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Good morning again from Aspen, Colo., where Fortune Brainstorm Tech wrapped up its second day on Tuesday. We conclude before lunch today, and I’ll plan to share thoughts on the whole event tomorrow.
In the meantime, I encourage you to check out Fortune.com, where Fortune journalists have been covering every single interview, panel, and roundtable. Some highlights:
* Lyft’s John Zimmer sounded impressively confident of Lyft’s ability not just to compete with Uber but to be its equal. He said Lyft recently achieved 60% market share in one unnamed West Coast city. I barely contained my urge to shout out “Which one?!”
* SoftBank’s Lydia Jett and Jeff Housenbold said Masayoshi Son meets every entrepreneur the firm invests in. They made their pitch that SoftBank isn’t merely each investment’s biggest check—which it is—but rather that its global operation and expertise helps the companies in which it invests.
* Stripe’s Claire Hughes Johnson labeled as marketing many of the initiatives companies like to call “blockchain.” If it’s private and utilizes database technology, it’s a database. This is a debate that will rage for a while.
* Nadja Smith, the three-star Army general who is the service’s surgeon general, manages a 140,000-person medical corps that is the envy of the health care world and as good an example of a single-payer system as could be imagined. The Army brat and West Point graduate has an inspiring personal story as well. The Army, focused on “lethality” as its mission, is focused on the opposite side of that equation: saving the lives of soldiers on the battlefield. Among the innovations the Army has worked on are an updated approach to the tourniquet, a Civil War technique.
* Stacy Brown-Philpot, CEO of TaskRabbit, talked about how the San Francisco startup has helped its owner, Ikea, with product development, but also how decades-old Ikea skillfully manages its brand.
Trouble at the top. What is going on in the semiconductor business? On Tuesday, Texas Instruments rather new CEO, Brian Crutcher, stepped down for unspecified violations of the company’s code of conduct. The move follows former Intel CEO Brian Krzanich’s abrupt resignation for having a consensual relationship with a company employee and Rambus CEO Ron Black getting fired for an unrevealed code of conduct violation.
Hair on fire. The European Union came down hard on Google, fining the company $5 billion over misuse of the Android mobile operating system to stymie competition. Google could appeal the decision. Also, the company disclosed that new Nest CEO Marwan Fawaz is being demoted to executive adviser and the unit (acquired for $3.2 billion in 2014) will be merged with its home devices unit. Meanwhile, in slightly less painful news, problems with Google’s cloud infrastructure caused intermittent outages across the Internet on Tuesday. Internet apps, games and services including Snapchat, Spotify, Pokemon Go, and Discord were among the affected. Everything was fixed by later afternoon.
Progress. Venture firm Andreessen Horowitz promoted Connie Chan to general partner with a focus on consumer investments. Some of her most notable deals include visual bookmarking site Pinterest and scooter and bike-sharing company Lime. “I’m constantly looking for companies that are pushing the envelope by creating uniquely native mobile experiences,” she told Fortune.
Your margin is my opportunity. After Netflix raised prices a couple of times, Walmart apparently got an idea. The retail giant is considering creating its own Internet video streaming service that would undercut Netflix on price and compete with Amazon’s Prime Video service, tech news site The Information reported.
Hasta la vista, baby. In a pledge released on Wednesday, some 2,400 artificial intelligence researchers and others agreed never to help design lethal autonomous weapons and called on governments to outlaw such efforts. Signers included Tesla CEO Elon Musk, the co-founders of the Google-owned DeepMind, and the Larry Page-backed XPrize Foundation.
This won’t hurt a bit. A security breach at LabCorp, one of the nation’s largest medical diagnostics companies, may have endangered the privacy of millions of patient records. The company disclosed that it uncovered “suspicious activities” in its computer network last weekend, but said it has not yet discovered any evidence of unauthorized transfer or misuse of data.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Although the United States has a patchwork of laws protecting consumer privacy, at least one area appeared to have strong safeguards. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 places significant limits on the sharing of medical data. But an investigation by Marshall Allen for ProPublica found that the health insurance industry has turned to compiling all kinds of other, more accessible data to draw conclusions about consumers’ health status and possibly use for setting prices.
The LexisNexis booth was emblazoned with the slogan “Data. Insight. Action.” The company said it uses 442 non-medical personal attributes to predict a person’s medical costs. Its cache includes more than 78 billion records from more than 10,000 public and proprietary sources, including people’s cellphone numbers, criminal records, bankruptcies, property records, neighborhood safety and more. The information is used to predict patients’ health risks and costs in eight areas, including how often they are likely to visit emergency rooms, their total cost, their pharmacy costs, their motivation to stay healthy and their stress levels.
People who downsize their homes tend to have higher health care costs, the company says. As do those whose parents didn’t finish high school. Patients who own more valuable homes are less likely to land back in the hospital within 30 days of their discharge. The company says it has validated its scores against insurance claims and clinical data. But it won’t share its methods and hasn’t published the work in peer-reviewed journals.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
How Companies Can Safeguard User Privacy in the Data Era By Alan Murray
Why China Will Soon Challenge Silicon Valley By Brian O’Keefe
One Job AI Won’t Replace? Chief Ethics Officer By Robert Hackett
Why AI Needs to Be Audited Before We Have Self-Driving Cars By Jonathan Vanian
Why Booking Invested in Chinese Ride-Hailing Company Didi By Beth Kowitt
Venture Investors Are Changing Term Sheets to Include Provisions on ICOs By Polina Marinova
AI Is a Matter of Survival By Robert Hackett
How Data Privacy Blunders and Conspiracy Theories Helped Fuel the ‘Techlash’ By Jonathan Vanian
BEFORE YOU GO
It’s a potentially groundbreaking day for the commercialization of space. Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin is planning to test its rocket that’s designed to carry people into space. But the test flight will be “manned” only by the company’s sensor-filled dummy known as Mannequin Skywalker. God speed, Mannequin.