Uber executive resigns after failing to disclose prior sexual harassment claim

Setback is the latest sign of turmoil at Uber, which recently found itself in a separate sexual harassment firestorm and faces a major lawsuit from Google

The top engineering executive at Uber has resigned, adding to the companys turmoil a week after the company found itself in an unrelated sexual harassment firestorm.

Amit Singhal, whose hire was announced just five weeks ago, failed to disclose that hed left his previous job at Google because of a sexual harassment allegation, according to the tech blog Recode.

Singhal denied the allegation and said he left Google a year ago for his own reasons.

The dustup is just the latest sign of turmoil at Uber, which last week found itself in an unrelated sexual harassment firestorm. That stemmed from a detailed essay published by a former female Uber engineer, who charged that her prospects at the company evaporated after she complained about sexual advances from her boss. In the post about her year at Uber, she said the companys human resources department ignored her complaints because her boss was a high performer.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has called for an independent investigation of those issues, and the company has hired former attorney general Eric Holder to help.

In addition, Uber is facing a lawsuit from Waymo, the self-driving car company owned by Googles parent Alphabet, alleging that the ride-share company engaged in the calculated theft of its self-driving technology. All this on top of the viral #DeleteUber campaign and Kalanicks controversial role on Donald Trumps economic advisory council.

In a statement emailed to the Associated Press, Singhal said: Harassment is unacceptable in any setting. I certainly want everyone to know that I do not condone and have not committed such behavior. In my 20-year career, Ive never been accused of anything like this before and the decision to leave Google was my own.

According to Recode, Singhal left Google after executives there informed him of a harassment allegation lodged by an employee that an internal investigation had found credible.

Representatives for Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday. Uber declined to comment beyond confirming that Singhal is no longer with the company.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/feb/27/uber-executive-resigns-sexual-harassment-google

Dating coaches share how to find love

(CNN)You may be hugged up and cozy on the couch with your boyfriend, wife or significant other, but many Americans haven’t found their Mr. or Ms. Right.

There are more unmarried people now than ever before in the United States. True, some people are committed and just not tying the knot, but many just haven’t found their special someone. That’s despite the growing number of dating apps like Hinge, Match, Tinder, Bumble and OK Cupid.
So how can you increase your chances of finding a mate? Two dating coaches — one in Atlanta, the other near San Diego — spoke about their approach to finding love for their clients.

    Check your inner dialogue

    These dating coaches say the biggest obstacle is their clients’ own attitudes.
    “It’s the story they tell themselves: ‘There are no good people out there. I’m too picky. Nobody’s really looking for a relationship,’ ” said Traci Porterfield, founder of Love By Design in La Costa, California.
    “You attract what you are. They bring that low energy, low vibration to that date because they are expecting it to be awful.”
    Dating coach Karla Moore if NineGPS in Atlanta agrees.
    “Without a doubt, it is the client that is really, really stuck in a negative thought pattern. Learning how to pivot from that mentality is really a tall order for some singles, especially if you have a track record of disappointment,” Moore said.
    “Make it a habit to constantly notice what you’re thinking, because a lot of people think, ‘I’m too fat. I’m a bad dater.’ Those are the kinds of things, whether you’re aware of it or not, that you’re putting out to the other person. That is what the message is. The first step is being aware of it and switching that.”
    Porterfield recommends replacing that inner dialogue with positive self talk.
    “I have people find phrases, whether it’s creating a mantra or a song that makes you feel great. If you tell yourself ‘dating is fun. I can make a new friend,’ that’s a whole lot different than ‘there’s nobody out there. All the good people are taken.’ “

    3

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    Get strategic

    Porterfield has her clients write a list of what they want in a mate. In many cases, her clients have several pages of traits, from physical to spiritual to what type of job they have. She has them narrow that list down to their top five characteristics and ultimately to their top three.
    She says it’s easier to keep those things top of mind when the list is whittled down.
    “Those are things that you think of every day,” Porterfield said.
    “These are the nonnegotiables — and I don’t mean physical traits. What kind of person do you want? What’s important to you? We talk about core values.”
    Porterfield cautions that some clients use their lists to build up walls and prevent intimacy. She says that’s often due to fear from failed relationships and heartbreak. So, she says, clients need to really strip away the layers.
    “Ask yourself, is that (trait) really important to you? ‘Is that fear talking to me, or is that truly a dealbreaker?’ ”
    Moore says she still sees women who think finding a mate isn’t romantic unless it’s spontaneous.
    “We have been programmed by Disney, especially women, to feel like Prince Charming is just going to pop out of the sky. This is not rational. We handle our our education, our aspirations in other areas very methodically, thoughtfully and strategically. It’s really about giving yourself permission to say, ‘you know, I do want to be married. I do want to have a family.’ ”

    Be open

    We all know women who reject short guys and men who refuse to date women who are over 40 or are fuller-figured. Porterfield says people who want to find a successful relationship need to be more open about who might be a good match — especially when it comes to surface stuff.
    “People tell me all the time they have to be this tall or this color hair. Those kinds of things just put limitations on you. You can have a preference, but if you’re open to how that person shows up, you’re going to see who they are as a person,” Porterfield said.
    Being open also means not immediately judging the person you’re on a date with.
    “It’s not a job interview. A lot of people go in with a mindset of, ‘do they meet all the things on my checklist?’ You should actually be listening more than you’re speaking,” Porterfield. said

    Do something different

    “Go to a different coffee shop in the morning. Go grocery shopping at a different store than you normally go to. Wear a different color,” Porterfield said. “It doesn’t have to be something huge. I tell people just to get yourself in a different mindset.”
    Moore agrees.
    “It really is about us as singles to force ourselves to do something different. We have to take small steps. If that means you force yourself to a strategic event once every two weeks with other people who also may have anxiety about being out with strangers, that will let them see, ‘yeah. i can do this,’ ” Moore said.
    “It could be anything: a mixer, a networking event, it could be going out with friends after work to get drinks. There are opportunities for all of us to be out in the world.”

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/13/health/dating-coach-advice/index.html

    Cyber security lessons offered to schools in England – BBC News

    Image copyright Thinkstock

    Schoolchildren in England will be offered lessons in cyber security in a bid to find the experts of the future to defend the UK from attack.

    It is hoped 5,700 pupils aged 14 and over will spend up to four hours a week on the subject in a five-year pilot.

    Classroom and online teaching, “real-world challenges” and work experience will be made available from September.

    A Commons committee last week warned that a skills shortage was undermining confidence in the UK’s cyber defences.

    The risk that criminals or foreign powers might hack into critical UK computer systems is now ranked as one of the top four threats to national security.

    ‘Cutting-edge skills’

    Russia in particular is suspected of planning sustained attacks on Western targets.

    Cyber security is a fast-growing industry, employing 58,000 experts, the government says, but the Public Accounts Committee has warned it is proving difficult to recruit people with the right skills.

    UK’s cyber security defences questioned

    Russian hacks ‘aim to destabilise the West’

    The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is providing 20m for the new lessons, which will be designed to fit around pupils’ current courses and exams.

    Digital and Culture Minister Matt Hancock said: “This forward-thinking programme will see thousands of the best and brightest young minds given the opportunity to learn cutting-edge cyber security skills alongside their secondary school studies.

    ‘Pipeline of talent’

    “We are determined to prepare Britain for the challenges it faces now and in the future and these extra-curricular clubs will help identify and inspire future talent.”

    The government is already providing university funding and work placements for promising students.

    An apprenticeship scheme has also begun to support key employers to train and recruit young people aged 16 or over who have a “natural flair for problem-solving” and are “passionate about technology”.

    Mr Hancock told the BBC he wanted to ensure the UK “had the pipeline of talent” it would need.

    Related Topics

    Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-38938519

    Super Bowl ads trolling Trump: ‘The world is more beautiful the more you accept’

    Advertisements for drinks, cars and avocados have taken aim at the controversial policies championed by the new US president and his team

    Advertisements championing acceptance, diversity, equality, even immigration have caused a stir at the Super Bowl, being taken as not-so-subtle snubs of the president.

    The Super Bowl is considered televisions biggest advertising stage, reflected in the cost of a spot: according to the New York Times, the price for a 30-second advert was US$5m this year, up from $4.8m in 2016.

    Though Fox and the NFL aim to avoid explicitly political advertisements during the broadcast, several companies were seen to be trolling Donald Trump and his policies some more explicitly so than others.

    Coca-Cola went for an oblique message of acceptance, resurrecting its advert from the 2014 Super Bowl that shows a multilingual rendition of America The Beautiful.

    In a statement, the company said the advert promotes optimism, inclusion and celebrates humanity.

    Coca-Cola (@CocaCola)

    Today millions cheer together, because together is beautiful. #AmericaIsBeautiful pic.twitter.com/z65LimssjD

    February 5, 2017

    Airbnb took a more explicitly political stance with its #weaccept campaign, which was born of criticism of the presidents bid to close borders to refugees as well as citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries.

    We believe no matter who you are, where youre from, who you love, or who you worship, we all belong, text read over images of people of different backgrounds. The world is more beautiful the more you accept.

    Airbnb (@Airbnb)

    Acceptance starts with all of us. #weaccept pic.twitter.com/btgqyYHVTK

    February 6, 2017

    The campaign marked a commitment by Airbnb to provide short-term housing for 100,000 people in need over the next five years, inspired by the positive response to its vow to provide free housing to those affected by the travel ban.

    It would also contribute $4m over the course of four years to the International Refugee Assistance Project.

    The Airbnb co-founder and chief executive Brian Chesky had said the policy was a direct obstacle to our mission at Airbnb in a memo to employees on 29 January. According to the New York Times, the Super Bowl spot was put together at the last minute when executives heard there was still space available.

    The hashtag #weaccept was trending by the half-time show by Lady Gaga.

    Airbnb (@Airbnb)

    With #BornThisWay, the message of acceptance and love continues. Amazing halftime show. #weaccept

    February 6, 2017

    #BoycottBudweiser also trended on Twitter, following an ad showing a dramatised account of the Anheuser-Busch co-founders journey to America from Germany in the 1800s.

    The companys vice-president of marketing, Marcel Marcondes, said in a statement the video was not intended to be political commentary. However, we recognize that you cant reference the American dream today without being part of the conversation.

    The #BoycottBudweiser hashtag was started on Sunday by people who disliked the ads seemingly pro-immigration message, but was also used by others to mock them.

    President Trump (@SupportDonald)

    #BOYCOTT @Budweiser. Political ads have no place being aired during #Superbowl #Americans want to protect our country! #BoycottBudweiser pic.twitter.com/TT9OvWMIE7

    February 1, 2017

    Mike Kelly (@MistahJ1307)

    If you #BoycottBudweiser because the founder was an immigrant…

    Don’t forget to boycott your ancestors too.

    February 5, 2017

    Trumps proposed border wall with Mexico was also referenced in an advertisement for the US marketing organisation Avocados From Mexico, which showed an Illuminati-style secret society discussing the open secret of avocados nutritional benefits.

    Andie J. Christopher (@authorandiej)

    Does anyone else feel like Mexico was trolling us w/ that avocado ad during the Super Bowl? Like, “enjoy that guacamole now, motherfuckers.”

    February 5, 2017

    84 Lumber, a buildings supply company based in Pennsylvania, had attempted to confront the issue head-on in its first-ever Super Bowl commercial, showing a Spanish-speaking mother and daughters journey to the US.

    The original iteration of the advert, with the pair confronting a border wall between the US and Mexico, was deemed by Fox to be too controversial, forcing the company to air an edited version without a wall.

    Viewers were invited to see the conclusion at Journey84.com on YouTube.

    84 Lumber Company (@84LumberNews)

    Our complete Super Bowl story. See a mother & daughters symbolic journey toward becoming legal American citizens. https://t.co/AiI3MLrVd5

    February 6, 2017

    84 Lumber Company (@84LumberNews)

    .@Latinos4PP We will always support the American Dream.

    February 6, 2017

    Audi, meanwhile, advocated equal pay for women with its #DriveProgress campaign.

    What do I tell my daughter? Do I tell her that her grandpas worth more than her grandma? That her dad is worth more than her mom? says a male voiceover.

    Do I tell her that despite her education, her drive, her skills, her intelligence, she will automatically be valued as less than every man she ever meets?

    Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/feb/06/superbowl-ads-trolling-trump-the-world-is-more-beautiful-the-more-you-accept

    Samsung blames two separate battery faults for Galaxy Note 7 fires

    Tests on tens of thousands of devices found that both original and replacement batteries were responsible for the phones bursting into flames

    Samsung has blamed lithium-ion batteries for causing its Galaxy Note 7 mobile phones to overheat and catch fire, a fault that led to the global recall of millions of devices and damaged consumer confidence in the worlds biggest maker of smartphones.

    At a press conference on Monday, Samsung officials said exhaustive tests on tens of thousands of devices and batteries had ruled out any problems with the devices hardware or software.

    But, it added, internal and independent investigations had concluded that batteries were found to be the cause of the Note 7 incidents.

    In the case of the original battery, the casing was too small, causing it to short-circuit and ignite. It was replaced with a battery that had a different manufacturing defect but led to the same result.

    Koh Dong-jin, the head of Samsungs mobile business, told reporters in Seoul: We sincerely apologise for the discomfort and concern we have caused to our customers.

    The company said there would be no fire risk involving future devices, including its forthcoming S8 smartphone.

    Samsung

    Samsung infographic showing the problems with the first type of battery in Galaxy Note 7 phone. Photograph: Samsung

    We are taking responsibility for our failure to ultimately identify and verify the issues arising out of battery design and manufacturing, it said in a statement. We have taken several corrective actions to ensure this never happens again.

    The South Korean conglomerate promised to reform its production and quality controls to prevent a repeat of the incident: We look forward to moving ahead with a renewed commitment to safety. The lessons of the past several months are now deeply reflected in our processes and in our culture.

    Samsung was forced to recall more than 2.5m Note 7s in September after reports that they were overheating and catching fire. The crisis deepened when it emerged that replacement phones equipped with batteries from a different supplier were experiencing similar problems.

    The company permanently ended production of its flagship smartphone in October a move that is expected to cost the company an estimated $5.3bn in lost profits.

    Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jan/23/samsung-blames-faulty-batteries-for-causing-galaxy-note-7-fires

    Review: Meizu M3 Note

    The Samsung Galaxy S7 and Google Pixel are great Android phones. At about $700, they’re also expensive. So what if you’re someone who goes for value, someone who just wants decent performance at a decent price?

    Meizu M3 Note

    7/10

    Wired

    Superb battery life; easily affords more than two days of chatting and browsing between charges. If you don’t need lots of storage, you can use the microSD slot for a second SIM card.

    Tired

    Fat body with less spirit than you’d hope. The main camera is just average; stay away if you only make your memories with a smartphone. Ships with outdated Lollipop version of Android.

    How We Rate

    • 1/10A complete failure in every way
    • 2/10Sad, really
    • 3/10Serious flaws; proceed with caution
    • 4/10Downsides outweigh upsides
    • 5/10Recommended with reservations
    • 6/10Solid with some issues
    • 7/10Very good, but not quite great
    • 8/10Excellent, with room to kvetch
    • 9/10Nearly flawless
    • 10/10Metaphysical perfection

    You’ve got a few options. Xiaomi, for sure. OnePlus, if you can get one. Huawei’s Honor 5Xif you’re on a budget. And now, the Meizu M3 Note, a big phone (or phablet, if you prefer the antiquated term), that goes for about $170.

    You might rememberMeizu from the Ubuntu Phones project slowly coming to market. The companystarted shipping phones in 2008, and wants tobe amongChina’s top five vendorssoon. It’s already got a high-end handset, thePRO 5, and wants to break into the budget market with the M series, which offers acceptable specs at a reasonable price. The M3 Note sportsa 1 GHz octa-core 64-bit processor and just2 or 3GMof RAM. But it’s got the power to handle your day-to-day needs. And memory is no problem. The handset offers16 or 32GB of internal storage and a microSD slot to add up to another 128 gigs.

    Mr. Big Stuff

    Compared to the iPhone 7 Plus, the M3 Note’s aluminum body is slightly shorter and just a bitthicker. Thehuge 4,100 mAh battery offers twice the life the iPhone. You’ll get more than two days with normal use, even if you’re pushing your phone hard.I like the shape more than other fat phones, mostly because it has a flat aluminum body with rounded corners. My only critique is the front lacks character.

    The M3 Note lasts more than two days with normal use.

    The 5.5-inch IPS LCD display is Full HD with 403-ppi resolution, and covered with Gorilla Glass 3. The screen offers good colors and deep blacks, but it isn’t terriblybright outdoors. Below the screen sitsone Samsung-style oval home button with afingerprint sensor. This is one of the peculiar features of this phone is that it doesn’t offer capacitive keys on either side of the home button—since I’m coming from an iPhone, I love this part. For instance, while using the Galaxy S7 Edge, I kept wrongly pressing the back key or the multitasking keys while just using the phone with one hand. It was annoying hated it every single time. To go back in an app on the M3 Note, you just tap the home button. To exit the app, you give the home button a regular press. The multitasking window itself is accessible with a simple swipe from the bottom of an open app. That same gesture is how you access the multi-window feature; you pick two open apps to run simultaneously on the screen.

     

    Maurizio Pesce/Wired

    Old Droid

    Like every other Meizu smartphone, the M3 Note too comes with the company’s Flyme skin that runs on top of the old Android 5.1 Lollipop. It’s clean and smooth, and one of the most likable Android customizations I’ve seen, despite the older version of Google’s OS. You get the standard Android gestures—double-tap the screen to wake, slide upward to unlock, swipe down to see notifications—plus some more characteristic ones. While listening to music, sliding horizontally skips to the next song or restarts the song you’re playing. Drawing eight letters on the screen will activate one of your preferred apps. Just like any other phone, the Do Not Disturb mode can be scheduled or manually activated, but I also love the feature that lets you program times for the phone to automatically shutdown and reboot.

    It’s good for casual photography, but I don’t recommended you make it your primary shooter.

    In the middle of the back cover sits that big eye of the main camera. The 13-megapixel sensor can shoot decent pictures outdoors even in moderate light conditions, but can’t operate at its best indoors and in low light. The f/2.2 aperture isn’t great for low-light pictures, which are often noisy and can suffer from lack of detail and white balance flaws. The focus is quick and accurate, though, and the shutter’s response is very reactive. There are your standard filters and shooting modes, including a mode to capture real-life GIFs. Overall, the M3 Note is good for casual photography, but I don’t recommended you make it your primary shooter.

    If battery life and a good value are chief among your concerns, the Meizu M3 Note is a good buy. Sure it lacks a premium hardware features and runs older software. But at this price, I can’t think of a better machine than this.

    Read more: https://www.wired.com/2016/11/review-meizu-m3-note/

    Facebook slaps down Admirals plan to use social media posts to price car insurance premiums

    UK insurance firmAdmiral had intended to launch an app this week offering discounted car insurance premiums to first time drivers based on an algorithmic assessment of their Facebook posts.

    All drivers would have had to do is sign in with their Facebook logintogrant permission to the company to scan their Facebook posts in order to get a potential discount on their car insurance premiums.

    However the experimenthas fallen foul of Facebooks platform policy, which puts strict limits on how developers on theplatform can use the information usersshare with them.

    Clause 3.15 of thepolicy also specifically prohibitsuse of data obtained from Facebook to

    make decisions about eligibility, including whether to approve or reject an application or how much interest to charge on a loan.

    In an interview with The Guardianabout the opt-in firstcarquote app, project lead Dan Mines described itas a test, saying:We are doing our best to build a product that allows young people to identify themselves as safe drivers This is innovative, it is the first time anyone has done this.

    The algorithms that Admiralhad developed for the app apparently aimed togleanpersonality traitsfromusers Facebook posts by analyzing how posts were written with individuals whoscored well forqualities such as conscientiousness and organization more likely to be offered discountsvs those who cameacross as overconfident/less well organized, as judged by their Facebook postings.

    Photos were not intended to beused to assess drivers the analysis was purely based on text updates to Facebook.

    Our analysis is not based on any one specific model, but rather on thousands of different combinations of likes, words and phrases and is constantly changing with new evidence that we obtain from the data, Yossi Borenstein, the principal data scientist on the project, told the paper. As such our calculations reflect how drivers generally behave on social media, and how predictive that is, as opposed to fixed assumptions about what a safe driver may look like.

    Giving a more specificexample of how Admirals appwould beassessing a Facebook users attitudebehind the wheel, The Guardian suggested overuse of exclamation marks in Facebook posts might count against a first time driver, whileposting lists and writing in short, concrete sentences containingspecific detail would be seen as a plus.

    Admiral said no price rises would be incurred as a result of using the app but discounts of up to 350 were set to be offered although the company was also not ruling out expanding the projectin future to loop in additional social media services and, potentially, to also increase premiums for some drivers.

    The future is unknown, said Mines. We dont know if people are prepared to share their data. If we find people arent sharing their data, then we wont ever get to consider that [expanding firstcarquote].

    As it turns out, the apps future is unknown as Facebook is not prepared to share user data with Admiral for this eligibility assessmentuse-case. Which, if the team had readFacebooks platform policy, should have been immediately clear.

    PresumablyAdmiral has beenworking on the app for multiplemonths at the very least. Yetagain, any Facebook platform developer should be aware that all apps are subject tofinal review by the company before they can golive to ensure compliance with itsplatformpolicy. Even test apps.

    Admiral now says the firstcarquotelaunch has been delayed noting on the website that: We were really hoping to have our sparkling new product ready for you, but theres a hitch: we still have to sort a few final details.

    It also touts other use cases for the app such as being able to see what some other new drivers have paid forcar insurance and somedetails of the cars they drive. Although thats a far cry from offering first time drivers discounts based on how many exclamations marks they typically deployin their Facebook posts.

    We tried to contact the company with questions but atthe time of writing Admiral had not responded, and its press office had professed itself too busy to speak withan outside PR firm being engaged to fence queries. Well update this story with any response.

    In a statement provided to TechCrunch a Facebook spokesperson confirmedAdmiral will only be able to use Facebook accounts for login and identity verification so not for scanning post data. The companyfurther suggests the insurerintends to rework the app to createan alternative data source toassess drivers eligibility.

    The Facebook spokesperson said:

    We have clear guidelines that prevent information being obtained from Facebook from being used to make decisions about eligibility.

    We have made sure anyone using this app is protected by our guidelines and that no Facebook user data is used to assess their eligibility. Facebook accounts will only be used for login and verification purposes.

    Our understanding is that Admiral will then ask users who sign up to answer questions which will be used to assess their eligibility.

    Its worthnoting that Facebook has itself patented using social graph for assessing eligibility of creditworthiness, as the Atlantic reported last year.

     

    US patent 9,100,400, granted to Facebook in August 2015, includes a specific method for authenticating an individual for access to information or service based on that individuals social network with oneof the examples given using the scenario of aservice provider beinga lender who assesses an individuals creditworthiness based on the average credit rating of the people the individual is connected to on their social network

    In a fourth embodiment of the invention, the service provider is a lender. When an individual applies for a loan, the lender examines the credit ratings of members of the individuals social network who are connected to the individual through authorized nodes. If the average credit rating of these members is at least a minimum credit score, the lender continues to process the loan application. Otherwise, the loan application is rejected.

    Its unclear whether Facebook intends or intended to launch any such creditworthiness assessment service itself we asked and it did not respond. But many patents are filed defensively and/or speculatively. And,as the Atlantic notes,using a persons social graphto assess creditworthiness wouldrun huge risks ofattracting discrimination lawsuits. So the patent does not really read like a serious product proposal on Facebooks part.

    Beyond that, if Facebooks platform were to become implicated in weightyexternalassessments of individuals, with the potential to have seriouslynegative impacts on their lives, the company would risk discouraging users fromsharing the sort ofpersonaldata its ad-targetingbusiness model relies on. Which is surely part of the reason its denyingAdmiralthe ability to scanFacebook posts to assess driving proficiency.

    Facebook is already negatively implicated in state surveillance activity as ahoneypotof datautilized byintelligence and law enforcement agencies. And on privacy grounds, given its own business model relies on profiling users for ad targeting. But stepping into offering formal assessments of individuals creditworthiness, for example, would feel likea massive pivot for the social media giant although the temptation for it to try to unlock more worth fromthe mountain of data it sits on isonly setto grow, givenAIsrising star and growing appetite for data.

    In a blog post welcoming Facebook blocking Admiral from scanning users posts, digital rights organization the Open Rights Grouppointsout the underlying biases that canmake any such algorithmic assessments problematic.

    There are significant risks in allowing the financial or insurance industry to base assessments on our social media activity, writes Jim Killock. We might be penalised for our posts or denied benefits and discounts because we dont share enough or have interests that mark us out as different and somehow unreliable. Whether intentional or not, algorithms could perpetuate social biases that are based on race, gender, religion or sexuality. Without knowing the criteria for such decisions, how can we appeal against them?

    Insurers and financial companies who are beginning to use social media data need engage in a public discussion about the ethics of these practices, which allow a very intense examination of factors that are entirely non-financial, he adds.

    Facebooks data is rich, but often ambiguous, may lack context and presents many risks. It is not clear to us that social media information is an appropriate tool for financial decision making.

    Asked for hisview on the risks of Facebook itself using its platform to sell assessments on the fitness of its users for accessing other products/services, such as financial products, Killock also told TechCrunch: Rules on profiling and use of data have to ensure that people are not disadvantaged, unfairly judged, or discriminated against. Facebooks data is rich, but often ambiguous, may lack context and presents many risks. It is not clear to us that social media information is an appropriate tool for financial decision making.

    Also bloggingaboutAdmirals attempt to turn Facebook data into premium-affectingpersonality assessments, law professor Paul Bernalvoices similar concerns about what he dubs thevery significantrisks of such a system being discriminatory.

    Algorithmic analysis, despite the best intentions of those creating the algorithms, are not neutral, but embed the biases and prejudices of those creating and using them, he writes. A very graphic example of this was unearthed recently, when the first international beauty contest judged by algorithms managed to produce remarkably prejudiced results almost all of the winners were white, despite there being no conscious mention of skin colour in the algorithms.

    Bernalalso argues that the sort of linguistic analysis Admirals app was apparently intending would havevery likely favored Facebook users in command of what might be seen as educated language and make any kind of regional, ethnic or otherwise non-standard use of language put its user at a disadvantage.

    The biases concerned could be racial, ethnic, cultural, regional, sexual, sexual-orientation, class-based but they will be present, and they will almost certainly be unfair, he adds.

    Bernal goes on to suggest thatFacebookusers develop survival tactics as a short term fix fordefeatingany assessments being made of them based on their social graphs and footprints urging especially youngpeople(who are perhaps currently most at risk of being harmfully judged by their social media activity) tokeep the more creative sides of your social life off Facebook.

    He also calls fora push by regulators towards developing a framework foralgorithmic accountability to control the autonomous technologies being increasingly deployedto control us.

    Algorithms need to be monitored and tested, their impact assessed, and those who create and use them to be held accountable for that impact, he adds. Insurance is just one example but it is a pertinent one, where the impact is obvious. We need to be very careful here, and not walk blindly into something that has distinct problems.

    Algorithmic accountability was alsoflagged as a concern bya UK science and technology parliamentary committeelast month, in a report considering the host of social, ethical and legal questions that arise from growing use of autonomous technologies, and given how quickly machine learning algorithms are being deployed towrangleinsights from data-sets.

    The committee recommended the government establishes a standing Commission on Artificial Intelligence aimed at identifying principles to govern the development and application of AI, and to provide advice and encourage public dialogue about automationtechnologies.

    While, in the US, arecentWhite House report also consideredthe riskof biases embedded in AI.

    Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2016/11/02/uk-car-insurance-firm-wants-to-scan-social-media-posts-to-price-premiums/

    Microsofts Slack competitor Teams launches today as a preview

    Its been a busy Fall for Microsoft. A week after throwing a big Windows/Surface party, the software giant has returned to the Big Apple for its latest piece of news. Clearly the company was just too excited to keep its latest addition to Office 365 under wraps, posting a launch video just prior to the events official kickoff.

    Todays event kicked off with that same video, after a few goofy jokes about feeling like we were just here, last week. CEOSatya Nadella hit the stage to talk aboutcollaboration, the art of the team, as the company put it, citing the different ways different groups from orchestras to sports teams work differently.

    Nadella describes Teams as, a chat-based workspacedesigned to facilitate real-time collaboration while building up the institutional knowledge of a team. The application is designed to pull together various tools into a single platform, including pieces like meetings, notes, a planner and, of course, chat.

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    As predicted, the app features threaded chats, keeping different conversations grouped together, along with a deep integration with Skype for voice and video calls built into the app. In fact, the company has built a number of its own offerings into the app, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. Office 365 Groups forms the basis of the application, allowing users to share information across different apps.

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    Customization is a big point here, as well, letting users design their own experience by way of cloud services built into tabs and Microsoft Bot integration. Sure, its a productivity application, but youre not going to be able to compete with the likes of Slack without appealing to the millennial crowd, and, as such, the company is integrating things likeemojis, stickers, GIFs and custom memes however, that last bit should choose to manifest itself.

    Different non-chat functions are filled at the top in a series of tabs on the top dashboard, so users can flip between different information, be it stored notes in OneNote or graphs through BI. Its a clean way to incorporate a large number of different information sources into a single place, without overwhelming one channel.

     

    The company showed off a few bots, as well, including T-Bot, which is a centralized help system that crawls an informational index, answering questions. Similarly, WhoBot searches people, so users can search for co-workers by asking contextual questions.

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    Microsoft is launching the application across a spectrum of mobile platforms, as well, including iOS, Android and, naturally, Windows Phone. In the demo, the mobile version of the application is essentially a scaled-down version of the desktop version.

    Security has been built into the desktop and mobile offerings, including data encryption and compliance with standards likeU Model Clauses, ISO 27001, SOC 2 and HIPAA. Like all our commercial services, the company explains in the official announcement, we have a transparent operational model with no standing access to customer data.

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    The application is now available as a preview in 181 countries. It will be available to everyone in the first quarter of next year. Microsoft is also offering the app to third-party developers today.

    Its already enlisted a number of high-profile platformsthat will be available at launch, including Asana, Hootsuite and Zendesk. The application can also be set up to receive notifications from services likeTwitter and GitHub.

    Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2016/11/02/microsoft-teams/