Week in Review: Staying away from making social/morality calls

  • TheSugarBook targets niche space with its sugar dating site
  • Malaysia gets AI boost with Alibaba Cloud’s City Brain

IN this digital era, where startups abound, trying to disrupt every industry possible or trying to improve how things are done, it would have to take a pretty radical or innovative idea for an entrepreneur to claim that his startup is the first of its kind in Asia.

And yet, that is what Malaysian Darren Chan has achieved when he launched his niche dating site, thesugarbook.com in 2016. It is apparently the first Asian targeted sugar dating site. Naturally there have been some sites launched from the US and Europe that accept Asian members, but Chan claims his to be the first Asian launched, Asian focused site.

That may be debatable, as there could be some sites in existence that are in a local language. But what is not debatable is that this was the first time in DNA’s almost six years that our decision to publish a story veered from the merits of the story to its social and morality impact.

We let ourselves get distracted and started wondering if we were sending the wrong signal by giving exposure to this sugar dating site and sending the wrong signal about older men young women meeting with financial incentives as the main motivator. Of course it’s also about older women meeting young men but the former is the more powerful perception.

But if we went down this path to make social/morality judgements on stories, then we may not cover any eSports stories as well. The dangers of addiction and in extreme cases, death from too much time spent gaming would give us reasonable ground to stay away from such stories and save our readers.

But you and I both know that is not the role of any tech news media. Moderation in any digital activity is always encouraged with the only exception today being how many times we fidget with our smartphones!

And not covering Chan’s startup would have been unfair on him as he is taking a risk with his venture, the risk of market acceptance, of product quality, of convincing investors to bet on him. And it would have deprived our readers of thinking about what other niche and sensitive markets out there could possibly be targeted. As long as it is not illegal of course.

Anyway, the article aside, I am looking forward to the commentary my colleague, Anushia Kandasivam, has written and which we will run tomorrow. What are her thoughts on a site that makes it easier than it ever has been, for older people to meet much younger ones with financial inducements as the motivator for the younger ones?

And just like that, I have used up almost all my space in this column on sugar dating!

Meanwhile, in its efforts to further power Malaysia’s Digital Economy, Malaysian Digital Economy Coporation (MDEC) has partnered with Alibaba’s cloud unit to bring its Artificial Intelligence (AI) engine called City Brain to Malaysia and help the capital city of KL to improve its traffic management. This will only be the first for other such AI applications that City Brain can enable and the partnership will surely boost and advance Malaysia’s own AI ambitions as well.

As the platform is based on Open Data, that means there will be opportunity for our entrepreneurs, universities, corporates and research institutions to tap into to come up with innovative services and products with a commercial model wrapped around it. So keep an eye on City Brain KL which is the first city outside of China to tap the power of Alibaba’s AI expertise.

With that, I hope you had a restful weekend. Here’s wishing you a productive week ahead.

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Editor’s Picks:

Malaysia’s AI ambitions get City Brain boost from Alibaba Cloud

First Asian sugar dating startup, TheSugarBook, eyes expansion

Naser Jaafar aims for success to the end

Lawyers, let EasyLaw do the running for you

Malaysia's e-sports scene shows growth but challenges remain

New digital telco Yoodo offers fully customisable mobile service

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