Today in Big Tech — December 3, 2020
19 years ago today, inventor Dean Kamen unveiled the Segway on Good Morning America. Today, Good Morning America is talking about the future of movie theatres. Yes, I’m using Good Morning America as my segue.
“There are some limitations to the new business model. The movies will only stream on HBO Max for one month before leaving the platform for a period of time. They will also play in theaters simultaneously, keeping the relationship with movie theater distributors like AMC and Regal. The plan is to run this experiment for one year. For people who don’t have access to HBO Max in their market, it appears that theatrical releases will still be the go-to option.”
I can’t help but get excited by a future where most movies are available in the home on day 1. Some will be sad to lose the charm of going to the movie theatre, but I argue that the industry will benefit from being forced to innovate towards a better experience. Those few locations that offer plush chairs, real food, and even let you rent out the whole theatre for your friends and family are a good start.
“Timnit Gebru had been working on a research paper that she hoped to publish, but ran into resistance from her superiors at Google. And so she sent a letter expressing her frustration to the internal listserv Google Brain Women and Allies. A few days later, Gebru was fired — Google reportedly found the email ‘inconsistent with the expectations of a Google manager.’”
Google continues to dig itself deeper and deeper with every single one of these firings. I can’t claim to know what the solution is, but maybe not fire employees who raise concerns?
Hackers Are Targeting the Covid-19 Vaccine ‘Cold Chain’ by Brian Barrett
“The campaign seems to have focused on companies and organizations associated with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance’s Cold Chain Equipment Optimization Platform, an effort to streamline and strengthen the cold chain. The only target IBM identified by name was the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Taxation and Customs Union, which among other things determines tax relief associated with transporting vaccines across borders. Seemingly any part of the cold chain was within bounds for the attackers. Other targets mentioned by IBM include manufacturers of solar panels, which might power trucks carrying the vaccine to more remote locations, and a German website developer whose clients include pharmaceutical, biotech, and container transport companies.”
This is extremely saddening and worrying. Hacking for profit is one thing. Hacking for cyberwarfare and cyberespionage is another. Hacking to disrupt the safe transportation of a vaccine is a completely different ball game.
Trump Administration Claims Facebook Improperly Reserved Jobs for H-1B Workers by Deepa Seetharaman, Sadie Gurman, and Michelle Hackman
“Companies sponsoring workers for employment-based green cards are required to show as part of the federal application process that they couldn’t find any qualified American workers to fill the job. The suit said Facebook didn’t advertise the reserved positions on its website and required candidates to mail in their applications rather than accepting them online.”
Will the Biden administration simply drop this lawsuit? And what will it get in return for doing so? I can’t imagine this lawsuit going away quietly, but crazier things have happened when it comes to the U.S. government and Facebook.
Amazon iOS Users Can Now Text Alexa Questions and Requests by Juli Clover
“Type to Alexa can be accessed by tapping on the keyboard icon in the top left of the main menu in the app. Amazon says that the feature is still in beta, so there could be some errors. Customers will need to be a part of the public preview program to access the type to Alexa feature. Apple’s built-in Siri assistant has had a type to Siri option since iOS 11, allowing users to type in requests rather than having to speak them aloud, and Google Assistant has a similar feature.”
This is just Amazon playing catch up, but it reminded me to wonder about whether texting Alexa could prove more popular than using your voice. I’m not saying that will happen, but the percentage breakdown will be fascinating no matter what it is.