Executive Briefing November 2, 2018

Hour of Code, a worldwide computer science learning event, is coming up on Dec. 3-9. Since Hour of Code launched in 2013, Voices for Innovation members have been involved, hosting one-hour coding sessions in communities across the country. Hour of Code not only introduces kids to coding, but it also helps raise awareness about the need to expand access to computer science education in America’s K-12 schools. You don’t have to be a coder yourself to volunteer — Hour of Code provides tutorials designed for all ages. Please sign up, share this event with your networks, and let us know if you’re participating by emailing us at outreach@voicesforinnovationaction.org.

On another note, the US midterm elections are coming up next week on Tuesday, November 6. Below, we list some non-partisan resources that aggregate polling. You can also educate yourself about candidates and initiatives in your area at the non-partisan BallotReady.org. To find a polling station and more information on voting, visit Vote.org.

TOP STORIES: AI and Microsoft’s Work with the US Military

Microsoft on the Issues Technology and the US military

In a blog post written by company president Brad Smith, Microsoft discussed their pledge to work with the Pentagon as it embarks on a multibillion-dollar effort to build advanced artificial intelligence capabilities into its operations. Smith writes, “We believe that the people who defend our country need and deserve our support. To withdraw from this market is to reduce our opportunity to engage in the public debate about how new technologies can best be used in a responsible way. We are not going to withdraw from the future. In the most positive way possible, we are going to work to help shape it.”


Health Data Management HHS opens health cybersecurity coordination center

The Department of Health and Human Services this week officially opened a cybersecurity center designed to support and improve the cyber defense of the U.S. healthcare industry. The center’s role is to work with health sector stakeholders to understand current and emerging cyber threats, identify hacker patterns and trends and coordinate with healthcare organizations so they can protect their assets and patients.

The New York Times U.S. to Block Sales to Chinese Tech Company Over Security Concerns

The United States said on Monday that it would block a Chinese state-owned technology company from buying American components because it posed a national security threat, the latest volley in an escalating dispute between the world’s two largest economies. The company, Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit, a manufacturer of semiconductors, “poses a significant risk” of becoming involved in activities that might infringe on national security, the Commerce Department said.


Leader Telegram Broadband expansion moving forward across Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s public dollars have been matched with over $32 million in private and local funds, which will provide thousands of businesses and families with broadband access. Without a technology preference on our part, the state has supported projects ranging from actual fiber in the ground to DSL service, fixed wireless and newer TV white-space technologies. These large-scale broadband build-outs will support economic growth, improved long-distance access to medical care and academic success across the state.

Tech HQ Can AI help make farming more profitable?

Companies like Microsoft and MicaSense and drone makers such as DJI and PrecisionHawk are working together to create exciting solutions that quickly learn about vast farmlands and help make crucial decisions about soil moisture and temperature, pesticides, and fertilizer — and maximize production. These new-age solutions make data collection easy and eliminate the hours and days that farmers previously spent walking or driving the fields to try to detect problems.

GeekWire Inside Renton’s new STEM-focused elementary school that is preparing students to fill job skills gap

Sartori Elementary, a brand new downtown school in Renton, WA , focuses on teaching core tenets of science, technology, engineering, and math — also known as STEM — and exposing the 550 students to STEM-related fields that are suffering from a job skills gap. “So many kids want to be a part of this school,” said Shelby Scovel, co-president of the Sartori Elementary PTA. “Parents want their kids to be as tech-savvy as early as possible. That’s where the future is.”

ZDNet Microsoft finalizes its $7.5 billion GitHub acquisition

Microsoft’s acquisition of GitHub has received regulatory approval and is now official. Officials said Microsoft’s CEO of Xamarin, Nat Friedman, would become CEO of the San Francisco-based development platform. GitHub CEO Chris Wanstrath agreed to become a Microsoft Technical Fellow as part of the arrangement.

The Hill Experts point to states improving election security ahead of midterms

States have stepped up their cybersecurity protections ahead of the Nov. 6 midterms, but are still lacking in some areas, according to a report released Tuesday by cyber experts. Still, the group’s scorecard said the average grade for state election cybersecurity is a C-, and that states with toss-up Senate elections next month average an F for their security measures.

The Wall Street Journal American Tech Firms Are Winning the R&D Spending Race With China (Paywall)

As the U.S. and China tussle over trade and technology, American companies maintain a major advantage over their Chinese rivals in a critical area: spending on research and development. U.S. firms, led by Amazon.com Inc. and Google parent Alphabet Inc. invested more than $5 in R&D for every $1 spent by Chinese companies, according to a new report from PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, which logged the top 1,000 spenders among publicly traded companies. PwC’s report tracked the year ended June 30.

The Verge Google is hosting a global contest to develop AI that’s beneficial to society

Google is launching a global competition to help spur the development of applications and research that have positive impacts on the field and society at large. The competition, called the AI Impact Challenge, was announced at an event called AI for Social Good held at the company’s Sunnyvale, California office. Google is positioning it as a way to integrate nonprofits, universities, and other organizations into the future-looking development of AI research and applications. The company says it will award up to $25 million to a number of grantees to “help transform the best ideas into action.”


Information Technology & Innovation Foundation

Information Technology Industry Council

  • Blog on the digital divide in Colombia: If enacted, a draft ICT modernization bill would help Colombia attract new investment, connect more citizens and businesses to the internet, and enable economic growth. This bill proposes key reforms to the government of Colombia that would reduce regulatory burdens and incentivize broadband deployment. (TechWonk Blog – Enabling Connectivity Enables Competitiveness in Colombia, Oct. 30, 2018)

Note: Voices for Innovation regularly shares a range of opinion articles and press releases from organizations in and publications covering tech policy. These pieces are meant to educate our audience, not endorse specific platforms or bills.