Google is currently under fire for apparently pushing out a researcher whose work warned of bias in AI, and now a report from Reuters says others doing such work at the company have been asked to “strike a positive tone” and undergo additional reviews for research touching on “sensitive topics.”
Reuters, citing researchers at the company and internal documents, reports that Google has implemented new controls in the last year, including an extra round of inspection for papers on certain topics and seemingly an increase in executive interference at later stages of research.
That certainly appears to have been the case with Dr. Timnit Gebru, an AI researcher at Google whose resignation seems to have been forced under confusing circumstances, following friction between her and management over work that her team was doing. (I’ve asked Gebru and Google for comment on the story.)
Among the “sensitive” topics, according to an internal webpage seen by Reuters, are: “the oil industry, China, Iran, Israel, COVID-19, home security, insurance, location data, religion, self-driving vehicles, telecoms and systems that recommend or personalize web content.”
It’s clear that many of these issues are indeed sensitive, though advising researchers to take care when addressing them seems superfluous considering the existence of ethics boards, peer review, and other ordinary controls on research. One researcher who spoke to Reuters warned that this sort of top-down interference from Google could soon get “into a serious problem of censorship.”
This is in addition to the fundamental issue of vital research being conducted under the auspices of a company for which it may or may not be in their interest to publish. Naturally large private research institutions have existed for nearly as long as organized scientific endeavor, but companies like Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft and others exert an enormous influence over fields like AI and have good reason to avoid criticism of lucrative technologies while shouting their usefulness from every rooftop.
Apple’s ‘Time To Walk’ Reveals Monopoly Power – Forbes
It was harder to start a workout on my Apple Watch this morning. Not much harder, maybe just 5% or so, but harder. And a bit more annoying.
Today Apple launched Time to Walk, a podcast series with famous people about walking. It’s included with Apple Fitness+, a subscription service that costs $80/year, and I learned that it launched by not being able to start a walking “workout” the ordinary way on my Apple Watch. Instead of a list of possible workouts in the Apple Watch workout app, there’s now a big “Time to Walk” image with musician Shawn Mendes at the top of the list. The Apple Fitness+ video podcast series will include episodes with Golden State Warriors player Draymond Green, country music legend Dolly Parton, and Emmy award-winning actor Uzo Aduba.
Somewhat disconcerting, when you don’t expect it.
To select the workout you want, of course, you simply have to scroll past it. As I did again at lunchtime for my strength training workout. And as I’ll have to do again this afternoon for another walk. And 10 or 12 more times this week.
Hopefully, if I don’t use it, Time to Walk will go away. But I have no idea if it will or won’t: there’s no option to remove it or delete it.
Big deal? Not really, to be honest.
Unless you’re a podcaster doing fitness-oriented episodes. Or a fitness app competitive to Apple’s Fitness+. Now you’re not only competing with the owner of the platform that you’re delivering your services to (which is hard enough) you are also competing with some aspects of that platform owner’s service mixed in with potential customers’ everyday experience of that service in places most wouldn’t expect.
(At least, I didn’t.)
I think I have Fitness+ for three months free due to purchasing a new Apple Watch. Or I’m on a free one-month trial. Or maybe I bought it. I honestly don’t really remember: I must have hit “Yes” somewhere. (That alone, of course, is another competitive challenge for anyone offering a non-Apple fitness subscription, app, or experience on iPhone: the ability for Apple to just start a service on an iPhone as a result of a hardware purchase, or offer it with a single-click assent.)
Apple says that Time to Walk is “an inspiring new audio walking experience on Apple Watch for Fitness+ subscribers, created to encourage users to walk more often and reap the benefits from one of the healthiest activities.”
That’s great. It really is. I absolutely 100% agree with Apple that walking is therapeutic and healthy. As my mother never fails to remind me, it’s “good for your body and good for your soul.”
For once, Apple agrees with mom.
“Walking is the most popular physical activity in the world, and one of the healthiest things we can do for our bodies,” Jay Blahnik, Apple’s senior director of Fitness Technologies, said in a statement. “A walk can often be more than just exercise: It can help clear the mind, solve a problem, or welcome a new perspective.”
But I’d much rather experience it intentionally as the result of a choice.
The way to launch a new service like this is simple: a notification on my phone or watch that Apple has a new service, with details about what it does and where it lives, insight into why Apple is sending this to me (example: “you’re getting this notification because you have the Apple Fitness+ one month free trial”), and how I can ignore it, opt out, or delete it after trying it.
It should not just show up, unannounced, undeletable, unskippable, on my device.
Small detail? OK: you’re not wrong if you think so.
But sometimes the small details are important, especially when you want to maintain a level playing field on your platform, silence the growing monopoly chorus, and simply be user-focused rather than push-all-the-subscriptions focused.
Apple competes with Amazon Halo, Google’s Fitbit premium memberships, Peloton, and dozens if not hundreds of other fitness, wellness, and health services. All of them should compete, as much as possible, on a level playing field. That’s not always 100% possible, but in an ideal world, an Apple service on an iPhone should be as easy to access and use as an Apple service on an Android.
And vice versa.
Again, not totally realistic for plenty of software, hardware, and ecosystem reasons. But certainly an ideal to aim for.
Apple launches 'Time to Walk' feature for Apple Watch and Fitness+ – MobileSyrup
According to the company, Time To Walk offers “an inspiring new audio walking experience on Apple Watch for Fitness+ subscribers” that aims to encourage subscribers to get out and walk more often.
With Time To Walk, notable celebrities like country music star Dolly Parton, NBA player Draymond Green, Canadian musician Shawn Mendes and Emmy Award-winning actor Uzo Aduba, share what Apple calls “life-shaping moments” that were recorded while walking outside or at locations that mean something to them.
New episodes of Time To Walk will appear in Apple’s Workout app on the Apple Watch each Monday until the end of April. Episodes will run between 25 and 40 minutes. To use Time to Walk, you need to have AirPods or other Bluetooth headphones paired with an Apple Watch, though a Wi-Fi or cellular connection isn’t required as long as you’ve downloaded the episode ahead of time.
At least at the outset, Time To Walk sounds similar to a standard podcast. That said, the location the recording was made in could potentially make at least some episodes a little more interesting than they may initially sound.
Apple Fitness+ launched back in mid-December for $12.99 per month or $99 a year. Apple is currently offering a 3-month free trial of Fitness+
The fitness service features nine different categories of workouts, including cycling, treadmill, rowing, HIIT, strength, Yoga, Dance, Core and Mindful Cooldown. Each workout includes music and is curated by trainers, similar to competing fitness services from companies like Peleton and Echelon.
Huawei denies reports about possible sale of P and Mate brands – IT World Canada
Huawei is denying reports claiming that it’s looking to sell its premium smartphone brands.
Reuters today said that two insiders are claiming that Huawei is in early talks to sell its P and Mate premium smartphone series. Those sources said Huawei has been talking with government-backed Shanghai investment firms from early as September 2020 but has not yet agreed on a deal.
The move seemed plausible given that Huawei sold its value-oriented Honor smartphone brand to Shenzhen Zhixin New Information Technology in November 2020. “Huawei said that the sale was made “by Honor’s industry to ensure its own survival.”
Huawei selling its P and Mate series would essentially signal its exit from the smartphone business. Huawei sold 55.8 million devices worldwide in Q1 2020, outpacing both Samsung and Apple in units shipped. It lost the top spot to Samsung in Q3 2020 amid technology restrictions due to the U.S. entity list.
Huawei told Reuters that it has no plans to sell its premium smartphone brands, calling the reports meritless and unsubstantiated. The company prepared the following statement in response to IT World Canada’s request for comment:
“Huawei has learned there are unsubstantiated rumours circulating regarding the possible sale of our flagship smartphone brands. There is no merit to these rumours whatsoever. Huawei has no such plan. We remain fully committed to our smartphone business, and will continue to deliver world-leading products and experiences for consumers around the world.”
Would you recommend this article?
We’d love to hear your opinion about this or any other story you read in our publication. Click this link to send me a note →
Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
#liker-thanksdisplay:none; padding:12px; background:#D2DDFF; border:1px solid #0010AA;
New social media campaign targets COVID-19 misinformation with science – Global News
Provinces set back COVID-19 vaccinations as deliveries grind to halt – Peace Arch News – Peace Arch News
Grace: Post-COVID, the economy will not recover unless we properly support women – Ottawa Citizen
Silver investment demand jumped 12% in 2019
Iran anticipates renewed protests amid social media shutdown
Galaxy M31 July 2020 security update brings Glance, a content-driven lockscreen wallpaper service
Sports23 hours ago
Justin Poirier and Conor McGregor show mutual admiration during backstage meeting following UFC 257
Sports19 hours ago
Player grades: Jesse Puljujarvi has game of his life as Edmonton Oilers beat Winnipeg Jets in a thriller – Edmonton Journal
Politics24 hours ago
Parliament resumes amid heightened political pressure on pandemic, vaccines
Investment23 hours ago
Post-pandemic investment idea with a better chance of success
Health6 hours ago
Spain’s COVID-19 infections hit new high as regions double down on measures
Business7 hours ago
BlackBerry says unaware of reason for stock price surge
Economy6 hours ago
Canada worried by Biden’s ‘Buy American’ plans, will make issue a priority
Real eState23 hours ago
2021 Could See the Tightest Muskoka Real Estate Market in Years – Toronto Storeys