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Google’s CEO Says Tests of Censored Chinese Search Engine Turned Out Great

Wired 16 Oct 2018 03:40 Google’s internal tests developing a censored search engine in China have been very promising, CEO Sundar Pichai said on stage on Monday as part of the WIRED 25 Summit. “It turns out we'll be able to serve well over 99 percent of the queries,” that users request. What’s more, “There are many, many areas where we would provide information better than what's available,” such as searching for cancer treatments, Pichai said. "Today people either get fake cancer treatments or they actually get useful information.” While onstage at the event, Pichai did not back away from Google’s controversial decision to build a censored search engine in China. In fact, he doubled down on the search engine, codenamed Project Dragonfly, saying the potential to expose the world to more information is guiding Google’s push into China. “We are compelled by our mission [to] provide information to everyone, and [China is] 20 percent of the world's population.” Pichai was careful to emphasize that this was a decision that weighs heavy on the company. “People don't understand fully, but you're always balancing a set of values,” in every new country, he said. Those values include providing access to information, freedom of expression, and user privacy. “But we also follow the rule of law in every country,” he said. This is a reversal of a decision from about eight years, when Google pulled its search engine, which was also censored, from the Chinese market. Pichai said the time had come to reevaluate that choice. “It's a wonderful, innovative market. We wanted to learn what it would look like if we were in China, so that's what we built internally,” Pichai said. “Given how important the market is and how many users there are,” he added, “we feel obliged to think hard about this problem and take a longer-term view.” Pichai was just as non-committal when discussing Google’s work with the Department of Defense, in particular the company’s controversial contract, nicknamed Project Maven, to build AI and facial recognition technology that could be used for drone warfare. Google employees, and the larger tech community, have strongly protested both projects as crossing an ethical line. Following protests, Google said in June it would not renew Maven. Earlier this month, Google also announced that it would not be bidding for Joint Enterprise Defense Initiative, or JEDI, a decision that may have been motivated by the fact that Amazon has long been a front-runner. Nonetheless, Pichai said employee feedback wasn’t the main reason for backing away from Maven or JEDI. “Throughout Google's history, we've given our employees a lot of voice and say,” said Pichai. “But we don't we don't run the company by holding referendums. It's an important input. We take it seriously.” On the issue of Maven, however, “it's more also the debate within the AI Community around how you perceive our work in this area,” Pichai explained. Besides, Google’s work with the military is far from over. Pichai said they’re going to continue to work on a set of projects in cyber-security, transportation, logistics, and areas where Google is uniquely qualified. The only area where Google has is “being more deliberate” is the way “AI gets used with autonomous weaponry.” Pichai compared it to advances in biology. “When you're so early with a powerful technology,” he said, sometimes you have to self-regulate.
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Jack Dorsey Has Problems With Twitter, Too

Wired 16 Oct 2018 03:10 It contributes to filter bubbles, he said. It risks silencing people, he said. And when it’s not silencing them, it might be incentivizing them to behave badly, or basely, he said. His biggest criticism of the social media site he runs was that it could be nudging its users in the wrong directions. “What does the service currently incentivize?” asked Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on stage at the WIRED25 summit today. It’s the question he and his whole team are asking themselves right now—about every aspect of the site “Right now we have a big Like button with a heart on it and we’re incentivizing people to want it to go up” and to get more followers, he pointed out. “Is that the right thing? Versus contributing to the public conversation or a healthy conversation? How do we incentive healthy conversation?” When he co-founded the website 12 years ago, it was meant as a place for friends to share pictures of their lunch. “Now it’s become a place to launch nuclear war,” said Wired editor in chief Nick Thompson. That evolution, from innocuous late-night destination for cryptic jokes to lubricator of social movements to a cesspool of outrage and the platform for geopolitical discourse was not a result of Twitter’s code, Dorsey’s argued. But it was inevitable. From the second it launched, Twitter was a free app with which anyone could text message the entire world. “Once the world saw that, there was no taking it back,” Dorsey said. “Once they saw it, they needed it. Our job now is to make sure we are actually serving that need.” By which he means the need for a global public square, a place for a global conversation to discuss the most important topics—he cited climate change and poverty as topics that can only be tackled in a global discussion—which he feels it is Twitter’s responsibility to facilitate. If that means not being an absolutist about free speech, so be it. “We can only stand for freedom of expression if people feel safe to express themselves in the first place,” he said, adding, “A lot of people come to Twitter and they don’t see a service. They see what looks like a public square and they have the same expectation as they have of a public square, and that is what we have to get right.” Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey (right) on stage with WIRED editor in chief Nick Thompson. Amy Lombard To get it right, Dorsey indicated everything was on the table. Twitter, he indicated, may need to be radically changed. He noted right now the service only allows you to follow accounts, not topics. It only allows you to like or retweet. What should it allow you to do instead? He’s not sure, but he’s considering every option. And he’s open to your ideas. “When we started the company, we weren’t thinking about [any of] this at all,” he said. “One of the interesting things about Twitter has been this amazing experiment in creating with others—the hashtag, the thread, the retweet—have all been invented by the people using our service, not us.” So if you have ideas for how to fix Twitter, make it known. Dorsey is listening. More Great WIRED Stories WIRED staffers share their favorite books Jason Pontin: Three commandments for reasonable technology optimism From an insane race across the country to a profile of the most wanted man on the internet, our 25 favorite Wired magazine stories from the past 25 years. 25 years of WIRED predictions: Why the future never arrives Our favorite covers of all time
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How to Watch the WIRED25 Festival and Summit

Wired 16 Oct 2018 03:08 2018 marks WIRED’s 25th anniversary, and we’re celebrating in WIRED style! Starting October 12, we’re taking over our corner of San Francisco with four full days of behind-the-scenes tours, the latest gadgets, and talks with the smartest, most interesting leaders in technology, business, and culture. And of course, it wouldn’t be a WIRED party without a robot petting zoo. How to Watch To catch October 12's programs, tune in to Facebook Live to learn about the future of work. WIRED’s editor in chief, Nick Thompson, will be speaking with Patrick Collison, Stacy Brown-Philpot, and Jeff Weiner. The event starts at 9 am Pacific time and lasts about an hour. And check out the full spectrum of speakers at the WIRED25 Summit on October 15: Apple's Jony Ive and Condé Nast's Anna Wintour discuss the unintended consequences of innovation After leaving Instagram, Kevin Systrom shares what's next: flying lessons Surprise guest Jeff Bezos defends his decision to work with the Department of Defense Sean Parker and scientists Alex Marson and Jiwoo Lee discuss the exciting future of CRISPR 23andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki and Chan Zuckerberg Biohub copresident Stephen Quake on the end of painful, invasive diagnostics Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says tech can make the world more inclusive MIT's Neha Narula and Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian are optimistic about the future of blockchain, but it's early days Author Anand Giridharadas delivers a harsh message for tech philanthropists AI researchers Kai-Fu Lee and Fei-Fei Li on the importance of removing bias from AI Kitty Hawk CEO Sebastian Thrun and Y Combinator president Sam Altman are bullish on nuclear fusion, flying cars, and AI YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki on the challenge of making YouTube a better place Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, wants to tax billionaires—including himself Follow Our Social Channels Keep up with WIRED25 in real time on social media, where we’ll be sharing photos and videos of all the happenings. Follow us @WIRED on Twitter and Instagram, and check out our WIRED Facebook page for live updates as the action unfolds. More Great WIRED Stories WIRED staffers share their favorite books Jason Pontin: Three commandments for reasonable technology optimism From an insane race across the country to a profile of the most wanted man on the internet, our 25 favorite Wired magazine stories from the past 25 years. 25 years of WIRED predictions: Why the future never arrives Our favorite covers of all time
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Life-Saving Deliveries Will Get Drones Flying the Skies

Wired 16 Oct 2018 02:57 Delivery drones are real and they’re operating on a national level, but they’re not dropping off impulse purchases, and some of the most important applications are not in the United States. Zipline, a Bay Area startup, inked a deal with the government of Rwanda in 2016 and now uses small, autonomous planes to deliver medical supplies, and in particular blood, to rural communities across the African country. “It’s a pretty cool paradigm shift for people who think all technological revolution is going on in US, and it’ll trickle down to poor countries,” says Zipline CEO, Keller Rinaudo, presenting his vision for drone deliveries on stage at the WIRED25 summit in San Francisco on Monday. “This is the opposite of that.” Amazon created an internet-wide buzz when it announced it wanted to start delivering online shopping via drone, in a 60 Minutes interview in 2013. It’s one of many companies now trying to make click-to-drone deliveries a reality, and between them all, they’ve demonstrated drops of everything from Slurpees to automatic defibrillators for patients who seem to be having a heart attack, as parts of limited tests sanctioned by the FAA in the US. Rinaudo is convinced that it’s the latter type of life saving delivery that will help make drones mainstream and acceptable. He says it’s a lot easier for regulators to understand the need for new frameworks that allow innovations like drones, when every flight could potentially save a life. “It would have been harder if we said we were delivering burritos, I think.” In Rwanda, Zipline launches from a base in the capital Kigali to bypass muddy, impassable roads and zip over mountains that would make the trek by truck too long, even in the best weather. When a clinic worker needs plasma or platelets, often for a transfusion for a woman after childbirth, they send a text message to Zipline’s mission control. A tech loads up the supplies into a disposable box with a folded paper parachute, and tucks that into the belly of a drone. The whole aircraft and payload delivery system is designed to be cheap to build and easy to fix. It has a strong but lightweight foam shell, like a bike helmet, and electrical components that snap in and out. A catapult launches the plane from zero to 70 mph in under a second, and then it can fly up to 100 miles at 80 mph. At the far end, the drone gently drops the package onto a landing target about the size of a couple of parking spaces (Rinaudo showed a cellphone video of the drop, which earned him applause from the room), before returning to base, where a cable strung between two poles snags on the tail, and scoops the drone safely out of the air. Rinaudo says for the first seven days of operation, the service seems incredible to clinic workers, but on the eighth day, it becomes routine, and even mundane. “Doctors say ‘Of course we have drones, how else would you do it?’” Zipline already handles 30 percent of Rwanda’s demand for blood for emergency transfusions, but Rinaudo told the WIRED25 audience that the company has just signed an agreement for a second distribution center in the country, to allow it to reach the entire population. It is also now working with Ghana on a similar national drone delivery system. In the US, it’s planning a pilot project in North Carolina, to deliver essential medical supplies, which it hopes to have up and running early 2019. Because as Rinaudo pointed out, the issue of remote communities needing blood or drugs in a hurry, is one that most countries could use some help with. More Great WIRED Stories How to watch WIRED25 WIRED staffers share their favorite books Jason Pontin: Three commandments for reasonable technology optimism From an insane race across the country to a profile of the most wanted man on the internet, our 25 favorite Wired magazine stories from the past 25 years. 25 years of WIRED predictions: Why the future never arrives Our favorite covers of all time
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Marc Benioff Wants to Tax Billionaires, Including Himself

Wired 16 Oct 2018 02:46 Of all the buzzwords on which Silicon Valley thrives—growth, engagement, disruption, profit—none is more central to the way tech works than scale. Whatever you’re building, it’s not worth much if you can’t make it work for the masses—because that’s where the world-changing happens. Which is why Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff thinks philanthropy is the wrong way to attack the social problems that have accompanied the tech explosion of the past decade, chief among them a dire homelessness crisis in San Francisco. “Philanthropy can only scale so far,” Benioff said on stage at the WIRED25 summit. A problem this stubborn and devastating demands a larger, more holistic solution. That’s why Benioff last week pledged $2 million (half of it from Salesforce, half from himself) to support Proposition C, a San Francisco ballot initiative that would impose a new tax on companies generating more than $50 million in gross receipts in San Francisco. The city’s Office of Economic Analysis estimates the tax would raise between $250 million and $300 million per year, enough to double what the city spends on the homeless problem now. Prop C faces serious opposition, including from newly elected Mayor London Breed, who argues the plan lacks accountability measures and could inadvertently make homelessness worse. When Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced his opposition last week, Benioff fired back on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Benioff/status/1050782321480089600 San Francisco has always been a boom town, and boom towns by their nature leave people behind. But the gravity of San Francisco’s situation—where gleaming towers like the 1,000-foot Salesforce headquarters Benioff erected in the city’s South of Market neighborhood loom over men, women, and children living in its streets—seems worse now than ever. For Benioff, addressing it is a moral obligation—“what’s happening is just not right”—as well as an economic one. “Homelessness becomes a material issue to our business,” he said. Benioff is a fourth-generation San Franciscan, worth $6.1 billion, according to Forbes, and the head of the city’s largest employer. He has donated millions to hospitals, schools, and homelessness issues, and is hardly the only philanthropist to come out of the tech industry. But he sees Prop C as a way to ensure everyone of means—especially San Francisco’s 70 billionaires—is helping. “We have these incredible companies, incredible entrepreneurs. Yours truly, others of course,” Benioff said. “But we cannot separate ourselves from others. We have to get back to the feeling that we’re one, and that we are responsible for the city that we are living in and growing our businesses in.” Fixing the city’s seemingly intractable problem—more than 7,000 people live on the streets, one in 30 public-school students is homeless—exceeds the limits of generosity, Benioff said. “To really get to ultimate scale on a problem as big as this, you’ve got to go and do something like Prop C.” Scale, then, remains king. And as ever, the challenge is finding the way there. More Great WIRED Stories WIRED staffers share their favorite books Jason Pontin: Three commandments for reasonable technology optimism From an insane race across the country to a profile of the most wanted man on the internet, our 25 favorite Wired magazine stories from the past 25 years. 25 years of WIRED predictions: Why the future never arrives Our favorite covers of all time
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Coinbase plans for hard Brexit by opening Dublin offices

Guardian Technology 16 Oct 2018 12:01 Businesses which purely operate within the cryptocurrency sector may not be particularly affected by Brexit, Coinbase’s UK CEO Zeeshan Feroz said. Photograph: Chesnot/Getty Images Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase is opening new offices in Dublin as part of the company’s contingency planning for a hard Brexit. The company, one of the largest members of the blockchain ecosystem, says that London will remain its European headquarters, but that Dublin’s EU membership, as well as its English-speaking workforce and diverse technology talent pool, made it the “clear choice” for a second European outpost. “To begin with we’re housing a significant support team there,” said Coinbase’s UK CEO Zeeshan Feroz, “and we’re looking to capitalise on the talent pool that’s available to us in Ireland and hire other folks. “It is also a plan B for Brexit. As we plan for all eventualities, it’s important that we continue servicing our customers across Europe, and Ireland would be our preferred choice there if it comes to it.” Businesses which purely operate within the cryptocurrency sector may not be particularly affected by Brexit, Feroz said, but many of the biggest cryptocurrency companies have substantial operations that overlap with the conventional financial sector. “Coinbase and a few other crypto businesses are essentially two businesses: they are a regulated financial service provider – we have an e-money license with the FCA – and on the other half they provide crypto services. And clearly as a regulated financial institution, if we don’t have access to passporting, we have to look for alternatives.” The news of yet another business preparing to shift operations out of the UK could come as a blow to the government. The potential loss of a leading light of the blockchain sector could hit particularly hard, with the traditional financial industry’s problems with Brexit well-established. The chancellor, Philip Hammond, has even staked his hopes on the sector to solve the thorny issue of the Irish border, telling the Conservative party conference that “there is technology becoming available” to solve the issue. “I don’t claim to be an expert on it but the most obvious technology is blockchain,” Hammond said. Feroz expressed some hope that Brexit could make the UK more appealing to pure crypto companies, which did not need to do business with the rest of the world through the traditional financial system. “I am of the view today that there is an opportunity for Britain post-Brexit to perhaps take the lead” in offering “balanced regulation” for the sector. “In general, and outside of Brexit, I think crypto should be regulated as a service. There’s businesses out there like ours that handle billions of dollars or pounds every day.”
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Walmart wants to expand digital video service Vudu with HBO, Showtime and more

Ad Age 15 Oct 2018 10:48 Walmart's streaming video service is called Vudu, and it's looking for more content. Credit: Andrew Harrer/BloombergWalmart is looking to create an online store that would sell other companies' video services, according to people familiar with the talks, opening up a new front in its fight with Amazon. The world's largest retailer has approached several media companies about reselling their streaming services, according to the people who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. The idea would be to let customers of Walmart's video service, Vudu, pay for additional services like HBO Now, Showtime or Starz. The discussions are still exploratory, and Walmart's plans may change. The retail giant is trying to convert its hundreds of millions of customers into users of online services, responding to changes in how those customers watch TV. DVD sales have declined for more than a decade, as customers trade discs for streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Walmart, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, declined to comment. Some of the most popular paid online video services are operated by TV companies like CBS and HBO, which rely on third parties to sign up customers. Amazon already runs a similar store called Channels, which has helped some of the aforementioned services add millions of customers, according to analysts and executives. Walmart wants to insert itself in the conversation alongside Amazon, Apple and Google—three of the largest sellers of online services. While Walmart acquired Vudu eight years ago, it is just now starting to take video streaming more seriously. Vudu's leadership team has begun reporting directly to Scott McCall, the executive in charge of Walmart's entertainment business at its Bentonville headquarters. Vudu has also struck a couple of deals to fund original programming. Walmart will pay Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to produce projects for Vudu and will work with the startup Eko to develop interactive programs that will live on Walmart properties and elsewhere. Walmart also has reportedly mulled building a new streaming service that would be more like Netflix. It's not clear whether the company is still exploring that idea, but it's looking to create a more robust offering of digital entertainment, McCall said in an interview last week. "We are expanding our entertainment ecosystem," McCall said. --Bloomberg News
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Netflix earnings will test waters for tech giants after sell-off

Ad Age 15 Oct 2018 08:34 Credit: NetflixBeleaguered technology investors are looking to Netflix to stop the bleeding. The company's earnings are poised to be even more closely watched than usual on Tuesday after last week's market rout. Netflix is one of the first major U.S. companies to report third-quarter results -- and 2018's best-performing FAANG stock -- making it especially influential in the wake of a drubbing that hit the tech giants hard. "Trends at Netflix, whether above or below expectations, will set the tone," MKM Partners analyst Rob Sanderson said in a note. Netflix is also looking to redeem itself after missing subscriber estimates in the previous quarter, a whiff that sent the stock on its worst one-day tumble in two years. The shares haven't managed to climb back to a record set in July, but they remain up 77 percent for the year. That's a better showing than the rest of the FAANG cohort, which includes Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Google owner Alphabet. As always, the most important gauge of Netflix's performance is subscriber growth. Wall Street expects Netflix to have added about 5.1 million subscribers in the third quarter, based on the average of seven estimates compiled by Bloomberg News. That's 673,000 in the U.S. and 4.42 million internationally. For the fourth quarter, analysts are anticipating 1.64 million net subscriber additions in the U.S. and 5.54 million internationally, based on five estimates. -- Bloomberg News
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