As I wrote yesterday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has finished building Jarvis, his home AI assistant. Among other things, the system can turn lights on and off, play music based on the personal tastes of both him and wife Priscilla Chan, automatically open their front gate for friends, make toast, and even wake up their one-year-old daughter Max with Mandarin lessons.
Internet platforms like Amazon Mechanical Turk let companies break jobs into smaller tasks and offer them to people across the globe. But, do they democratize work or exploit the disempowered?
Each morning when she wakes up, Kristy Milland powers up her home computer in Toronto, logs into Amazon Mechanical Turk, and waits for her computer to ding.
Some downsizing and refocusing is underway at Disqus, the startup incubated at Y-Combinator that became an early mover in the business of offering a plug-in to help online publishers manage comments on stories. TechCrunch has learned and confirmed that the company has laid of 11 people, about 20 percent of its small staff, as it prepares to shift its business deeper into data services for publishers and advertisers.
The cuts have been made in several departments, from sales through to engineering as part of the company “rebalancing” its priorities in light of that shift.
Disqus, co-founded in 2007 by Daniel Ha (who is still its CEO) and Jason Yan and with only $10.5 million raised in funding in all that time, is perhaps best known for its free commenting platform, which is in use across millions of websites and other communities today.
Google has reportedly shelved its long-standing plan to develop its own autonomous vehicle in favor of pursuing partnerships with existing car makers.
The Information reports that Google’s self-driving car unit — known internally as Chauffeur — is working with establish automotive names to develop cars which will include some self-driving features, but won’t ditch the steering wheel and pedal controls. The firm is already working with Fiat Chrysler, per a partnership announced in May, and that could be the start of others to come.
Microsoft has been targeting Mac users with its Surface commercials recently, and it appears they might be paying off. The software giant claims that November was the “best month ever for consumer Surface sales,” following a number of Black Friday deals on the Surface Pro 4. Microsoft still isn’t providing sales numbers, but the company claims “more people are switching from Macs to Surface than ever before.”
Microsoft cites “the disappointment of the new MacBook Pro” and its trade-in program for MacBooks for tempting people to switch to Surface. Again, Microsoft refuses to provide numbers but vaguely claims “our trade-in program for MacBooks was our best ever.”