Tuesday's technology stories

Coronavirus-related recession could spike automation

An employee at the Technical University of Munich checks a pipetting robot that prepares samples from people with suspected Covid-19. Photo: Sven Hoppe/picture alliance via Getty Images

The coronavirus pandemic could accelerate the rise of the robots, according to a Brookings Institution blog post Tuesday.

Why it matters: A COVID-19-caused recession will likely lead to a spike in automation, meaning some of the jobs lost to the virus will never return as companies restructure their operations to rely more on machines than people.

Twitter donating $1 million to journalism nonprofits amid coronavirus

Photo: NurPhoto/Contributor

Twitter said Tuesday that it's donating $1 million to the Committee to Protect Journalists and the International Women's Media Foundation ($500,000 each) to support newsrooms while covering the novel coronavirus.

Why it matters: Many newsrooms are struggling with how to balance covering the virus while ensuring the safety of their employees. Others are struggling to cover COVID-19 without the steady stream of ad revenue coming in during the pandemic.

Go deeperArrowMar 24, 2020 - Health

Startup ISP gives Santa Monica families free service amid pandemic

An empty Santa Monica Pier. Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

Southern California broadband provider Wander is offering free high-speed internet to all families in Santa Monica with school-age children for the rest of the academic year.

Why it matters: School districts across the country are moving to virtual learning to keep students engaged during coronavirus-induced closures. But e-learning requires a reliable broadband connection, which many families do not have at home.

Tech firms crunch coronavirus data to track disease spread

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Tech companies are using artificial intelligence and other tools to comb through coronavirus data to track cases and find transmission hotspots.

Why it matters: Finding patterns in otherwise discrete data points could help make sense of where and how the virus is spreading in the U.S., and could aid in allocating the country's limited testing and treatment capabilities.

House Democrats' virus bill would fund student Wi-Fi hotspots

House Democrats' coronavirus response plan unveiled Monday would direct funding to pay for Wi-Fi hotspots for students and bar broadband providers from imposing data caps during the crisis.

The big picture: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the legislation after Republicans and Democrats in the Senate failed to move their own stimulus measure forward.

Uber adds independent board member

Photo: Denis Charlet/AFP via Getty Images

Uber has added Robert Eckert, an operating partner at private equity firm FFL Partners, as its newest independent board member following the recent exit of Travis Kalanick and addition of ex-Match Group CEO Mandy Ginsberg in February.

Why it matters: Eckert is also currently on the board of McDonald's (among others), another company with a large workforce in the service sector.

Editor's note: The story was corrected to note that Mandy Ginsburg was the first new board member after Kalanick's departure.

Tech companies partner with public sector to take on coronavirus

Photo: Tim Boyle/Getty Images

The past couple of days have seen a wave of partnerships between government and private tech companies (or individuals) to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: The federal and state governments need private-sector help to navigate the crisis but can offer key resources and information that private actors otherwise couldn't access.

Yext helps New Jersey answer residents' coronavirus questions

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

New York-based Yext is used to all kinds of businesses using its tools to manage their online profiles and field customer queries, but now it has a new customer: New Jersey's state government, which needed urgent help to create an online hub with coronavirus pandemic information for residents.

Why it matters: People need easy-to-access information from their government more than ever right now.

U.S. internet lifelines face a tough test

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

With the in-person economy in the U.S. essentially shut down, the internet has never been more critical. The key question now is how well the network can handle the unprecedented demand.

Why it matters: Europe's networks have already come under strain, and if cloud services and internet service providers here falter, "shelter in place" could get a lot rougher.