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Showing posts from August, 2017

Is Big Tech Breaking Up With the Left?

Is Big Tech Breaking Up With the Left?
Google's reported involvement in New America's decision to end an antimonopoly program points to a larger schism in the Democratic Party.
BY ALEX SHEPHARD August 31, 2017
Open Markets, a division at the public policy think tank the New America Foundation, had been an intellectual force in progressive circles in recent years, leading to a heightened awareness of the damaging effects that monopolization is having on both consumers and businesses. Its work focused on everything from hyper-consolidation in the airline industry to a growing concentration of book publishers, but where it really stirred things up was by targeting America’s giant tech companies, particularly Amazon, Facebook, and Alphabet (the umbrella company for Google). Now, Google has apparently struck back, revealing a growing divide between progressives and an industry that has long claimed a home in the Democratic Party.
On Wednesday, The New York Times’s Ken Vogel report…

Professors warn tech is taking over decisions from humans

Professors warn tech is taking over decisions from humans, and it’s not great
NATHAN RUBBELKE - STAFF REPORTER • AUGUST 31, 2017
Scholars create program to test software for bias and discrimination
In the future, your future might depend on a series of carefully calculated zeros and ones.
As technology improves, humans become less involved in decisions that affect our lives — and that isn’t exactly a good thing.
As artificial intelligence gains ground, college professors at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst have developed a program to test software for bias and discrimination.
Yes, racial discrimination. But more than that. Healthcare decisions. Loan decisions. Heck, even how Amazon decides package-sending rates.
“Today, software determines who gets a loan or gets hired, computes risk-assessment scores that help decide who goes to jail and who is set free, and aids in diagnosing and treating medical patients,” according to the program’s developers.
With that, it’s critical “soft…

Google Critic Ousted From Think Tank Funded by the Tech Giant

Google Critic Ousted From Think Tank Funded by the Tech Giant
By KENNETH P. VOGEL AUG. 30, 2017
WASHINGTON — In the hours after European antitrust regulators levied a record $2.7 billion fine against Google in late June, an influential Washington think tank learned what can happen when a tech giant that shapes public policy debates with its enormous wealth is criticized.
The New America Foundation has received more than $21 million from Google; its parent company’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt; and his family’s foundation since the think tank’s founding in 1999. That money helped to establish New America as an elite voice in policy debates on the American left.
But not long after one of New America’s scholars posted a statement on the think tank’s website praising the European Union’s penalty against Google, Mr. Schmidt, who had chaired New America until 2016, communicated his displeasure with the statement to the group’s president, Anne-Marie Slaughter, according to the scholar.

The rise of the $1,000 smartphone

The rise of the $1,000 smartphone
By Hayley Tsukayama August 29 at 12:54 PM
As we gear up for another smartphone battle between Samsung and Apple this fall, there is a new wrinkle for the average smartphone customer to consider: prices that edge toward $1,000 for a new phone.
The Note 8, Samsung's latest premium smartphone, starts at $930. For months, analysts have speculated that the 10th anniversary edition of the iPhone, which will debut at Apple's rumored Sept. 12 event, could be even higher. Even for smartphone customers used to paying $800 or $900 for a phone, the $1,000 mark may seem a bridge too far. For that, after all, you could easily get a pretty good laptop — a MacBook or Surface Laptop, for instance.
What’s behind the price increases? Some of it is pure function, as these phones do more than even the standard iPhone or Galaxy models. In general, smartphones carry more technology than ever before. While they aren’t yet laptop replacements, smartphones are requir…

Amazon Is Cutting Prices at Whole Foods, Starting Today

Amazon Is Cutting Prices at Whole Foods, Starting TodayYour grocery shopping is about to get so much more affordable.By: Elly LeavittPublished on August 28, 2017 - 12:00pm EDT
The much-discussed acquisition of Whole Foods by Amazon was made official on August 28, and with that comes news of another surprising (and welcome) change hitting the supermarket. Effective immediately, the famously high Whole Foods prices will be cut in a bid to make the chain more accessible to everyone.

“We’re determined to make healthy and organic food affordable for everyone. Everyone should be able to eat Whole Foods Market quality—we will lower prices without compromising Whole Foods Market’s long-held commitment to the highest standards,” Jeff Wilke, the CEO of Amazon Worldwide Consumer, said in a statement.

That’s right. “Whole Paycheck” no more: You’ll now be able to buy all the organic avocados and responsibly-farmed tilapia you need without having to take out a second mortgage.

While we don’t know ex…

Look for Military Drones to Begin Replacing Police Helicopters by 2025

Look for Military Drones to Begin Replacing Police Helicopters by 2025
An MQ-9B from General Atomics on the tarmac at Grey Butte, California. Taken on August 19, 2017.
BY PATRICK TUCKER AUGUST 28, 2017
General Atomics is working hard to put a close cousin of its Reaper anti-terrorism drone in the hands of local law enforcement.
By 2025, enormous military-style drones – close relatives of the sort made famous by counterterrorism strikes in Afghanistan and Iraq – will be visible 2,000 feet above U.S. cities, streaming high-resolution video to police departments below. That is the bet that multiple defense contractors are placing, anyway, as they race to build unmanned aircraft that can pass evolving airworthiness certifications and replace police helicopters. And if that bet pays off, it will radically transform the way cities, citizens, and law enforcement interact.
There’s a reason big drones like the General Atomics Reaper aren’t already flying over the United States. The federal ru…

Denmark Decides to Make It ‘More Attractive to Work’ by Reducing Taxes

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Denmark Decides to Make It ‘More Attractive to Work’
Planned cuts worth $3.7 billion designed to boost employment Danske economist questions whether plan will sustain growth
By Peter Levring August 29, 2017, 12:17 AM PDT August 29, 2017, 3:37 AM PDT
Denmark’s government proposed a broad range of tax cuts that will hit all income groups, make it cheaper to save toward retirement and reduce levies on cars.
The center-right coalition of Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen wants to shrink the country’s tax burden by 23 billion kroner ($3.7 billion), with the proposed measures to be phased in through 2025, according to a statement published on Tuesday. The administration also said it will “monitor” the corporate tax rate to ensure Denmark stays competitive with its trade partners.
“With this proposal, we’re tackling a number of concrete challenges,” Finance Minister Kristian Jensen said in the statement. “We’re increasing the gains associated with working, we’re making it more attractive …

Domino’s and Ford will test self-driving pizza delivery cars

Domino’s and Ford will test self-driving pizza delivery cars
But the car won’t be driving itself
by Amar Toor and Tamara Warren  Aug 29, 2017, 12:01am EDT
Ford and Domino’s Pizza are teaming up to test self-driving pizza delivery cars in Michigan, as part of an effort to better understand how customers respond to and interact with autonomous vehicles.
In the coming weeks, randomly selected Domino’s customers in Ann Arbor, Michigan will have the option to accept pizza deliveries from a Ford Fusion Hybrid autonomous research vehicle. But the car won’t be driving itself.
Each car will be driven by a Ford safety engineer, with other researchers onboard, who will zero in on the last 50 feet of the customer experience.
Sherif Marakby, Vice President of Ford Autonomous Vehicles and Electrification, described the project as ethnographic research in an interview with The Verge. “We don’t want to wait until we get everything done on the tech and remove the driver. We’re trying to start doing t…

How Hate Groups Forced Online Platforms to Reveal Their True Nature

How Hate Groups Forced Online Platforms to Reveal Their True Nature
By JOHN HERRMAN AUG. 21, 2017
White supremacist marchers had not yet lit their torches when the deletions began. The ‘‘Unite the Right’’ Facebook page, which had been used to organize the rally in Charlottesville, was removed the day before the event was scheduled, forcing planners to disperse to other platforms to organize. And then, in the hours and days after a participant drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring at least 19 others, internet companies undertook a collective purge.
Facebook banned a range of pages with names like ‘‘Right Wing Death Squad’’ and ‘‘White Nationalists United.’’ Reddit banned, among others, a hard-right community called ‘‘Physical Removal,’’ an organizer of which had called the weekend’s killing ‘‘a morally justified action.’’ Twitter suspended an unknown number of users, including popular accounts associated with 4chan’s openly fas…

The Guardian Sets Up a Nonprofit to Support Its Journalism

The Guardian Sets Up a Nonprofit to Support Its Journalism
By AMIE TSANGAUG. 28, 2017
LONDON — The Guardian, three years removed from a Pulitzer Prize that helped spur the British newspaper’s international expansion, is fully embracing a new moneymaking strategy in the face of industry-wide revenue problems: philanthropy.
The company has established a nonprofit venture in the United States, theguardian.org, to focus on tapping philanthropic organizations — or even corporate foundations and think tanks — for financial help to report on issues including human rights and climate change.
Rachel White, the president of theguardian.org, said the nonprofit’s charitable status would make it easier for more organizations and private individuals, who might otherwise feel conflicted about contributing to a for-profit newsroom, to donate.
The unit, which received its tax-exempt status in Oct. 2016, has been setting up partnerships since December. Since then, theguardian.org has secured more than…

AI computer chips that can SMELL explosives could transform airport security

AI computer chips made of mice neurons that can SMELL explosives could transform airport security
Device could be implanted into the brain of robots to recognise odours The Koniku Kore device is a 'world first' that is able to breath in and smell air It could detect volatile chemicals and explosives or even illnesses like cancer
By AFP and PHOEBE WESTON FOR MAILONLINE UPDATED: 09:32 EDT, 28 August 2017
A technology expert has created a computer chip based on mice neurons that could recognise the smell of explosives.
The device could be implanted into the brain of future robots, which could be trained to recognise danger via odours, replacing traditional airport security.
The Koniku Kore device is a 'world first' that is able to breath in and smell air, meaning it could detect volatile chemicals and explosives or even illnesses such as cancer.
THE KONIKU KORE
Named the Koniku Kore, the modem-sized device could provide the brain for future robots.
Instead of being ba…

Should robots be taxed? - San Francisco Will Consider a Tax on Robots

Should robots be taxed?
San Francisco Will Consider a Tax on Robots
When robots steal our jobs, should they be made to pay taxes? That’s something residents of San Francisco are being asked to think about by Jane Kim, who represents the city's District 6 on its board of supervisors. She wants to find cash to help folks out with retraining or a universal basic income when robots take over their toils, and the suggestion for generating that money is a tax on robots.
San Francisco certainly isn’t stuffed full of robots right now. But it’s easy enough to imagine a none-too-distant future where autonomous taxis rule the roads and burgers are flipped by bots. In a context where robots are taking over directly from human workers, the idea seems to make sense. But similar suggestions in the past—most notably from Bill Gates—have been dismissed, in part because taxing robots disincentivizes companies from adopting them, leading to a failure to capitalize on increases in productivity that …

Elon Musk’s Neuralink Gets $27 Million to Build Brain Computers

Elon Musk’s Neuralink Gets $27 Million to Build Brain Computers
San Francisco-based company hiring engineers and scientists Brain-machine interface hopes to connect humans with computers
By Dana Hull August 25, 2017, 12:47 PM PDT
Neuralink Corp., the startup co-founded by billionaire Elon Musk, has taken steps to sell as much as $100 million in stock to fund the development of technology that connects human brains with computers.
The San Francisco-based company has already gotten $27 million in funding, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Musk said via Twitter on Friday that Neuralink isn’t seeking outside investors. A spokesman didn’t respond to questions about the source of the funds.
Musk, 46, is the chief executive officer of Tesla Inc. and Space Exploration Technologies Corp. and has several other pet projects, including a venture to bore tunnels for roads or tube-based transportation systems known as the hyperloop, and another project for the…