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Donald Trump, the diplomatic pugilist, doesn’t agree particularly often with other countries, be they friends of foes. An exception is the topic of artificial intelligence.
His administration signed on last week to a set of A.I. principles advocated by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, a group of generally rich nations that doesn’t include China. The principles are mostly fluffy stuff, not unlike Trump’s own executive order in February advocating for the U.S. having an A.I. policy in the first place. The OECD principles support A.I. being a force for “inclusive growth,” respectful of the rule of law, responsibly transparent, and so on. It all sounds a bit like an international bureaucrat’s version of motherhood and apple pie.
Still, if the choice is between the U.S. joining with other nations on important global policy frameworks or not joining with them, the former is undeniably better. The move speaks to the influence of Trump technology advisor Michael Kratsios, an outspoken advocate for A.I. policy.
In contrast, the Trump White House recently declined to support the so-called Christchurch Call against online extremism. As New York Magazine aptly put it, rather than stand with the leaders of New Zealand and France, the U.S. “kicked the can of responsibility down the road” by encouraging companies to police their platforms better.
Two of my weekend reads:
* The eloquent Timothy Egan, a columnist for The New York Times, on celebrating a radical technology, the book. (Printed tomes are back. Hurray!)
* This smart and courageous Bloomberg BusinessWeek article on the plight of a group of pro-capitalism economists in China. (Businesspeople must remember a different set of rules apply there.)
Our prices are insane. Everyone (in the cable industry) complains about cord cutting, but no one does anything about it–until now. Altice USA is preparing to offer its cable subscribers an amazing deal on mobile phone service if they stick around. The service, which will run on leased airwaves from Sprint, will cost just $20 to $30 per line, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Spending spree. E-commerce giant Alibaba held the largest initial public offering ever when it raised $25 billion back in 2014. Now the company is looking to raise $20 billion more in a secondary stock offering in Hong Kong. Meanwhile ByteDance, the owner of popular video app TikTok, wants to develop its own smartphone, The Financial Times reports.
Nose to the grindstone. The number of temporary and contract workers at Google totaled 121,000 in March, exceeding the full-time workforce of 102,000, The New York Times reports, citing an internal company document.
Christmas comes early. Chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices rolled out its latest line of updates at the Computex show in Taiwan. Heading the list is the new Ryzen 9 3900X, which comes with 12 cores running at up to 4.6 GHz for under $500. AMD also previewed a 7-nanometer graphics card called the Radeon RX 5700. Rival Intel previewed its first mainstream line of 10-nanometer chips, known as Ice Lake, but only some of its “U” series aimed at laptops. A Core i7 will have four cores running at up to 4.1 GHz. No pricing or specific model info yet.
Don’t go there. Amid President Trump’s visit to Japan, the government there said it would place more tech industry sectors under its foreign ownership controls. The government can move to block foreign entities from buying more than 10% of companies in the listed areas, which will now include information technology and communications.
Non-machine learning. If you want more in-depth coverage of artificial intelligence, don’t forget to subscribe to our new weekly Eye on A.I. newsletter. The newest issue comes out later today.
ON THE MOVE
Scooter sharing startup Lime promoted co-founder Brad Bao to CEO, with current CEO Toby Sun shifted to look “to what’s next and focus on building the Lime of tomorrow,” the company said…David Mandelbrot resigned as CEO of crowdfunding service Indiegogo due to “personal reasons.” He was replaced by Andy Yang, a former Reddit executive who was CEO of photography site 500px…Snap hired Oona King as its first vice president of diversity and inclusion. King had been director of diversity strategy at Google and before that served as a Labor MP in the British Parliament.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
In a few days, it will be the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in China. But don’t expect to read anything about the upcoming June 4th historic date in Chinese media, online or off. Cate Cadell investigates for Reuters how online censorship in China operates in this day and age of “user generated content.” A.I. is a big aid:
“We sometimes say that the artificial intelligence is a scalpel, and a human is a machete,” said one content screening employee at Beijing Bytedance Co Ltd, who asked not to be identified because they are not authorized to speak to media. Two employees at the firm said censorship of the Tiananmen crackdown, along with other highly sensitive issues including Taiwan and Tibet, is now largely automated.
Posts that allude to dates, images and names associated with the protests are automatically rejected. “When I first began this kind of work four years ago there was opportunity to remove the images of Tiananmen, but now the artificial intelligence is very accurate,” one of the people said.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Keep Your A.I. Buzzwords Straight By Jonathan Vanian
5G Is Still in Its Infancy By Aaron Pressman
Facebook Could Fix the News Industry With Micropayments—Unless Kik Does It First By Jeff John Roberts
Oculus Quest Delivers Quality Wireless VR Gaming, But At a High Price By Lisa Marie Segarra
BEFORE YOU GO
The three-day weekend is over, but there’s still plenty of time this summer to catch up on some of my slightly finance-obsessed colleague Polina Marinova’s business documentary recommendations. From Enron to Pixar, they run the gamut from great successes to wild failures.