February 28, 2021

Tech Industry

After a year of Zoom weddings — even in Vegas — what’s next for the video conferencing company? | Ethan Miller/Getty Images

A look at what’s in store for Zoom in a post-pandemic world.

If 2020 was the year Zoom rode the pandemic to skyrocketing success, 2021 could be the year the videoconferencing company comes back down to Earth.

Zoom started trading on the stock market in April 2019. At the time, it was known for being a rarity: a newly public tech company that actually turned a profit. One year later, the world was in lockdown for the coronavirus pandemic, and Zoom went from being a niche business software popular among tech companies to the way people did just about everything.

Not only did that mean a sharp rise in Zoom meetings for the millions newly working from home, but also Zoom birthdays and baby showers for everyone … Read the rest

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Timnit Gebru, a former co-leader of Google’s Ethical AI team, is a leading researcher on biases baked into AI systems | Kimberly White/Getty Images for TechCrunch

Timnit Gebru says she was pushed out of the company; now some are worried it will have a chilling effect on academics in tech.

Google’s workplace culture is yet again embroiled in controversy.

AI ethics researcher Timnit Gebru — a well-respected pioneer in her field and one of the few Black women leaders in the industry — said earlier this week that Google fired her after blocking the publication of her research around bias in AI systems. Days before Gebru’s departure, she sent a scathing internal memo to her colleagues detailing how higher-ups at Google tried to squash her research. She also criticized her department for what she described as a continued lack of diversity among its staff.

In her widely read internal email, … Read the rest

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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A vote on Thursday is the latest flashpoint in the debate over the proper role for billionaire philanthropy.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s adopted hometown of San Francisco took the first step on Thursday to formally condemn the naming of a major hospital after him and his wife, the latest flashpoint in the debate over the proper role for billionaire philanthropy.

A panel on the city’s board of supervisors recommended the condemnation, a move that reflects the new, increasingly controversial politics of both the tech industry and of its founders. Activists on both the left and the right have grown sharply critical of big tech companies like Facebook. And simultaneously, there is a building backlash movement to charitable gifts from the mega rich.

The 3-0 vote is a manifestation of each of those crosscurrents, which both run particularly strong in liberal San Francisco. The measure has no … Read the rest

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Federal agencies routinely buy cellphone location data from private companies. | Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Private companies collect location data on millions of Americans and provide it to the DHS, IRS, FBI, and DEA — no warrants needed.

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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will investigate its own use of location data after it was revealed that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) was purchasing cellphone location data from commercial vendors for use in its work.

The DHS’s Office of the Inspector General recently informed Sens. Sherrod Brown, Ed Markey, Brian Schatz, Elizabeth Warren, and Ron Wyden — all Democrats — that it would audit the agency’s policies regarding cellphone surveillance. The OIG’s letter comes in response to those senators’ request for an investigation last October. CBP has refused to reveal much about how it uses the data purchased from commercial vendors other than confirming publicly available information that such contracts … Read the rest

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In factory farms, pigs are sometimes locked in crates the width and length of their bodies, so they can’t even turn around.  | Getty Images

These are the most effective charities for reducing animal suffering.

If you care about animals and want to reduce their suffering, but aren’t sure exactly how, Animal Charity Evaluators has you covered.

The California-based nonprofit has released its annual list of top recommended animal charities.

Most of these charities focus on strategies that aim to improve conditions on factory farms — or to get around factory farming altogether by promoting the transition to a plant-based diet.

Concentrating on factory farms makes sense, because they are sites of suffering on a massive scale. It’s not just the death that takes place there — in the US alone, factory farming kills about 9 billion land animals each year — but the suffering that animals are forced … Read the rest

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Have you ever wondered what all principles go behind the working of televisions or radios or computers? ASTM E2865-12 is the ANSI and ASTM international standard on how to measure the mobility and zeta potential of nano-sized biological materials that are less than 100 nanometers. This standard is separate from occupational workplace safety standards like ISO 12885. The RIOT application monitors social media such as Twitter and chat rooms to monitor behavior, detect patterns and look for changes. Also called the RIOT Content Management Framework or RIOT CMF, this tool has been called the software for spies and the intersection of Big Brother and Big Data. An ETA will be posted as you rip the file and may increase if there are other applications running that might eat up processor usage. So, it’s best to rip DVDs either overnight or when the computer is not in use. In a series … Read the rest

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Ajit Pai is leaving the FCC when the Biden administration begins. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Pai’s business-loving, regulation-undoing legacy will likely last for years to come.

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Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chair Ajit Pai has announced that he will leave the agency on January 20, when Joe Biden is sworn in as president. This gives Biden at least one commissioner slot to fill on his first day in office and, should that choice be confirmed, a Democrat majority to fulfill his vision of what the FCC should be and do for the next four years.

Pai’s controversial tenure as FCC chair has been marked by business-friendly deregulation that helped media conglomerates get even bigger while doing little for lower-income people who couldn’t afford internet access — which has become an even more essential service during the pandemic. Pai also awarded billions of dollars in subsidies to broadband companies for providing internet … Read the rest

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Urgent care centers are one of few places people can drop in for coronavirus tests without an appointment. | Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

In many places, urgent care is the only way to get a coronavirus test quickly.

Demand for urgent care is spiking as the country continually breaks daily records for new Covid-19 cases. This makes sense: Americans are seeking out coronavirus tests more than ever and urgent care centers are one of few places people can walk up and get one without an appointment. In fact, urgent care is quickly becoming the go-to health care destination for a growing share of the population.

As the third wave of the pandemic began across the United States, visits to urgent care jumped nearly 10 percent in October compared to September according to the industry group Urgent Care Association — and urgent care centers had already been busier than ever … Read the rest

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A scene from Wonder Woman 1984. | WarnerMedia

Why you can see Wonder Woman 1984 at home on Christmas Day.

On Christmas Day, you can see Wonder Woman 1984 in movie theaters — if theaters are open where you live — or you can watch it at home on HBO Max.

That’s a remarkable thing. It’s the first time you’ve ever been able to decide exactly when and where you want to watch a big, would-be-blockbuster Hollywood movie on opening day.

Distribution plans for a superhero movie aren’t the most important news at the moment — we are, after all, battling a pandemic that has killed 250,000 Americans. But it’s also worth noting that this modestly pro-consumer move — giving people the chance to see a comic book movie wherever they want to see it — is only happening because of the pandemic.

The move also tells you a … Read the rest

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Longtime Stitch Fix executive Mike Smith. | Stitch Fix

Stitch Fix’s Mike Smith is leaving the online apparel retailer.

Mike Smith is a versatile and well-respected executive in the e-commerce industry. He also happens to one of the few Black C-level leaders in tech.

Now he wants to play a bigger role in changing that.

Smith has served as president, COO, and interim CFO over eight-plus years at Stitch Fix, the online apparel retailer and personal styling service. But he told Recode on Thursday that he plans to leave his executive role at the $4 billion publicly traded company in the coming months to start a venture capital firm. His goal is to get more money into the hands of tech entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds, namely Black, Latinx, and women founders.

“I’ve been fortunate that I’ve done well being out in this ecosystem, and I want [there to be] more … Read the rest

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