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Data Sheet—Americans See Robots Coming, But for Someone Else’s Job

Pew Research Center is out this morning with what Fox News would deem a “Fox News Alert”: Americans are worried about the impact of automation on their lives.

This may seem obvious, but the nitty gritty of the Pew investigation, conducted this spring, is quite interesting. For example, Americans are rather worried that computer algorithms will replace humans in choosing job candidates—even though researchers have shown clearly that algorithms do a better job than humans at choosing job candidates. Americans fear losing control if they’re forced to ride in autonomous vehicles. These same Americans fly in airplanes every day that largely are flown by computers, and impressively efficient ones at that.

Fretful respondents are unsurprisingly willing to engage in cognitive dissonance about coming automation. While 77% of Americans think robots will take over many jobs in coming decades, just 30% think robots will replace their jobs. That reminds me off all the old surveys about Americans thinking Congress was filled with a bunch of bums—but not their representatives.

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There’s a lot that’s fascinating in this Pew study, even if the report ultimately is a dog-bites-man account: Humans are fretful about technological advances that will change their existence, yet they’ll ultimately embrace them, adapt to them and more often than not prosper from them.


There’s a notable new “media” player to talk about. Global affairs consultant Ian Bremmer, founder of the Eurasia Group, has started a newsletter called “Signal,” aimed at millennials. For years Bremmer has written a maddeningly all lowercase yet fascinating weekly newsletter on geopolitics. But that email goes out mostly to his exclusive list of clients. Signal is for the public, as his new digital TV show and his widely followed LinkedIn and other social media posts. Bremmer, who lives in New York and spends about half his time traveling the globe, told me recently he has hired 15 people to work for his new media concern, which he is positioning as being like “Axios, but for the rest of the world.”

I recommend you check out Bremmer’s offerings because he’s the rare political commentator who frequently has something original to say other than what he read in the morning’s papers.

Adam Lashinsky


Budget busters. As expected, Google on Wednesday announced its new Pixel 2 phones, updated smart speakers in its Google Home line, and a bevy of other goodies. You can read how the Pixel 2 compares to other top phones, figure out where to get the best deal on one, and learn how one minor new product spooked GoPro investors. CEO Sundar Pichai spoke to The Verge and, among other tidbits of interest, says AI will help people protect their private information better. Just before Google’s event, Sonos introduced smarter speakers to its line up.

Get your popcorn ready. If you are following the Russian use of social networks to influence our election, mark November 1 on your calendar. That’s when the Senate Intelligence committee will hold a hearing with execs from Facebook, Twitter, and Google to testify on their experiences.

Ch-ch-changes. A couple of top tech executives are departing the scene. Marni Walden, Verizon’s executive VP overseeing all its media efforts, is leaving in February. And Airbnb’s marketing guru, Jonathan Mildenhall, is off to open his own consulting firm.

Bug crusher. Apple issued a software update for its smartwatches that should eliminate at least one of the problems that hampered cellular LTE connectivity. WatchOS 4.0.1 addresses the issue of watches connecting without real connectivity to captive Wi-Fi networks.

Big crusher. Shares of e-commerce service Shopify lost 11% on Wednesday after famed short seller Andrew Left of Citron Research targeted the company, arguing that its business model was “dirtier” than Herbalife’s.


Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey returned to try and save his baby two years ago. The move sparked a debate about whether Dorsey could give Twitter sufficient attention while he remained as CEO of Square as well. Kurt Wagner at Recode assesses Dorsey’s tenure and gives away his conclusion in the headline: “Jack Dorsey returned to Twitter two years ago — but he still hasn’t saved the company.” What happens next may be out of Dorsey’s control, Wagner writes:

But if Twitter’s numbers don’t improve, an activist investor could take advantage of the weak numbers to force a change. In a sign of Twitter’s good corporate governance, it has one share class, with each share getting an equal vote, unlike other Silicon Valley companies like Alphabet and Facebook, where founders exercise disproportionate control relative to their ownership stake. But that also leaves Twitter more susceptible to an investor willing to write a big check in exchange for some control. (Twitter staggers its board seat renewals to make it harder for anyone to change anything too quickly, though.)


Your Terrible Work Commute May One Day Be Solved by Personal Aircraft By Andrew Nusca

New York Times’ Gives a Free Google Home to New Subscribers By By Tom Huddleston, Jr.

Striking Charter Workers Plan to Escalate Battle With the Cable Company By Aaron Pressman

How Equifax Is ‘Making Millions of Dollars Off Its Own Screwup’ By Jen Wieczner

How a Fire Alarm Caused a Glitch for Microsoft’s Azure Cloud By Barb Darrow

Snap CEO: We’ve Sold More Than 150,000 Pairs of Spectacles By Chris Morris

Why Did Facebook Promote Fake News About the Las Vegas Massacre? By Jennifer Grygiel 


Melinda Gates married Bill Gates almost 25 years ago, but in a speech on Wednesday, she admitted that the Microsoft co-founder was not her first love. “Like most high school relationships, it was completely and totally all-consuming,” she said. The object of Gates’ affection? An Apple III computer.
This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Aaron Pressman. Find past issues, and sign up for other Fortune newsletters.