Will a Robot Take Your Job? It May Just Make Your Job Worse

The robot revolution is always allegedly just around the corner. In the utopian vision, technology emancipates human labor from repetitive, mundane tasks, freeing us to be more productive and take on more fulfilling work. In the dystopian vision, robots come for everyone’s jobs, put millions and millions of people out of work, and throw the economy into chaos.

Such a warning was at the crux of Andrew Yang’s ill-fated presidential campaign, helping propel his case for universal basic income that he argued would become necessary when automation left so many workers out. It’s the argument many corporate executives make whenever there’s a suggestion they might have to raise wages: $15 an hour will just mean machines taking your order at McDonald’s instead of people, they say. It’s an effective scare tactic for some workers.

But we often spend so much time talking about the potential for robots to take our jobs that we fail to look at how they are already changing them — sometimes for the better, but sometimes not. New technologies can give corporations tools for monitoring, managing, and motivating their workforces, sometimes in ways that are harmful. The technology itself might not be innately nefarious, but it makes it easier for companies to maintain tight control on workers and squeeze and exploit them to maximize profits.

“The basic incentives of the system have always been there: employers wanting to maximize the value they get out of their workers while minimizing the cost of labor, the incentive to want to control and monitor and surveil their workers,” said Brian Chen, staff attorney at the National Employment Law Project (NELP). “And if technology allows them to do that more cheaply or more efficiently, well then of course they’re going to use technology to do that.”

Tracking software for remote workers, which saw a bump in sales at the start of the pandemic, can follow every second of a person’s workday in front of the computer. Delivery companies can use motion sensors to track their drivers’ every move, measure extra seconds, and ding drivers for falling short.

Automation hasn’t replaced all the workers in warehouses, but it has made work more intense, even dangerous, and changed how tightly workers are managed. Gig workers can find themselves at the whims of an app’s black-box algorithm that lets workers flood the app to compete with each other at a frantic pace for pay so low that how lucrative any given trip or job is can depend on the tip, leaving workers reliant on the generosity of an anonymous stranger. Worse, gig work means they’re doing their jobs without many typical labor protections.

In these circumstances, the robots aren’t taking jobs, they’re making jobs worse. Companies are automating away autonomy and putting profit-maximizing strategies on digital overdrive, turning work into a space with fewer carrots and more sticks.

A robot boss can do a whole lot more watching

In recent years, Amazon has become the corporate poster child for automation in the name of efficiency — often at the expense of workers. There have been countless reports of unsustainable conditions and expectations at Amazon’s fulfillment centers. Its drivers reportedly have to consent to being watched by artificial intelligence, and warehouse workers who don’t move fast enough can be fired.

Demands are so high that there have been reports of people urinating in bottles to avoid taking a break. The robots aren’t just watching, they’re also picking up some of the work. Sometimes, it’s for the better, but in other cases, they may actually be making work more dangerous as more automation leads to more pressure on workers. One report found that worker injuries were more prevalent in Amazon warehouses with robots than warehouses without them.

“It would have been prohibitively expensive to employ enough managers to time each worker’s every move to a fraction of a second or ride along in every truck, but now it takes maybe one,” Dzieza wrote. “This is why the companies that most aggressively pursue these tactics all take on a similar form: a large pool of poorly paid, easily replaced, often part-time or contract workers at the bottom; a small group of highly paid workers who design the software that manages them at the top.”

A 2018 Gartner survey found that half of large companies were already using some type of nontraditional techniques to keep an eye on their workers, including analyzing their communications, gathering biometric data, and examining how workers are using their workspace. They anticipated that by 2020, 80 percent of large companies would be using such methods. Amid the pandemic, the trend picked up pace as businesses sought more ways to keep tabs on the new waves of workers working from home.

This has all sorts of implications for workers, who lose privacy and autonomy when they’re constantly being watched and directed by technology. Daron Acemoglu, an economist at MIT, warned that they’re also losing money. “Some of these new digital technologies are not simply replacing workers or creating new tasks or changing other aspects of productivity, but they’re actually monitoring people much more effectively, and that means rents are being shared very differently because of digital technologies,” he said.

He offered up a hypothetical example of a delivery driver who is asked to deliver a certain number of packages in a day. Decades ago, the company might pay the driver more to incentivize them to work a little faster or harder or put in some extra time. But now, they’re constantly being monitored so that the company knows exactly what they’re doing and is looking for ways to save time. Instead of getting a bonus for hitting certain metrics, they’re dinged for spending a few seconds too long here or there.

The problem isn’t technology itself, it’s the managers and corporate structures behind it that look at workers as a cost to be cut instead of as a resource.

“A lot of this boom of Silicon Valley entrepreneurship where venture capital made it very easy for companies to create firms didn’t exactly prioritize the well-being of workers as one of their main considerations,” said Amy Bix, a historian at Iowa State University who focuses on technology. “A lot of what goes on in the structure of these corporations and the development of technology is invisible to most ordinary people, and it’s easy to take advantage of that.”

The future of Uber isn’t driverless cars, it’s drivers

Uber’s destiny was supposed to be driverless.

In 2016, former CEO Travis Kalanick told Bloomberg making an autonomous vehicle was “basically existential” for the company. After a deadly accident with an autonomous Uber vehicle in 2018, current chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi reiterated that the company remained “absolutely committed” to the self-driving cause. But in December 2020 and after investing $1 billion, Uber sold off its self-driving unit. A little over four months later, its main competitor, Lyft, followed suit. Uber says it’s still not giving up on autonomous technology, but the writing on the wall is clear that driverless cars aren’t core to Uber’s business model, at least in the near future.

“Five or 10 years from now, drivers are still going to be a big piece of the mix on a percentage basis [of Uber’s business], and on an absolute basis, they may be an even bigger piece than they are today even with autonomous in the mix because the business should get bigger as both segments get bigger,” said Chris Frank, director of corporate ratings at S&P Global. “In addition, drivers will need to handle more complex conditions like poorly marked roads or inclement weather.”

In other words, they’re going to need workers to make money — workers they would very much like not to classify as such.

Gig economy companies such as Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash are fighting tooth and nail to make sure the people they enlist to make deliveries or drive people around are not considered their employees. In California last year, such companies dumped $200 million into lobbying to pass Proposition 22, which lets app-based transportation and delivery companies classify their workers as independent contractors and therefore avoid paying for benefits such as sick leave, employer-provided health care, and unemployment. After it passed, a spokesman for the campaign for the ballot measure said it “represents the future of work in an increasingly technologically-driven economy.”

It’s a future of work that might not be pleasant for gig workers. In California, some workers say they’re not getting the benefits companies promised after Prop 22’s passage, such as health care stipends. Companies said that workers would make at least 120 percent of California’s minimum wage, but that’s contemplating the time they spend driving only. Before the ballot initiative was passed, research from the UC Berkeley Labor Center estimated that it would guarantee a minimum wage of just $5.64 per hour.

Companies say they’ve been clear with drivers about how to qualify for the health care stipend, which is available to drivers with more than 15 engaged hours a week (in other words, if you don’t have a job and are waiting around, it doesn’t count). In a statement to Vox, Geoff Vetter, a spokesperson for the Protect App-Based Drivers + Services Coalition, the lobbying group that championed Prop 22, said that 80 percent of drivers work fewer than 20 hours per week and most work less than 10 hours per week, and that many have health insurance through other jobs.

Gig companies have sometimes been cagey about how much their workers make, and they’re often changing their formulas. In 2017, Uber agreed to pay the Federal Trade Commission $20 million over charges that it misled prospective drivers about how much they could make with the app. The FTC found that Uber claimed some of its drivers made $90,000 in New York and $74,000 in San Francisco, when in reality their median incomes were actually $61,000 and $53,000, respectively. DoorDash caused controversy over a decision to pocket tips and use them to pay delivery workers, which it has since reversed.

Even though Uber is charging customers more for rides in the wake of the pandemic, that’s not directly being passed onto their drivers. According to the Washington Post, Uber changed the way it paid drivers in California soon after Prop 22 passed so that they were no longer paid a proportion of the cost of the ride but instead by time and distance, with different bonuses and incentives based on market and surge pricing. (This is how Uber does it in most states, but it had changed things up during the push to get Prop 22 passed.) Uber’s CEO pushed back on the Post story in a series of tweets, arguing that decoupling driver pay from customer fares had not hurt California drivers and that some are now getting a higher cut from their rides.

In light of a driver shortage, Uber recently announced what it’s billing as a $250 million “driver stimulus” that promises higher earnings to try to get drivers back onto the road. The company acknowledges this initiative is likely temporary once the supply-demand imbalance works itself out. Still, it’s hard not to notice how quickly Uber and Lyft have been able to corner most of the ride-hailing app market and exert control over their drivers and customers.

“When a new thing like this comes on, there’s huge new consumer benefits, and then over time they are the market, they have less competition except one another, probably they’re a cartel at this point. And then they start doing stuff that’s much nastier,” said David Autor, an economist at MIT.

One of the gig economy’s main selling points to workers is that it offers flexibility and the ability to work when they want. It’s certainly true that an Uber or Lyft driver has much more autonomy on the job than, say, an Amazon warehouse worker. “People drive with Lyft because they prefer the freedom and flexibility to work when, where, and for however long they want,” a Lyft spokesperson said in a statement to Vox.

“They can choose to accept a ride or not, enjoy unlimited upward earning potential, and can decide to take time off from driving whenever they want, for however long they want, without needing to ask a ‘boss’ — all things they can’t do at most traditional jobs.” The spokesperson also noted that most of its drivers work outside of Lyft.

But flexibility doesn’t mean gig companies have no control over their drivers and delivery people. They use all sorts of tricks and incentives to try to push workers in certain directions and manage them, essentially, by algorithm. Uber drivers report being bothered by the constant surveillance, the lack of transparency from the company, and the dehumanization of working with the app. The algorithm doesn’t want to know how your day is, it just wants you to work as efficiently as possible to maximize its profits.

Carlos Ramos, a former Lyft driver in San Diego, described the feeling of being manipulated by the app. He noticed the company must have needed morning drivers because of the incentives structures, but he also often wondered if he was being “punished” if he didn’t do something right.

“Sometimes, if you cancel a bunch of rides in a row or if you don’t take certain rides to certain things, you won’t get any rides. They’ve shadow turned you off,” he said. The secret deprioritization of a worker is something many Lyft and Uber drivers speculate happens. “You also have no way of knowing what’s going on behind there. They have this proprietary knowledge, they have this black box of trade secrets, and those are your secrets you’re telling them,” said Ramos, now an organizer with Gig Workers Rising.

Companies deny that they secretly shut off drivers. “It is in Lyft’s best interests for drivers to have as positive an experience as possible, so we communicate often and work directly with drivers to help them improve their earnings,” a Lyft spokesperson said. “We never ‘shadow ban’ drivers, and actively coach them when they are in danger of being deactivated.”

The future of innovation isn’t inevitable

We often talk about technology and innovation with a language of inevitability. It’s as though whenever wages go up, companies will of course replace workers with robots. Now that the country is turned on to online delivery, it can be made to seem like the grocery industry is on an unavoidable path to gig work. After all, that’s what happened with Albertsons. But that’s not really the case — there’s plenty of human agency in the technological innovation story.

“Technology of course doesn’t have to exploit workers, it doesn’t have to mean robots are coming for all of our jobs,” Chen said. “These are not inevitable outcomes, they are human decisions, and they are almost always made by people who are driven by a profit motive that tends to exploit the poor and working class historically.”

Chase Copridge, a longtime California worker who’s done the gamut of gig jobs — Instacart, DoorDash, Amazon Flex, Uber, and Lyft — is one of the people stuck in that position, the victim of corporate tendencies on technological overdrive. He described seeing delivery offers that pay as little as $2. He turns those jobs down, knowing that it’s not economically worth it for him. But there might be someone else out there who picks it up. “We’re people who desperately need to make ends meet, who are willing to take the bare minimum that these companies are giving out to us,” he said. “People need to understand that these companies thrive off of exploitation.”

Not all decisions around automation are ones that increase productivity or improve really anything except corporate profits. Self-checkout stations may reduce the need for cashiers, but are they really making the shopping experience faster or better? Next time you go to the grocery store and inevitably screw up scanning one of your own items and waiting several minutes for a worker to appear, you tell me.

Despite technological advancements, productivity growth has been on the decline in recent years. “This is the paradox of the last several decades, and especially since 2000, that we had enormous technological changes as we perceive it but measured productivity growth is quite weak,” Autor said. “One reason may be that we’re automating a lot of trivial stuff rather than important stuff. If you compare antibiotics and indoor plumbing and electrification and air travel and telecommunications to DoorDash and smartphones or self-checkout, it may just not be as consequential.”

Acemoglu said that when firms focus so much on automation and monitoring technologies, they might not explore other areas that could be more productive, such as creating new tasks or building out new industries. “Those are the things that I worry have fallen by the wayside in the last several years,” he said. “If your employer is really set on monitoring you really tightly, that biases things against new tasks because those are things that are not easier to monitor.”

It matters what you automate, and not all automation is equally beneficial, not only to workers but also to customers, companies, and the broader economy.

Grappling with how to handle technological advancements and the ways they change people’s lives, including at work, is no easy task. While the robot revolution isn’t taking everyone’s jobs, automation is taking some of them, especially in areas such as manufacturing. And it’s just making work different: A machine may not eliminate a position entirely, but it may turn a more middle-skill job into a low-skill job, bringing lower pay with it. Package delivery jobs used to come with a union, benefits, and stable pay; with the rise of the gig economy, that’s declining. If and when self-driving trucks arrive, there will still be some low-quality jobs needed to complete tasks the robots can’t.

“The issue that we’ve faced in the US economy is that we’ve lost a lot of middle-skill jobs so people are being pushed down into lower categories,” Autor said. “Automation historically has tended to take the most dirty and dangerous and demeaning jobs and hand them over to machines, and that’s been great.

What’s happened in the last bunch of decades is that automation has affected the middle-skill jobs and left the hard, interesting, creative jobs and the hands-on jobs that require a lot of dexterity and flexibility but don’t require a lot of formal skills.”

But again, none of this is inevitable. Companies are able to leverage technology to get the most out of workers because workers often don’t have power to push back, enforce limits, or ask for more. Unionization has seen steep declines in recent decades. America’s labor laws and regulations are designed around full-time work, meaning gig companies don’t have to offer health insurance or help fund unemployment. But the laws could — and many would argue should — be modernized.

“The key thing is it’s not just technology, it’s a question of labor power, both collectively and individually,” Bix said. “There are a lot of possible outcomes, and in the end, technology is a human creation. It’s a product of social priorities and what gets developed and adopted.”

Maybe the robot apocalypse isn’t here yet. Or it is, and many of us aren’t quite recognizing it, in part because we got some of the story wrong. The problem isn’t really the robot, it’s what your boss wants the robot to do.

Source: Will a robot take your job? It may just make your job worse. – Vox

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Critics:

The history of robots has its origins in the ancient world. During the industrial revolution, humans developed the structural engineering capability to control electricity so that machines could be powered with small motors. In the early 20th century, the notion of a humanoid machine was developed.

The first uses of modern robots were in factories as industrial robots. These industrial robots were fixed machines capable of manufacturing tasks which allowed production with less human work. Digitally programmed industrial robots with artificial intelligence have been built since the 2000s.

Concepts of artificial servants and companions date at least as far back as the ancient legends of Cadmus, who is said to have sown dragon teeth that turned into soldiers and Pygmalion whose statue of Galatea came to life. Many ancient mythologies included artificial people, such as the talking mechanical handmaidens (Ancient Greek: Κουραι Χρυσεαι (Kourai Khryseai); “Golden Maidens”) built by the Greek god Hephaestus (Vulcan to the Romans) out of gold.

Reference:

Chinese Scientists Claim Breakthrough in Quantum Computing Race

Chinese scientists claim to have built a quantum computer that is able to perform certain computations nearly 100 trillion times faster than the world’s most advanced supercomputer, representing the first milestone in the country’s efforts to develop the technology.

The researchers have built a quantum computer prototype that is able to detect up to 76 photons through Gaussian boson sampling, a standard simulation algorithm, the state-run Xinhua news agency said, citing research published in Science magazine. That’s exponentially faster than existing supercomputers.

The breakthrough represents a quantum computational advantage, also known as quantum supremacy, in which no traditional computer can perform the same task in a reasonable amount of time and is unlikely to be overturned by algorithmic or hardware improvements, according to the research.

While still in its infancy, quantum computing is seen as the key to radically improving the processing speed and power of computers, enabling them to simulate large systems and drive advances in physics, chemistry and other fields. Chinese researchers are competing against major U.S. corporations from Alphabet Inc.’s Google to Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp. for a lead in the technology, which has become yet another front in the U.S.-China tech race.

Read more: Why Quantum Computers Will Be Super Awesome, Someday: QuickTake

Google said last year it has built a computer that could perform a computation in 200 seconds that would take the fastest supercomputers about 10,000 years, reaching quantum supremacy. The Chinese researchers claim their new prototype is able to process 10 billion times faster than Google’s prototype, according to the Xinhua report.

Xi Jinping’s government is building a $10 billion National Laboratory for Quantum Information Sciences as part of a big push in the field. In the U.S., the Trump administration provided $1 billion in funding to research into artificial intelligence and quantum information earlier this year and has sought to take credit for Google’s 2019 breakthrough.

By Shiyin Chen

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DW News

Chinese scientists have announced their development of the most powerful quantum computer in the world. It works 100 trillion times faster than the fastest supercomputers out there and comes little more than a year after Google unveiled Sycamore, their own quantum computer. Chinese scientists have announced their development of the most President Xi Jinping has said research and development in quantum science is an urgent matter of national concern. And the country has invested heavily in this technology, spending billions in recent years. It has become a world leader in the field. Subscribe: https://www.youtube.com/user/deutsche… For more news go to: http://www.dw.com/en/ Follow DW on social media: ►Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/deutschewell… ►Twitter: https://twitter.com/dwnews ►Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dwnews Für Videos in deutscher Sprache besuchen Sie: https://www.youtube.com/channel/deuts…#QuantumComputer#Cybersecurity#China

With Toyota’s Help, This Secretive Entrepreneur May Finally Give Us Flying Cars

JoeBen Bevirt first thought about building an airplane that could take off and land like a helicopter in second grade while trudging up the 4.5-mile road to his family’s home in an off-grid hippie settlement among the redwoods in Northern California. “It was a lonnnnng hill,” Bevirt says, laughing. “It made me dream about a better way.” 

Four decades later, Bevirt is closing in on that goal. On a ranch outside Santa Cruz, the surfing mecca near where he grew up, Bevirt has secretively developed an electric airplane with six tilting propellers that he says can carry a pilot and four passengers 150 miles at up to 200 miles per hour, while being quiet enough to disappear among the hum of city life. He envisions the as-yet-unnamed aircraft, which experts speculate could cost $400,000 to $1.5 million to manufacture, as the foundation for a massive rooftop-to-rooftop air-taxi network—one he plans to build and run himself. His aspiration is to free urbanites from snarled roads and save a billion people an hour a day at the same price (he hopes) as an UberX ride, or roughly $2.50 a mile. 

It sounds crazy, but Bevirt, 47, has some powerful believers. Toyota pumped roughly $400 million into his Joby Aviation in January, joining investors including Laurene Powell Jobs’ Emerson Collective and Jeff Skoll’s Capricorn Investment Group, the latter of which was also an early Tesla backer. In all, Joby has raised $745 million, most recently at a valuation of $2.6 billion. Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda told Bevirt he hopes, through Joby, to realize the flying-car dreams of his grandfather Kiichiro, Toyota Motors’ founder, who developed aircraft before World War II. Toyota engineers are refining components of Joby’s aircraft to make it easier to build on a mass scale more akin to the auto industry than aviation, and helping Bevirt set up a factory in Monterey County where he plans to produce thousands of aircraft a year.

Joby is the best-funded and most valuable of an explosion of startups leveraging advances in batteries and electric motors to try to wean aviation off fossil fuels and create new types of aircraft, including autonomous ones, to serve as air taxis. No one knows how big the industry could get—or if it will get off the ground at all—but Wall Street is spitballing some big numbers. One report from Morgan Stanley estimates the category could generate $674 billion a year in fares worldwide by 2040. 

“If we can fly, we can turn our streets into parks and fundamentally make our cities much nicer places to live in,” Bevirt says. 

Dreamers have been trying (and failing) to build flying cars for 100 years. Skeptics think Joby and its competitors are still at least a decade too early: Today’s best batteries pack 14 times less usable energy by weight than jet fuel. Given how much brute power is needed to propel an aircraft straight up, they say, until batteries improve, electric air taxis will have too little range and carrying capacity to make business sense. Then there’s the tough task of convincing regulators they’ll be safe to fly. 

Bevirt says he can produce a viable, safe aircraft now with top-of-the-line lithium-ion battery cells that currently power electric cars. And Joby is the only startup to commit to Uber’s ambitious timeline of launching an urban air-taxi service in 2023. Bevirt says he’s on track to win safety certification from the Federal Aviation Administration that year, which would likely make Joby the first electric air-taxi maker to clear that daunting hurdle. 

Bevirt was raised in a back-to-the-land community in which he got an early education in engineering, helping fix farm equipment and building homes alongside his father, Ron Bevirt, who was one of the LSD-tripping Merry Pranksters back in the 1960s. (JoeBen is named after a character in Sometimes a Great Notion, written by Pranksters ringleader Ken Kesey, famous for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

As an adult, Bevirt re-created that community with a decidedly capitalistic twist on his secluded 440 acres of woodlands and meadows overlooking the Pacific. The sprawling property, which he purchased with the proceeds from selling earlier businesses—Velocity11, which built liquid-handling robots used for testing potential drugs, and the company behind GorillaPod, a flexible camera tripod—includes a former quarry where Bevirt conducted early test flights. Employees have lived in small cottages on the property and built houses nearby. Before locking in on developing an aircraft, he incubated other startups there, with everyone working together in a cavernous barn. Bevirt started an organic farm to feed them, with chickens and bees yielding eggs and honey. 

The environment bred a tight-knit team – some Joby Aviation staffers start their day surfing together and end it with pizza parties around an outdoor oven. Group meetings are punctuated by choruses of “woots.”

“It’s a high-fiving, hugging culture, and that really flows from JoeBen,” says Jim Adler, managing director at Toyota AI Ventures, who convinced his colleagues to invest in Joby in 2017. “He’s high-energy, and it’s contagious.” 

While Joby is participating in Uber’s aerial ride-sharing plans, a big part of Bevirt’s business model involves running his own ride-sharing network. That helped attract investors. “If it was just a vehicle, I would not have been moved to invest if there wasn’t a service wrapped around it,” Adler says. 

Building the required landing pads, booking software and other infrastructure, though, will require a lot more cash—and patience—from investors. Joby has no plans to sell its aircraft outside of building its own fleet, further delaying the day when investors can recoup the billions that will likely be needed to scale up. 

Joby’s five-seat design boosts its revenue potential for ride sharing compared to the smaller, more mechanically simple two-seat multicopters being developed by Germany’s Volocopter and China’s EHang. The downside of Joby’s size: weight. A big part of that heft comes from the batteries, and it’s unclear if they’ll have enough juice to do the job, according to modeling by the lab of Carnegie Mellon battery expert Venkat Viswanathan, based on aircraft specs Bevirt shared with Forbes. 

For Joby to achieve the 150-mile range it says the 4,800-pound gross weight aircraft is capable of (but has yet to achieve in flight testing), plus FAA-required reserves, Viswanathan’s team estimates it needs a 2,200-pound battery pack. Subtracting 1,000 pounds for five passengers leaves only 1,600 pounds for the airframe, seats and avionics—a slim 33% of gross weight. That’s 35% lower than any certified production airplane. The upshot: Either Joby has built an unprecedentedly light and efficient airframe, as Bevirt maintains, or its range will turn out to be lower. (For more details on Joby’s batteries, click here.) Another concern: Getting approval from the FAA might require safety tweaks that weigh it down. 

“What we’re doing, it’s an insanely hard undertaking,” Bevirt says. “Not only the technical challenge of the aircraft [but] then changing the way everyone on Earth moves around on a daily basis.”  

See also: ‘Has Joby Cracked The Power Problem To Make Electric Air Taxis Work?’

Get Forbes’ daily top headlines straight to your inbox for news on the world’s most important entrepreneurs and superstars, expert career advice, and success secrets.

Joby’s five-seat design boosts its revenue potential for ride sharing compared to the smaller, more mechanically simple two-seat multicopters being developed by Germany’s Volocopter and China’s EHang. The downside of Joby’s size: weight. A big part of that heft comes from the batteries, and it’s unclear if they’ll have enough juice to do the job, according to modeling by the lab of Carnegie Mellon battery expert Venkat Viswanathan, based on aircraft specs Bevirt shared with Forbes. 

For Joby to achieve the 150-mile range it says the 4,800-pound gross weight aircraft is capable of (but has yet to achieve in flight testing), plus FAA-required reserves, Viswanathan’s team estimates it needs a 2,200-pound battery pack. Subtracting 1,000 pounds for five passengers leaves only 1,600 pounds for the airframe, seats and avionics—a slim 33% of gross weight. That’s 35% lower than any certified production airplane. The upshot: Either Joby has built an unprecedentedly light and efficient airframe, as Bevirt maintains, or its range will turn out to be lower. (For more details on Joby’s batteries, click here.) Another concern: Getting approval from the FAA might require safety tweaks that weigh it down. 

“What we’re doing, it’s an insanely hard undertaking,” Bevirt says. “Not only the technical challenge of the aircraft [but] then changing the way everyone on Earth moves around on a daily basis.”  

See also: ‘Has Joby Cracked The Power Problem To Make Electric Air Taxis Work?’

Get Forbes’ daily top headlines straight to your inbox for news on the world’s most important entrepreneurs and superstars, expert career advice, and success secrets.Jeremy Bogaisky

I help direct our coverage of autos, energy and manufacturing, and write about aerospace and defense. Send tips to jbogaisky[at]forbes.com

Joby’s five-seat design boosts its revenue potential for ride sharing compared to the smaller, more mechanically simple two-seat multicopters being developed by Germany’s Volocopter and China’s EHang. The downside of Joby’s size: weight. A big part of that heft comes from the batteries, and it’s unclear if they’ll have enough juice to do the job, according to modeling by the lab of Carnegie Mellon battery expert Venkat Viswanathan, based on aircraft specs Bevirt shared with Forbes. 

For Joby to achieve the 150-mile range it says the 4,800-pound gross weight aircraft is capable of (but has yet to achieve in flight testing), plus FAA-required reserves, Viswanathan’s team estimates it needs a 2,200-pound battery pack. Subtracting 1,000 pounds for five passengers leaves only 1,600 pounds for the airframe, seats and avionics—a slim 33% of gross weight. That’s 35% lower than any certified production airplane. The upshot: Either Joby has built an unprecedentedly light and efficient airframe, as Bevirt maintains, or its range will turn out to be lower. (For more details on Joby’s batteries, click here.) Another concern: Getting approval from the FAA might require safety tweaks that weigh it down. 

“What we’re doing, it’s an insanely hard undertaking,” Bevirt says. “Not only the technical challenge of the aircraft [but] then changing the way everyone on Earth moves around on a daily basis.”  

See also: ‘Has Joby Cracked The Power Problem To Make Electric Air Taxis Work?’

Get Forbes’ daily top headlines straight to your inbox for news on the world’s most important entrepreneurs and superstars, expert career advice, and success secrets.Jeremy Bogaisky

I help direct our coverage of autos, energy and manufacturing, and write about aerospace and defense. Send tips to jbogaisky[at]forbes.com

Jeremy Bogaisky

I help direct our coverage of autos, energy and manufacturing, and write about aerospace and defense. Send tips to jbogaisky[at]forbes.com

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Santa Cruz Works

JoeBen Bevirt from Joby Aviation at The Second Annual – Titans of Tech on Jan. 25, 2018. http://santacruzworks.orghttp://www.jobyaviation.com Filmed by Bitframe Media – https://www.bitframemedia.com

Santander Salvages Wirecard’s Technology

Spanish-owned bank Santander has acquired the technology assets from disgraced payments firm Wirecard – but it’s not taking on legal liability for the collapsed business.

Wirecard caused enormous financial turmoil in the summer when an accountancy fraud led to the swift collapse of the firm. The knock-on effects saw millions of banking customers across Europe unable to access their money for days, as Wirecard provided payment processing for companies such as Pockit, Payoneer and many others.

Wirecard filed for insolvency in June after the accounting scandal came to light, and now the administrators have announced that Santander will pick up “several highly specialized technological assets” from the defunct company, as well as around 500 of Wirecard’s staff.

The technology and the staff will be subsumed into Santander’s Getnet business, which provides a range of payment and e-commerce solutions.

Santander is keen to stress that the deal does not leave the bank liable for Wirecard’s past misdemeanors. “The acquisition does not include Wirecard companies and Santander will not assume any legal liability relating to Wirecard AG and Wirecard Bank AG or its past actions,” Santander’s statement states.

The Wirecard Wreckage

The disposal of the technology to Santander may at least provide some small return for investors who lost their money in the Wirecard collapse. The deal is reported to be worth €100 million. However, Wirecard collapsed with €3.2 billion of debt on its books, which makes the technology proceeds a mere drop in the ocean. MORE FOR YOUCovid Vaccines Face Delays Due To Data-Spoiling HackersNaim Challenges The BBC With New And Higher-Quality Radio StationsWhy The New Macs Are So Short Of Memory

Wirecard’s creditors are expected to find out more details of the winding-down process this week, with the administrators having to deal with dozens of lawsuits from investors.

It was the suspension of Wirecard’s U.K. subsidiary, Wirecard Card Solutions (WCS), that prompted the banking crisis in the summer. The U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) suspended activity at WCS for several days until it was reassured customers’ money wasn’t being transferred out of the business, leaving millions of banking customers unable to access their funds.

WCS has since sold many of its card technology and other assets to Railsbank, although many of the banking services that previously used Wirecard have since moved to alternate payment providers or have set up such services themselves.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website

Barry Collins

Barry Collins

I have been a technology writer and editor for more than 20 years. I was assistant editor of The Sunday Times’ technology section, editor of PC Pro magazine and have written for more than a dozen different publications and websites over the years. I’ve also appeared as a tech pundit on television and radio, including BBC Newsnight, the Chris Evans Show and ITN News at Ten. Hit me up if you’ve got a tech story that needs breaking at barry@mediabc.co.uk.

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Wirecard

By installing the ePOS App on a mobile device, you can handle all types of payments quickly and easily – from popular credit cards such as Visa or Mastercard, to cash or even alternative payment methods such as WeChat Pay and Alipay. Download it directly from the following link: https://play.google.com/store/apps/de… Wirecard’s ePOS SDK for iOS and Android: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pmxdg… Visit us: https://www.wirecard.com/ Join us on social: Twitter: https://twitter.com/wirecard LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/wire… Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wirecardgroup/

How Silicon Valley Strategies Can Help Any Company Grow

Ryan Hogan built his entertainment startup around one of Silicon Valley’s most notorious startup manuals–and it’s working. He doesn’t run a tech company. He’s based in Baltimore, not the Bay Area. But Silicon Valley-style principles still helped catapult his startup to hypergrowth.

Hogan is the co-founder and CEO of Hunt a Killer, a subscription-based gaming startup that sends customers fictional murder mysteries in boxes to solve. Earlier this month, the 4-year-old company earned the No. 6 spot on this year’s Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies in America, already boasting $27 million in annual revenue.

Last year, it was named one of Fast Company‘s most innovative gaming businesses of 2019. Hogan credits that success to a surprising source: The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses, by entrepreneur and author Eric Ries.

On Tuesday, Hogan joined me on the latest episode of Inc.‘s Book Smart podcast, where we explore the books beloved by prominent entrepreneurs, founders, and notable figures across the spectrum of industry. The Lean Startup, practically a bible in Silicon Valley, helped popularize phrases like “product-market fit” and “minimum viable product” after publishing in 2011.

It’s significantly less popular in other industries, like Hogan’s entertainment world–which, he says, may have given his startup a leg up.”It does seem like an entirely different world: talking about sprints, being able to launch features, and all these other ideas that are really rooted in technology,” Hogan says. “But they translate just fine into any other business, because fundamentally, businesses are all the same.

A business is solving a problem for your customers. You need to understand what that problem is, and you need to understand how to communicate your solution.”

Note: This page will be continually updated as new episodes of Inc.‘s Book Smart podcast are released.

Source: INC

The World’s Biggest Mobile Technology Fair Has Been Canceled Due to Coronavirus Fears

A worker fixes a poster announcing the Mobile World Congress 2020 in a conference venue in Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020. Intel Mobile is the latest company announcing that is pulling out of the Mobile World Congress scheduled to be held in Barcelona in late February. Authorities still seem to be committed to hold it, meeting foreign diplomats on Tuesday to brief on the efforts to prevent any spread of the new coronavirus virus during the industry show. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

(LONDON) — Organizers of the world’s biggest mobile technology fair are pulling the plug over worries about the viral outbreak from China.

The annual Mobile World Congress show will no longer be held as planned in Barcelona, Spain, on Feb. 24-27.

“Global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak, travel concern and other circumstances, make it impossible for the GSMA to hold the event,” John Hoffman, head of the organizing body, said in a statement Wednesday.

The decision comes after dozens of tech companies and wireless carriers dropped out, with the latest cancelations by Nokia, Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom and Britain’s BT on Wednesday. Other big names that have already dropped out include Ericsson, Nokia, Sony, Amazon, Intel and LG. The companies cited concerns for the safety of staff and visitors.

Organizers had sought to hold out against growing pressure to cancel the annual tech extravaganza, which had been expected to draw more than 100,000 visitors from about 200 countries, including 5,000 to 6,000 from China.

Tim Bajarin, president of consultancy Creative Strategies, said that with all the unknowns surrounding how the new virus is spread, and the fact that many companies had already pulled out, the decision to cancel was the most prudent decision for show organizers.

“They had the ability to protect 100,000 people in one general fairground atmosphere,” he said.

These days, most big companies hold their own product launch events anyway, as Samsung did Tuesday in San Francisco. But Bajarin said Mobile World Congress was still an opportunity for many people in the mobile industry to meet in one place.

“It allowed for a lot of networking and business dealings, so in that context, it was a significant loss,” he said.

The GSMA, the wireless trade body that organizes the fair, had said it was meeting regularly with global and Spanish health experts and its partners to ensure the well-being of attendees. It had already urged participants to avoid handshakes and planned to step up cleaning and disinfecting and make sure speakers don’t use the same microphone.

Earlier Wednesday, Nokia said it had decided to withdraw “after a full assessment of the risks related to a fast-moving situation.” The company said “the health and well-being of employees was a primary focus” and that canceling its involvement was a “prudent decision.”

The departures of Nokia and Ericsson had left China’s Huawei, a major sponsor of the fair, as the only remaining major network gear maker still planning to attend.

Organizers were caught between risking potential backlash over public health concerns if they went ahead or facing big financial losses if they canceled, said Stephen Mears, a research analyst at Futuresource Consulting.

Even before the cancellation, Mears said his five-person team was considering dropping out or shortening the trip as many participants they wanted to meet wouldn’t be there, including those from China, which accounts for an increasing share of the global smartphone and mobile network industry.

“It’s becoming less and less valuable for people like us to attend if we’re not able to get meetings with the high-level executives,” he said.

Spanish authorities tried to promote a message of calm as they scrambled to keep alive the trade show, which they say generates 473 million euros ($516 million) and more than 14,000 part-time jobs for the local economy.

The Catalan regional health chief, Alba Vergés, said there was a “very low risk of the coronavirus” in the region of Catalonia, where Barcelona is located, and that authorities are “completely prepared to detect any cases.” Four suspected cases have all have proven negative, she said at a press briefing earlier.

“There is no public health reason to cancel any event in Catalonia or Barcelona, including the Mobile World Congress,” Vergés said. “If the companies make their own decision, we have to respect that, but we are here to explain this from a public health perspective.”

“There’s no zero risk with any mass gathering,” he said. “There’s a risk of food poisoning, injuries, buildings have collapsed. All meeting organizers have to put in place a risk-management strategy. Many of the risks can be reduced through simple measures and if an event occurs, those can also be managed.”

Ryan added that most events “can continue if the proper measures can be applied.”

Joseph Wilson in Barcelona, Spain, AP Technology Writer Mae Anderson in New York and AP Medical Writer Maria Cheng in London contributed to this report.

By Kelvin Chan / AP February 12, 2020

Source: The World’s Biggest Mobile Technology Fair Has Been Canceled Due to Coronavirus Fears

The Coronavirus, or Covid-19 is hitting economies near and far. The world’s largest telecommunications event, the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, has been cancelled after several big-name companies pulled out due to Coronavirus fears. The cancellation will have a massive impact on the local economy, as it usually brings 100,000 people to the city. Subscribe to France 24 now: http://f24.my/youtubeEN FRANCE 24 live news stream: all the latest news 24/7 http://f24.my/YTliveEN Visit our website: http://www.france24.com Subscribe to our YouTube channel: http://f24.my/youtubeEN Like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FRANCE24.Eng… Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/France24_en

 

How Coatings Are Making Electric And Autonomous Vehicles Safer

Over the next couple of decades, the cars people drive will look dramatically different than they do today. From electric vehicles to autonomous rides, the auto industry is in the midst of the biggest automotive revolution since Ford introduced the Model T in 1908.

According to the International Energy Agency, there could be between 57 million and 300 million electric vehicles on the world’s roads by 2030, up from 4 million vehicles today. The autonomous vehicle market, now in its infancy, could be worth $7 trillion by 2020, says Strategy Analytics.

This has Peter Votruba-Drzal excited. The global technical director of research and product development, automotive coatings and mobility at PPG is responsible for developing coatings-related products to enable electronic vehicle (EV) performance, allow cars to communicate with smart city technology and more. “This is a tremendously exciting time for us,” he says. “It’s the first time in more than 100 years that there’s an industrial revolution around power train.”

While traditional auto companies are producing more electric cars and newer technology operations, such as Google and Uber, are working on autonomous rides, PPG hopes to have its products in all types of vehicles.

The cars of tomorrow will need more specialty coatings to protect their technology, while slicker interiors will require better looking paints. “Cars used to be about the driver experience, but now the steering wheel, the aesthetics of the dash – it’s changing to more of a passenger experience,” he says. “There’s a tremendous opportunity for PPG to deliver functional and tactile coatings.”

New solutions for new technology

There are two areas in particular that Votruba-Drzal, a scientist who has a PhD in materials science and engineering, is focused on: Internet of Things (IoT) technology and EV battery technologies. With the former, autonomous vehicles work by communicating with one another and their surroundings. The cars use a laser-like technology called LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) that send signals that reflect off other objects, then return light to the detector. The system then constructs a map of the surrounding area based on the information received.

It only works if those LIDAR signals make it where they need to go and return to the detector on the vehicle. That’s where PPG comes in. “Right now car surfaces are mostly for beautification,” says Votruba-Drzal. “But they will need to be functional, to improve reliability. They have to be highly visible in rain and snow. Coatings must be easy to clean or have self-shedding surfaces that prevent the formation of ice.”

IoT-connected cars will also have hundreds of little antennai on them to help them communicate with their surroundings. Some of PPG’s existing products, which are used in the industrial consumer electronics space and help protect important electromagnetic technology, are now being used in the automotive market. “It’s dramatically increasing the amount of real estate for our solutions,” he says.

With electric vehicles, PPG’s coatings are being used in a variety of ways. For instance, the company is creating a cathode binder system that eliminates N-Methylpyrrolidone, a harmful solvent used in lithium-ion batteries, and helps increase battery performance.

It also has dielectric coating and thermally conductive adhesives (transmitting heat to/from the batteries while maintaining electrical isolation) that can help control the heat a battery emits, while its liquid applied sound dampening solution, called PPG Audioguard, reduces noise made by an EV’s electric motor.

Faster innovation

Working in a quickly evolving sector requires the ability to react swiftly to its customers’ needs. In many cases, industry-standard EV and autonomous vehicle (AV) regulations are not yet in place, which can make product development a challenge. “It requires a different level of speed for our organization because there aren’t specifications yet,” says Votruba-Drzal. “Customers are innovating as they go, and so it requires us to be agile and to have a deep understanding of our clients’ problems.”

Fortunately, PPG’s mobility team includes several researchers focused exclusively on connected, autonomous, shared, and electrified (CASE) trends. That, along with their connection to their customers, helps PPG react quickly. “We’re able to innovate and build prototypes fast,” he says. “We know that we may be at an early stage, but what we do will lead to mass production.”

It’s also important to embrace failure, says Votruba-Drzal, which is something he’s been encouraging his team to do. “A concept may change direction and doesn’t move forward, but we learned a lot quickly,” he says. “We’re embracing and celebrating that.”

Fortunately, Votruba-Drzal thrives on the constant change. He may be testing all kinds of coatings, some of which may never get used, but it’s all part of the process. “We’re in an emerging transformational space,” he says. “But we know it’s going to be big and we want to be a major part of it.”

By: PPGView

Source: How Coatings Are Making Electric And Autonomous Vehicles Safer

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Zoox, a Silicon Valley start-up that has largely been shrouded in secrecy, is developing the complete self-driving package. In addition to the autonomous technology that will pilot its vehicles, it is building a car from the ground up specifically tailored for autonomous driving that will one day shuttle passengers around like ride-sharing services available today. » Subscribe to CNBC: http://cnb.cx/SubscribeCNBC About CNBC: From ‘Wall Street’ to ‘Main Street’ to award winning original documentaries and Reality TV series, CNBC has you covered. Experience special sneak peeks of your favorite shows, exclusive video and more. Connect with CNBC News Online Get the latest news: http://www.cnbc.com/ Follow CNBC on LinkedIn: https://cnb.cx/LinkedInCNBC Follow CNBC News on Facebook: http://cnb.cx/LikeCNBC Follow CNBC News on Twitter: http://cnb.cx/FollowCNBC Follow CNBC News on Google+: http://cnb.cx/PlusCNBC Follow CNBC News on Instagram: http://cnb.cx/InstagramCNBC #CNBC #Zoox #SelfDrivingCars Zoox Wants To Challenge Uber With Safer Self-Driving Cars

Microsoft Just Lost A Big Fight With America’s Top Huawei Prosecutor

Newly unsealed court documents have revealed a secret legal battle between Microsoft and one of America’s leading prosecutors focused on chasing Chinese technology companies breaking U.S. law.

U.S. attorney Alexander Solomon—who also happens to be the lead prosecutor on two criminal cases involving Huawei—just scored a big victory in that tussle, forcing Microsoft to keep quiet about a demand to hand over customer emails.

That request was originally filed in August 2018 and was followed by a gag order. Both were kept secret until Wednesday, when it emerged Microsoft was told to hand over emails, text messages and voicemails belonging to two employees at one of its unnamed enterprise customers. Microsoft said that while it could provide the data, it should be allowed to inform executives at that unnamed company. It asked the government to lift a gag order that had prevented it from informing anyone. As revealed in a Microsoft blog post and court documents unsealed Wednesday, the software giant lost that fight, though it will appeal.

Nothing was said about why the government wanted those emails. But there are numerous indications the data grab is related to America’s fight against Chinese businesses’ breaches of U.S. law.

Today In: Innovation

To start, the prosecutors in the case are both leading high-profile cases into various offenses committed by Chinese nationals and businesses against the U.S. And one, Alexander Solomon, is the lead prosecutor in two cases in which Huawei is at the center.

The biggest is the one in which Huawei stands accused of illegally exporting equipment to Iran from the U.S. via a subsidiary called Skycom, and then repeatedly lying about the deals. Not only were Huawei, its U.S. business and Skycom charged, so was the daughter of the Huawei CEO and the current CFO, Wanzhou Meng, who is currently fighting extradition from Canada. Huawei has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The Huawei entities were, in January this year, charged with bank fraud, wire fraud and violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (lEEPA), a law that Trump recently used to enforce sanctions on Iran. As per court documents detailing the order on Microsoft, the two employees of the unnamed customer are suspected of similar crimes, namely wire fraud, money laundering and breaches of lEEPA.

Going deeper, those staff at the Microsoft customer are being investigated for working for one multinational corporation and conspiring with another to violate the lEEPA. They did so “by sending and attempting to send U.S. origin goods to [a company] in [a foreign country], in contravention of U.S. sanctions,” according to a court filing.

The name of the customer remains a mystery. It’s unlikely to be Huawei, though. That’s because Microsoft was asked to hand over the emails of two “low-level employees in one business unit of a multinational, publicly listed Microsoft customer.” Huawei is not publicly listed; its private ownership has, in fact, been the subject of much speculation. Though it claims to be owned by its employees, academics have suggested that’s misleading.

The prosecutor, Solomon, is also leading a case against Chinese professor Bo Mao, who has been accused of stealing technology from a California company for a Chinese company, reportedly Huawei. Mao has pleaded not guilty on a single charge of wire fraud.

Huawei hadn’t responded to a request for comment on the above cases. Microsoft also hadn’t provided comment. The prosecutor’s office declined to comment.

Microsoft’s fight with the U.S.

But Microsoft had a lot to say in court filings and a blog post about the government’s attempts to completely silence the maker of the Windows operating system.

It argued that 20 years ago, the government would go directly to the company that controlled the data, not its cloud-based tech supplier. Microsoft said it was “disturbing” that governments were now going to tech companies instead. And it therefore should be allowed to at least tell employees at an affected company about a government data grab, as long as it wouldn’t jeopardize an investigation. “The government cannot justify such a total ban on Microsoft’s speech,” the company’s lawyers said.

Dev Stahlkopf, Microsoft’s corporate vice president and general counsel, said the company would “continue to stand up for the principle that our customers are entitled to know when the government obtains their data.”

“Absent extraordinary circumstances, government agents should seek data directly from our enterprise customers, and if they seek our customers’ data from us, they should allow us to tell our customers when demands are made,” Stahlkopf added.

“We believe strongly that these fundamental protections should not disappear just because customers store their data in the cloud rather than in file cabinets or desk drawers.”

Microsoft has also been vocal about restrictions on American companies doing business with Huawei. Company president Brad Smith recently said the U.S. should revisit the ban preventing Microsoft and others from letting Huawei run American software.

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I’m associate editor for Forbes, covering security, surveillance and privacy. I’ve been breaking news and writing features on these topics for major publications since 2010. As a freelancer, I worked for The Guardian, Vice Motherboard, Wired and BBC.com, amongst many others. I was named BT Security Journalist of the year in 2012 and 2013 for a range of exclusive articles, and in 2014 was handed Best News Story for a feature on US government harassment of security professionals. I like to hear from hackers who are breaking things for either fun or profit and researchers who’ve uncovered nasty things on the web. Tip me on Signal at 447837496820. I use WhatsApp and Treema too. Or you can email me at TBrewster@forbes.com, or tbthomasbrewster@gmail.com.

Source: Microsoft Just Lost A Big Fight With America’s Top Huawei Prosecutor

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Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou returned to British Columbia Supreme Court on September 23, 2019 to fend off her extradition case. At the hearing, attorney Richard Peck alleged that Canadian authorities delayed Meng’s arrest in an effort to collect evidence for U.S. authorities, conducting a “covert criminal investigation” in the process. Subscribe to us on YouTube: https://goo.gl/lP12gA Download our APP on Apple Store (iOS): https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/cctvn… Download our APP on Google Play (Android): https://play.google.com/store/apps/de… Follow us on: Website: https://www.cgtn.com/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChinaGlobalT… Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cgtn/?hl=zh-cn Twitter: https://twitter.com/CGTNOfficial Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/CGTNOfficial/ Tumblr: http://cctvnews.tumblr.com/ Weibo: http://weibo.com/cctvnewsbeijing Douyin: http://v.douyin.com/aBbmNQ/

Apple Just Did Something Remarkable And It’s Very Good News For Its Customers

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No one likes to admit when they’re wrong. That’s true for you and me, and it’s especially true for big companies like Apple. The thing is, when you’re willing to admit when you made a mistake, it goes a long way towards building trust. And trust is, by far, your brand’s most valuable asset.

Today, Apple apologized for how it had handled recorded snippets of users’ voice interactions with Siri, the company’s digital assistant. In a statement, the company said that  “we realize we haven’t been fully living up to our high ideals, and for that we apologize.”

You might remember that Apple, like pretty much every other tech company, recently admitted that it used contractors to listen to, and transcribe these recordings in an effort to improve the artificial intellience-powered service. Making matters worse is that fact that the company hadn’t disclosed this practice, and contractors often heard false-activations that revealed personal information and other private conversations.

Earlier this month, Apple paused its review program and ended its relationship with the contractors involved. Now, it appears to be taking the next step, which started with an apology.

That’s actually pretty remarkable. It’s not often that companies say, “I’m sorry. We messed up.” Sure, they sometimes say a lot of words that vaguely sound like “I’m sorry,” but rarely are they this direct. Apple basically called itself out, saying that it wasn’t living up to its own standards, and that it owed customers an apology for a problem it caused.

Along with the apology, maybe the even bigger news here is that Apple announced a series of steps it plans to take moving forward, including:

  • The company will no longer retain recorded Siri interactions, but will use computer-generated transcripts instead.
  • Apple will allow users to opt in to having their audio samples included in the company’s efforts to improve the product. Users will also be able to opt out at any time after that.
  • Apple will only allow its employees (not contractors) to listen to audio samples, and will delete any “inadvertent trigger,” of Siri.

This is a big deal for a lot of reasons, but mostly because Apple will now allow users to ‘opt in.’ This is exactly how it should work.

There are perfectly legitimate reasons why Apple would want to listen to recorded snippets of Siri interactions. That’s one of the only ways it can really know how accurate the AI is at understanding user requests and providing the right information for a human to review and correction. I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t agree that that’s reasonable.

But Apple is changing the default assumption of an unspoken ‘opt in’ to one where people are given the choice to participate, instead of simply offering some opaque way of opting out. Companies offer opt out because they know most people won’t go through the trouble of changing whatever the default setting is, meaning people stay in whether they really want to or not.

Every tech company handling sensitive data should do exactly this. Don’t just let people opt out, or delete their history, or make a request to no longer be recorded. Make the default position the thing that’s best for the user, even if it makes your job a little harder.

Then, make your case for why your practice is worth it to the customer, and let them decide to participate or not.

By: Jason Aten

 

Source: https://www.inc.com/

At its 2019 Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple showed off iOS 13, which will be coming to iPhones this fall. Some of the new features include a dark mode, an overhaul for Maps, and the ability to swipe to type. Here are the best features Apple showed off. The event took place at the San Jose Convention Center, not Cupertino as mentioned in the video. Tech Insider regrets the error. MORE IPHONE CONTENT: 23 iPhone Tricks To Make Your Life Easier https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U52mI… $479 Pixel 3a XL VS. $1,099 iPhone XS Max https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ddAY… Lifelong iPhone User Switches To The Galaxy S10 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1r3wb… —————————————————— #Apple #iPhone #TechInsider Tech Insider tells you all you need to know about tech: gadgets, how-to’s, gaming, science, digital culture, and more. Visit us at: https://www.businessinsider.com TI on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/techinsider TI on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tech_insider/ TI on Twitter: https://twitter.com/techinsider TI on Amazon Prime: http://read.bi/PrimeVideo INSIDER on Snapchat: https://insder.co/2KJLtVo The Best Features Apple Just Announced Coming To The iPhone

New Billionaire: Dean Stoecker’s 22-Year Journey & The Software That Makes Almost Anyone A Data Savant

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Sun Tzu meets software in mid-August at downtown Denver’s Crawford Hotel. The floors are terrazzo. The chandeliers are accented with gold. And Dean Stoecker, the CEO of data-science firm Alteryx, has summoned his executives for the annual strategy session he calls Bing Fa, after the Mandarin title of The Art of War. “Sun Tzu was all about how you conserve resources,” says Stoecker, 62. “How do you win a war without going into battle?”alteryx

Stoecker knows something about conserving resources. He cofounded Alteryx in 1997, when the data-science industry scarcely existed, and spent a decade growing the firm to a measly $10 million in annual revenue. “We had to wait for the market to catch up,” he says. As he waited, he kept the business lean, hiring slowly and forgoing outside investment until 2011. Then, as “big data” began eating the world, he raised $163 million before taking Alteryx public in 2017. The stock is up nearly 900% since, and Stoecker is worth an estimated $1.2 billion.

“People ask me, ‘Did you ever think it would get this big?’” he says. “And I say, ‘Yeah, I just never thought it would take this long.’ ”

Alteryx makes data science easy. Its simple, click-and-drop design lets anyone, from recent grads to emeritus chairmen, turn raw numbers into charts and graphics. It goes far beyond Excel. Plug in some numbers, select the desired operation—say data cleansing or linear regression—and presto.

There are applications in every industry. Coca-Cola uses Alteryx to help restaurants predict how much soda to order. Airlines use it to hedge the price of jet fuel. Banks use it to model derivatives. Data analysis “is the one skill that every human being has to have if they’re going to survive in this next generation,” says Stoecker. “More so than balancing a checkbook.”

Alteryx’s numbers support that forecast. The company, based in Irvine, California, generated $28 million in profit on $254 million in revenue in 2018, and Stoecker expects to hit $1 billion in annual sales by 2022.

Stoecker grew up the son of a tinkerer. His father built liquid nitrogen tanks for NASA before quitting his job to sell “pre-cut” vacation homes in Colorado. He made them himself. “It was literally just him nine months of the year, and he would cut wood for 50 buildings,” Stoecker recalls. As a teenager he joined his father, and by the time he arrived at the University of Colorado Boulder to study economics, he was able to pay his own way.

After graduating in 1979, Stoecker earned his M.B.A. from Pepperdine, then took a sales job in 1990 at Donnelley Marketing Information Services, a data company in Connecticut. There he met Libby Duane Adams, who worked in the firm’s Stamford office. Seven years later, the pair founded a data company of their own, which they cumbersomely named Spatial Re-Engineering Consultants. (A third cofounder, Ned Harding, joined around the same time; Stoecker, who came up with the idea, took the lion’s share of the equity.)

SRC’s first customer, a junk mail company in Orange County, paid $125,000 to better target its coupons. “We were building big-data analytic cloud solutions back in 1998,” says Stoecker, when many businesses were barely online and terms like “cloud computing” were years away.

SRC was profitable from the outset. “We didn’t spend ahead of revenue. We didn’t hire ahead of revenue,” says Adams, sitting in a remodeled 1962 Volkswagen bus at Alteryx headquarters, theoretically a symbol of the company’s journey. “We never calculated burn rates. That was a big topic in the whole dot-com era. We were not running the business like a dot-com.”

In 2006, as part of a pivot away from one-off consulting gigs, SRC released software to let customers do the number-crunching themselves. They named the software Alteryx, a nerdy joke for changing two variables simultaneously: “Alter Y, X.” Stoecker made Alteryx the company name, too, in 2010.

The market was still small. To grow revenue, “we just kept raising the price of our platform,” Stoecker says. In the beginning, Alteryx sold its subscription-based software for $7,500 per user; by 2013 it was charging $55,000. The next year, as Stoecker felt demand growing, he slashed prices to $4,000. Volume made up for the lower rate. Today Alteryx has 5,300 customers. “We immediately went from averaging eight, nine or ten [new clients] a quarter to north of 250,” he says.

Although data mining and data analytics is a long-established field, encompassing a slew of startups as well as giants like Oracle and IBM, “we see almost no direct competition,” Stoecker insists.

“It’s a pretty wide-open field,” says Marshall Senk, a senior research analyst at Compass Point Research & Trading. “The choice is you buy a suite from Alteryx or you go buy 15 different products and try to figure out how to get them to work together.”

Inside Alteryx’s offices, Stoecker pauses in front of a time line depicting his first 22 years in business. “The good stuff hasn’t even occurred yet,” he says. “I’m going to need a way bigger wall.”

 

I’ve been a reporter at Forbes since 2016. Before that, I spent a year on the road—driving for Uber in Cleveland, volcano climbing in Guatemala, cattle farming in Uruguay, and lots of stuff in between. I graduated from Tufts University with a dual degree in international relations and Arabic. Feel free to reach out at nkirsch@forbes.com with any story ideas or tips, or follow me on Twitter @Noah_Kirsch.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/

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