Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

06.30.16 | 3:49 pm

Source: Trump campaign fired its latest digital guru after he leaked news of his hiring [UPDATED]

As if the Trump campaign couldn't get any weirder, it apparently hired, then fired, a top-level digital operative in the last few days, a well-placed source tells Fast Company

Earlier this week, the campaign hired Vincent Harris (Harris Media), who was chief digital officer for Rand Paul's presidential bid and for Sen. Mitch McConnell's 2014 reelection campaign, reported Politico. A Breitbart story the next day quoted Trump aides saying Harris had done contract work, but was never hired. 

Now Fast Company has learned that Harris was dismissed by the Trump campaign after leaking to Politico that he was working for the campaign. Oops.

Why does this matter? The Trump campaign has almost completely shunned the technology practices used in modern political campaigns, relying on non-paid mass media coverage to reach voters. And contrary to a popular narrative, there's not much evidence that that has changed at all as the general election looms.

Harris and a spokesperson for the Trump campaign did not reply to requests for comment.

UPDATE at 7:30PM EST: Harris is tweeting his response to the claims:

12.06.16 | 14 minutes ago

This tech nonprofit, which helps unbanked populations gain access to resources, is expanding in India

Stellar, a nonprofit aimed at helping those with little economic opportunity get access to banking resources at a low cost, is gaining ground internationally. The organization has linked up with four new financial institutions, including one of India's largest banks. Already Stellar has done quite a bit to expand within Africa, Asia, and Europe, but its deal with bank ICICI marks its first major foray into India. 

The new deal will allow these institutions to build low-cost services (like loans, remittances, insurance, and savings accounts) on Stellar's platform. By keeping the fees cheap, Stellar is hoping to draw in people who ordinarily can't afford to put their money in a bank. Allowing people to send money to far-flung family members has also been a particular focus for the organization since it launched in 2014. Stellar's network also settles money transactions in real time—technology that's not an industry-wide standard yet. Remittances are a booming market, with everyone from PayPal to new players like TransferWise trying to offer alternatives to traditional money-wire services like Western Union. So far, Stellar has nailed down 30 such partnerships internationally. Partners range in size from a small European blockchain startup to Barclays. The larger the network, the more valuable it becomes to those who need to send money all over the world. 

12.06.16 | an hour ago

Tim Cook says Apple Watch sales growth is “off the charts”

After an IDC report said the Apple Watch's share of the wearable market fell to just 5% Apple CEO Tim Cook has stepped in to do some damage control, reports Reuters. Without specifically addressing the market share data IDC asserted, Cook, in an email to Reuters, said that Apple Watch "sales growth is off the charts." From his email:

"Our data shows that Apple Watch is doing great and looks to be one of the most popular holiday gifts this year. Sales growth is off the charts. In fact, during the first week of holiday shopping, our sell-through of Apple Watch was greater than any week in the product's history. And as we expected, we're on track for the best quarter ever for Apple Watch."

12.06.16 | an hour ago

Now you can send holiday cash with these PayPal e-cards

PayPal is launching a series of e-cards to encourage people to ditch snail mail and send money electronically this holiday season. The announcement comes almost exactly 10 months after WeChat revealed that its users sent 8 billion money-enclosed e-cards to friends and family during the Chinese New Year. Since WeChat's "red envelopes" first came out in 2014, local competitors Baidu and Alibaba have rolled out similar offerings.

With lots of peer-to-peer money apps out there, PayPal is hoping customizable cards will help distinguish it from competitors. "It's always great to stand out in the marketplace," Patrick Adams, CMO for PayPal North America, told Fast Company. He also thinks e-cards will prove popular year-round. 

According to a recent survey the company ran, 62% of people said they wish they could ask for money as a gift. Roughly that same percentage didn't want to give money as a gift because they were worried about it seeming too impersonal. PayPal's line of six e-cards is designed by home design guru Jonathan Adler. PayPal says it will continue to offer e-cards throughout the year for other occasions, like birthdays, anniversaries, and any other time you want to send money with a card.   

12.06.16 | an hour ago

Facebook is quietly testing a tool to fight fake news

The tool was reported by three users on Twitter, reports the Guardian. It showed users a link to an article from Rolling Stone, the Philadelphia Inquirer, or Chortle and asked them to decide to what extent do they think the link's title "withholds key details of the story." Users can click one of five options ranging from "not at all" to "completely". It's not clear how or if Facebook will act on the data it's collecting says the Guardian, but the limited test is a sign that shows Facebook knows it needs to respond to the growing criticism of the fake news stories permeating its site.  

12.05.16 | 8:54 pm

Could Hillary’s popular vote lead reach 3 million?

The new numbers in today (from the AP) show a widening popular vote victory for HRC, and a real possibility that the margin could reach 3 million before it's all said and done. The Electoral College will cast its votes for president December 19.

12.05.16 | 8:38 pm

Apple plays the cute card with new iPhone 7 ad

Cute kids in cute period costumes acting cutely in a cute rendition of Romeo and Juliet on a cute elementary school stage. Proud father sitting in audience with iPhone 7 shoots cute performance of cute daughter. Then, moved, cute father cries, cutely. 

This stuff moves phones, baby.

12.05.16 | 7:27 pm

This new AI training ground is made from a thousand video games

An artificial intelligence system may have beaten the world's best Go player, but you shouldn't expect that same system, no matter how smart it is, to be able to play other games. That's a limitation of what some call "narrow AI"—an inability to expand outside of known domains. The folks behind OpenAI, a billion-dollar Silicon Valley artificial intelligence nonprofit started by tech superstars like Elon Musk and Y Combinator president Sam Altman, want to help change that dynamic in order to develop AI systems with broader capabilities. And games, because they present many complex tasks for players to complete, may well be the ideal platform for doing so.

That's why they've launched Universe, a new AI training and proving ground that mines a thousand video games from some of the world's biggest game companies—Electronic Arts, Valve, Microsoft, and others—in order to attempt to "develop a single AI agent that can flexibly apply its past experience on Universe environments to quickly master unfamiliar, difficult environments, which would be a major step towards general intelligence."

In the early going, AI agents developed using the system will likely only be able to handle simple tasks like navigating Web buttons, interfaces, and sliders, but over time, OpenAI hopes, they will be able to tackle more complex actions. 

12.05.16 | 6:26 pm

Evening intel: London is falling, tech giants target propaganda

• A coalition of internet giants including Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and YouTube are launching a program they hope will help them move more quickly to identify and remove terrorist propaganda. The new program would create a database of digital "fingerprints" that could be used to identify bad actors, the AP reports

• At the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in London, tech investors warned that the U.K.'s capital could lose its cachet among startups in the wake of Brexit. They called on the U.K. government to "answer lingering questions about immigration policy," Reuters reports

• The jury in the trial of Michael Slager, the South Carolina cop who shot Walter Scott, ended up in a deadlock. The mistrial comes despite compelling video evidence that Slager shot Scott in the back as he ran away.

• The new spaceship from Virgin Galactic completed its first successful glide flight. The company experienced a setback in 2014 when one if its spaceships crashed.

• And it turns out, there is no shortage of hubris among startup founders these days. About 20% of them think they are running a unicorn

12.05.16 | 5:34 pm

Meet the 5 biomedical researchers who won the Breakthrough Prize 

The Breakthrough Prize award ceremony represents a rare opportunity for researchers to get out of the lab, and on the red carpet. One scientist—developmental biologist Roeland Nusse, who spoke to Stat News—realized after he'd won the $3 million award that he didn't own a tux. 

Here are the five winners who got to attend the glamorous event in Silicon Valley and hobnob with tech billionaires: 

* Roeland Nusse: A Stanford University developmental biologist whose lab focuses on "growth, development, and integrity of animal tissue."

* Stephen Elledge: A Harvard-based biologist who studies how cells repair damaged DNA. 

* Harry Noller: A molecular biologist known for his deep research on the  structure of ribosomes, tiny particles consisting of RNA and associated proteins that are found in large numbers of living cells. 

* Yoshinori Ohsumi: A Japanese biologist who won the Nobel Prize in physiology for his discovery of the cell recycling process known as autophagy.

* Huda Yahya Zoghbi: Baylor College of Medicine medical researcher who focuses on Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, among other diseases.

12.05.16 | 4:43 pm

Walter Scott mistrial shows difficulty in convicting cops, even with video evidence

If you've been keeping track at home, you probably weren't all that surprised by the news today that the jury deadlocked in the trial of Michael Slager, the South Carolina cop who shot Walter Scott, resulting in a mistrial. This despite video evidence that Slager shot Scott in the back as he ran away.

Although prosecutors say they may continue to pursue charges, the outcome is just the latest proof of how hard it is to hold police who shoot unarmed civilians accountable, and probably reinforces in many people's minds that cops are held to a different standard than the rest of us when it comes to using deadly force, especially in light of similar outcomes in other cases in South Carolina, Ohio, Maryland, and other states.

12.05.16 | 3:50 pm

Watch Virgin Galactic’s new spaceship complete its first glide flight 

Watch out, SpaceX: Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic has a new spaceship, and it just completed its first glide flight. The new SpaceShipTwo, named VSS Unity, made the crucial test flight on Saturday over California's Mojave Desert. The craft was carried into the air by its mothership and released—gliding for 10 minutes by itself and landing at Mojave Air and Space Port. 

Further glide flights will be conducted before the craft moves on to rocket-powered flights, the Associated Press reports. Virgin suffered a major setback in 2014 when one of its spaceships broke up and crashed.

Fast Company recently caught up with Branson at an event in New York, where he talked about wanting to challenge some of President-elect Donald Trump's "worst ideas." Read the full interview here.

[Photo: Virgin Galactic]

12.05.16 | 2:30 pm

Afternoon intel: Is Mr. Kushner going to Washington?

• Austrian far-right candidate Norbert Hofer has conceded the presidency to Alexander Van der Bellen. As CNN notes, Hofer would have been the first "far-right head of state in Western Europe since the end of World War II."  

• Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, are reportedly looking for homes in Washington, D.C., which isn't a good sign for people against nepotism

• Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) will be the next chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, leaving his current role on the Communications and Technology subcommittee open

Social activist and New York Daily News writer Shaun King has launched an "Injustice Boycott" of cities and companies that have kept silent on issues like racial inequality. 

Amazon has a new venture called Amazon Go, a physical store where the items that shoppers put into their cart are synced with a virtual cart—and you don't have to wait in line or go through the checkout. It's all online.