Jan 18, 2018

Axios Login

By Ina Fried
Ina Fried

Happy anniversary Axios! The site turns 1 year old today (I'm in D.C. for the festivities.) More importantly for you, we're launching our newest coverage area: international affairs.

What’s new: Around-the-clock coverage of world events relevant to your life and work with a mix of our own reporting and outside experts, like CFR President Richard Haass, who will write on our platform using a cool new tool that allows verified specialists to write directly into our Smart Brevity format. See the new stream here.

Apple's spending spree

A sheet metal fabricator cuts material for Apple’s data center expansion in Reno, Nevada. Photo: Apple

Apple announced plans to bring back the vast majority of its overseas cash — on the order of $250 billion — as well as a bunch of new spending plans.

The details: Apple says it will:

  • "Directly contribute" $350 billion to the U.S. economy over 5 years, including $30 billion in capital spending, of which $10 billion will be on data centers alone.
  • Give $2,500 per person in restricted stock to its rank-and-file employees globally (those below director level).
  • Increase its matching of employee charitable contributions, which will now be matched $2 for each $1 a worker donates, up to $10,000.
  • Pay $38 billion in taxes to bring back the overseas cash.
  • Build an additional U.S. corporate campus somewhere other than Texas or California. (As I reported on Wednesday, it won't be a full second headquarters, à la Amazon's HQ2.)

What Apple didn't do: Give Republicans in Congress or the White House credit for the moves (something that irked some on that side of the aisle.)

The big picture: ABC News landed an interview with Tim Cook.

Separately, speaking of Amazon’s HQ2, the company said Thursday it has narrowed its list of candidates to 20 cities.

Microsoft execs share AI fears, hopes in new book

A new book looking at AI and its impact on society: Photo: Microsoft

Longtime Microsoft lawyer Brad Smith and artificial intelligence and research chief Harry Shum have teamed up to help write a new book exploring the ethics and impact of AI.

Buzz: I spoke with them this week and here's what they had to say on the book — and the issues around AI more broadly.

  • Why write a book? "There has been a lot of discussion in the tech sector, as you know. But we think that there's an important role to play in trying to take what the tech sector is talking about and broadening the dialogue," Smith says.
  • How fair are the algorithms in use today? "I think we all understand that there's a lot of bias there in the existing AI algorithms," Shum says. "It's not even by any bad intention, it's just that there's a bias in the data, there's a bias in the model, there's a bias in the training. ... I don't think we today actually have the solution yet."
  • The impact of AI on jobs: "Let me just say the future won't be a good time to drop out of high school," Smith says. "If we think about the jobs that are most likely to be automated or eliminated because of artificial intelligence, they're most likely to be the jobs where computers can replicate the simpler aspects of human reasoning and the like."

More: Read my full interview here.

Tech jobs are growing, but outside of Silicon Valley

New data from job site Indeed suggests that much of the growth in tech jobs is coming from outside Silicon Valley, though the San Francisco Bay Area remains the heart of the U.S. tech industry.

By the numbers, according to Indeed:

  • Job postings in Silicon Valley were down more than 18% between September 2015 and September 2017 (although most of the drop occurred in the first year.)
  • Seattle and D.C. saw the biggest gains over the same period.
  • Of those that are hiring in Silicon Valley, Apple was No. 1 in listings, followed by Seattle-based Amazon. Cisco, Oracle, Google, Facebook Salesforce, Intel, GE and Intuit rounded out the top 10.

The Indeed study also has more data on which job titles are most in demand and which command the highest salaries.

Tech firms crafted response to a massive chip flaw in a Slack room

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios

Ars Technica has a fascinating look at one aspect of the recently disclosed chip vulnerabilities from Spectre and Meltdown: More than two dozen companies met via a Slack room to compare notes on how to deal with the issues.

Here are a few interesting facts, per Ars Technica:

  • There was a big gap in the amount of notice that smaller cloud firms say they had compared to giants like Amazon, Microsoft and Google.
  • A similar issue occurred with OS vendors. "Only Tier-1 companies received advance information, and that is not responsible disclosure — it is selective disclosure," OpenBSD project lead Theo de Raadt told ITWire. "Everyone below Tier-1 has just gotten screwed."
  • At least 25 companies have joined the Slack room, including representatives of Netflix and Amazon Web Services.

Meanwhile: Intel said Wednesday that patches designed to close the vulnerability can result in higher-than-normal reboot levels even on its newer processors. In a statement on its website, Intel also acknowledged that the fixes could lead to a double-digit performance impact on some server workloads.

Tech lobby wants to protect spousal H-4 visas

The Information Technology Industry council, a major tech lobby, sent a letter last night to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services calling for the H-4 visa rule to be upheld, Stef Kight reports.

Why it matters: USCIS is expected to end the H-4 work eligibility program, which allows the spouses of H-1B holders with pending green cards to legally work in the U.S.

Read Stef's full story here.

Inauguration Day 2017 was a big day for buying pot

Holidays tend to be big times for marijuana businesses, but it turns out that one of the biggest days was the day Donald Trump assumed office. Inauguration Day was the 7th largest sales holiday at Eaze, the medical marijuana delivery firm.

The big six: The top six holidays were 4/20, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Presidents Day Weekend, Valentine's Day, Halloween and July 4.

Pot shots: Here are a few other things that stood out from Eaze's annual State of Cannabis report.

  • Eaze's customer base is now 35% female, up from 25% two years earlier.
  • Sales to baby boomers grew faster than to any other generation, up 19% year-over-year.
  • Convenience is key. Sales of vaporizers were up 191% and pre-rolled joints up 267%. Meanwhile, flower sales were down 43%.
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After you Login

My partner loves snow and is jealous I'm in D.C., where it snowed on Wednesday. So, for you, AJ (and all the other Login readers) here is a lovely video of snow falling.

Ina Fried