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News Roundup: Tech's response to Trump's immigration ban

A roundup of the week’s tech news including robots on wheels, driverless disengagements, and Amazon & Apache.

Immigration

Shockingly, most of this week’s headlines revolved around President Donald Trump has immigration ban. The technology industry - largely created by newcomers to the country – was not quiet.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos: “This executive order is one we do not support…We’re a nation of immigrants whose diverse backgrounds, ideas, and points of view have helped us build and invent as a nation for over 240 years.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook: “Apple is open. Open to everyone, no matter where they come from, which language they speak, who they love or how they worship.”

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella: “As an immigrant and as a CEO, I’ve both experienced and seen the positive impact that immigration has on our company, for the country, and for the world. We will continue to advocate on this important topic.”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg: “Like many of you, I'm concerned about the impact of the recent executive orders signed by President Trump.”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk: “The blanket entry ban on citizens from certain primarily Muslim countries is not the best way to address the country’s challenges.”

Box CEO Aaron Levie: “On every level -moral, humanitarian, economic, logical, etc.- this ban is wrong and is completely antithetical to the principles of America.”

Dropbox CEO Drew Houston: “Executive orders affecting world's most vulnerable are un-American. Dropbox embraces people from all countries and faiths.”

Google (which also set up a $2 million crisis fund): “"We’re concerned about the impact of this order and any proposals that could impose restrictions on Googlers and their families, or that create barriers to bringing great talent to the U.S.”

Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield: “It's still so hard to believe that this is real life. Nearly every action seems gratuitously … evil.”

IndieGoGo: “It is because we feel so strongly about how much immigrants contribute to our country and our culture that we are so strongly opposed to the Executive Order issued by Donald Trump last Friday.”

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg: “The Executive Orders issued over the past week defy the heart and values that define the best of our nation.”

Nest Founder Tony Fadell: “It sends a terrible message and, if not overturned, will ultimately damage not only American technology competitiveness but American competitiveness overall.”

Blackberry CEO John Chen: “I am disheartened and do not agree with the sharpness of President Trump’s executive order and immigration ban.”

Nutanix CEO Dheeraj Pandey: “It's time to keep a vigil, stay united, and overcome this together.”

In the wake of #DeleteUber, the company’s CEO Travis Kalanick has stepped down from Trump’s economic advisory group. Musk, however, will stay in order to make humanity a “multi-planet civilization.”

Who watches the AI?

Greater transparency is needed within AI systems, according to researchers at the Alan Turing Institute in London and the University of Oxford. In a new report, they call for a third-party watchdog that can investigate and audit decisions taken by AI systems to ensure they are fair.

Apache, Amazon, and MXNet

MXNet, the open source Deep Learning framework used by Amazon, has been accepted to the Apache Incubator. Joining the accelerator is the first step to becoming officially part of the Apache Software Foundation. Becoming part of the foundation should help drive adoption and speed MXNet’s development.

Who's heard of GDPR?

We’ve written about the EU’s incoming General Data Protection Regulation – aka GDPR – a lot here at IDG Connect. It seems we need to do more though after a new study by Netskope found that more than 60% of the UK have never heard of the incoming rules. Hopefully, everyone at your company who needs to know about GDPR does, or you might be facing some steep fines come May 2018.

M&A

Tech exits were down in 2016 compared to previous years, according to new reports from both CB Insights and PWC.

Gaming PC maker Razer has acquired Nextbit, maker of the Kickstarter-funded Robin phone. Toshiba has spun off its memory business, Datto has bought Open Mesh, Kickstarter now owns Huzza, Accenture has purchased InvestTech Systems, HPE has got its hands on security analytics firm Niara, and Salesforce has splashed out for Sequence.

Cars

California’s DMV has released its disengagement reports; the filings driverless car companies submit showing how many times their autonomous systems disengaged and humans had to take over. Waymo – aka Google’s driverless car unit – has driven more than all the other companies listed combined, and seen a massive improvement in its system. Despite driving over 200,000 more miles in 2016 compared to the year before, the company saw the number of disengagements drop by two-thirds.

Germany has become the latest country to pass laws allowing driverless cars on public roads.

Alexa & Tintri

A recent survey of IT pros by Spiceworks suggested that 19% of businesses are currently using intelligent assistants/chatbots for work-related tasks on company-owned devices, which another 30% are planning to use them in business over the next three years. The days where we ask Alexa to do our IT work for us might only be around the next corner: storage virtualization provider TinTri is already working on chatbot integration for its services, and, according to the Reg, will soon be working on voice integration for Alexa.

Robots on wheels

What’s more terrifying than robots that can walk towards you? Robots with wheels that can roll towards you! More video gold from the guys at Boston Dynamics.

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Dan Swinhoe

Dan is Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect. Writes about all manner of tech from driverless cars, AI, and Green IT to Cloudy stuff, security, and IoT. Dislikes autoplay ads/videos and garbage written about 'milliennials'.  

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