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Global IT Spending Expected to Rise 8.4% to $4.1 Trillion This Year WSJD - Technology

Many businesses are bolstering videoconferencing and collaboration tools, which helped support remote work during the crisis, as they lay the groundwork for a permanent shift to hybrid offices combining physical and virtual workspaces. The Morning Download delivers daily insights and news on business technology from the CIO Journal team. Ramped up spending of more than 10% from last year on both enterprise software and devices is expected to lead the gains, Gartner said. "Our overall IT budget will look very similar to what it did pre-pandemic," said Erik Bailey, CIO at Anaqua Inc., noting the Boston-based software company's spending plans will focus on cybersecurity, hosting services and laptops, monitors and other workstation equipment. The goal is "to ensure staff are completely productive wherever they are," he said.

Ready, Set, Algorithms! Teams Learn AI by Racing Cars


Anyone with an Amazon Web Services account can participate in the league. Teams or individuals can compete online in "virtual" races or in person at events world-wide. Teams build and train AI algorithms using Amazon SageMaker software, deploy them to self-driving cars measuring about 10 inches, then race them around a track of roughly 17 feet by 26 feet. "It's actually having practical applications," said James Rhodes, chief technology officer of investment research firm Morningstar. Thanks to the training, the company expects to have dozens of projects based on reinforcement learning and other machine-learning techniques in deployment by the end of 2020, he said.

Liberty Mutual Insurance Announces Technology Leadership Team Appointments


Liberty Mutual Insurance today announced the appointment of four executives to Chief Information Officer James McGlennons technology leadership team. The appointments are part of Mr. McGlennons strategy to create a fast, flexible and agile organization that leads change in the industry by incubating new ideas and deploying new technologies. These new appointments are key to our success in realizing our strategy to drive a growing, profitable business and Libertys vision to become a Top 3 global property and casualty insurer, said McGlennon. To achieve these goals, we need to disrupt ourselves and change how we operate, placing the customer at the center of our thinking and looking for new ways to provide value and enhanced service. By doing this we will redefine how customers shop for and learn about insurance by creating innovative ways to help them navigate the roads with more confidence and less worry.

Unqork raises $80 million for enterprise app development without code


Two-year-old New York-based software company Unqork, which is developing a no-code platform for enterprise insurance and financial services, today announced that it's raised $80 million in series B financing led by CapitalG, the equity investment fund of Google parent company Alphabet. Funds and accounts under management by BlackRock participated, along with other undisclosed existing investors. CEO Gary Hoberman said that this latest round, which brings the company's total raised to over $110 million following a $22 million series A in April led by Goldman Sachs, will accelerate the expansion of operations into additional markets and hiring across its engineering teams. "We're ecstatic to have CapitalG help power Unqork's momentum for continued growth," he added. "[T]he additional funding will allow us to help deliver more of the best enterprise no-code technology and enable fully functional application development for top companies all over the world."

Analysis finds gerrymandering in 2016 U.S., state legislative races gave GOP huge advantage

The Japan Times

NEW YORK – The 2016 presidential contest was awash with charges that the fix was in: Republican Donald Trump repeatedly claimed that the election was rigged against him, while Democrats have accused the Russians of stacking the odds in Trump's favor. Less attention was paid to manipulation that occurred not during the presidential race, but before it -- in the drawing of lines for hundreds of U.S. and state legislative seats. The result, according to an Associated Press analysis: Republicans had a real advantage. The AP scrutinized the outcomes of all 435 U.S. House races and about 4,700 state House and Assembly seats up for election last year using a new statistical method of calculating partisan advantage designed to detect potential political gerrymandering. The analysis found four times as many states with Republican-skewed state House or Assembly districts than Democratic ones.