The Guardian


Uber stole trade secrets, bribed foreign officials and spied on rivals, filing says

The Guardian

Uber allegedly engaged in a range of "unethical and unlawful intelligence collections", including the theft of competitive trade secrets, bribery of foreign officials and spying on competitors and politicians, according to an explosive legal document published on Friday. It's the latest chapter in the discovery process for the company's messy legal squabble with Waymo, Google's driverless car spin-off, which has accused Uber of stealing trade secrets. The details were outlined in a 37-page demand letter filed by the ex-Uber security manager Richard Jacobs, who left the company earlier this year. The document paints a picture of a team of employees dedicated to spying on rivals and "impeding" legal investigations into the company. Jacobs alleges that when he raised concerns over the techniques being used, he was given a poor performance review and demoted as "pure retaliation" for refusing to buy into the culture of "achieving business goals through illegal conduct even though equally aggressive legal means were available".


Humans 2.0: meet the entrepreneur who wants to put a chip in your brain

The Guardian

Bryan Johnson isn't short of ambition. The founder and CEO of neuroscience company Kernel wants "to expand the bounds of human intelligence". He is planning to do this with neuroprosthetics; brain augmentations that can improve mental function and treat disorders. Put simply, Kernel hopes to place a chip in your brain. It isn't clear yet exactly how this will work.


Rise of the robots and all the lonely people Letters

The Guardian

Two connected stories in Monday's Guardian: Tom Watson asks us to "embrace an android" while Rachel Reeves describes society's sixth giant evil as a "crisis of loneliness". Replacing people with machines decreases opportunities for social interactions helping many feel integrated. Self-service in shops, libraries, banks and other places means people can go all day without conversation with a "real" person. It is set to worsen, to the detriment of contact and service quality. It is no coincidence that Lidl, the fastest-growing supermarket, resisted moves to self-service tills until recently.


Hey Alexa, is it true you're a lefty feminist?

The Guardian

Is this a childhood obesity story? No, this is Amazon's Alexa – the voice-activated virtual assistant that can help you find music, make to-do lists, adjust your thermostat and ensure your ideological purity. That all sounds quite helpf- wait, what was that last one again? Not sure if it comes as standard or only with Amazon Prime, but according to some commentators, it's there. What form does it take?


Better loving through technology: a day at the sex-toy hackathon

The Guardian

Twelve years of Catholic school prepares you for a lot of weird things, but walking into a church to find 50 people testing vibrators on each other's noses, strapping each other into inflatable hug machines and flinging around bits of deconstructed sex toys under a huge stained-glass window that reads THOU ART THE KING OF GLORY O CHRIST is not one of them. I am at Goldsmiths, University of London, in the church of what used to be St James Hatcham but was transformed, some years ago, into an arts "hub". Hacksmiths, the student-run tech society at the university, runs "hackathons" – invention marathons – where over the course of three days, attendees of varying skills and backgrounds camp out on air beds and eat pizza while brainstorming and building machines. For this event, the theme was sex technology. While the aim of all these hackathons is progressive, building new and better sex toys to your own specifications is, in itself, nothing new.


alphazero-google-deepmind-ai-beats-champion-program-teaching-itself-to-play-four-hours

The Guardian

AlphaZero, the game-playing AI created by Google sibling DeepMind, has beaten the world's best chess-playing computer program, having taught itself how to play in under four hours. The repurposed AI, which has repeatedly beaten the world's best Go players as AlphaGo, has been generalised so that it can now learn other games. It took just four hours to learn the rules to chess before beating the world champion chess program, Stockfish 8, in a 100-game match up. Artificial Intelligence has various definitions, but in general it means a program that uses data to build a model of some aspect of the world. This model is then used to make informed decisions and predictions about future events.


Google v Amazon: YouTube app pulled from Fire TV and Echo Show

The Guardian

Google is using YouTube as leverage over Amazon to try and force the world's largest retailer to sell its Home smart speakers, Chromecasts and Nest products. Google has pulled official support for YouTube from Amazon's Echo Show and Fire TV devices, meaning that owners can no longer access the video site through a YouTube app. The quarrel originally became public in September when Google pulled YouTube access from the new Echo Show for "violating terms of service" saying that Amazon's implementation of YouTube blocked what Google considered critical features. Now it appears to revolve around Amazon's unwillingness to sell certain Google products. Google said in a statement: "We've been trying to reach agreement with Amazon to give consumers access to each other's products and services.


Google to hire slew of moderators amid outcry over YouTube child abuse videos

The Guardian

Google is hiring thousands of new moderators after facing widespread backlash for allowing child abuse videos and other violent and offensive content to flourish on YouTube. Google, which owns YouTube, announced on Monday that next year it would expand its total workforce to more than 10,000 people responsible for reviewing content that could violate its policies. The news from YouTube's CEO, Susan Wojcicki, followed a steady stream of negative press surrounding the site's role in spreading harassing videos, misinformation, hate speech and content that is harmful to children. Wojcicki said that in addition to an increase in human moderators, YouTube is continuing to develop advanced machine-learning technology to automatically flag problematic content for removal. The company said its new efforts to protect children from dangerous and abusive content and block hate speech on the site were modeled after the company's ongoing work to fight violent extremist content.


How white engineers built racist code – and why it's dangerous for black people

The Guardian

"You good?" a man asked two narcotics detectives late in the summer of 2015. The detectives had just finished an undercover drug deal in Brentwood, a predominately black neighborhood in Jacksonville, Florida, that is among the poorest in the country, when the man unexpectedly approached them. One of the detectives responded that he was looking for $50 worth of "hard"– slang for crack cocaine. The man disappeared into a nearby apartment and came back out to fulfill the detective's request, swapping the drugs for money. "You see me around, my name is Midnight," the dealer said as he left.


'Never send nudes, and keep swearing tame': a WhatsApp survival guide

The Guardian

It's funny how quickly apps have become shorthand for everyday tasks: we now go on "Tinder dates", a takeaway is "a Deliveroo", taxis give way to "getting an Uber". And when it comes to sharing confidences and keeping in touch, we're all WhatsApping. The preposterously named app, which sounds like an unwelcome thumbs-up across the dance floor, has become the preferred method of communication for 1.2 billion of us – leaving emails, texts and (obviously) face-to-face conversation in the dust. WhatsApp's main plus – and quite a big minus, if you think about it – is that anyone can use it. It's free, and makes chatting in a group really easy – almost too easy, in fact, as you spend half your time being added to random groups and trying desperately to catch up and decipher their in-jokes.