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A popular YouTuber's negative video of Humane's AI Pin raises questions about critical reviews in the age of innovation

Dan DeFrancesco   

A popular YouTuber's negative video of Humane's AI Pin raises questions about critical reviews in the age of innovation
  • This post originally appeared in the Insider Today newsletter.

Hello there! If you're struggling to decide the foods worth buying organic, best-selling author Michael Pollan has some suggestions for the ones worth splurging on to avoid harmful chemicals.

In today's big story, we're looking at a critical tech review that caused a bit of a stir on social media.

What's on deck:

But first, the review is in!

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The big story

Up for review

"The Worst Product I've Ever Reviewed… For Now"

Marques Brownlee, the YouTuber better known as MKBHD, didn't mince words with the title of his review of Humane's AI Pin.

In a 25-minute video, Brownlee details all the issues he encountered using the AI device. (Spoiler alert: There were a lot.)

Brownlee's review aligns with other criticisms of the device. But not all of those came from someone with as much sway. His YouTube channel has more than 18 million subscribers.

One user on X pointed that out, calling the review "almost unethical" for "potentially killing someone else's nascent project" in a post reposted over 2,000 times.

Most of the internet disagreed, and a Humane exec even thanked Brownlee on X for the "fair and valid critiques."

But it highlights the power of Brownlee's reviews. Earlier this year, a negative video of Fisker's Ocean SUV by Brownlee also made waves on social media.

Critical reviews in the age of innovation raise some interesting questions.

To be clear, there was nothing wrong with Brownlee's review. Humane's AI Pin costs $700. Watering down his review to ease the blow would be a disservice to the millions of fans relying on his perspective before making such a significant purchase.

Too often, companies view potential customers as an extension of their research and development. They are happy to sell a product that is still a work in progress on the promise they'll fix it on the fly. ("Updates are coming!")

But in a world of instant gratification, it can be hard to appreciate that innovation takes time.

Even Apple can run into this conundrum. Take the Apple Vision Pro. Reviewers are impressed with the technology behind the much-anticipated gadget — but are still struggling to figure out what they can do with it. Maybe, over time, that will get sorted out.

It's also worth remembering how cool tech can be, as Business Insider's Peter Kafka wrote following a bunch of trips in Waymo's software-powered taxis in San Francisco. Sure, robotaxis have their issues, Peter said, but they also elicit that "golly-gee-can-you-believe-it" sense.

As for Humane, America loves a comeback story. Just look at "Cyberpunk 2077." The highly anticipated video game had a disastrous launch in 2020, but redeemed itself three years later, ultimately winning a major award.

Still, Humane shouldn't get a pass for releasing a product that didn't seem ready for primetime, according to the reviews.

And its issue could be bigger than glitchy tech. Humane's broader thesis about reducing screen time might not be as applicable. As BI's Katie Notopolous put it: "I love staring at my iPhone."

3 things in markets

1. Goldman finally strikes gold. After a rough stretch, the vaunted investment bank crushed earnings expectations, sending its stock soaring. A big tailwind, according to CEO David Solomon, is AI spawning "enormous opportunities" for the bank.

2. Buy the dip, Wedbush says. Last week's drop among tech stocks shouldn't scare away investors, according to Wedbush. A strong earnings report, buoyed by the ongoing AI craze, should keep them soaring, strategists said. But JPMorgan doesn't see it that way, saying prices are already stretched.

3. China's economy beat analysts' expectations. The country's GDP grew 5.3% in the first quarter of 2024, according to data published by the National Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday. It's a welcome return to form for the world's second-largest economy, although below-par new home and retail sales remain a cause for concern.

3 things in tech

1. Amazon Prime Video viewers are giving up on its shows. Leaked documents show viewers are fed up with the streamer's error-ridden catalog system, which often has incomplete titles and missing episodes. In 2021, 60% of all content-related complaints were about Prime Video's catalog.

2. Eric Newcomer is bringing his Cerebral Valley AI Summit to New York. The conference, originally held in San Francisco, is famous for producing one of the largest generative AI acquisitions ever. Now, it's coming to New York in June.

3. OpenAI is plotting an expansion to NYC. Two people familiar with the plans told BI that the ChatGPT developer is looking to open a New York office next year. That would be the company's fifth office, alongside its current headquarters in San Francisco, a just-opened site in Tokyo, and spots in London and Dublin.

3 things in business

1. America's young men are spending their money like never before. From sports betting to meme coins, young men are more willing than ever to blow money in the hopes of making a fortune.

2. Investors are getting into women's sports. With women like Caitlin Clark dominating March Madness headlines, investors see a big opportunity. BI compiled a list of 13 investors and fund managers pouring money into the next big thing in sports.

3. Bad news for Live Nation. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Justice Department could hit the concert giant with an antitrust lawsuit as soon as next month. Live Nation, which owns Ticketmaster, has long faced criticism over its high fees.

In other news

What's happening today

  • Today's earnings: United Airlines, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, and others are reporting.

  • It's Free Cone Day at participating Ben & Jerry's stores.

The Insider Today team: Dan DeFrancesco, deputy editor and anchor, in New York. Jordan Parker Erb, editor, in New York. Hallam Bullock, senior editor, in London. George Glover, reporter, in London.