Feb 24, 2020
Gary Radburn (@VRGaryatDell) is the Director of VR/AR solutions at Dell. As part of this role, he works closely with Dell customers on VR/AR deployments and help to establish Dell’s VR Centers of Excellence with locations around the world for businesses and consumers to experience and learn more about VR in the real world. He has held various roles across the technology industry over the last three decades, ranging from Engineering to Sales & Marketing, and has experience across all aspects of designing products and solutions and bringing them to market.
Radburn, G. (2018). Real Innovators Use VR for Social Good. [Blog] Direct@Dell. [Accessed 26 Feb. 2020].
A Washington Post report by Craig Timberg doesn't bode well for lawyers of color and Democrats seeking to work in Facebook's policy office here in Washington. According to anonymous sources who contributed to the story, GOP operative Joel Kaplan, who dated Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg when they attended Harvard together, has no intention anytime soon of adding Democrats to his policy team. Only Republicans are driving Facebook's policymaking efforts, often acceding to Trump administration demands by enacting policies like the ban on removing political ads from the platform in which politicians make false statements. Last year civil rights leaders met with Mark Zuckerberg at his home in Palo Alto in an attempt to persuade him to remove such ads – he refused, likely after taking Kaplan's advice into account. So the disproportionate power dynamic at Facebook is just as out of whack as compared to its user base, as Congress is to the populace: Seventy-eight percent of lawmakers in Congress are white even though whites comprise only 61% of the total U.S. population. So, is Facebook using politics as a pretense for racial and gender discrimination? Your guess is as good as mine. Maybe Democratic women and people of color who are listening should apply for jobs in Facebook’s policy shop and, when they don't get them, sue them and see what happens.
The University of California at Los Angeles has banned the use of facial recognition surveillance on campus, Fight for the Future reported on Medium last week. The decision came amidst growing backlash against the 45,000 student university including a nationwide campaign to prevent the spread of facial recognition across college campuses. Schools like MIT, Harvard, Brown, and Columbia have issued public statements stating that they would not institute a facial recognition program. But UCLA decided to go ahead and see if it could roll out an always-on biometric scanning and identification system anyway, until it ultimately caved to pressure from the UCLA community. Here in DC, GW, and American have stated publicly that they might use facial recognition technology on campus. But the University of Maryland, on the other hand, has said they won't. UVA has also said that it will not implement facial recognition as part of its campus safety program.
Engineers and other white-collar workers at Kickstarter have voted to form a union, according to the New York Times, becoming one of the first tech companies to do so. The vote was by a narrow margin – 46 to 37 – but the decision to unionize has put to rest many months of back-and-forth and tension at the company.
According to a new investigative report by Thomas Brewster at Forbes, federal law enforcement officials have been raiding tech companies to obtain their users' medical records data. And this isn't just DNA data, either -- We're all too familiar with the risks associated with giving our DNA data to companies like 23andMe and Ancestry.com. But this is about law enforcement obtaining warrants to access your medical history, including any medications you're taking, by showing the warrant to a company called DrChrono, which specializes in warehousing this information online.
The Guardian reports that Seattle city Councilwoman Kshama Sawant introduced a bill last week that would impose a 1.7% payroll tax on Amazon, and other companies among Seattle's top 3%, generating up to a as much as $300 million per year. Three-quarters of the proceeds from the fund would go towards building affordable, publicly-owned homes. The remaining 25% would go to convert homes from using oil and gas, to clean electric energy.
According to a new report in Motherboard – Shipt - Target's delivery app – is retaliating against employees for posting comments or criticisms about Shipt's labor practices. One Shipt employee reported publicly that, after Shipt tweaked its algorithm, she went from earning $200 per week to $0-25 per week. Shipt then deactivated her account. Some employee accounts have been deactivated for no apparent reason, leaving employees unaware of and on pins and needles wondering when the next shoe will drop.
Ars Technica reports that a Northeastern University study has concluded that there is no apparent political bias in content moderation on YouTube. For the last several years, Republicans including Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, have claimed that platforms like YouTube are biased against conservative viewpoints. But after reviewing some 84,068 comments on 268 YouTube videos, the researchers found that the moderation of hate speech by right-leaning commenters versus that of left-leaning commenters was about the same.