Connect with us


Trump hints at stopping “powerful” big tech in latest ‘get out the vote’ tweet



If there was any doubt that yesterday’s flogging of big tech CEOs by Senate republicans was anything other than an electioneering stunt, president Trump has thumped the point home by tweeting a video message to voters in which he bashes “big tech” as (maybe) too powerful but certainly in need of being “spoken to” and (maybe) more.

The not-so-subtle suggestion being that a vote for Trump is a vote to break up the likes of Facebook, Google and Twitter .

In the video Trump signposts the DoJ’s antitrust suit against Google — ending with a call to his supporters to get out the vote. So the president is brandishing an anti-big tech message as the latest cudgel in his culture war, just a few days ahead of the 2020 US presidential election.

“For a long time I’ve been hearing about how powerful big tech is, whether it’s Facebook or Twitter or Google or any of them,” he begins the video, before making a quick vanity-dig about winning the 2016 election regardless of the “powerful” platforms being “totally against me”, as he glibly claims — entirely failing to mention that Facebook actually allowed its network to be a free and unfettered conduit for millions of pieces of anti-Clinton, pro-Trump propaganda cooked up in Russia.

Instead, he segues into a claim that the platforms have taken their power to a “a new level”, as he puts it — accusing them of “suppressing the corruption of Joe Biden” by ‘not letting the stories out’.

This is a direct reference to Trump’s Democrat challenger for the White House, and an indirect reference to a controversial New York Post story about a cache of emails purported to have been found on laptop hardware owned by Biden’s son Hunter — but which carry the distinct whiff of another election-focused political disinformation operation.

The big difference this time around is that ‘big tech’ is rather more alive to the reputational risks to their platforms and companies if they’re found ignoring another orchestrated episode of election interference.

Hence both Facebook and Twitter limited the sharing of the Post’s story.

Twitter initially blocked links to it citing its hacked materials policy — though it later revised the policy after Republicans screamed ‘censorship’. And CEO Jack Dorsey got plenty more grilling on that theme at yesterday’s Senate hearing as Republican senators used the hearing as an opportunity to try to mint gotcha soundbites on bogus claims of big tech’s ‘anti-conservative bias & censorship’.

The tech CEOs mostly had to sit there and be bashed as it’s not politic for them to suggest Republicans might be experiencing more content moderation vs liberals because they break the rules more. Instead the electioneering pantomime ran on for hours.

Trump is just closing the loop on the politically biased soundbite fest by trying to turn tedious and trumped up claims of anti-conservative bias into a bald ‘get out the vote’ message to his base.

“Big tech has to be spoken to and probably in some form has to be stopped,” is the closest he gets to an actual policy position here. So Trump voters shouldn’t get their hopes up that he might actually deliver a break up of Facebook et al either.

The ironies are of course hot and heavy, given evidence shows social media algorithms’ baked in preference for spreading controversial/outrageous content further and faster than the blander, more nuanced stuff that’s likely to be closer to the truth. Simply put, it’s human nature to click on the crazy stuff — and ad-funded platforms are fuelled by eyeball engagement. So lies have been great for big tech’s bottom lines.

That then means these very same ‘big tech’ platforms tend to amplify Republican messaging — certainly of the Trumpian flavor, i.e. where trumped up claims, lacking in evidence and/or reality, are preferred. (Like, say, Trump calling Mexicans rapists or claiming the pandemic is over as thousands continue to die. Or that he has immunity from COVID-19 when the scientific consensus is we don’t know how long a person may be immune after fighting off the virus and we know some people have been reinfected with COVID-19, and so on.)

So the scale of the nonsense being peddled by Trump’s Republican party is indeed very strong and very powerful. But then, well, we haven’t been in Kansas for a long time.

At the time of writing Twitter has also not placed any kind of contextual labelling on Trump’s tweet — despite the contents of the video arguably containing misinformation about big tech itself. But that’s just one more irony to add to the steaming pile.

And if you’re feeling a pang of pity for the tech CEOs caught in this partisan bind it pays to remember they made their bed by claiming to operate community and content policies they didn’t — and still don’t — properly enforce. Which makes Trump their very own monster.

Continue Reading


Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 will land on phones in Q1 2021



As promised, more info following yesterday’s Snapdragon 888 announcement. First off, as expected, the company’s next flagship SoC will arrive in the first quarter of next year. We’re still waiting on specific models, but as noted yesterday, the San Diego-based chip giant already has a lineup of smartphone makers planning to employ the 765 follow-up, including ASUS, Black Shark, LG, MEIZU, Motorola, Nubia, realme, OnePlus, OPPO, Sharp, vivo, Xiaomi and ZTE.

The focuses are also what you’d expect: 5G, AI, speed, security, imaging and gaming. As Qualcomm announced earlier, the new system sports the third-gen X60 5G modem, which supports both sub-6 and mmWave variations of the wireless technology with speeds up to 7.5 Gbps. Also on board is support for Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2.

The sixth-gen version of the company’s AI Engine brings faster processing speeds at lower power consumption — specifically up to 3x performance per watt, per Qualcomm’s numbers. That’s capable of up to 26 tera operations per second (TOPS). Compare that to the “incredible” 5.5 TOPS the company was talking up on the Snapdragon 765 roughly this time last year. The AI stuff is primarily used to boost camera, gaming, connectivity and voice assistants like Google’s.

On the camera side, the new chip features the improved Spectra 580, sporting the line’s first triple ISP (image signal processor). That’s going to go a ways toward fostering multi-camera setup, with the ability to simultaneously have three cameras at up to 2.7 gigapixels a second. The system also supports capture of three 4K HDR videos at once — overkill, perhaps, but neat. There’s improved low-light support as well, to brighten up dark shots — always a nice thing.

The on-board Adreno 660 GPU can do up to 35% faster graphics. The Kryo 680 — based on the new Arm Cortex-X1 architecture — brings up to a 25% uplift in CPU performance. Game rendering has been improved by up to 30%, and titles will get access to Variable Rate Shading — a first for a Qualcomm chip. As for security, the new chip offers a number of new features aimed at protecting on-device data, including the Qualcomm Secure Processing Unit.

Continue Reading


Self-driving trucks startup TuSimple raises $350M from U.S. rail, retail and freight giants



Self-driving trucks startup TuSimple has closed a $350 million funding round from a diverse consortium of strategic investors that include major U.S. corporations in rail, retail and freight, according to sources familiar with the deal. 

The round, which was oversubscribed, was led by VectoIQ LLC, confirming a report by TechCrunch in September. VectoIQ is the consulting and investment company founded by Steve Girsky, the former GM vice chairman, consultant and investor whose special purpose acquisition company merged with hydrogen electric startup Nikola Corp. this summer. 

The injection of capital stands out not only because of its size, but the array of companies involved. Goodyear, Union Pacific, CN Rail, freight company U.S. Xpress and retailer Kroger all participated in the round, sources familiar with the deal told TechCrunch. Existing investors Volkswagen AG’s heavy-truck business The Traton Group and Navistar also participated. (Last month, Traton, which already held a 16.6% stake in Navistar agreed to acquire its remaining shares.)

TuSimple has raised $648 million since its founding in 2015.

The company declined to comment. 

TuSimple was one of the first autonomous trucking startups to emerge in what has become a small, yet bustling industry that now includes Aurora, Embark, Ike, Kodiak and Waymo. While TuSimple’s founding team and its earliest backers Sina and Composite Capital are from China, a chunk of its operations are in the United States, including its global headquarters in San Diego. TuSimple also operates an engineering center and truck depot in Tucson and more recently set up a facility in Texas to support its autonomous trips —always with a human safety operator behind the wheel. TuSimple also has operations in Beijing and Shanghai. 

As TuSimple has scaled with workforce and testing in the U.S., it has diversified its customer and investor base. The company has attracted a number of investors and partners in recent years, including UPS, Korean Tier 1 supplier Mando Corporation, Traton Group and now U.S. Xpress. 

TuSimple raised $55 million in 2017 with plans to use those funds to scale up testing to two full truck fleets in China and the United States. By 2018, TuSimple began to test on public roads, beginning with a 120-mile highway stretch between Tucson and Phoenix in Arizona and another segment in Shanghai. TuSimple has since expanded operations into Texas. 

Last year, the company’s valuation eked over the $1 billion-mark after raising $95 million in a Series D funding round. It’s unclear what TuSimple’s new post-money valuation is.

Continue Reading


Jitsu nabs $2M Seed to build open source data integration platform



Jitsu, a graduate of the Y Combinator Summer 2020 cohort, is developing an open source data integration platform that helps developers send data to a data warehouse. Today, the startup announced a $2 million seed investment.

Costanoa Ventures led the round with participation from YCombintaor, The House Fund and SignalFire.

In addition to the open source version of the software, the company has developed a hosted version that companies can pay to use, which shares the same name as the company. Peter Wysinski, Jitsu’s co-founder and CEO, says a good way to think about his company is an open source Segment, the customer data integration company that was recently sold to Twilio for $3.2 billion.

But he says, it goes beyond what Segment by allowing you to move all kinds of data whether customer data, connected device data or other types. “If you look at the space in general, companies want more granularity. So let’s say for example, a couple years ago you wanted to sync just your transactions from QuickBooks to your data warehouse, now you want to capture every single sale at the point of sale. What Jitsu lets you do is capture essentially all of those events, all of those streams, and send them to your data warehouse,” Wysinski explained.

Among the data warehouses it currently supports include Amazon Redshift, Google BigQuery, PostGres and Snowflake.

The founders built the open source project called EventNative to help solve problems they themselves were having moving data around at their previous jobs. After putting the open source version on GitHub a few months ago, they quickly attained 1000 stars, proving that they had delivered something that solved a common problem for data teams. They then built the hosted version, Jitsu, which went live a couple of weeks ago.

For now, the company is just the two co-founders, Wysinski and CTO Vladimir Klimontovich, but they intend to do some preliminary hiring over the next year to grow the company, most likely adding engineers. As they begin to build out the startup, Wysinski says that being open source will help drive diversity and inclusion in their hiring.

“The goal is essentially to go after that open source community and hire people from anywhere because engineers aren’t just […] one color or one race, they’re everywhere, and being open source, and especially being in a remote world, makes it so so much simpler [to build a diverse workforce], and a lot of companies I feel are going down that road,” he said.

He says along that line, the plan is to be a fully remote company, even after the pandemic ends, as they hire from anywhere. The goal is to have quarterly offsite meetings to check in with employees, but do the majority of the work remotely.

Continue Reading