For those who were too busy enjoying the glorious sunshine in London yesterday, you may have missed the headlines about San Francisco’s outright ban of facial recognition tech for security surveillance purposes. The ban was brought on by widespread concern about the expansion of government surveillance and potential issues with profiling bias. While concerns over the increasing amount we are all monitored by technology are entirely justified, it is a little hard to digest the idea of San Francisco, home of social liberty and Silicon Valley, and a hub of surveillance tech, making such a sweeping (and pioneering) decision.
Unsurprisingly, opponents of the ban have been quick to extoll the value of facial recognition, highlighting its growing use in criminal suspect verification and a slowly improving success rate in this regard. Proponents, however, point to China as an example of what could happen if ‘Big Brother’ gets a little too into his steroids. Facial and video recognition is reportedly now used to monitor everything from childhood attentiveness in the classroom to isolating petty thieves in real time. The most dystopic Chinese AI project (that we’re aware of anyway) is a plan to roll out facial recognition system linked to the government database of 1.3 billion (yes, with a B) ID cards. Orwellian, we know. And it’s particularly punchy given the tech itself is still in its relative infancy (yes, your iPhone’s unlocking capabilities really aren’t that impressive). Closer to home, the Met police are currently trialling facial recognition cameras rigged to police vans in East London in order to locate suspects in ongoing criminal investigations. As you can see in the video, it is hitting mixed results!
We’re not sure an outright ban on tech is ever the optimal solution – one to watch in the news and see whether other cities (or states for that matter) follow suit…
This is all about how China uses facial recognition (among other methods) to monitor its population.
If you’re not too busy watching the Game of Thrones finale, and you’re interested in pop culture facial recognition, check out Black Mirror (generally) but specifically “Nosedive” Season 3, Episode 1. Minority Report is also an early 2000’s Tom Cruise classic! Both available on your favourite streaming services.
Here at Work in Startups, we are often asked what types of companies we classify as a startup (and similarly, what it takes to make it onto our site!) In the interest of transparency, we thought we’d expand on how we think a “startup” differs from other labels commonly tossed around, such as “scaleup”, “SME”, […]
Here at Work in Startups, we are often asked what types of companies we classify as a startup (and similarly, what it takes to make it onto our site!) In the interest of transparency, we thought we’d expand on how we think a “startup” differs from other labels commonly tossed around, such as “scaleup”, “SME”, or even “small business”.
Full Disclosure: it is highly subjective! There is no single, universally accepted definition of a startup. It’s a much more broad-reaching term than others you might hear such as ‘unicorn’ (a privately held startup company valued at over $1 billion). Confusion is possibly rooted in the rise of companies keen to define themselves as a startup (it’s a sexy tag after all), even when they don’t fulfil many of the characteristics that others would deem essential.
What are the features of a startup
In our humble opinion, these tend to be the two key features that differentiate a startup from any old company:
Growth – is it expanding and growing rapidly, in terms of either customers, new jobs or financials? Yes? Potentially this company is a startup! There’s a relatively widely shared blog post on this which goes into much more detail on why this angle is often considered the most important: http://www.paulgraham.com/growth.html
Innovative – the startup industry has become culturally synonymous with the concept of disruptive business models. For us, a startup needs to offer something fresh!
Often but not always: a tech focus or component, VC funding (or likely potential to receive/qualify for funding in the near future), some element of risk (not a traditional service with hundreds of comparables), interesting employee perks and an “owner culture” (which could mean equity awards readily available to staff).
Meanwhile, these features can help the eagle-eyed spot where a company is on its journey to unicorn status (i.e. when is it likely no longer a startup):
New – the exact age before a company falls into ‘scaleup territory’ is up for debate: some experts set as low as three-years-old as this cap. We modestly say about five-years-old, absolute maximum ten.
Small – headcount (like age) is a nice marker for when a company has graduated to ‘scale-up status.’ We think this happens when you exceed roughly 100-200 members of staff.
Revenue – as with all of the numbers in this list, a revenue of more than £10 million is a rough metric, to give you a general feel. Effectively: no unicorns allowed!
At Work in Startups, we think that growth (or growth potential) is the most important identifier for startups. While our opinion is based on rather a lot of startup companies and job ads, we wanted to see what our lovely and knowledgeable twitter community thought. Interestingly they had other ideas…
As you can see the results overwhelmingly favoured how recently the company was founded – although it is clear that growth is quite important! This really suggests that checking a variety of metrics (cue our handy-dandy list) is the only way for us to truly hunt the next unicorn!
Note: we include a combination of start up and scale up jobs on our site, as despite the terminology being murky, we tend to find our audience is broadly interested in both. Do feel free to get in touch though if you have any comments on this!
As per, we are giving you this week’s hottest UK startup jobs, although this week we have exclusively London startup jobs. We’ve been talking about the changes to Facebook Dating, Instagram like-hiding and digital detoxes. Check it out! […]
Facebook’s F8 developers’ conference has reignited the discussion about online welfare and wellness in the age of social media (we’re as shocked as you are!)
The debate’s kick-off point was Instagram announcing details of their experiment into ‘Like-hiding’ in the Canadian market. The modified functionality allows users to still view “Likes” if they choose to, but it reduces the prominence of such “validatory” features, (hopefully) keeping eyes on the content itself and boosting user wellness. So you can like that picture of a cat without giving a stuff who else has, or post your own cat and not be reminded that the neighbour’s cat is supposedly three-times more popular! Don’t worry though, your cat’s great…
This move to protect against “toxic envy” was somewhat undermined by Facebook revealing features that could induce “toxic lust.” Of course we’re referring to the new ‘Secret Crushes’ feature added to Facebook Dating, which allows one to covertly mark which of your facebook friends the user would like to… get to know better. Without delving into the value of dating one’s friends, we wonder whether a feature designed to mark physical attractiveness in members of your social network does a great deal to circumvent envy online. Others meanwhile have questioned whether we should even be concerned with toxicity online, and instead just crack on and develop better tools to enjoy it. We’re not overly worried about “Likes” at Work in Startups, being far more concerned with getting the best talent into UK startups… but of course we won’t say no if you follow us on facebook and twitter!