Posts Tagged ‘Shona Ghosh’

10 things in tech you need to know today

hasan minhaj white house correspondents dinner
Hasan Minhaj.
Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

Good morning! This is the tech news you need to know this Wednesday.

  1. A leaked internal survey from Uber shows that employees feel positive about the way the culture is changing, but also that they feel underpaid compared to peers. Just 40% felt they had fair compensation compared to other firms.
  2. Netflix removed an episode from its comedy show, “The Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj”, from Saudi Arabia after the kingdom complained. The episode had been critical of Saudi Arabia.
  3. Convincing, artificially generated “deepfakes” are increasingly used to humiliate women by superimposing their faces into pornographic settings. Victims and abuse experts have warned such computer-generated videos are disproportionately weaponised against women.
  4. Netflix has poached its new CFO from Activision Blizzard according to Reuters. Spencer Neumann is expected to start his new role at Netflix in early 2019.
  5. Bill Gates is the latest high-profile executive affected by president Trump’s trade battle with China. Policy changes mean that his nuclear energy project, TerraPower, is scrambling for a new partner and a place to run a pilot.
  6. Experts have criticised Facebook’s opaque way of flagging potential suicide risks, saying they may cause further harm. The company calls the police to flag suicide threats, but experts said it isn’t always clear that its methods are accurate or safe.
  7. Dell has returned to the stock market after five years as a public company. Wall Street valued shares at $34 billion.
  8. Chinese ride-hailing firm Didi-Chuxing is expanding into financial services to diversify beyond its core business. The company will offer crowdfunding and lending nationwide across China.
  9. Chinese apps dominate the Indian internet, accounting for 44 of the top 100 apps. Familiar names like TikTok rank alongside newer players such as social content platforms Helo and SHAREit.
  10. Volkswagen is reportedly preparing to write off its $300 million investment in Gett. Gett, initially marketed as a rival to Uber, has failed to gain much ground against the competition.

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Google has upgraded its Street View cameras for the first time in 8 years — and the implications are worrying

Google Street View Car A Google Street View car. Flickr / Sancho McCann

You’re about to see a lot more on Google Street View — and Street View’s about to see a lot more of you.

Google has upgraded the cameras for its mapping service for the first time in eight years to capture sharper images with more detail.

According to a profile in Wired, the new cameras are so sharp they might be able to see a store’s hours from a sign. And they’re feeding all that granular data back to Google’s machine-learning algorithms.

Like their predecessors, the new cameras will sit atop Google-branded cars, capturing information about the world and taking still, HD images on either side.

Better imagery should mean a more useful service. The head of Google’s mapping division, Jen Fitzpatrick, says people no longer search just for their addresses on Google Street View.

“People are coming to us every day with harder and deeper questions,” she told Wired, such as, “What’s a Thai place open now that does delivery to my address?”

Google has already invested huge amounts into artificial intelligence and machine learning, and it’s using that technology to scan Street View data to answer conversational queries.

Eventually, Fitzpatrick wants Google to be able to answer people’s questions that are even more conversational, like what the pink building down the road is.

“These are questions we can only answer if we have richer and deeper information,” she said.

What is less obvious is what else Google can figure out from the new Street View data and how it might use the information.

Wired reports that a team of Stanford researchers — including Google’s chief scientist at its cloud division, Fei-Fei Li — found they could use Street View data to predict income, race, and voting patterns. The team used software that analysed the make, model, and year of cars from Street View photos.

At the time, the team said, “Using the classified motor vehicles in each neighborhood, we infer a wide range of demographic statistics, socioeconomic attributes, and political preferences of its residents.”

What could Google figure out with even more detailed data?

When Wired asked Google whether it had planned anything similar, a representative said the company was always looking for ways to use Street View data to improve its platforms — including beyond maps.

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