Jeff Bezos says 94% of Amazon workers would recommend their job to a friend. Amazon workers say that stat is unreliable.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. | Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

It’s difficult to get honest feedback from workers who fear retaliation.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos recently said warehouse employees like working for his company so much that “94% say they would recommend Amazon to a friend as a place to work.” But some of his own employees aren’t buying that statistic.

The 94 percent number was gleaned from an employee survey program at Amazon called Connections, which asks Amazon employees to answer a single question each day before they can start working on their company computer or their warehouse workstation. Bezos cited the stat in mid-April in his final letter to shareholders as Amazon’s CEO.

But in interviews with Recode over the past two weeks, a half-dozen Amazon employees and managers, two of whom are familiar with the inner workings of the Connections program, said that many Amazon employees have widespread … Read the rest

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Prototype Deringer Model 1861 Rifle – VIDEO

U.S.A. –-( Henry Deringer, Jr. had gunsmithing in his blood: his father, an immigrant from Germany, came to the American Colonies before the Revolutionary War. Henry Deringer, Sr. settled in Pennsylvania, and was known for making the now-iconic Pennsylvania-style long rifles and pistols.

Henry Deringer

Born in 1786, Junior apprenticed at the Virginia Manufactory in Richmond while in his early twenties. While there, he learned the intricacies of the trade by making arms for the Virginia state militia. Upon completion of his apprenticeship, he moved back to Philadelphia and opened up his own gunsmithy.

By 1814, much of Henry’s time was occupied with filling various government contracts. These contracts were quite lucrative, and it was the desire of most gunmakers in this era – just as it is today – to obtain one. Deringer ended up making more than 20,000 Model 1814 and Model 1817 flintlock long arms. He also … Read the rest

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Podcast: AI finds its voice

Today’s voice assistants are still a far cry from the hyper-intelligent thinking machines we’ve been musing about for decades. And it’s because that technology is actually the combination of three different skills: speech recognition, natural language processing and voice generation.

Each of these skills already presents huge challenges. In order to master just the natural language processing part? You pretty much have to recreate human-level intelligence. Deep learning, the technology driving the current AI boom, can train machines to become masters at all sorts of tasks. But it can only learn one at a time. And because most AI models train their skillset on thousands or millions of existing examples, they end up replicating patterns within historical data—including the many bad decisions people have made, like marginalizing people of color and women.

Still, systems like the board-game champion AlphaZero and the increasingly convincing fake-text generator GPT-3 have stoked the flames … Read the rest

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This Barack Obama adviser is quietly investing $250 million in startup founders of color

Barack Obama in Silicon Valley back in 2011. | Stephen Lam/Getty Images

Meet a stealth investment firm run by Robbie Robinson, who advises the former president.

Former President Barack Obama’s financial adviser has been quietly investing in startups led by founders of color through a new investment firm, Recode has learned.

A new venture capital firm called Pendulum Holdings has in recent months been approaching and funding companies led by founders of color, according to people familiar with the matter. The firm is led by Robbie Robinson, who helped set up the financial affairs of the Obama family after they left the White House. He remains an adviser to the family.

The fund, whose efforts haven’t previously been reported, is the latest attempt to better support Black founders, who receive only about 1 percent of venture capital funding, according to estimates. Corporate America has vowed to do better in the … Read the rest

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Runcie Getting Chance at Constitutional Justice He Would Deny to Gun Owners

There’s good money in downgrading crimes committed by minority students to administrative offenses, and then demanding the law-abiding be defenseless. (Robert Runcie/Twitter)

U.S.A. – -( “The superintendent of the Florida school district where 17 students and staff died in a 2018 high school massacre was arrested Wednesday after investigators said he lied to a grand jury investigating events surrounding the shooting,” ABC News reported Wednesday. “Broward County Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie was arrested by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement at district headquarters and charged with perjury in an official proceeding, which is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.”

“Also arrested Wednesday was Barbara Myrick, the school district’s attorney,” the report adds. “Myrick, 72, is accused of unlawfully disclosing grand jury proceedings, a felony.”

While specifics about what Runcie is alleged to have lied about under oath have not been released at this writing, it’s instructive … Read the rest

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D-Lab project leads to solar career in Africa

When she started her junior year after a corporate internship that left her feeling unfulfilled, Jodie Wu ’09 was questioning her path as an engineer. Participating in a D-Lab class project in Tanzania revealed a way to use her passion for engineering to help serve emerging markets in Africa while also having an impact. 

Wu recalls being naïve the first time she traveled to Africa: “As a student, you think you can save the world in three weeks.” But during that visit and several return trips through the MIT Priscilla King Gray Public Service Center, she started to understand the scope of problems faced by rural communities there—problems she is still trying to tackle more than a decade later. 

Now based in Rwanda, she is COO at ­OffGridBox, a Boston-based startup whose all-in-one system uses energy from solar panels to charge batteries and purify water. Its customers include NGOs, businesses, … Read the rest

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Your most important vaccine passport questions, answered

Many vaccine passport initiatives are popping up, but they’re not all the same. | Getty Images/iStockphoto

What is a vaccine passport? Can I get one?

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In the United States, vaccine passports have become a controversial issue. But not everyone seems to be arguing about the same thing.

The term “vaccine passport” generally refers to a smartphone app that can quickly confirm that someone has received a Covid-19 vaccine, so the phone’s owner can do things like enter a venue or board a plane. The debate over vaccine passports, however, often confuses these apps with the broader issue of how vaccination records are handled. Some Republicans have likened the concept to invasive government surveillance and even banned vaccine passports in some states, while vaccine passport proponents have argued that proof of inoculation could help businesses recover and push people’s lives closer to normal.

White House officials have said there will be … Read the rest

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Leaked Document Shows ATF Spying on Gun Buyers Through NICS

National Instant Criminal Background Check System NICS

WASHINGTON, D.C. –-( According to an ATF document leaked to AmmoLand News, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) can legally obtain information from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) for civil or criminal enforcement.

The monitoring of NICS isn’t for prohibited people. It is for monitoring people that are not prohibited from buying a firearm, but the ATF suspects MIGHT be committing a crime in the future. Someone buying too many guns in the ATF’s or FBI’s eyes could be placed on the list. The person being monitored will NOT be notified of the surveillance. The object of the monitoring is to “catch people who are committing straw purchases or similar crimes.”

According to 28CFR 25.9, NICS keeps some records from a transaction for ten years. This information includes the date/time of the sale and the FFL information. … Read the rest

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We’re on track to set a new record for global meat consumption

Bill Gates made headlines earlier this year for saying that “all rich countries should move to 100% synthetic beef” in an interview with MIT Technology Review about the release of his new book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster. Although he recognized the political difficulty of telling Americans they can’t eat any more red meat, Gates said he sees real potential in plant-based alternatives from companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods.

Nevertheless, the world is expected to eat more meat in 2021 than ever before. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization projects that global meat consumption will rise by more than 1% this year. The fastest growth will occur in low- and middle-income countries, where incomes are steadily climbing.

This will generate more greenhouse-gas emissions; global emissions from food production are expected to rise 60% by 2050, in large part because of increased livestock production.

However, trying to … Read the rest

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Here’s the nuclear option to opt out of tracking on iOS

Thomas Kronsteiner/Getty Images

App Tracking Transparency is here, but many apps aren’t offering it yet.

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Apple’s mobile operating system update, iOS 14.5, went live today with a highly anticipated, long-awaited privacy feature the company first announced way back in June 2020: App Tracking Transparency. But you might not notice it on your iPhone in the near future.

With App Tracking Transparency, apps will have to ask users for their permission to access Apple’s Identifier for Advertising (IDFA), a unique code assigned to mobile devices. Data brokers and ad marketers use this IDFA to track users across apps, combining their behavior into one comprehensive user profile, which companies then use to send targeted ads.

As this Apple promotional video explains, it all happens behind the scenes. The user is usually unaware of what’s happening, who their data is going to, and has little recourse to prevent it:

Now, the first time … Read the rest

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