Google employees are at it again


November 29, 2018

Employees at Google urge the search giant to cancel its plan to create a censored version of its search engine for the Chinese market.
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Google workers petitioned the tech giant to end yet another problematic partnership

Back in August, leaked documents surfaced regarding Google’s plans to build a censored version of its search engine for the Chinese market.

According to The Intercept, which first broke the story, the project (code-name: “Dragonfly”) has been in the oven since 2017 and has been designed to blacklist phrases such as “human rights,” “Nobel Prize,” and “student protest.”

But, as of Tuesday evening, 310 Google employees signed a public letter asking CEO Sundar Pichai and the rest of management to cancel plans to build the censored search engine, because, well… Censorship bad. Freedom good.

This isn’t the first time the issue has been raised

When the documents leaked in the summer, around 1.4k employees signed a letter raising ethical questions about the project (several employees, including a senior research scientist, resigned because of it).

And the beef doesn’t stop there: In the past year, Google employees have become increasingly more outspoken about how the company’s tech and power should be used.

This month, 20k Google employees walked out in protest of the alleged multimillion-dollar sexual misconduct payouts among high-level execs.

Google opened an ethical can of worms it can’t seem to close

In April, thousands of employees signed a petition calling for Google to end a potentially dubious $10B cloud partnership with the Pentagon that would improve the Pentagon’s AI and image-recognition tech used for drone strikes — and, surprisingly, it worked.

A few months later, Google honored its employees’ concerns and pulled out of the $10B project (a move only Google could afford to make).

It’s a good thing that Google’s employees feel empowered to share their opinions through protest, and it’s even more encouraging to see that sometimes even a multinational corporation like Google will listen — after all, the company’s damn slogan is “Don’t Be Evil.”

HOT TAKE
Wes Schlagenhauf, News writer at The Hustle
@wesschlagenhauf

What in the sweet name of Ask Jeeves does “Don’t Be Evil” mean?! Without specifics, “evil” is a vague and highly subjective concept. It’s time for the higher-ups at Google to define what ‘evil’ actually is to them.
Show this thread
Care to elaborate, Google?
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Audi and other impatient businesses are taking 5G’s future into their own hands

Some of the world’s fastest-moving companies are sick of waiting for 5G networks to go live — so they’re building their own, according to the MIT Technology Review.

Anxious automakers, energy companies, and freight companies are investing in private networks at their production sites to capitalize on the higher speeds of the newest network.

The future isn’t getting here fast enough

It may seem like these network nerds are jumping the gun, but 5G could provide a competitive advantage to businesses in crowded industries.

5G is expected to reduce data transmission delays from 30 milliseconds to less than 1 millisecond, enabling comprehensive wireless connectivity that will help producers create smarter, more flexible factories.

The German automaker Audi switched its assembly robots from Wi-Fi to private 5G to make them faster and more agile, and so far it is pleased with the robo-results.

So when can the rest of us expect 5G?

To create its private 5G network, Audi bought 5G gear from Ericsson and struck a deal with a German telecom giant for access — paying a premium of around $100k for the privilege of early adoption.

For now, only companies that can shell out the Gs for private 5G will have access to the super signal. The rest of us will have to wait for wireless carriers like AT&T and Verizon to roll out 5G, which won’t be widely available until 2020.

» A stroke of 5Genius

Bird will allow entrepreneurs to manage their own fleet of Bird scooters

Corporate scooter gangs unite! Bird has a new “trickle down entrepreneurship” business model.

Bird announced yesterday it will sell its electric scooters to entrepreneurs and small business owners, who can then rent them out as part of a new service called Bird Platform — AKA, franchising with a fresh coat of branding.

Bird’s nest is for anyone (who will pay them)

According to TechCrunch, the company will provide the independent operators with scooters, who are given free rein to brand however they want, as well as access to the company’s marketplace of chargers and mechanics. And hey, all Bird will take is 20% of the cost of each ride.

And supposedly, it’s catching on. According to Bird’s CEO Travis VanderZanden, 300 parties are already waiting to get started.

In July, Amazon announced a similar program for delivery trucks, Project Armada, that, like Bird, allows entrepreneurs to operate their own fleet.

And thus begins the new wave of franchising

Only this time, entrepreneurs aren’t flipping burgers — and it makes total sense for companies looking to expand their reach swiftly at a fairly low cost.

Amazon, for instance, hopes to make the program contribute 20% of its total deliveries by Project Armada’s 2nd year.

With this model, a company can keep its respective market close and its potential enemies closer before they go off on their own and become a competitor (or have to shell out a billion dollars to acquire them).

» New Market Thursday

Avast, suburb-lubbers! Pirates off the starboard porch

The age of e-commerce has delivered an unexpected new holiday tradition: Porch piracy. According to dramatic reports from across the country, retail raiders take advantage of increased holiday e-commerce to pilfer Prime products from porches.

But fear not: Several companies have started to sell products meant to protect people from petty pirates. And, naturally, you can buy them on Amazon.

‘Tis the season for e-commerce treason

In the past decade, the percentage of all retail sales transacted online has increased from 3.5% to 11.9%.

This is especially evident during the holidays: Americans are expected to spend $119B in online shopping this holiday season, mostly on Amazon (which processes 50% of e-commerce).

But as deliveries increase, so do thefts: 26m Americans have lost packages to porch pirates during the holiday season.

There are ways to beat the brazen buccaneers…

For a price. As you might expect, several startups are selling solutions to porch piracy.

Apps like Doorman offer software-based solutions to ensure packages arrive at safe times. Lo-fi options such as The Original Porch Pirate Bag just lock purchases to customers’ doors (sadly, it’s currently sold out on Amazon).

Amazon also has solutions to protect its booty ranging from in-car deliveries to lockers to Amazon Key, which lets Amazon drivers enter your home to deliver the goods.

» Porch Pirate Prevention 101
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