NLRB Considers Uber Drivers Freelancers, Not Employees

In an opinion released May 14, the National Labor Relations Board concluded that Uber drivers should be classified as independent contractors, and not company employees. According to the NLRB, Uber drivers qualify as independent workers because they are given “significant entrepreneurial opportunity” and “virtually complete control of their cars, work schedules, and log-in locations, together with their freedom to work for competitors of Uber.” The opinion is a victory for Uber and a setback for drivers and labor advocates, since it makes it more challenging for drivers to file labor complaints, form a union, or seek federal protection. Continue reading NLRB Considers Uber Drivers Freelancers, Not Employees

Apple’s Tim Cook Makes Case For U.S. Regulation of Tech

At the TIME 100 Summit in New York, Apple chief executive Tim Cook said that technology needs to be regulated to protect privacy, noting that, “we have to admit that what we’re doing isn’t working.” He suggested to U.S. regulators that Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which was passed in 2018, is “a step in the right direction,” and added that Europe should continue to evolve the GDPR. Having taken the helm of Apple from founder Steve Jobs in 2011, Cook has become a prominent Silicon Valley leader. Continue reading Apple’s Tim Cook Makes Case For U.S. Regulation of Tech

Blockchain at CES 2019 – What a Difference a Year Can Make

Blockchain sessions and projects still abound at CES this year, but the bloom is definitely off the rose. At last year’s sessions it was standing room only, but this year it was no problem finding a seat. Given that cryptocurrencies are down 82 percent since last year at this time, I guess it’s no surprise. The good news, however, is that with a lot of the hype and “quick buck” mentality deflated, there’s a lot of good work and investing still being done. Unlike last year, which was one ICO announcement after another, this year was much more subdued and focused on products that address real business needs. Continue reading Blockchain at CES 2019 – What a Difference a Year Can Make

CES Research Summit: Experts Consider 5G Tech, Use Cases

The advent of 5G doesn’t mean that 4G is going away any time soon, explained industry leaders at CES. “It’s not a light switch,” suggested AT&T Mobility vice president, IoT solutions Joe Mosele. “There’s still room for 4G LTE to grow, and it will continue to be a complement to 5G.” Boingo Wireless chief technology officer Derek Peterson added that, “we’ll see gigabit speeds on LTE.” “You’ll see continuous advancements with Wi-FI as a component as well as unlicensed spectrum and near-band IoT,” he said. “It’s an evolutionary cycle.”

Continue reading CES Research Summit: Experts Consider 5G Tech, Use Cases

Verizon CES Keynote Demonstrates ‘Eight Currencies’ of 5G

“5G will change everything,” said Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg in the opening statement of his CES keynote. The exponential enabling power of the 5G network relies on what he called “eight currencies” or capabilities that together produce true 5G. They are peak data rate, mobile data volume, mobility, connected devices, energy efficiency, service deployment, reliability and latency. These “currencies” enable innovation and Vestberg presented initiatives with The New York Times, Walt Disney Studios, Verizon-owned drone operator Skyward, and Medivis, in healthcare, as examples. Continue reading Verizon CES Keynote Demonstrates ‘Eight Currencies’ of 5G

CES 2019: Is This the Beginning of the Age of Personalization?

The transformative potential of 5G technologies progresses from promise to first products and will likely emerge as the hot underlying topic of CES 2019, which opens Sunday, January 6 in Las Vegas. ETC@USC will cover the trade show with particular interest in how developments can impact or disrupt media, entertainment, and technology companies and their business models. Artificial intelligence, mixed reality, IoT, cloud systems, media and marketing, and blockchain are six other topics that together with 5G suggest personalization to be an overarching theme. Continue reading CES 2019: Is This the Beginning of the Age of Personalization?

Google Unveils Competition to Develop AI for Social Good

Google launched a global competition, the AI Impact Challenge, to encourage the development of artificial intelligence for positive uses. Revealed at the company’s AI for Social Good event at its Sunnyvale offices, the competition aims to reach out to nonprofits, universities and other groups outside of corporate Silicon Valley, to help solve social issues. The initiative, overseen by Google’s philanthropic arm, Google.org, will award up to $25 million to numerous parties to “help transform the best ideas into action.” Continue reading Google Unveils Competition to Develop AI for Social Good

Amazon Faces New Data Issues With Acquisition of PillPack

Amazon acquired online pharmacy PillPack for $1 billion, making it a direct threat to the more than $400 billion pharmaceutical industry. PillPack, a startup founded five years ago, pre-sorts medications and delivers them to customers’ homes in every U.S. state except Hawaii. With the purchase, Amazon will soon have the capability of shipping prescriptions overnight all over the U.S. The e-commerce behemoth will also now have a great deal of information about peoples’ health and prescriptions, a highly regulated arena. Continue reading Amazon Faces New Data Issues With Acquisition of PillPack

Zipline’s Fixed Wing UAV Becomes Fastest Commercial Drone

Zipline, the California-based startup that uses drones to deliver blood and drugs to remote Rwandan medical centers, is now using a fixed-wing aerial robot to make commercial deliveries at nearly 80 miles per hour. The company claims its fixed-wing UAV is the world’s fastest commercial delivery drone. In Rwanda, Zipline has already flown 300,000 kilometers in over 4,000 flights since its October 2016 debut, and introduced a similar service in Tanzania. This expertise will enable it to compete with the big players in drone delivery including Amazon’s Prime Air and Alphabet’s Project Wing. Continue reading Zipline’s Fixed Wing UAV Becomes Fastest Commercial Drone

Amazon in Talks on Bank Product with JPMorgan, Capital One

According to sources, Amazon is currently in discussions with JPMorgan Chase and other banks about creating a product similar to a checking account aimed at a younger demographic. These early stage talks may not result in anything tangible, and are not intended to turn Amazon into a bank. What the product would do is further integrate Amazon into its customers’ lives, from Whole Foods, Kindle, Alexa and its website. The new product would also potentially cut fees Amazon currently pays to banks and provide more customer data. Continue reading Amazon in Talks on Bank Product with JPMorgan, Capital One

Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, JPMorgan Partner on Healthcare

Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase & Co. are partnering to find a way to reduce healthcare costs for their U.S. employees. The companies are motivated by rising healthcare costs in the U.S., and their joint new company will target technological solutions for a simpler and more economical healthcare solution. They did not reveal, however, how much money they have committed to the effort or whether it would expand to include employees outside the U.S., but did emphasize the effort would not be a profit-making venture. Continue reading Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, JPMorgan Partner on Healthcare

Artec 3D Demonstrates Fast and Accurate 3D Scanning at CES

Artec 3D is a Luxembourg-based manufacturer of 3D scanning hardware and software with offices in Moscow and Santa Clara, California. At CES 2018, the company demonstrated its $25,800 professional 3D scanner dubbed Artec Leo. With the handheld scanner’s built-in processor, there is no need for an external computer, “making 3D scanning as easy as taking a video.” The company claims that its 80 fps 3D reconstruction rate makes its device “the fastest professional handheld 3D scanner on the market.” The Leo offers a large field of view for accurately scanning and processing large scenes and objects. Continue reading Artec 3D Demonstrates Fast and Accurate 3D Scanning at CES

CES 2018: Wide Array of Conference Tracks for M&E Industry

CES 2018 features 2.5 million net square feet of exhibit space that sprawls through the Las Vegas Convention Center, Sands Hotel and Casino, Aria Resort, Venetian, Monte Carlo, Renaissance, Westgate Resort, The Palazzo, Vdara and two Wynn properties. If your feet and brain rebel after walking the floor for hours, CES offers a great alternative: over 200 sessions on the industry’s most pressing issues and new technologies, featuring top creatives and executives. The 200 sessions are divided into topic-specific tracks. Continue reading CES 2018: Wide Array of Conference Tracks for M&E Industry

Smartwatches, Fitness Bands Still Dominate Wearables Sector

At last year’s CES, wearables were a viable category but had lost a bit of the luster of previous years, as consumers were deluged with competing fitness bands, smartwatches and even smart fabrics and jewelry. Although many of the entrants were intriguing, nothing popped out as revealing the path forward. CES 2018 promises to be similar, with some notable exceptions. Shipments in the wearables market are at an all-time high, but few manufacturers think wearables will have a significant impact on their bottom line in 2018. Continue reading Smartwatches, Fitness Bands Still Dominate Wearables Sector

Tech Demand for AI Talent Generates Major League Salaries

As tech companies continue to bet on artificial intelligence powering next generation smartphones, autonomous vehicles, virtual assistants, smart home gadgets and much more, the demand for top AI talent is also on the rise. “Typical AI specialists, including both PhDs fresh out of school and people with less education and just a few years of experience, can be paid from $300,000 to $500,000 a year or more in salary and company stock,” reports The New York Times. Leading names in AI are often earning in the millions from tech titans and negotiating for new contracts in a time frame that rivals professional athletes. In fact, some in Silicon Valley have joked of creating an NFL-like salary cap. Continue reading Tech Demand for AI Talent Generates Major League Salaries

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