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Google Pledges To Not Use Artificial Intelligence For Weapons

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Google vows not to use artificial intelligence software to be used in unreasonable surveillance efforts or in weapons. Post several reports of Google’s involvement in privacy infringement and safety issues, CEO Sundar Pichai released a set of guidelines to be followed by the search giant.

In them, Pichai promised Google would not work on weapons that “cause or directly facilitate injury,” though it reserves the right to work with the military on other A.I. initiatives. “While we are not developing A.I. for use in weapons, we will continue our work with governments and the military in many other areas,” Pichai wrote in a blog about the matter.

“These collaborations are important and we’ll actively look for more ways to augment the critical work of these organizations and keep service members and civilians safe.” He added that Google would not pursue A.I. “whose purpose contravenes widely accepted principles of international law and human rights,” and “will seek to avoid unjust impacts on people, particularly those related to sensitive characteristics such as race, ethnicity, gender, nationality, income, sexual orientation, ability, and political, or religious belief,” wrote Pichai.

The revolt against Google’s policy comes post the company’s involvement in a project called Project Maven – a Defense Department initiative wherein Google’s A.I. was used to help improve the accuracy of drone strikes. More than 4,000 employees signed a petition urging the company to sever the partnership, which Google this week said it would not renew.

“Over the last couple of months, I’ve been less and less impressed with the response and the way people’s concerns are being treated and listened to,” said one employee, who quit in protest. “Actions speak louder than words, and that’s a standard I hold myself to as well,” a disgruntled former employee said in a statement.  “I wasn’t happy just voicing my concerns internally. The strongest possible statement I could take against this was to leave.”

The new guidelines received mixed responses from both current and former employees. From cybersecurity, training, military recruitment, veterans’ health care to search and rescue, Pichai’s new principles help in making sure no further infringements take place.

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Facebook Reveals Details Of Its Cryptocurrency Libra

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On the 18th of June, Facebook revealed details of its brand new cryptocurrency called Libra.  An alternative to cash, this cryptocoin can be used to buy things or send money to people with close to no fees.  The cryptocurrency is going to be launched by an association called The Libra Association, which consists of a group of companies interested in getting Libra out into the world.

You can use Libra to buy or cash out your Libra at local stores like grocery stores and through third party wallet apps.  To make using Libra an easier task, Facebook owned Calibra Wallet will be built into WhatsApp and Messenger, thereby simplifying transaction processes.  Although certain countries have banned the use of cryptocurrencies, Facebook is trying to break new ground with the launch of Libra.

While Facebook is launching Libra, the social media giant is not going to be in complete control of the cryptocoin.  The coin will be controlled by a consortium consisting of its founding members, Visa, Uber and Andreessen Horowitz. The three companies have invested at least $ 10 million each into the creation of this cryptocurrency.

Customers interested in holding or transferring the newly acquired token will be given multiple options to do what they wish.  To further simplify matters, Facebook will let customers access transactions through this cryptocurrency via a special app designed for iOS and Android.

To protect the identity of its users while making transactions through the new app, Facebook won’t require you to share personal details.  “The advent of the internet and mobile broadband has empowered billions of people globally to have access to the world’s knowledge and information, high fidelity communication, and a wide range of lowercost, more convenient services,” the Libra Association said in a paper announcing the cryptocurrency.

Libra will be made available to the world during the first half of 2020.  As of now, Facebook is focusing on building relationships in international waters.

Stay tuned for more updates.

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Facebook Invests In Indian Startup Meesho

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On the 13th of June, social media giant Facebook announced, it invested an undisclosed amount in Indian startup Meesho.

A Bengaluru based startup, Meesho works with resellers and emerging brands using social media.  This is the first time Facebook invested in a startup based in India. Through this investment, Facebook aims to increase its commitment to the Country’s vibrant internet ecosystem.

“Facebook is an ally for India’s economic growth and social development. We are excited about India and its rapidly rising Internet ecosystem. With this investment in Meesho, we want to fuel a business model that can result in rapid job creation and the rise of a female entrepreneurial class in India,” Ajit Mohan, the Managing Director of Facebook India, said in a statement.

It was two primary factors which made Facebook invest in Meesho.  The first reason was how the startup is growing outside the Tier II and III cities, where new users are present.  The second reason is, Meesho has a larger user base, 80 % of which are women.

So far, Meesho has raised $ 50 million from a Series C funding round in November last year.  According to industry reports, the startup helps people using its service earn close to Rs. 25,000 every month!  With WhatsApp playing a crucial role in the app’s growth, it comes as an added blessing that Facebook invested in this particular startup.

Through investments like these, Facebook is capitalizing on the social media boom happening in India.

Stay tuned for more updates.

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Uber Partners With Bajaj Auto

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On the 13th of June, cab aggregator service Uber announced the launch of quadricycles, a new way of transport for its users.  Launched in partnership with Bajaj Autos, this new service is known as Bajaj Qute and will be available as a part of a new category on the Uber app, UberXS.

The new category was launched only in India-South Asia region.  Bajaj Qute is now available on the roads of Bengaluru, Karnataka.  The app will let users book UberXS from the 13th of June in places like Indiranagar, Koramangala, HSR Layout and parts of Outer Ring Road.

As per reports from Uber, the Qute will come in two versions: CNG and petrol.  All the vehicles coming as a part of UberXS rides will be powered by the CNG fuel option, which is aimed at reducing pollution.  Furthermore, this service provides a mileage of 43km/kg and will be extremely affordable.

The Qute automobiles was first launched in February this year by Bajaj Auto.  From the moment it launched, the service was well received in places across South India.  Coming in the form of a four seater with one seat for the driver, the Bajaj Qute is aimed at reducing the pollution in an already polluted world.  With a turning radius of 3.5 meters, this service has already made Uber quite popular.

Speaking about the partnership, Samardeep Subandh, Senior VP, Bajaj Auto, said: “Bajaj Qute is the first quadricycle in India. It will prove to be an ideal solution for the mobility challenges of congestion and pollution arising from rapid urbanisation. Launched in both CNG and Petrol variant, the Qute is powered by a lightweight 216 CC four-valve water-cooled DTSi engine with closed loop fuel injection system resulting in higher fuel efficiency.”

This is not the first time Uber formed a partnership like this.  Previously, the cab service Company also partnered with Yulu in Bengaluru to provide e bikes for people travelling short distances.

The new service is going to be available all over India soon as Uber is rolling out this service in phases.

Stay tuned for more updates.

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