Passage of California Prop 22 Is Big Victory for Gig Economy

California voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 22, which will allow gig workers for Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and others to remain independent contractors. These three companies created the proposition to exempt them from a state labor law that would require them to treat drivers as employees and pay for healthcare, unemployment insurance and other benefits. Proposition 22 does include a wage floor and some benefits for drivers. San Francisco, headquarters for Uber and Lyft, presented the strongest opposition. Continue reading Passage of California Prop 22 Is Big Victory for Gig Economy

Gig Economy Companies Fight for California’s Proposition 22

DoorDash, Lyft and Uber executives had already pledged $90 million to back California Proposition 22, exempting them from a new state labor law requiring gig workers to be reclassified as employees. But, said sources, political strategists told them they needed to spend even more to have a chance of passing the measure. Now, as we get closer to the November 3 election, backers have spent almost $200 million. A UC Berkeley poll found only 39 percent of likely voters support the measure and 36 percent are opposed. Continue reading Gig Economy Companies Fight for California’s Proposition 22

House Bill Aims to Speed Expansion of Gigabit Internet in U.S.

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-South Carolina) and former House Energy and Commerce Committee chair Fred Upton (R-Michigan) introduced a bill to speed up distribution of the $16 billion the FCC earmarked to expand broadband infrastructure to rural areas. The FCC currently plans to disburse the money in an October auction, but rural areas today cannot access remote schooling or healthcare resources. Thirty-nine state attorneys general are also pressing Congress to increase broadband funding for these areas. Continue reading House Bill Aims to Speed Expansion of Gigabit Internet in U.S.

Microsoft Planning for Teams to Become Ubiquitous Platform

Microsoft 365 corporate vice president Jeff Teper wants Microsoft Teams — the company’s fastest growing business app — to overtake Windows, currently on 1+ billion active devices. With the COVID-19 pandemic, Microsoft Teams is experiencing significant growth, with 75 million daily active users as of April 29, a 70 percent leap in six weeks. In April, 200+ million participants used Teams in a single day. Meanwhile, Microsoft is still promoting Skype, which in March passed 40 million daily active users (up 70 percent from the previous year), but for a different customer base. Continue reading Microsoft Planning for Teams to Become Ubiquitous Platform

Robots and Drones Make More Deliveries During Pandemic

All around the globe, from China to Israel to the U.S., robots and drones are delivering everything from groceries to medical supplies during the coronavirus pandemic without the threat of transmitting COVID-19. In Sacramento, for example, startup Nuro’s R2 robots are delivering personal protective equipment, clean linens and food from a supply depot to a field hospital. But, as many businesses and governments are eager to use robots, the startups that make them are challenged to ramp up production to meet demand. Continue reading Robots and Drones Make More Deliveries During Pandemic

The State of AI in Media & Entertainment: Pedal to the Metal

As the world turns its sights on the “new normal,” the future of the media and entertainment industry is starting to come into focus. Cloud-based everything. Internet of Production. Digital distribution. Automation. Truth is, most of these changes were already in progress. It’s the timeline that has been dramatically shortened: 5-year plans now have to be implemented in 5 months. And among the handful of technologies being fast-tracked, artificial intelligence holds a special place because of its ability to solve two of the industry’s most pressing post-COVID challenges: (1) how to better manage its inherent product risk, and (2) protect and optimize its precious financial, human and technological resources. Continue reading The State of AI in Media & Entertainment: Pedal to the Metal

Pandemic Pushes the Demand for Thermal Imaging Cameras

FLIR Systems and Seek Thermal, two manufacturers of thermal imaging equipment, are working overtime to meet demand for companies preparing to return to work. One essential criterion for reopening has emerged as the ability to detect body temperatures of workers, to prevent spread of the coronavirus. Oregon-based FLIR’s shares rose about 16 percent after Reuters reported that Amazon plans to use thermal cameras at its warehouses and Whole Foods stores, although neither FLIR not Seek were listed as the supplier. Continue reading Pandemic Pushes the Demand for Thermal Imaging Cameras

Amazon Scales Up to Address Demand During the Pandemic

After prioritizing essential products, such as cleaning and healthcare items, Amazon is again allowing third-party sellers to ship non-essential products. Its refusal to accept shipments of such products frustrated its third-party sellers that form 58 percent of Amazon’s overall sales. Amazon, which will limit quantities of non-essential products, is hiring 75,000 more employees to keep up with demand. The company also asked new Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market delivery/pickup customers to join a waitlist. Continue reading Amazon Scales Up to Address Demand During the Pandemic

‘Zoombombing’ on the Rise, Zoom Works to Improve Security

As use of Zoom Video Communications’ conferencing services have soared, the company’s chief executive Eric Yuan has had issues scaling up the popular app. The nine-year-old tool, once a favorite in the business world, is now ubiquitous among a wide swathe of consumers, educators and others. Issues with privacy and hacking have arisen, and Yuan admitted he “messed up” on security, especially with the claim — proven false — that Zoom offered end-to-end encryption. Yuan said the full encryption feature will be available in a few months. Meanwhile, some users are switching to other platforms. Continue reading ‘Zoombombing’ on the Rise, Zoom Works to Improve Security

AI Spending Is Expected to Increase During Global Pandemic

Artificial intelligence is one bright spot in an otherwise gloomy employment picture. According to International Data Corp., the number of AI jobs could increase as much as 16 percent in 2020, for a total of 969,000 workers in data engineering, data science and machine learning development. That’s up from the 13 percent IDC predicted before the coronavirus took hold. But, said IDC global research lead Ritu Jyoti, 11 percent growth is also a “worst case scenario” during what are uncertain times. Continue reading AI Spending Is Expected to Increase During Global Pandemic

Apple Alters App Guidelines, Okays Opt-In Push Notifications

Apple has revised its App Store review guidelines used to curate iOS/iPadOS, tvOS, watchOS, and macOS App Stores, most notably, now allowing developers to serve ads via push notifications. In past guidelines, Apple specifically said that push notifications should not be used for “advertising, promotions or direct marketing purposes.” The revised guidelines also expand the definition of a spam app and state that legal entities of services in “highly regulated fields” should submit the app rather than individual developers. Continue reading Apple Alters App Guidelines, Okays Opt-In Push Notifications

Qualcomm and ZeroLight Introduce 5G Mixed Reality System

Qualcomm and ZeroLight are launching an end-to-end solution that uses the former’s 5G-ready Snapdragon XR2 mixed reality chipset to offer Boundless XR for high-bandwidth wireless connection for mixed reality headsets. Aimed at the enterprise market, Boundless XR will enable developers to create lightweight, low-power headsets with the rendering power of a 300-watt computer. The solution relies on WiGig (60GHz Wi-Fi) or 5G, if there are nearby 5G base stations, something that enterprises could access via private 5G networks. Continue reading Qualcomm and ZeroLight Introduce 5G Mixed Reality System

Google Bypasses Cloud to Offer AI to Enterprise Customers

AI can enable many important tasks from manufacturing to medicine, but only if the applications are speedy and secure. Communication via the cloud adds latency and risks privacy, which is why Google worked on a solution — dubbed Coral — that avoids centralized data centers. Coral product manager Vikram Tank described Coral as a “platform of [Google] hardware and software components … that help you build devices with local AI — providing hardware acceleration for neural networks … right on the edge device.” Continue reading Google Bypasses Cloud to Offer AI to Enterprise Customers

Las Vegas Was a Target of Cyberattack While Hosting CES

Early Tuesday morning, just as CES 2020 was getting underway, the team that monitors computers for Las Vegas detected a potential cyberattack as the city’s systems were reportedly compromised. While city officials tweeted about the breach, the information was light on details regarding which operations had been affected or the extent of the attack. The timing was unfortunate, since the annual CES confab is one of the largest events in Las Vegas. Last year, the show attracted more than 175,000 people and 4,400 exhibitors, including a number of Fortune 500 companies. Continue reading Las Vegas Was a Target of Cyberattack While Hosting CES

Google Culls Patient Data to Build Healthcare Search Tools

Google and Ascension, the second-largest health system in the U.S., have been collecting the personal health data of tens of millions of people in 21 states. Project Nightingale, the tech giant’s effort to enter healthcare, has culled lab results, diagnoses and hospitalization records, which include patient names and dates of birth. No doctor or patient has been notified, which has sparked a federal inquiry, but some experts say the initiative is permissible since Google is developing software to improve the healthcare system. Google explained that its partnership with Ascension is not a secret and was first announced in July during a Q2 earnings call. Continue reading Google Culls Patient Data to Build Healthcare Search Tools

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