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06.22.16 | 3:30 pm

Machine learning could create more tech opportunities for women

Machine learning, the artificial intelligence technology behind Tesla's self-driving cars and Amazon's Alexa, has great potential to put big data to work. But the growing field may have another bonus: providing new pathways for women to get into tech. 

"Not everyone has to have that PhD in computer science," senior machine learning recruiter at Microsoft Amanda Papp mentioned to me in conversation at the International Machine Learning Conference in New York. "We have folks that have more physics backgrounds or biomathematics or permutational biology. [Machine learning] doesn't necessarily have to have that standard comp-sci path."

As machine learning teams grow, it could lead to more job opportunity at tech companies for women with majors in physical science, biology, and math. While there aren't oodles of women in these fields of study, there tend to be more equivalent numbers of men and women in them than in computer science. And as machine learning jobs grow, it's likely the overall number of students in these subjects will too.

04.24.17 | an hour ago

Samsung social media just shut down a troll in the best way

Samsung just reminded the internet that if you play with fire, you just might get burned. In a social media promotion, the phone company asked its Twitter followers to post the first photo they took with their Galaxy S8s. However, because this is the internet, and the internet is the worst, it only took a few minutes for someone to chime in with the eye roll-worthy tidbit that their first photo was "a dick pic." The tweet got hundreds of retweets and LOLs, of course, until Samsung's social media folks stepped in to destroy the troll with a single emoji of a microscope. Pure fire. 

04.24.17 | 2 hours ago

Jimmy Choo is for sale

Jimmy Choo, the luxury shoe company, announced that it is up for sale. JAB Holding, a German consumer goods company, acquired the brand in 2008 for $800 million and took it public in 2014, retaining a 67.6% stake. JAB has recently been investing in American coffee brands and is about to buy Panera, the sandwich chain.  These investments hinge on the broader trend of consumers choosing to spend money on experiences rather than luxury goods. 

Read more in the New York Times. 

04.24.17 | 2 hours ago

Here’s a video of Larry Page’s flying car in action

Google's Larry Page wants to make flying cars, like, a thing. To make that straight-out-of-science fiction idea a reality, he's backing a project called Kitty Hawk, which is led by Sebastian Thrun, who helped get Google into the self-driving car race. 

The ultralight flyer took a test flight over a lake near San Francisco, the New York Times reports and the video shows that the future is now(ish). The plane looks like a cross between a drone and a pontoon boat, as it comes outfitted for water landings. While the final product will undoubtedly look a little different, Kitty Hawk hopes to be selling the planes by the end of the year and you can already become a member of the fan club and join the wait list. Price is still TBD, though.

The flyers are already approved to operate in the U.S., but don't expect to see them racing the BART train anytime soon, as they are currently only legal to fly in un-congested areas. The first round of products are designed for hobbyists and recreational use, according to TechCrunch, and strangely you don't need a pilot's license to fly one, so your next lake vacation may involve 10-year olds dropping water balloons from the sky.

[Photo: Kitty Hawk]

04.24.17 | 4 hours ago

If these pictures really are of the next iPhone, we want one now

Benjamin Geskin says he has sources at Foxconn that provided him with a CNC model (a nonworking prototype of the body) of the next iPhone, currently dubbed the "iPhone 8."

04.24.17 | 6:56 am

Madewell is ramping up its denim donation program after a blockbuster Earth Day

The fashion industry is a highly polluting one. This is partly because consumers have gotten used to treating garments as disposable, throwing them out when they are out of style. Madewell, a brand that generates a quarter of its sales from denim, has responded to this waste by encouraging customers to bring in old pairs of jeans to be recycled. Since 2014, customers could drop off old pairs of jeans (of any brand) at stores to receive a $20 coupon to buy another pair from Madewell. These collected jeans are sent to Cotton Incorporated's Blue Jeans Go Green project, which recycles old denim, transforming it into natural cotton fiber insulation for homes. 

This Earth Day, the brand was setting out to hit 150,000 jeans donated, but it blew right past it, collecting 155,532, which translates to about 186 houses insulated. The company is now dedicated to collecting 200,000 by the end of 2017. Madewell involves its entire staff in this eco-initiative, inviting employees to be part of Habitat for Humanity projects that use this insulation in houses. 

04.24.17 | 6:38 am’s CEO is “heartbroken” that users discovered it sells their data

The simple email unsubscribe service was revealed to be selling its user's anonymized data to the very apps they were unsubscribing from. The revelation came from a New York Times profile on Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. In it, it was revealed Uber buys data from that showed how Lyft's user base was progressing. After the news broke,'s CEO Jojo Hedaya wrote a blog post saying the company is "heartbroken" its users found out how it makes money on the free service:

Our users are the heart of our company and service. So it was heartbreaking to see that some of our users were upset to learn about how we monetize our free service. And while we try our best to be open about our business model, recent customer feedback tells me we weren't explicit enough. Sure we have a Terms of Service Agreement and a plain-English Privacy Policy that our users agree they have read and understand before they even sign up, but the reality is most of us—myself included—don't take the time to thoroughly review them.

H/T: Guardian

04.24.17 | 6:15 am

The top revelations from the NYT’s profile of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick

The profile is a deep exploration into Kalanick's history and thinking. Some highlights:

• Back in 2015 Uber's app was secretly identifying and tagging iPhones even after it had been deleted or the iPhones had been erased–a practice known as "fingerprinting."

• Fingerprinting is often used as a fraud detection and prevention method that helps certain companies detect when people are using stolen smartphones to game the system.

• Apple banned the practice of fingerprinting using a user's device's UDID back in 2013 due to privacy concerns.

• Apple CEO Tim Cook personally called Kalanick to Apple's headquarters to tell him to stop fingerprinting phones or else Apple would pull Uber from the App Store.

• Back in 2003 Kalanick registered to run for governor of California.

• Actors including Edward Norton, Olivia Munn, Sophia Bush, and Leonardo DiCaprio along with music superstars Jay-Z and Beyoncé are investors in Uber.

• One time Jay-Z wired Kalanick even more money to invest in a larger share of the company, but Kalanick wired it back to him, saying that he had too many interested investors already.

• Kalanick wanted Oprah Winfrey to join Uber's board.

•Kalanick is a big admirer of Amazon.

• His main mantra is "growth above all else."

You can read the New York Time's full fascinating profile of Kalanick here.

04.24.17 | 5:49 am

Yahoo reportedly mismanaged a humanitarian aid fund earmarked for Chinese political dissidents

The Yahoo Human Rights Trust was established in 2007 after Yahoo agreed to pay $17.3 million to settle a case against it in which it turned over information about a Chinese journalist to the Chinese government, who later imprisoned that journalist. However, now a group of Chinese citizens is suing Yahoo, alleging the company turned a blind eye as the man responsible for overseeing the fund squandered $13 million of it, reports Forbes:

[The squandered funds were spent] on "expenditures having nothing to do with providing humanitarian assistance to imprisoned Chinese dissidents," according to their complaint. The group alleges that the bulk of that money went to the man responsible for overseeing it, among other things, and that only $700,000—or about 4% of the fund—was spent on direct humanitarian aid.

"In standing idly by while it knew the Yahoo Human Rights Trust was being squandered, Yahoo abandoned its responsibilities to Trust beneficiaries, who have risked their lives by speaking out for political reform in China," Times Wang, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said in a written statement.

04.22.17 | 11:03 pm

Here are just a few of the great signs at the #MarchForScience

On Earth Day today, hundreds of thousands of people marched in cities around the world, from the main March for Science in Washington, D.C., to 600 satellite marches. Given the intellect of the marchers, it wasn't surprising to see plenty of really clever signs. Here are just a few of them:

04.21.17 | 4:20 pm

Facebook just beat its own record for lobbying the federal government

The social networking giant has cash to spare, and it's not afraid to spread it around the Beltway if it means buying a little extra influence. According to its latest lobbying report, Facebook spent $3.21 million lobbying the federal government in the first quarter of this year. That's the first time it broke the $3 million mark in a single quarter, as Axios reports. Facebook is hardly alone. As we reported earlier this year, it's boom times for tech-industry lobbying. Uber, for instance, tripled its spending last year. 

04.21.17 | 2:14 pm

Forget Uber and Waymo: Self-driving vehicles are creeping into cities via public transit

On Thursday, a new autonomous trolley hit the streets of Knoxville, Tennessee. The 12-seat vehicle provided by Olli is being integrated in the city's public transit system. It is the third such self-driving project to land in the United States this year. In January, Las Vegas debuted a driverless bus to ferry passengers along a three-block route. A couple months later, California began testing a squat self-driving bus in parking lots. Then at SXSW, local transit authority Capital Metro demonstrated its self-steering coach among festival goers. While major companies like Uber, Tesla, and Apple promise to be the big sellers of autonomous car brains and bodies, it seems the earliest companies to actually put their wheels on roads will be the unknown players powering public transit. 

[Photo: Olli]

04.21.17 | 1:05 pm

Two words: Lawn Roomba

Robot servants are already mastering food delivery and fashion, and now there's a new way for you to sit on your butt while robots do the hard labor—lawn Roombas. While not technically Roombas, they work in the same way as the robotic vacuums/cat cars. Products like the Robomow and Honda's Miimo, which just launched in the United States, will cut your lawn for you and then return to their docking station when done. These genius products are still a work in progress. According to Curbed, few of the grass cutters offer 100% coverage and may miss the edges, but hey, so does that neighbor kid you pay $20. 

Laziness does come at a cost. These helpful little robots have a steep price tag ranging from $999 to $2,799. Start mowing lawns now to save up enough money to buy this thing so you never have to mow the lawn again.

[Photo: Honda]