Technology News Recap: 10th September 2018

1. Alibaba Jack Ma to be replaced after retirement

If you haven’t already head, Jack Ma a Chinese business magnate, investor, and philanthropist. He is the co-founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group, a multinational technology conglomerate specializing in e-commerce, retail, Internet, AI and technology. He is one of China’s richest men with a net worth of US$38.6 billion, as well as one of the wealthiest people in the world.

Speculations of Jack Ma’s retirement have been circulating for quite some time now. Alibaba Group announced today that its CEO, Daniel Zhang, will succeed Ma as chairman next year. Ma is planning to step down as chairman of Alibaba on September 10th, 2019 but will continue to serve as a board member until Alibaba’s its annual general shareholders’ meeting in 2020. Ma will remain a lifetime partner of the Alibaba Partnership and will hold a considerable amount of sway over the company. In 2013, he stepped down as CEO in 2013, handing the position over to Jonathan Lu. Lu was replaced in 2015 by Zhang, Alibaba’s former COO. Under his stewardship, Alibaba has seen consistent and sustainable growth for 13 consecutive quarters.

Ma has promised he will continue contributing to the Alibaba Partnership, before adding “I also want to return to education, which excites me with so much blessing because this is what I love to do. The world is big, and I am still young, so I want to try new things – because what if new dreams can be realized?! The one thing I can promise everyone is this: Alibaba was never about Jack Ma, but Jack Ma will forever belong to Alibaba.”

Source: The Verge

2. Twitter: Live audio broadcasts from Periscope

The iOS versions of both the main Twitter app and Periscope now support audio-only live broadcasts, giving you the chance to reel in listeners without having to put up a live video. So your followers can hear, but not see you. Additionally, you can track audience stats like you can with video, as well. If you want to use the “audio-only broadcast” option, you need to update the Twitter app and go to the “Go Live” button on the compose screen. This new feature is currently publicly available for all iOS users of the main Twitter app and its live-streaming app Periscope, but there is no word yet on Android support.

While Twitter frames this as a privacy option, it could open Twitter and Periscope to broadcasts that weren’t realistic before. You could tune into radio shows or podcasts, or listen to explainers that would otherwise require a tweetstorm. This could also be crucial for on-the-scene reporting where you either want to remain inconspicuous or have to make do with a limited internet connection. And Twitter likely knows this. You might hang around Twitter more often if you know that you can tune into a radio station or follow a breaking story from a social app you’re already using. The podcast industry is booming and it is no wonder that Twitter would want a fair share of it.

Source: The Verge

3. Pentagon to invest 2 billion to inject AI into U.S. weaponry

The Defense Department’s cutting-edge research arm is committed to spending up to $2 billion over the next five years in what it depicted as a new effort to make AI systems more trusted and accepted by military commanders. The agency is pushing forth novel technological solutions to military problems, and the Trump administration’s technical chieftains have strongly supported the insertion of artificial intelligence into more of America’s weaponry as a means of competing better with Russian and Chinese military forces.

By the DARPA spending standards the 2 billion investment is rather small by Pentagon spending standards, where the cost of buying and maintaining new F-35 warplanes is expected to exceed a trillion dollars. However, the amount intended is more than AI programs have historically been funded. Turning more military analytical work – and potentially some key decision-making – over to computers and algorithms installed in weapons capable of acting violently against humans is considered to be highly controversial. Google has been appointed to lead the Project Maven project for the department. But following an organized protest by Google employees who didn’t want to work on software that could help pick out targets for the military to kill, the company announced that it would no longer work on the project after its current contract expires.

While Maven and other AI initiatives have helped Pentagon weapons systems become better at recognizing targets and doing things like flying drones more effectively, fielding computer-driven systems that take lethal action on their own hasn’t been approved to date. Advances in technology will soon create and allow weapons to search for, identify, track, select, and engage targets independent of a human operator’s input. But according to the Pentagon strategy document “technologies underpinning unmanned systems would make it possible to develop and deploy autonomous systems that could independently select and attack targets with lethal force,”.

What do you think? Is it too far of a risk to fully place our trust in machine reasoning?

Source: The Verge

4. Apple’s purchase of Shazam finally approved by EU

The last roadblock to the deal has finally been removed following the Eropean Union’s approval of Apples $400 million purchase of Shazam. After launching an investigation into the deal earlier this year over concerns that the purchase could be anticompetitive, the committee has concluded that won’t be the case. According to EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager “After thoroughly analyzing Shazam’s user and music data, we found that their acquisition by Apple would not reduce competition in the digital music streaming market,”.

The EU commission’s original concerns were about if Apple could choose to only allow Shazam to link out to Apple Music post-purchase, depriving services like Spotify of valuable clicks, or use Shazam’s data on people’s listening habits to better “encourage them to switch to Apple Music.”
It is now only a matter of time before Apple is able to finalize the deal.

Source: The Verge

5. Trump insists on Apple to manufacture its products in the US

President Donald Trump suggested that as a way to avoid tariffs America in the ongoing trade dispute between the US and China, Apple should move its manufacturing plants to the US, following reports that the company’s products could become more expensive.

A series of tariffs on goods from China have been imposed by the Trump administration this summer, but up until now, consumer electronics have been left off the list. However, the latest proposed round of tariffs could include products from companies like Apple, Fitbit and Sonos. Apple has pointed out that the tariffs would amount to a 25 percent tax on products like the Apple Pencil, AirPods, Apple Watch, HomePod, Mac Mini, and others (or individual components used in them) shipped to the United States, and that those costs would very likely fall onto the customers. The majority of its products are produced in China.

On Twitter, Trump urged Apple to build new manufacturing plants in the US to avoid the tariffs. He suggested that there could be no tax — it’s not clear if he just means this particular tariff — and that there could be tax incentives for relocating.

“ @realDonaldTrump
Apple prices may increase because of the massive Tariffs we may be imposing on China – but there is an easy solution where there would be ZERO tax, and indeed a tax incentive. Make your products in the United States instead of China. Start building new plants now. Exciting! #MAGA “

Moving its manufacturing operations to the US would allow it to skip the tariffs, but Apple’s products likely wouldn’t be any cheaper. The advantage of tech manufacturing in China is because its workforce is cheaper and the plants that produce individual components are in close proximity to one another. It would be very costly to move the manufacturing infrastructure would be costly!

Source: The Verge

If you found the newsroom and insights pages useful then feel free to subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest in your inbox.