Badly implemented AI could ‘jeopardize democracy,’ says French president Emmanuel Macron

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France has announced a new national AI strategy, including government funding worth nearly €1.5 billion ($ 1.85 billion). But the country’s president, Emmanuel Macron, is worried about the damage this technology could do if not properly guided. In an interview with Wired, he said there was even a risk AI could “jeopardize democracy.”

Macron is worried about unaccountable “black box” algorithms being introduced into society and making decisions formerly entrusted to humans. He gave the example of an algorithm used to sort students into universities, and said that if its workings were not easy to understand, it could destroy trust and encourage people to “reject” innovation. “I have to be confident for my people that there is no bias, at…

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President Obama ‘made the best decisions he could’ about Russia, former advisor Valerie Jarrett says

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On Recode Decode, Jarrett says tech companies should work with the government to safeguard democracy.

As a senior White House advisor for all eight years of Barack Obama’s presidency, Valerie Jarrett says Obama used to ask his staff, “When are you going to bring me the easy decisions?”

“And we’d go, ‘Oh no, we took care of those,’” Jarrett said on the latest episode of Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher. “‘You get the tough ones.’”

One of those tough decisions that has fallen under retroactive scrutiny was how Obama reacted to early emerging evidence that Russian-backed actors were attempting to sway the 2016 U.S. elections. Was there more he should have done?

“You make judgment calls every single day,” Jarrett said. “With the benefit of hindsight, we would all maybe do things differently, but I feel confident that based on what he knew, when he knew it, he made the best decisions he could.”

She expressed sympathy for the tech companies that she said weren’t aware that their platforms were “being used as a force for evil.” But she said there’s a more important role they can play in future elections, rather than merely looking back on what could have happened differently in 2016.

“It should be a united front of the private sector and government saying, ‘What could be more key to our democracy than preserving the integrity of our voting?’” Jarrett said. “We should all be really dedicated to that.”

You can listen to Recode Decode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

On the new podcast, recorded in front of a live audience at South by Southwest 2018, Jarrett reflected on how quickly technology has changed — in politics and everywhere else — in just a decade.

The technology revolution is like no other revolution we’ve seen before in our country,” she said. “I remember, President Obama was in office when he asked me what I knew about Twitter, and I said, ‘You mean, like, all a-twitter?’ That was in 2008, and I had no idea what he was talking about.”

Today, Jarrett is something of a techie herself, serving on the boards of Lyft and 2U, and advising the Los Angeles-based media company ATTN. She said she disagreed with the idea that, since 2016, her fellow Democrats have become more “anti-tech.”

“I think tech is an incredible tool for good,” she said. “I’m not anti-tech at all. I want to figure out how to make tech stay as good of a tool as it can, and do no harm — or, do as little harm as possible.”

If you like this show, you should also sample our other podcasts:

  • Recode Media with Peter Kafka features no-nonsense conversations with the smartest and most interesting people in the media world, with new episodes every Thursday. Use these links to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
  • On Too Embarrassed to Ask, also hosted by Kara Swisher, we answer the tech questions sent in by our readers and listeners. You can hear new episodes every Friday on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
  • And Recode Replay has all the audio from our live events, including the Code Conference, Code Media and the Code Commerce Series. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

If you like what we’re doing, please write a review on Apple Podcasts — and if you don’t, just tweet-strafe Kara.

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President Trump accuses Amazon of scamming the USPS

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This morning, Trump once again tweeted about online retailer Amazon.com, alleging that it is scamming the United States Postal Service and that the agency should raise its shipping rates. He also says that The Washington Post — owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos — should register as a lobbyist.

Earlier this week, Axios reported that President Donald Trump wanted to take on Amazon. The President followed up with a tweet on March 29th, saying that Amazon was taking advantage of the USPS, paying little in state and local taxes, and putting retailers out of business.

The New York Times outlined earlier this week that Amazon has collected sales taxes since April 2017. The retailer reported $ 957 million in income taxes last year. The Times also…

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President of Motorola steps down, replaced by Sergio Buniac

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With recent layoffs and the cancellation of at least one phone lineup, there has been plenty of change at Motorola recently. Now it appears more changes might be on the way, as Motorola’s Chairman and President is stepping down.

Aymar de Lencquesaing has served as Chairman and President of Motorola since April 2016, and previously worked as President of Lenovo EMEA (from 2014-2015) and President of Lenovo North America (2015-2016).

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President signs overseas data access bill into law

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The House of Representatives has approved a piece of legislation (PDF) that makes it easier for law enforcement to get access to info even if it's stored in other countries. Officially known as Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act, the set of r…
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Facebook finally suspended the anti-Muslim political group that President Trump retweeted last year

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Britain First shared posts “designed to incite animosity and hatred against minority groups,” Facebook says. So they’re out.

Facebook has permanently suspended the account for a far-right political group called Britain First — the same far-right group that shared anti-Islam videos that President Trump retweeted late last year.

That alone makes it interesting that Facebook finally banned Britain First.

But it’s also interesting that it took Facebook so long. Twitter suspended the Britain First account and the account of one of the group’s leaders back in December. Facebook is just doing it now after giving the group a “written final warning” that it was violating the service’s user guidelines.

“We do not do this lightly, but they have repeatedly posted content designed to incite animosity and hatred against minority groups, which disqualifies the Pages from our service,” Facebook wrote in a blog post Wednesday.

Some of the violating content included a photo of the group’s leaders with the caption “Islamaphobic and Proud,” and another post that compared Muslim immigrants with animals, a Facebook spokesperson confirmed.

The decision comes at a time when Facebook is struggling with how to deal with groups like Britain First. Facebook doesn’t like to decide what kind of rhetoric is appropriate or inappropriate for fear of encroaching on its users’ free speech rights. It has even started to ask users to rate the “trustworthiness” of news organizations in an effort to weed out those that may be spreading so-called fake news.

That trepidation, though, has led to the rise misinformation on the service, and in some instances like Britain First, the spreading of hateful rhetoric or opinions. Twitter is dealing with the same dilemma, and now both companies are under pressure from users and lawmakers to clean up their services, especially as the 2018 midterm elections loom closer.

It’s worth noting that Facebook announced Britain First’s suspension publicly. The account is high profile, especially given the Trump connection, but Facebook suspends thousands of accounts and users daily. It rarely, if ever, announces those suspensions. Clearly the company wanted everyone to know that it was taking a stand here.


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President Trump looking to impose tariffs on Chinese imports, including tech products

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President Trump has been discussing trade tariffs frequently over the past few weeks, and passing tariffs on steel and aluminum last week. According to Reuters, he is now looking into imposing tariffs on up to $ 60 billion of Chinese imports, specifically targeting consumer electronics, telecoms, and IT equipment.

This would have wide-reaching implications, including driving up the price of smartphones and other products manufactured in China. Apple, Samsung, Lenovo, ZTE, OnePlus, Oppo, and other companies build phones in the country.

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President Trump signs executive order blocking Broadcom’s acquisition of Qualcomm

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Broadcom attempted to purchase Qualcomm back in November, in what would be the single largest takeover of a chipmaker ever. The initial offer was declined by Qualcomm’s board of directors, as was every subsequent counter offer. In response, Broadcom attempted to replace some of Qualcomm’s board, allowing the purchase to be finalized. After months of turmoil, the White House has officially blocked the acquisition with a new executive order.

According to Bloomberg, President Trump signed the executive order based on advice from the Committee on Foreign Investment.

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President Trump orders block of Broadcom acquisition of Qualcomm

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Qualcomm booth CES 2015

Late last year, Broadcom made an offer to buy Qualcomm for $ 130 billion. The deal was rejected by Qualcomm, but since then, rumors about Broadcom making another offer have been swirling. Now it looks like any potential deal has been blocked.

President Trump today issued an order to block any potential acquisition of Qualcomm by Broadcom. “The proposed takeover of Qualcomm by the Purchaser (Broadcom) is prohibited, and any substantially equivalent merger, acquisition, or takeover, whether affected directly or indirectly, is also prohibited,” the order reads.

Trump’s order goes on to say that there’s “credible evidence” that through purchasing Qualcomm, Broadcom “might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States”. The president adds that he reserves the authority to make further orders regarding Broadcom and Qualcomm “as shall in my judgment be necessary to protect the national security of the United States”.

Reports have said that Huawei had deals with AT&T and Verizon for the carriers to sell Huawei’s new flagship smartphone, but that the US government pressured AT&T and Verizon to abandon those deals over national security concerns. Now it sounds like a similar situation has played out for the Singapore-based Broadcom.

It’s worth noting that Broadcom is working to redomicile to the US and that its acquisition of Qualcomm is premised on that move. In response to Trump’s order, Broadcom told Bloomberg that it “strongly disagrees that its proposed acquisition of Qualcomm raises any national security concerns.”

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Axl Rose Thinks Apple’s CEO Has A Lot in Common with President Trump

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William Bruce Rose Jr. — the famed and politically outspoken Guns N’ Roses frontman, known by his stage name, Axl Rose — has strong words for Apple’s comparatively soft-spoken Chief Executive, Tim Cook, likening the iPhone maker’s top boss in a recent Tweet to ‘the Donald Trump of the music industry.’ “Tim Cook is the […]
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