Jul 18, 2017

Axios Login

By Ina Fried
Ina Fried

This introduction is the definition of clever. (adj.) mentally bright; having sharp or quick intelligence; able.

California suit aims to weaken noncompetes

California already prohibits companies from enforcing noncompetes within the state, but a Bay Area life sciences company is asking a state court to go even further.

Veeva Systems is suing three of its East Coast-based competitors and asking a California Superior Court judge to declare that it has the right to hire employees who have signed such agreements. Veeva also wants a court to limit the use of non-disparagement and confidentiality agreements.

Reasons behind suit: "Non-compete agreements are bad," the company said in its suit. "These agreements limit employment opportunities. They suppress wages. They keep employees trapped in jobs they do not want, and they keep employees from fairly competing with their former employers. These agreements restrict fair and robust competition for employees."

While others have sought to invalidate noncompetes in specific instances, Veeva is asking the court to declare a broad right to seek workers from out-of-state companies without putting the company or the employees in legal jeopardy.

Why it matters: The battle for tech talent is intense, with states taking different positions on just how freely workers should be able to move from one company to another. While California has a blanket ban on noncompetes and other states have been moving in that direction, some other states, including Idaho, are quite friendly to such pacts.

Some robotics experts dismiss Musk's call for AI regulation

Leading robotics experts are rebuffing Tesla CEO Elon Musk's call for the urgent regulation of artificial intelligence, which Musk calls an existential threat to the human race.

"Let's talk about regulation of the self-driving system on his Teslas," Rodney Brooks, a robotics pioneer, told an audience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Monday.

Musk's opinion: Speaking to the nation's governors on Saturday, Musk said that AI should be regulated before it's too late. "In my opinion it is the biggest risk that we face as a civilization," he said. Musk was following up on earlier such remarks, in which he warned that machines are on their way to becoming smarter than humans, and out of control of their makers.

Contrasting perspectives: But Brooks, in addition to robotics executives from Amazon and Toyota, suggested that work on AI is at a very embryonic level, and that such worries verge on hysteria.

Read Steve LeVine's full piece.

​Most people can't spot fake images

People think they can reliably spot fake images. They can't.

The science: It turns out people can detect a fake image of a real-world scene only 60% of the time, and even then can only tell what is wrong with the image 45% of the time, according to research published in the open access journal Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications.

By contrast, people think they are really good at spotting fake news. A Pew study earlier this year found that an overwhelming majority of online users (84%) are confident in their ability to spot a fake news story.

Why it matters: As people get smarter about what fake news look like, fake news perpetrators are adapting their techniques from creating false news stories to manipulating real ones. And new technology is making it increasingly possible to fake other kinds of media, including videos and sound.

Sara Fischer has more here. And if you want even more stories like this, check out Sara's new weekly newsletter, Axios Media Trends. You can sign up here.

Companies push Texas to abandon "bathroom bill"

IBM, AT&T and Texas Instruments were among more than a dozen large companies that urged the Texas Legislature not to pass an anti-transgender "bathroom bill" as part of a special session that begins this week.

"We're writing to express our concern that the so-called 'bathroom bill' that the Texas legislature is considering would seriously hurt the state's ability to attract new businesses, investments and jobs," the Dallas-based companies said in a letter Monday to the lieutenant governor and state speaker of the House, which was also signed by the chiefs of American Airlines, Kimberly-Clark, and Southwest Airlines, among others.

IBM: The company used it as a teachable moment within its own ranks as well, with HR chief Diane Gherson sending a company-wide memo explaining the company's position.

"A bathroom bill like the one in Texas sends a message that it is okay to discriminate against someone just for being who they are," Gherson said in the email. "It threatens IBM's ability to bring the best and brightest to our Texas workforce — a community that is now over 10,000 strong and represents a diversity of perspectives, backgrounds and experiences."

Dell: Another Texas-based tech company, Dell, also opposes the ban. Dell had joined with a series of tech companies including Apple, Salesforce, and Microsoft, that wrote a May letter to the state's governor opposing such a move.

"Dell wants Texas to remain open for business and be part of a pro-business state that's welcoming to everyone," a Dell representative told Axios.

Why it matters: Large companies have emerged as a key force in such debates, arguing that anti-LGBT laws are bad for business.

Take note

On tap: Fortune's Brainstorm conference continues in Aspen...California lawmakers are taking up discussion on a bill today that would require internet service providers like Verizon and Comcast to get permission from customers before sharing their data with marketers.

Trading places: Gregory McCray, the head of the Alphabet unit that heads Google Fiber, has stepped down after five months...Tesla added 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch and Johnson Publishing CEO Linda Johnson Rice to its board of directors...Speaking of boards, the entire board of Just Mayo maker Hampton Creek has stepped down, save for CEO Josh Tetrick, according to Bloomberg.

ICYMI: TSA has lifted the laptop ban on Saudi Arabian Airlines, the last of the nine Middle East airlines affected by its March order...Netflix topped revenue expectations and gained far more subscribers than analysts had been expecting, sending shares higher...Cruise, the self-driving car startup acquired by GM, plans to allow employees to start hailing a ride from one of its autonomous cars...A report that Amazon may be heading into the meal prep market turned up the heat on Blue Apron shares...Ad spenders are ditching digital for tv and radio.

After you Login

It was one small step for a robot, but one giant leap backwards for robotkind.

Ina Fried