating it can be to be told you’re 147,637 in line and counting. Only to find all the tickets have gone in 7 minutes. But then half an hour later, you’ll find them advertised at significant hikes in price.

Continue reading...➜ (for more on this story and the first band to use Ticketmaster's NFT ticket gating system.)


5. The new reality is that nobody is safe from a deepfake

A recent viral image of the Pope wearing a swagged-out puffy jacket is actually an AI-generated fake. But it highlights the difficulty of distinguishing fakes from reality in the future. The image went viral because it aligns with the hyper-real aesthetic of AI art generators and because the Pope is a celebrity with a known sense of style.

Here's The Thing: It's becoming increasingly difficult to determine what's real and what's not, and George Orwell's famous "reject all the evidence from your eyes and ears" is becoming all the more prescient. It's hardly any surprise that a group of prominent AI researchers, including tech entrepreneurs like Elon Musk, have called for a pause on the development of AI tools.

Continue reading...➜(for a selection of images, a video and some tweets that demonstrate the power of Midjourney and generative AI.)


What's happening in Brand Strategy?

This week's I've added the following updates to the Brand Strategy Collection of 250 consumer use cases in emerging tech:

  • Coca-Cola are to use OpenAI's GPT-4 and Dall-E in a consumer campaign called "Create Real Magic" to generate art.
  • Sony has filed patents to use NFTs in video games
  • Panera Bread to use Amazon's biometric palm reading tech for cashless payments and the loyalty programme.
  • Levi Strauss to use AI to generate personalised images of models
  • New pages have been created for Vans, Under Armour and Vodafone.
To find out more about the use-cases of over 250 consumer brands in emerging technologies, read this...

Are you missing out?

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What else is happening in the emerging tech economy

Facial recognition technology has been used nearly one million times by US police. Clearview AI boss Hoan Ton-That also claims that his company now has 30 billion images scraped from platforms such as Facebook, downloaded without the permission of users. Critics say that the police’s use of the technology is “far too invasive” and puts everyone into a “perpetual police line-up”. A US police chief said officers treat facial recognition “like a tip.”


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