February 21, 2020


CNET Warren, Sanders, Bloomberg: Where the Democratic candidates stand on tech
A summary of technology issues and statements from Democratic candidates for president, covering privacy, anti trust, rural broadband, and more.


Roll Call As Congress stalls on data privacy, Big Tech tangles with states
Top U.S. technology companies are shifting their focus to state capitals to shape emerging data privacy laws as progress on a federal bill has slowed. Trade groups representing consumer-oriented technology companies such as Amazon, Google and Facebook, as well as those working on behalf of business-oriented companies such as IBM, Intel, Microsoft and Oracle, have in recent weeks turned their attention to states.

The Verge Copyright could be the next way for Congress to take on Big Tech
The first of 2020’s big copyright hearings started with a nod to Chumbawamba. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) had looked up which band topped the charts in 1998, the year Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act — one of the most influential and controversial laws governing the internet.

CNBC Big Tech’s favorite law is under fire
The Justice Department is hosting a forum for academics, nonprofit leaders and industry advocates to discuss the future of a law that has shielded tech companies from legal liability for their users’ posts since its enactment in 1996.


The New York Times Magazine The Great Google Revolt
Laurence Berland had just gotten out of the subway in New York, some 3,000 miles from his desk in San Francisco, when he learned that Google had fired him. It was the Monday before Thanksgiving, and the news came to him, bad-breakup-style, via email.

The New York Times Kickstarter Employees Vote to Unionize in a Big Step for Tech
Employees at the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter voted on Tuesday to unionize, the first well-known technology company to take the step toward being represented by organized labor.

AgriPulse FCC to distribute broadband funding later this month
Broadband service providers should begin receiving funding later this month to increase internet connectivity in over 100,000 rural homes and businesses across nine states. The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday authorized more than $240 million in funding over the next decade to expand rural broadband deployment in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, Oklahoma, and Wyoming.

Yahoo Finance Zayo & Microsoft Team Up to Reduce Rural Digital Disparity
In a concerted effort to deploy rural broadband solutions across the United States, Zayo Group Holdings, Inc. ZAYO recently teamed up with Microsoft Corporation MSFT. Per the deal, Zayo will foster economic development and deliver seamless low-latency core fiber connectivity with a dedicated network infrastructure to some unprivileged communities, backed by Microsoft’s affordable broadband access initiative.

CRN Microsoft Won JEDI Cloud, But AWS And Oracle Still Fighting It Out
As Amazon Web Services contests the award of the Pentagon’s massive JEDI cloud transformation contract to Microsoft on one front, it remains engaged on another fighting Oracle’s still-pending appeal in case the procurement is re-opened. The industry’s largest cloud services provider filed a brief Monday before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit pushing back against Oracle’s claim that conflicts of interest corrupted the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure procurement process in favor of AWS. Oracle’s appeal remains pending, even as—at least for now—Microsoft is the official recipient of the potentially $10 billion contract to transform military IT services with a commercial cloud provider.

The New York Times The Epic Battle Between Trump and Bezos Is On [Paywall]
An opinion piece concerning the JEDI cloud computing contract and the contentious relationship between President Trump and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

POLITICO Europe’s bid to stay world’s digital cop fizzles to life
The EU’s latest bid for power in the online realm is a five-year digital policy blueprint unveiled with great ceremony Wednesday, one centered on data and artificial intelligence and patently designed to beat back American and Chinese dominance in tech. It’s meant to show how the bloc could harness its biggest competitive advantage — the world’s largest single market — to improve its economy and build a green future. And given the EU’s record as a serious player in digital politics, if not digital innovation, its latest brainstorms were digested eagerly in D.C. and California.

PhysOrg New green technology generates electricity ‘out of thin air’
Scientists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have developed a device that uses a natural protein to create electricity from moisture in the air, a new technology they say could have significant implications for the future of renewable energy, climate change and in the future of medicine.

Vox How a basic iPhone feature scared a senator into proposing a facial recognition moratorium
With just a picture of your face, someone armed with facial recognition software could find everything there is to know about you, from your name to your address to information about your family. That such tech could usher in an age of constant surveillance has many spooked.

Defense One Pentagon to Adopt Detailed Principles for Using AI
The Defense Department will soon adopt a detailed set of rules to govern how it develops and uses artificial intelligence, officials familiar with the matter told Defense One.

Wired With a $10 Billion Fund, Jeff Bezos Can Control the Planet’s Future
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos may very well have fundamentally changed the fight against climate change this week. In an Instagram post Monday, the world’s richest man committed $10 billion of his personal fortune to set up the new Bezos Earth Fund, which would support “scientists, activists, NGOs—any effort that offers a real possibility to help preserve and protect the natural world.” The announcement was light on specifics, and it’s not clear yet how the money will be spent. But climate experts say it’s a massive investment that could help give the warming planet a fighting chance—so long as it isn’t squandered.

New York Post NASA’s AI spotted 11 dangerous asteroids that humans missed
There are lots and lots of space rocks hanging out in our solar system. Most of them will never pose a threat to our planet, but a very tiny percentage will indeed come close.

ABC News Mobile World Congress canceled amid coronavirus fears
The coronavirus, declared a global health emergency, has led to the cancellation of one of the most-attended yearly global tech conferences, Mobile World Congress.

MarketWatch Would you tell secrets to a humanoid-like machine? How AI therapists could save you money on mental health care in the future
“Alexa, I’m depressed.” The idea that a tabletop virtual assistant such as Alexa or Siri knows or cares how you’re feeling sounds straight out of some neurotic comedy. Today, at least. Mental health is a brave new frontier for artificial-intelligence and machine-learning algorithms driven by “big data.”

The Guardian ‘I was always told I was unusual’: why so few women design video games
There’s a stereotype that women don’t play video games, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. The numbers don’t lie: 52% of gamers were female in the UK’s last major study in 2014. But if we look at the proportion of female workers in the games industry, it’s just 28% in the UK, and roughly 20% worldwide.

The Scientist Scholars Debate Causes of Women’s Underrepresentation in STEM
A controversial study published in Psychological Science in 2018 claimed that a “gender-equality paradox” exists in countries that have greater overall gender equality but an underrepresentation of girls and women in STEM fields.

News Medical AI-based approach may allow EKGs to be used for detecting hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
An approach based on artificial intelligence (AI) may allow EKGs to be used to screen for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in the future. With hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the heart walls become thick and may interfere with the heart’s ability to function properly.


The Brookings Institute

  • Blog on Facial Recognition Regulation
    In the futuristic 2002 film “Minority Report,” law enforcement uses a predictive technology that includes artificial intelligence (AI) for risk assessments to arrest possible murderers before they commit crimes. However, a police officer is now one of the accused future murderers and is on the run from the Department of Justice to prove that the technology has flaws. If you think this fictional film could become true, then you should keep reading—because art has become reality. (Report – 5 questions policymakers should ask about facial recognition, law enforcement, and algorithmic bias, February 20, 2020)

The RAND Corporation

  • Research on Autonomous Vehicles in the Military
    This report examines how the U.S. Army can move ahead with the development and integration of automated driving technology for its convoy operations in the near future. Robotic ground vehicles are quickly maturing in the commercial sphere and could potentially save lives and increase efficiency if utilized in Army convoys. However, it may be many years until fully unmanned convoy vehicles are able to operate in rough terrain or manage adversarial attacks. In response, the authors of this report examine different employment concepts of automated trucks in Army convoys that appear viable in the next one to five years and would still reduce soldier casualties. The authors investigate technical and tactical benefits and risks of these concepts. (Published Research – Automating Army Convoys Technical and Tactical Risks and Opportunities, ND 2020)

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 to endorse specific platforms or bills.