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06.02.16 | 1:22 pm

Tech titans call out Thiel for attacking journalism—in front of a room full of journalists

This week at Recode's Code Conference in California, a paltry few tech titans have stepped up to speak out against prominent investor and PayPal mafioso Peter Thiel's efforts to defund Gawker Media by bankrolling Hulk Hogan's lawsuit against the company.  But issuing a "tsk tsk" to Thiel for threatening first amendment rights is pretty easy when your audience is mostly journalists. 

1) eBay CEO Devin Wenig said, "I side with a free media and a free press."   

2) Amazon founder Jeff Bezos told audience members, "I don't think a billionaire should be able to fund a lawsuit to kill Gawker."

3) Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said, "Peter did what he did on his own, not as a Facebook board member," adding, "We didn't know about it."

Those opposing Thiel are firmly in the minority, though a few others have offered a tepid condemnation of Thiel. 

Here's President of Y Combinator Sam Altman on why it's bad to snuff out the press. 

And a line from Chartbeat founder Tony Haile on what constitutes Clickbait versus real journalism:

These precious few callouts against Thiel's actions aren't likely to do much to dissuade him from funding Gawker's potential demise. After all, how do you stop a billionaire? 

09.28.16 | 5 minutes ago

Moscow will ditch Microsoft software to reduce dependence on foreign tech

The city of Moscow plans to transition its computer systems away from Microsoft Windows and other Microsoft services in an attempt to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin's call to reduce dependences on foreign technology, reports Bloomberg. To start with Moscow will ditch Microsoft's Exchange Server and Outlook software on 6,000 computers–to be replaced with an email system made by Russian state-run carrier Rostelecom PJSC. As many as 600,000 computers and servers may also replace Windows and Office with homegrown substitutes.

[Image: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images]

09.28.16 | 22 minutes ago

Facebook’s Slack rival will reportedly launch next month

The social network is about to launch its business-focused vertical Facebook at Work, reports the Information. Work, which was first announced back in 2014, will look similar to Facebook's personal offerings, but does not connect with a user's personal Facebook account. Instead Facebook at Work users will get a new Work profile and their News Feeds will allow them to join work groups, send messages, and collaborate–just like Slack. It will also be available on both web and mobile–just like Slack. Companies will reportedly be charged based on how many employees they have that are using the service.

[Image: Facebook]

09.28.16 | an hour ago

Thousands of London construction workers could soon lose their jobs to robots

Alison Carnwath, the chairman of Land Securities, told the Institute of Directors' annual convention that the pace of technological change has been so great in recent years that the construction industry is "not that far off" from using robots instead of people to build skyscrapers, reports the Telegraph: "Five years ago I'd have smiled wryly if somebody had said to me that robots would be able to put up buildings in the City of London—I tell you we're not that far off, and that has huge implications."

And Carnwath should know, having been on the £8.2 billion FTSE 100 construction company's board since 2004 and its chairman for the last eight years. Currently the U.K. construction industry employs 2.3 million people who earn about 20% more than the U.K. weekly average—but that could soon change:

"Businesses are focusing on [productivity]. They want to reengineer how their people can work—they recognize that technology is upon us and is going to destroy thousands of jobs," Carnwath said.

09.27.16 | 9:08 pm

Elon Musk not worried about there being enough water for toilets on Mars

Since we're all going to the Red Planet now, one questioner at Musk's presser today wanted to know whether he was worried about sanitation on Mars.

Musk noted that there's plenty of ice on Mars and that with enough solar panels, it would likely be possible to set up some sort of geothermal-based plumbing system. You'll have to just watch the video for yourself.

09.27.16 | 6:40 pm

Report: Oculus founder lied about extent of involvement with anti-Hillary meme group

If Palmer Luckey, Oculus, and Facebook had hoped the uproar over his involvement with an anti-Hillary Clinton "shitposting" meme machine would die down after he posted a mea culpa last Friday night, they're going to be very disappointed.

Earlier today, CNet Reviews senior editor Sean Hollister posted a lengthy takedown of that statement by Luckey–the 24-year-old Oculus founder and wunderkind. 

In it, Hollister argued that emails he'd received from Daily Beast reporter Gideon Resnick–who wrote the original article linking Luckey to the shitposting group–prove either that Luckey wrote inflammatory posts under the nickname NimbleRichMan or that he'd lied to Resnick about his connection to the anti-Hillary group, known as Nimble America. In his statement, Luckey had said he only gave the group $10,000 and hadn't been involved in any other way.

Hollister said neither Luckey, Oculus, nor Facebook had responded to requests for clarification. Neither Facebook nor Oculus immediately responded to a Fast Company request for comment.

There is surely more to come on this story, especially as Oculus hosts its third-annual developers' conference next week in San Jose. Though Luckey is, and has always been, the face of the company, one can't help but wonder if he'll even be in attendance.

09.27.16 | 6:17 pm

Report: FBI is looking into hacks against DNC cell phones, suspects Russia-backed hackers

Reuters cites unnamed sources saying the FBI is currently looking into reports that cell phones used by Democratic National Committee officials were targeted by hackers. 

The probe into the DNC cell phones, Reuters says, underscores a widening criminal investigation into hacks on Democratic Party-related organizations, including the Hillary Clinton campaign. U.S. government officials have said they suspect hackers backed by the Russian government of being the culprits in the attacks against the Clinton campaign. 

The Reuters sources say they believe Russian government-backed hackers are also involved in the more recent attacks on the DNC phones. The hackers, the sources say, may be trying to disrupt the U.S. presidential election, which culminates November 8. 

09.27.16 | 5:37 pm

Afternoon intel: Everything we know about SpaceX’s Mars mission plans, Bono invests in biotech

• "I would like to die on Mars. Just not on impact." [Drumroll, please] That was Elon Musk back in 2013, describing his lifelong dream of traveling to and living on the red planet. Well today, he unveiled his long-awaited plans for such an ambitious mission, announcing SpaceX's "Interplanetary Transport System" with a slick animated video and plenty of details on how many people can be squeezed onto a rocket (100), how many people Musk wants on Mars (1 million), by how much we need to reduce the cost of a trip to Mars (5 million %) and what kind of timeline he expects for such a mission to actually take place (10 years)

• In non-celestial news, Bono and some partners invested in biotech startup Color Genomics

• Slack unveiled the first of many integrations with Salesforce, reports Fast Company's Mark Sullivan, allowing it to pull in Salesforce record data and sync with its Chatter messaging feature.

Google launched "Station," a new program that seeks to make fast Wi-Fi available to public places all over the planet.

09.27.16 | 3:57 pm

Don’t start packing your bags just yet: The SpaceX Mars mission’s timeline is pretty fuzzy

Elon Musk says he's shooting for a 10-year horizon for the launch of his much-ballyhooed "Interplanetary Transport System," announced today at an event in Mexico. But he admits it's a very complicated endeavor to predict a timeline. He's hoping to establish a steady cadence, much like trains leaving a station, of SpaceX rockets taking off every couple of years.  

SpaceX has already tried to have a steady stream of launches. Here is the timeline presented by Musk of SpaceX's activities over the last decade:

09.27.16 | 3:47 pm

Elon Musk: The only reason I’m accumulating assets is to colonize Mars one day

Elon Musk says it could cost as little as $140,000 for a person and their luggage to get to Mars, once the technology is established. 

How is this going to work? "It's going to be a huge private-public partnership," said Musk, at the long-awaited announcement of his "Interplanetary Transport System." He added: "The reason I'm personally accumulating assets is to fund this." 

09.27.16 | 3:43 pm

Lean In’s annual report found just one bright spot for women in the workplace

Women now ask for promotions and raises at the same rate as men, according to the study, a collaboration between Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg's LeanIn.org and McKinsey that looked at data from 132 companies.

Of course, even if they ask for promotions, women are less likely to win them than their male counterparts. Meanwhile, asking for a promotion makes them 67% more likely than women who don't negotiate to be told that they are "intimidating," "too aggressive," or "bossy." All of which contributes to this problem:

09.27.16 | 3:39 pm

Musk: There will be restaurants on the Mars rocket

This won't be some boring old space rocket, with only Tang and freeze-dried peas for lunch, promised Elon Musk at today's announcement of SpaceX's "Interplanetary Transport System."

"You'll have a great time," Musk told the audience. "It can't be boring." He described something akin to an interplanetary cruise ship—complete with movies, lecture halls, restaurants, and more. 

09.27.16 | 3:34 pm

Musk: We need one million people on Mars

Why go to Mars? 

Elon Musk says that his super-ambitious effort is all about keeping the human species alive, in the event of a disaster that could lead to our extinction. 

To establish a civilization on Mars, he would like one million people to travel there. Given that people can only go every two years, with 100 people per trip, we will need to create at least a thousand ships making many trips.