The iPhone and other major tech products are safe from Trump’s brewing trade war with China. On Tuesday, the office of the U.S. Trade Representative revealed that it was slapping 25 percent tariffs on 1,300 products coming from China related to technology, transport and medical products. iPhone components were exempt from the list, but other […]
The US will levy trade tariffs on China this week designed to target “largely high-technology products.” In retaliation for the taxation, China announced it would raise duties on 128 US imports. Begun, the trade wars have. President Trump, over Easter weekend, let loose on Twitter with his usual barrage of attacks. Jeff Bezos, Amazon, and The Washington Post took a moderate amount of vitriol, as did other usual suspects like immigrants and journalists. And he spent a significant amount of his time over the holiday tweeting about the border wall. But what he didn’t talk about, at least not on…
Plus, Facebook’s bad month keeps getting worse, the subject of the “Serial” podcast is getting a new trial, and the finest eggs tech money can buy.
Trump took to Twitter to attack Amazon, which he accused of paying “little or no taxes.” His tweet sent Amazon’s stock down about 4 percent, but it rebounded within a few hours, as it always does after a Trump tweet makes it fall. [Michael Sheetz / CNBC]
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Facebook’s bad month keeps getting worse — this time because of a leaked internal memo by one of the company’s top executives that suggests, among other things, that Facebook’s mission to connect people is more important than user safety. Yesterday, Facebook outlined a more detailed plan to fight election interference in the 2018 midterms. [Kurt Wagner / Recode]
Snap is undergoing its third round of layoffs this year, cutting around 100 more people, most of them in sales. The company, which went public just over a year ago, restructured its content teams in January and laid off around 120 engineers earlier this month. [Kurt Wagner / Recode]
What do Donald Trump, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and the owner of the National Enquirer have to do with each other? [New York Times]
The subject of the “Serial” podcast, Adnan Syed, has been granted a new trial in the case of the murder of his high school classmate Hae Min Lee. Syed was convicted in 2000 and has been in prison for 19 years; his case attracted international attention in 2014 when it was featured on the groundbreaking podcast. [Kevin Rector and Justin Fenton / The Baltimore Sun]
If the timeline Waymo rolled out this week is correct, autonomous vehicles will transform urban life by 2020. That’s the company’s way of saying, “Get ready, this is really happening.” This is autonomous driving at scale, and not in five years or 10 years or 50 years, but in two years or less. Meanwhile, carmakers Daimler and BMW are combining their car-sharing businesses into a joint venture to better compete with Silicon Valley companies out to upend the traditional automotive industry. [Alexis C. Madrigal / The Atlantic]
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The Vision Fund has ratcheted back some of its ambitions in China due to political considerations.
“Our purpose is to serve humanity.”
There are plenty of ways for tech to play in the “comeback cities” of the U.S. heartland.
For her final Recode podcast as co-host, Goode counts down her favorite episodes of Too Embarrassed to Ask.
This is cool
U.S. workers are flocking to Canada for other reasons.
More than half of Canadian startups have seen a rise in international tech applicants — most of whom are from the U.S.— since the beginning of 2017, according to a new survey. Some companies even saw international applications quadruple.
Toronto-based tech innovation hub MaRS conducted the survey among 55 high-growth Canadian startups with U.S. exposure and an annual revenue of more than $ 1 million. About 82 percent of companies that saw an increase in international interest had applicants from the U.S., followed by India and China.
These companies cited visa and immigration policies, which have become stricter (PDF) and less certain under Trump, as the main reason for growth in international hires. That means engineers from India and China are flocking to Canada in higher numbers than before. U.S. workers are applying as well but for different reasons, including political uncertainty in the U.S. Canada has also made it easier to work there by enacting a program, Global Skills Strategy visa, that expedites international visas.
Engineers were the most common job for which Canadian startups hired international applicants.
Tech job platform Hired found last year that U.S. tech companies are asking to interview fewer international candidates. It looks as though domestic candidates could soon become scarcer as well.
Trump has shouted about weaponizing trade since the campaign trail, but this year he's put it to action, committing to solar tariffs back in January that endangered US jobs. This afternoon, Donald Trump signed an executive memorandum to enact tariffs…
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Venezuela’s economy: Near collapse! $ 150 billion in hock to other countries with a bolívar (its currency) that’s practically worthless, a nearly 30 percent unemployment rate, and a situation where average Venezuelans can’t afford food or medical care. So of course they’re banking on cryptocurrency to save them. And of course that effort just hit a major bump.
On Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order prohibiting Americans from taking part in any transactions involving “any digital currency [issued by, for, or on behalf of the Government of Venezuela]” starting January 9, 2018. That ban includes the controversial petro, the cryptocurrency tied to the value of Venezuela’s crude oil reserves.
How Trump plans to ensure citizens don’t use the crypto — which is, by nature, anonymous — isn’t, how shall we say, clear. However, he did give Steven Mnuchin, the U.S. treasury secretary, the authority to create whatever regulations he’ll need to enforce the order.
Diosdado Cabello, vice president of Venezuela’s United Socialist Party, responded to Trump’s decision via Twitter (translated from Spanish): “Once again, imperialism is mistaken in announcing sanctions and blocks against the brave and dignified people of Venezuela, the treasonous footmen drool with pleasure when our people suffer. Raise the flags of Bolívar and Chávez, we will prevail!”.
This decision by Trump isn’t him having it out for cryptocurrency so much as the larger political and economic complexities of America’s recent relationship with Venezuela…
August 2017: Trump signs an executive order imposing economic sanctions on Venezuela due, ostensibly, to Venezuela’s government engaging in human rights abuses, corruption, and violence. U.S. citizens are barred from lending Venezuela any money. The order also prohibits “any transaction that evades or avoids” the order.
December 2017: Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro announces the petro. “This will allow us to advance toward new forms of international financing for the economic and social development of our country,” he tells the country during a televised announcement. Little’s done to obscure the fact that this is basically a way to skirt the U.S. sanctions and nail down foreign investments. In fact, the only fiat currency not accepted during the pre-sale is the nation’s own: the bolívar.
February 20, 2018: Venezuela launches the private petro presale, during which they supposedly raise $ 5 billion (a figure that’s still unverified). Still, no doubt at least some U.S. citizens picked up petro during the presale, and now, thanks to Trump’s new executive order, those cryptocoins are little more than digital paperweights. During the pre-sale, 38.4 million tokens were up for grabs.
March 20, 2018 (Today): The initial coin offering (ICO) launches, offering up an additional 44 million petro. And U.S. citizens aren’t legally allowed to buy any of them.
“It’s a pretty big blow,” Russ Dallen, the managing director at Caracas Capital, told Bloomberg. “Since most cryptocurrencies are not actually backed by anything real, cryptocurrency speculation is based on the greater fool theory — I can buy this at $ 100 because there is someone who is a bigger idiot who is going to buy it at $ 200. When you take the U.S. out of that equation, you reduce the interest and potential for that speculation.”
In other words, Venezuela’s pool of potential fools got a whole lot smaller thanks to Trump.
Enter Russia, who, according Sources close to the matter, told TIME that Russia helped Venezuela plan the creation of petro to undermine the sanctions. According to TIME, Vladimir Putin himself signed off on the plan in 2017. Maduro then sat two Russian advisers, billionaires Denis Druzhkov and Fyodor Bogorodsky, in the front row during the petro launch in February, thanking them directly for helping in the fight against American “imperialism.” Of course, Russia’s Finance Ministry denied any involvement in the creation of the petro (Venezuelan officials haven’t commented on it).
So was Russia’s play simply a matter of undermining American authority? Was the petro Russia’s way of experimenting with a government-backed crypto without actually attaching itself to one? There are plenty of questions to go around over this, but one particularly glaring one stands out.
In Trump’s first executive order on Venezuela, he specifically prohibited any transactions designed to avoid the sanctions. Venezuela made it clear when they launched the petro that skirting those sanctions was implicit in its creation. So! If Trump knew about the creation of the petro way back in December, why wait until the end of the pre-sale, after Venezuela could sell off nearly half its petro in a crypto-hot market, to issue an executive order banning U.S. citizens from using it? Stateside, the answer’s gotta be worth something more than a few bolivar, if not some peace of mind (or, depending on what that answer is, a complete lack thereof).
Disclosure: Several members of the Futurism team, including the editors of this piece, are personal investors in a number of cryptocurrency markets. Their personal investment perspectives have no impact on editorial content.
The post Trump’s Shady Ban of Venezuela’s Shady Cryptocurrency, the Petro: Pretty Shady appeared first on Futurism.
Cambridge Analytica had profile information for some 50 million Facebook users, according to reports.
Now we know what prompted Facebook to suspend Cambridge Analytica, the data analytics firm the Trump campaign used during the 2016 election: The company was trying to get ahead of big stories about Cambridge in both The New York Times and the Observer.
Both stories hit Saturday morning, and claim that Cambridge Analytica had amassed a data trove with information from more than 50 million Facebook users it collected without their permission.
That’s a much larger number than Facebook reported last night, when it said that just 270,000 people “gave their consent” to hand over data to a third party researcher and University of Cambridge professor named Dr. Aleksandr Kogan.
How does that work? Back in 2015, Kogan, who also worked at a company called Global Science Research, created an app called “thisisyourdigitallife,” which used Facebook’s login feature that lets people join a third party app with their Facebook account, instead of creating a new app-specific account. Some 270,000 people logged into the app that way, granting Kogan permission under Facebook’s rules to scrape some of their profile data, including their identity and things that they’ve “liked.”
But that permission also gave Kogan access to data about the friend networks of these 270,000 people, which amounted to tens of millions of Facebook users, according to The Times. Kogan then shared that data with Cambridge Analytica, which was “building psychographic profiles” on American voters in order to target them with ads.
Here’s a key graph from the Times’s story:
“[Kogan] ultimately provided over 50 million raw profiles to the firm, Mr. Wylie said, a number confirmed by a company email and a former colleague. Of those, roughly 30 million contained enough information, including places of residence, that the company could match users to other records and build psychographic profiles. Only about 270,000 users — those who participated in the survey — had consented to having their data harvested.”
Kogan and Cambridge Analytica both certified to Facebook that it had destroyed this data back in 2015, but “copies of the data still remain beyond Facebook’s control,” The New York Times is reporting.
Cambridge Analytica claims that the data has been deleted, and that it had no idea it was collected in ways that violated Facebook’s terms of service.
“When it subsequently became clear that the data had not been obtained by GSR in line with Facebook’s terms of service, Cambridge Analytica deleted all data received from GSR,” a company spokesperson said in a statement sent to Recode. “We worked with Facebook over this period to ensure that they were satisfied that we had not knowingly breached any of Facebook’s terms of service and also provided a signed statement to confirm that all Facebook data and their derivatives had been deleted.”
“No data from GSR was used by Cambridge Analytica as part of the services it provided to the Donald Trump 2016 presidential campaign,” the statement added.
Facebook, for its part, is adamant that the company did nothing wrong — the data was collected appropriately under its terms of service, it was then abused by the collector. Facebook’s Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos said it bluntly on Twitter Saturday morning: “[Kogan] lied to those users and he lied to Facebook about what he was using the data for.”
The researcher in question, Aleksandr Kogan, enticed several hundred thousand individuals to use Facebook to login to his personality quiz in 2014. He lied to those users and he lied to Facebook about what he was using the data for.
— Alex Stamos (@alexstamos) March 17, 2018
It’s an illuminating look at how Cambridge Analytica and the Trump campaign “won” Facebook during the campaign — Trump’s Facebook strategy has been identified as a key factor in his surprising victory.
But the stories also leave a number of unanswered questions:
- How helpful was the data in targeting U.S. voters? How much of a difference did it make?
- Will Facebook change its policies to further limit the data that third parties can collect from its users?
- How much of the data is still out there online, and is it being used by the Trump campaign today?
Facebook said late Friday that it had suspended Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL), along with its political data analytics firm, Cambridge Analytica, for violating its policies around data collection and retention. The companies, which ran data operations for Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential election campaign, are widely credited with helping Trump more effectively target voters on Facebook than his rival, Hillary Clinton. While the exact nature of their role remains somewhat mysterious, Facebook’s disclosure suggests that the company improperly obtained user data that could have given it an unfair advantage in reaching voters.
Facebook said it cannot determine whether or how the data in question could have been used in…
Embattled mobile chip-maker Qualcomm has endured one heckuva year defending itself against a wide range of damning accusations and multi-billion dollar liabilities. From the alleged abuse of its cushy, dominant position in leveraging “unfair, monopolistic control” over the mobile chip market, to the multiple government-led investigations leading to massive penalties levied against the San Diego-based Snapdragon-maker — Qualcomm […]
On March 12, the U.S. National Academies, an independent organization that produces a vast number of reports on the world of science, medicine, and engineering, released their review of the draft of the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4). The assessment, produced by the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), evaluates the ongoing progress of climate change and its impact on the United States.
The National Academies review committee concluded that the new climate report provides an accurate description of climate change and its lasting effects.
The NC4A draft builds on evidence put forward by 2017’s Climate Science Special Report, which stated that “it is extremely likely that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.”
The Washington Post reports that the NCA4 draft makes it clear that coastal environments are being impacted the most. This builds off previous studies that have emphasized the threats such areas face if the 1.5 degree Celsius climate goal isn’t met.
“As the pace of coastal flooding and erosion accelerates, climate impacts along our coasts are exacerbating preexisting social inequities as communities face difficult questions on determining who will pay for current impacts and future adaptation strategies and if, how, or when to relocate vulnerable communities,” the report reads.
Scientists working on NCA4 were initially worried the Trump administration would intervene or prevent this climate report from being released, as it contradicts the president’s stance on climate change — a stance that ultimately led to the U.S.’ withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement. However, the draft was released as intended.
There’s still more work to be done before the report’s full release later this year. The review committee suggests improving how the report conveys key information in order to appeal to a broader audience, as well as highlighting advances made since the last climate assessment was published.
“There’s a tremendous interest and demand for updated information and also examples of how various communities are approaching climate issues,” Daniel Cayan, a professor at the University of California at San Diego and a member of the review committee, told The Washington Post. “So, I believe that there’s a community of consumers that really are depending on the National Climate Assessment, and I would be very surprised if it does not continue and it is not sustained.”
The post New Climate Report Forthcoming, Despite Trump’s Climate Change Views appeared first on Futurism.