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Friday, September 25, 2020
Dr. Farzad Mostashari presenting on syndromic surveillance. Farzad Mostashari When researchers at Carnegie Mellon University had the idea to put together a survey asking the general public about their coronavirus symptoms, they knew they needed to collect millions of data points to learn anything meaningful. So they asked Facebook, which has a public team that specializes in using analytics for humanitarian causes called "Data for Good," for its help.  The survey, which went live to Facebook's billions of users about six months ago, has so far collected data from more than 30 million people around the world. The survey asks whether they tested positive for the virus, if they wear masks and practice socially distancing as well as if they're currently experiencing symptoms. Respondents also share data about their demographics, like their age, as well as their mental health status and pre-existing medical conditions. More than 1.5 million people fill out the survey each week. To preserve privacy, Facebook said it doesn't have direct access to the responses. Carnegie Mellon has now published aggregated data through its COVIDcast API, as well as real-time visualizations.  But there's still a few big questions to be answered: Will this
Paolo Gentiloni, European commissioner for the economy, speaking at Forum The European House - Ambrosetti in September, 2020. Michael Green | CNBC Big Tech has to pay a "fair amount" of taxes in Europe, especially as they are the "real winners" of the coronavirus crisis, a top European official told CNBC Saturday. His comments come amid an ongoing rift between the United States and the European Union over the taxation of companies such as Apple, Alphabet and Amazon. "It is a major problem," Paolo Gentiloni, European Commissioner for economics and taxation, told CNBC at the European House Ambrosetti Forum, acknowledging the difficulty in overcoming differences with the United States. However, the former Italian prime minister added that it was no longer possible "to accept the idea that those giants, the winners of the crisis, are not paying a fair amount of taxes in Europe." The giants of the digital platforms are the real winners of this crisis. Paolo Gentiloni European Commissioner In 2018, the European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, proposed a 3% digital levy, arguing that the tax system
Widgets in iOS 14 Apple Apple's iOS 14 iPhone update will launch later this fall and add lots of features, like a redesigned home screen experience with widgets, picture-in-picture support so you can watch videos while you do other things and more. Apple's also boosting privacy features that make it harder for companies to track your movement around the web. It'll alert you when apps are accessing your camera and microphone. You'll be able to share your approximate location with apps instead of your exact location. In short: it should be a lot harder for apps and websites to track you without you knowing about it. Here are some of the biggest privacy changes Apple's making in iOS 14. It's harder for apps to target you with ads Kif Leswing/CNBC It'll be harder for apps to target you with ads, unless you purposefully turn on "Allow Apps to Request to Track" and then approve each app individually. It's good for users, but may hurt businesses that rely on targeted digital ads. Facebook has warned that the change could impact its Audience Network advertising revenue by more
SoftBank Group Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Masayoshi Son speaks during a press conference on November 6, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. Tomohiro Ohsumi | Getty Images Japan's SoftBank was reportedly the "Nasdaq whale," that bought  billions of dollars in individual stock options in big tech companies over the past month, driving up volumes and contributing to a trading frenzy. Softbank declined comment on a Financial Times story that quoted unnamed sources who said it was buying equity derivatives on a massive scale. Rumors had circulated in the market that there were large players behind the frenzied activity in the options market for big tech and internet stocks, and SoftBank was one named mentioned in connection with extreme volumes in some out-of-the-money calls. SoftBank, through its $100 billion Vision Fund, has made big investments on privately held technology start ups. The big investments in the options market is new territory for the investment firm. Investors have been watching extraordinary activity in out-of-the-money calls which some analysts had seen as a contrarian warning about a pending Nasdaq sell off.  Some of the names with high amounts of activity, include Apple, Tesla, Zoom, and Nvidia.
SINGAPORE — The United States' unwillingness to spend money is its biggest disadvantage in a tech race with China, according to a cybersecurity and technology expert.  From imposing restrictions on telecommunications giant Huawei to issuing executive orders banning transactions with ByteDance, and forcing the company to sell the U.S. operations of the popular app TikTok, Washington has stepped up efforts to put pressure on China's technology firms in recent years.  This month, the U.S. Department of Defense said it is in discussions over whether Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation, China's largest chip manufacturer, should be subjected to export restrictions. "The U.S.' biggest disadvantage in this tech race is its unwillingness to spend money," James Andrew Lewis, senior vice president and director of the Technology Policy Program at CSIS, said on CNBC's "Squawk Box Asia" on Thursday.  "China might outspend us a 1,000-to-1 when it comes to investing in semiconductors and a 1,000-to-1 is no way to win the race," said Lewis, who previously worked for the U.S. Departments of State and Commerce. He explained that while there is bipartisan support for a bill to increase federal incentives to boost American leadership in semiconductor manufacturing, so far "it hasn't translated into money."
Apple Watch Series 6 in blue Todd Haselton | CNBC There's now an Apple Watch for all price ranges. Apple unveiled two new models this week — the high-end Series 6, which starts at $399, and the midrange Apple Watch SE, which starts at $279. Apple will continue to sell the Apple Watch Series 3 for $199. The new lineup gives Apple a wider market since billions of people have smartphones, but Canalys expects just 150 million will have smartwatches in 2020. That's a lot, but shows there are still tons of untapped buyers. It's just up to smartwatch makers like Apple, Huawei, Garmin, Fitbit and Samsung to reach them with compelling offerings. I have the Apple Watch Series 6 here, so I'll show you a bit of what it's like and explain how it stands out against the other models. But, real quick, if you think about the new family of Apple Watches in terms of features available, it's easy to think of it like this: The Series 3 at $199 is good. The Series SE at $279 is better. The $399 model is best. What actually might be best for you depends what you
Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, speaks during the company's 2017 Cloud Next event in San Francisco. Bloomberg | Getty Images Google is giving employees another day off to avoid burnout as the Covid-19 Pandemic enters its seventh month. The company is marking Friday as a one-time paid holiday for "collective wellbeing" that applies to full-time employees and interns, according to documents viewed by CNBC. The added off day turns the Labor Day holiday into a four-day weekend. "We strongly encourage you to take this day off — and managers should actively support their team to reprioritize work commitments in order to do so," an internal forum for employees says. "If your manager identifies an urgent business-critical need that requires you to work at the last minute, you should take the next available working day off instead." The company's note comes as executives try to find ways to support employees who will be work remotely until at least mid-2021. Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai called for a day off earlier in the summer. Since then, the country has faced heightened social and political tensions and California has recently been plagued by wildfires. Last month, Pichai sent a
SoftBank Group Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Masayoshi Son speaks during a press conference on November 6, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. Tomohiro Ohsumi | Getty Images LONDON — SoftBank shares extended their losses on Wednesday, wiping out over $12 billion in market value this week, amid jitters over the Japanese conglomerate's latest tech investing strategy. Shares of the company fell another 3% by Wednesday's close, leaving SoftBank with a market cap of 11.9 trillion yen ($112.1 billion). That was down sharply from the roughly 13.2 trillion yen ($124.4 billion) SoftBank was worth just three sessions earlier. The company's sustained depreciation in value follows a Financial Times report on Friday that suggested, citing unnamed sources, SoftBank was the mystery "Nasdaq whale" buying billions of dollars in call options — which bet on stocks rising. The report quoted a source saying SoftBank had been snapping up options in major tech names like Tesla, Amazon, Microsoft and Netflix, potentially driving up valuations in the sector. SoftBank declined to comment on the reports. Last week, tech saw a major reversal amid fears that valuations had reached unsustainable levels. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite has now plunged 10% over the past
Employees work in a relaxed environment at Pinterest headquarters in San Francisco. Kim Kulish | Corbis News | Getty Images Pinterest announced Thursday it will no longer show ads to users when they search for common elections-related terms like candidate names or "polling place."  The company also announced Thursday it will give employees eight hours of paid time off, the equivalent of a work day, for "civic engagement," which can be used to vote, serve as a poll worker or other forms of civic or community engagement, it said. Employees can use the paid time off anytime, not limited to Election Day, the company said. The company said the benefit will apply to all of its more than 2,200 employees. Apple, Twitter, Old Navy and a slew of other companies have recently announced similar benefits.  San Francisco-headquartered Pinterest, which banned political advertising itself back in 2018, announced a string of updates Thursday as the presidential election approaches. It said the updates attempt to direct its users toward resources that are reliable and to ensure advertisers don't risk showing up adjacent to political content. Pinterest said it has been implementing the changes to prevent ads from showing
SAM YEH | AFP | Getty Images The U.K.'s opposition Labour party said this week that an Arm takeover is not in the public interest and criticized the ruling Conservative Party for failing to protect the British chip designer — often hailed as one of the nation's most innovative firms — from overseas predators. Arm's chips are used by companies around the globe to power millions of electrical devices. Apple uses them in iPhones and iPads, while Amazon uses them in Kindles, and car manufacturers use them in vehicles. The company has 6,000 staff globally and 3,000 of those are in the U.K. Ed Miliband, the shadow business secretary, warned that an Arm takeover by a Silicon Valley firm would ultimately lead to U.K. jobs moving overseas. A government spokesperson said that Downing Street monitors proposed acquisitions closely. "Where we feel a takeover may represent a threat to the UK, the government will not hesitate to investigate the matter further, which could lead to conditions on the deal," they said.  Rumors have been swirling that U.S. chipmaker Nvidia is edging closer to buying Arm from current owner, SoftBank, which has allowed Arm to
Robin Li, chief executive officer of Baidu. Nelson Ching | Bloomberg | Getty Images GUANGZHOU, China — Chinese internet search giant Baidu is in discussions with investors to raise up to $2 billion over three years for a new biotech company, CNBC has confirmed. The company would be a standalone entity rather than a subsidiary of Baidu, said a person close to the matter. The individual was not authorized to speak publicly about the project.  A number of investors are interested in joining the funding, the person said, adding that they could not disclose more details as talks are still in the early stage. Reuters first reported the news.  Baidu declined to comment when contacted by CNBC.  The biotech company would focus on using artificial intelligence (AI) and computing to create new drugs and and make early-stage diagnoses of diseases such as cancer, the person said. Powerful algorithms can be used to scan medical images or help develop drugs faster than humans can.  Baidu's move comes as China's technology companies try to boost their presence in healthcare, a move accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic.  Alibaba, Tencent-backed WeDoctor and Huawei have gone
Amazon's logo is seen displayed on a smartphone. Mateusz Slodkowski | SOPA Images | LightRocket via Getty Images Spotify shares dropped more than 6% on Wednesday after Amazon announced that it's adding podcasts to its music streaming service.  Users in the U.S., U.K., Germany and Japan will be able to stream podcasts for free, across all tiers of Amazon Music, the company said. Amazon Music offers users a range of paid and free, ad-supported options to access the service. Amazon Prime customers also get access to more than 2 million songs ad-free as part of their $119-per-year membership. Amazon is launching podcasts at a time when the industry has become increasingly competitive. Spotify has invested heavily in producing original podcasts and has acquired four companies to expand its library, including The Ringer, Gimlet Media, Anchor and Parcast. Meanwhile, Apple's Podcasts app hosts a bevvy of content for free and is installed on iPhones by default.  Amazon will offer listeners a range of original and curated content. The music streaming service will feature well-known podcasts like "Radiolab," "Planet Money" and "Crime Junkie," as well as original shows produced exclusively for the service that are hosted by