Surprise! Huawei Can Actually Innovateand Win Fans

Huawei doesn’t leap to mind as an innovative company. In the US, the Chinese telecom giant is best known for the government’s national security concerns—and allegations that it stole intellectual property from companies like Cisco and Motorola. Yet Huawei was the fifth-biggest research and development spender in the world in 2017, according to a European Union report. Its €11.3 billion ($12.9 billion) R&D spend that year outpaced Intel (€10.9 billion), Apple (€9.7 billion), and Nokia (€4.9 billion). Huawei claims its investments over the years have paid off in the form of 87,805 patents—11,152 of which were granted in the US. Now Huawei is trying to turn those patents into cash. This month Reuters reported that Huawei wants Verizon to pay …

Senators Want Facebook to Put a Price on Your Data. Is That Possible?

In these days of anti-tech ire, it’s a popular cocktail hour topic: How much is Facebook making off my data? Last year, I spent a month trying to find out, hawking my personal data on blockchain-based marketplaces. I came away with $0.003. On Monday, when Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia) announced a proposal to force tech companies to tell users the value of their data, he was slightly more generous, ballparking the average at $5 a month. In truth, it’s probably only Facebook or Google (and their advertisers) who could hazard a good guess. “The cards are really stacked against us,” says David Carroll, a professor of media design at the New School known for his extensive quest to reclaim his …

Big Data Supercharged Gerrymandering. It Could Help Stop It Too

The Supreme Court’s conservative justices ruled Thursday that the highest court doesn’t have the power to address partisan gerrymandering, the practice in which politicians redraw district maps to help their own party win more elections. In two cases, Lamone v. Benisek and Rucho v. Common Cause, the court split along ideological lines 5 to 4. Chief Justice John G. Roberts wrote the majority opinion, concluding that “partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts.” The cases concerned two instances of redistricting, one in North Carolina, where plaintiffs said the map was gerrymandered to favor Republicans, and another in Maryland, where plaintiffs said it was designed to favor Democrats. Justice Roberts agreed that the states’ district …

YouTube Is Giving You More Control Over Video Recommendations

YouTube has been at the center of a long series of scandals in recent years, many concerning one of its main features: the recommendation algorithm. The software encourages users to watch one video after another, which are served up on a menu labeled “Up Next.” Dubbed the “great radicalizer,” the algorithm has been accused by critics of guiding people down a rabbit hole of increasingly extreme content. To address the issue, YouTube began reducing the number of times it recommended things like conspiracy theories and bogus miracle cures. Now, the company wants to give more control over the algorithm to its users. Starting Wednesday, you can block specific channels from appearing in your YouTube recommendations, the company announced in a …

We Need to Build Up Digital Trust in Tech

For months, there’s been a steady march of controversies over how tech companies collect, manage, process, and share massive (and passive) amounts of data. And even though the executives and founders of these companies profess a renewed commitment to privacy and corporate responsibility, people are beginning to worry about surveillance and power—and reconsider how much faith they should put in both the leaders and services leveraging these quickly evolving technologies. The latest manifestation of these concerns came out of San Francisco, home to the tech economy: the city banned facial recognition technology to “regulate the excesses of technology.” As tech winds its way deeper and deeper into our lives, deeper questions arise: How can you trust someone you’ll never see? …

FCC Chair Backs T-Mobile and Sprint Deal, Clearing Hurdle for Merger

T-Mobile's proposed $26.5 billion merger with Sprint just cleared its first legal hurdle, as Federal Communications Commission chair Ajit Pai says he will recommend that the agency approve the deal. The FCC will most likely follow his lead, but the deal still needs approval from the Justice Department, where antitrust enforcement staffers have expressed concerns, Bloomberg reports. In an announcement, Pai said Monday that the two companies agreed to expand their rural coverage if the merger is approved, by building a 5G wireless network that will cover 97 percent of the US population within three years and 99 percent of the country within six years. Pai says the new network will cover 90 percent of rural residents within six years. …