Uber's mess reaches beyond sexism - and Silicon Valley

Travis Kalanick Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Travis Kalanick has had tense meetings with his staff

Uber's meteoric rise was dogged by incessant lawsuits, enraged protests and staggering losses. Or, as co-founder Travis Kalanick might consider it right now, the "good old days".

He now faces tougher challenges. This week began with Uber opening an investigation into serious, systemic sexual harassment, and ended with being dramatically sued over claims its self-driving company stole technology from Google.

Uber's long been a company synonymous with the worst traits of Silicon Valley. Hyper-aggressive business practices and a ruthless approach to competition have seen it constantly at war with governments, as well as the industries it has disrupted so devastatingly in what feels like the blink of an eye.

The level of shock expressed last weekend, when former employee Susan Fowler detailed what she said was rampant discrimination at the firm, was perhaps matched in volume by those saying "I told you so".

Much of the frustration directed at Uber has been because it took a barrage of negative press to kick the company into action over a culture most often described, by insiders and out, as "toxic".

Read full article Uber's mess reaches beyond sexism - and Silicon Valley

Google's self-driving firm sues Uber

Waymo car Image copyright Waymo

Uber is being sued for stealing trade secrets and technology from Google.

Waymo, set up by Google owner Alphabet, is taking legal action against Otto, Uber's self-driving vehicle unit that it bought last year for $700m.

Read full article Google's self-driving firm sues Uber

Tinder wants AI to set you up on a date

Many apps on a phone Image copyright Getty Images

When I first met Sean Rad, back in 2013, Tinder was a blossoming dating app. It was known primarily for, how shall I put it, casual relationships.

Back then he told me Tinder was “good for humanity”, a line I instantly latched onto as being faintly ridiculous, and wonderful for a headline.

Read full article Tinder wants AI to set you up on a date

Former US law chief leads Uber probe

Uber said it would publish diversity figures in the 'coming months' Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Uber said it would publish diversity figures in the 'coming months'

On Sunday we learned that Uber was going to conduct an investigation into claims of serious sexual harassment, following a scathing blog post from a former employee.

On Monday Uber boss Travis Kalanick sent an email to his employees with more information about the probe - and further plans the company has to address the issue.

Read full article Former US law chief leads Uber probe

Uber investigates 'abhorrent' sexism claims

Uber pick-up spot in Houston, Texas (file photo January 2017) Image copyright AP
Image caption The allegations are the latest in a series of controversies around Uber

Ride-sharing company Uber has said it will conduct an “urgent investigation” into claims of sexual harassment at the company.

A blog post written by former Uber engineer Susan Fowler detailed a litany of instances during her time at the firm.

Read full article Uber investigates 'abhorrent' sexism claims

This 14-year-old made the best Facebook Messenger chatbot

Alec Jones aspires to one day work for 'exciting' tech giants
Image caption Alec Jones aspires to one day work for 'exciting' tech giants

It's been nearly a year since Microsoft's Satya Nadella proclaimed "bots are the new apps".

Yet despite the promise of a revolution in how we interact with services and companies online, progress has been utterly miserable - the vast majority of chatbots are gimmicky, pointless or just flat out broken.

Read full article This 14-year-old made the best Facebook Messenger chatbot

Google hails net balloon ‘breakthrough’

Project Loon balloon over mountains Image copyright Project Loon

Researchers at Google say they are “years closer” to rolling out a network of huge balloons to provide connectivity to rural areas.

The Project Loon team, part of the company’s X research lab, said it was now able to use machine learning to predict weather systems.

Read full article Google hails net balloon ‘breakthrough’

Facebook videos to autoplay with sound

The autoplay sound setting can be switched off Image copyright Facebook

Much of Facebook’s recent growth can be attributed to the spread of video on its network - and the company told investors recently it planned to aggressively monetise that success.

Today, it announced some ideas to get things moving - starting with a change many users may not appreciate.

Read full article Facebook videos to autoplay with sound

Has Facebook slipped up with VR?

HTC Vive has been outselling the Oculus Rift Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption HTC Vive has been outselling the Oculus Rift

I first tried the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset in the corner of a drab conference room in Las Vegas. I was convinced within seconds - despite feeling a little dizzy - that the device, held together by duct tape and hope, was destined for big things.

A year or so later, I met the same company, Oculus VR, in a (slightly) fancier room at the E3 gaming event in Los Angeles. "Hold this," I said, abruptly thrusting an audio cable into the hands of a young man who I thought was helping out - but was in fact the company's chief executive, Palmer Luckey. Again, I was blown away by the technology.

Read full article Has Facebook slipped up with VR?

TV maker unlawfully tracked viewing habits

Vizio has agreed to seek clearer consent for data sharing from now on Image copyright Vizio
Image caption Vizio has agreed to seek clearer consent for data sharing from now on

TV maker Vizio has agreed to pay out $2.2m in order to settle allegations it unlawfully collected viewing data on its customers.

The US Federal Trade Commission said the company’s smart TV technology had captured data on what was being viewed on screen and transmitted it to the firm’s servers.

Read full article TV maker unlawfully tracked viewing habits