Today in Big Tech — December 7, 2020

21 years ago today, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) sued Napster for letting users download copyrighted music for free. Today, streaming has improved access to music while simultaneously restricting what music you can listen to and where.

Google adds Apple Music support to Assistant smart speakers and displays by Dan Seifert

“With Apple Music on board, the only major services left that aren’t full supported on Google’s smart speakers are Amazon Music and Tidal, both of which are compatible with Echo speakers (which don’t support Google’s YouTube Music service). Apple’s HomePod smart speakers are in a distant last place here, with support for just Apple Music and Pandora at the time of this writing.”

The RIAA eventually won, forcing Napster to suspend operations and file for bankruptcy. But piracy survived. While streaming services have done more damage to piracy than any lawsuit ever could, the war between them could take the industry back to where it once struggled.

Uber sells its self-driving unit to Aurora by Jessica Bursztynsky

“he deal, expected to close in the first quarter of 2021, values ATG at approximately $4 billion. The unit was valued at $7.25 billion in Apr. 2019 when Softbank, Denso and Toyota took a stake. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi will join the company’s board, and the ride-sharing giant will invest $400 million into the company.”

This has been long rumored but it’s still a little sad. Maybe ATG can do some good at Aurora. Given its history of failures, the division certainly can’t do worse than it did at Uber. Frankly though, I’m not holding my breath.

Apple Preps Next Mac Chips With Aim to Outclass Top-End PCs by Mark Gurman and Ian King

“While Intel gets less than 10% of its revenue from furnishing Apple with Mac chips, the rest of its PC business is liable to face turbulence if the iPhone maker is able to deliver demonstrably better-performing computers. It could accelerate a shakeup in an industry that has long been dependent on Intel’s pace of innovation. For Apple, the move sheds that dependency, deepens its distinction from the rest of the PC market and gives it a chance to add to its small, but growing share in PCs.”

There’s not much here that wasn’t already announced. If Apple does succeed as expected, the ramifications for Intel and the larger PC industry will be fascinating to watch. In other words, we know what Apple will be doing for the next two years — but what will everyone else be doing?

Researchers are starting to refuse to review Google AI papers by Khari Johnson

“The research paper at the center of the disagreement is titled ‘On the Dangers of Stochastic Parrots: Can Language Models Be Too Big?’ The paper details the negative consequences of large language models on marginalized communities and closely examines risks associated with their use, like environmental racism and the potential to perpetuate a wide variety of bias based on gender, race, and other characteristics.”

This requires a proper response from Google. I hope to see some backpedaling but sadly wouldn’t be surprised if the company chose to stay quiet.

LG shakes up loss-making phone business, to outsource lower-end models

“LG’s mobile communications business, which has reported an operating loss for 22 consecutive quarters, has created a new management title for original design manufacture (ODM), a spokeswoman for the South Korean company said. This refers to the outsourcing of design and manufacture of smartphones, with LG putting its label on the product.”

Why bother? Seriously. Just throw in the towel and focus on what you’re good at.

Executive Editor @VentureBeat Formerly @TheNextWeb @ZDNet @CNET @TechSpot @ArsTechnica