Oct 2, 2017

Axios Login

I'm back in San Francisco for a busy week of tech conferences and events from Google, Microsoft, and Oracle. Guess I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.

Q&A: Why 4-H is focusing on tech along with tractors

Though best known for teaching about plows and cows, 4-H is increasingly playing a role in cities and focusing on teaching skills like science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

4-H plans: In our Monday interview, 4-H CEO Jennifer Sirangelo discusses her group's shifting role in both rural and urban areas, how it hopes to help close the gender gap in tech, and how technology is changing the agriculture industry.

Why it matters: "Estimates show that 65% of today's students entering grade school this year will be employed in jobs that don't exist yet, and 60% of new jobs created this century will require skills in STEM-related fields," Sirangelo told Axios.

Read more of my interview here.

Google and Microsoft to unveil new hardware this week

The fall is such a beautiful time. Cool weather returns, the leaves start to change color, and the tech industry starts serving up its latest gear.

What's happened: Already Apple has introduced the iPhone 8 and iPhone X and Amazon unveiled a whole array of Alexa-powered devices. Fitbit, GoPro, and Nest also have shown off their latest.

But, there's more: This week, two more tech giants will hold events in San Francisco.

  • Microsoft is showing off its work in virtual reality on Tuesday. The company hopes to rival Oculus Rift and HTC Vive with Windows 10-based "mixed reality" headsets from PC makers that it says will be cheaper and more versatile than the dedicated VR devices.
  • Google is expected to show an array of new hardware on Wednesday, including the second-generation Pixel smartphone. They may also show some other gear, such as possibly a new Chrome OS-based laptop and updates to the Google Home line (which rivals Amazon's Echo family.)

Why it matters: In consumer hardware, it is all about the holiday shopping season and, even in the cases where the products don't compete head-to-head, they are all vying for the same pocketbook.

Facebook and Twitter offer apologies as pressure mounts

Executives from the two big social networks found themselves offering up apologies this weekend, reports Axios' David McCabe.

What happened: First, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg begged forgiveness for "the ways my work was used to divide people rather than bring us together" as the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur came to a close.

And then, on Sunday night, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone said he was sorry for lashing out at a user who said executives were being dismissive of calls to kick President Trump off of the platform.

  • "I really appreciate all the responses," he said. "(Apologies—my words didn't come out right.) We're listening. Thank you for all this feedback."
  • He'd previously told the user: "Y'all pile on us. You really think the issue doesn't weigh on us?"

Be smart: This is, of course, another sign of the intense political pressure on major tech platforms over how they moderate content. Trump and Russia, however, are just the tip of the spear.

Facebook to give Congress those 3,000 Russian ads

On Monday, Congressional investigators will receive Facebook ads bought during the 2016 presidential campaign by Russian operatives, the company said late Sunday. Lawmakers will get roughly 3,000 ads purchased by a Russian troll farm that focused, in part, on divisive political issues. The company is also providing data on how the ads were paid for and targeted to users on Facebook, David reports.

The bigger picture: Facebook initially said it wouldn't hand over the ads, but it's under intense political pressure to provide as much information as possible as part of the probe into Russian election interference. Twitter also briefed investigators last week and is facing similar pressure. Lawmakers could choose to make details about the ads public.

Go deeper: Read more on what we've learned so far about how Russian operatives allegedly used social media to divide Americans.

Take note

On tap: Oracle OpenWorld takes place all week in San Francisco with Larry Ellison on stage at various times through the week as the database maker touts its cloud efforts. On Sunday, Silicon Angle reported that the company introduced a machine learning-infused version of its flagship product, which Ellison referred to as a "self driving database."

Trading places: Late Friday, Travis Kalanick designated two people to fill the Uber board seats he controls: former Xerox CEO Ursula Burns and former Merrill Lynch head John Thain. However, Benchmark may challenge the appointments and Uber's board is considering changes to its governance in response to Kalanick's move.

ICYMI: Private equity investor Orlando Bravo donated $10 million to Puerto Rico's recovery...A federal judge ruled that the FBI doesn't have to reveal the name of the firm it hired or the price it paid to unlock the iPhone used by the San Bernardino shooter, Politico reported...Per The Verge, Google parent Alphabet says its X unit is looking into whether it might be able to use its Project Loon balloons to help restore internet access in Puerto Rico...In a concession to publishers, Google is ending its longtime "first click free" policy, which for more than ten years has allowed people to access content that was traditionally behind a paywall.

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Reuters details how this Czech brewery taps crayfish to make sure its water stays pure.