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Microsoft and corporate activism

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BOSTON — Artificial intelligence needs to eat, breathe and sleep data to be effective. By that measure, the company…

— or country — with the most data should emerge victorious. But Brad Smith, president and chief legal officer at Microsoft, said the idea that data accumulators will rule the world and the rest of us will be powerless is a pessimistic take on what’s to come.

He prefers optimism. Indeed, Smith said there are ways to keep, say, China from becoming a global data dictator. His recommendation: Create “a global standard for ethical principles and for the protection of things like privacy so that the price for global admission is adherence to a global standard.”

Such a standard could create a classic data-silo problem for countries that don’t comply. For example, China may have the world’s largest population, but if it can’t access Europe’s data or the United States’ data, it will struggle to uncover patterns on a global, rather than national, scale.

That was one of the points Smith made at HUBweek, an innovation festival in Boston. In a fireside chat with Adi Ignatius, editor in chief of Harvard Business Review, Smith made it clear that Microsoft is participating in a new kind of corporate activism that targets broad societal issues — and it’s using this newly public corporate conscience as an advocacy and marketing tool.

For example, in December, Microsoft publicly supported a giving women and men the right to take a sexual harassment claim to court rather than keep the complaint in arbitration. When North Carolina a that restricted LGBT rights, Microsoft lent its voice to the opposition. More recently, the company launched the Defending Democracy Program, which is aimed at protecting campaigns from hacking, increasing political advertising transparency and defending against disinformation.

The political thread in the examples Smith provided is hardly accidental: Customers are increasingly turning to companies to take on issues they care about because of the dysfunction in Washington, D.C., Smith argued.

“We are living in a time when there are historically low levels of trust in government,” he said. “And so, whereas in the past, people would say, ‘I care about this. I’m going to go to government.’ They are less inclined to do that.”

But jumping into corporate activism and promoting a company’s moral compass can also create wrinkles. Smith said, given the gridlock in Washington, customers are beginning to ask Microsoft to help regulate the very technology it’s developing. One HUBweek attendee raised a question that has become common at tech events: Can government officials craft policy that effectively keeps up with the rapid pace of change in the tech industry? 

Smith shot down the idea, saying that any technology company’s involvement in regulation is inappropriate and restricts progress. “I don’t think it’s viable to ask tech to slow down,” he said. “It is not only appropriate, but it is right to ask government to move faster. And it’s incumbent on those of us in the technology sector to do what we can to share information so that governments can move faster.”

Plus, he said, “it’s important to remember that, in this country and in many others, people elect those who make the laws. People do not elect companies.”

‘Moneyball’ for movies

Legendary Entertainment is using analytics to develop films. Matt Marolda, chief analytics officer for the media company, referred to this as “Moneyball for movies,” referencing the story of how data helped transform a losing baseball team.

The use of data to develop movie products isn’t , but in the past, much of the data was collected through analog methods. These days, the data that Marolda’s applied analytics team uses for analysis comes from a variety of sources — from one-on-one conversations with viewers to digital data such as search queries and Twitter conversations.

The tried-and-true method of testing a film before a live audience is also used — but with a twist. While Marolda’s team tries “to be as unintrusive as possible” during the testing process, it uses iPads to capture facial expressions and wristbands to collect heart rate and other “various signals,” he said. That kind of data is used to determine what’s working and what’s not.

“We try and identify those moments where people are confused, people are rolling their eyes, where they’re really engaged,” Marolda said.

The data can also help pin down much bigger problems such as whether the chemistry between the two leads is believable. Marolda said filmmakers often have a gut answer to human chemistry questions like the latter, but the data can provide solid evidence.

“With that kind of evidence, entire storylines are removed from movies, reshoots might happen to redirect the plot,” he said. “Those indicators are a great way to understand what the opportunities are for improvement.”

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Source: https://searchcio.techtarget.com/news/252450811/Microsoft-and-corporate-activism

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How AI Supports Logistics Industry and Transportation Businesses

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How AI Supports Logistics Industry and Transportation Businesses





















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Source: https://www.analyticsvidhya.com/blog/2021/05/how-ai-supports-logistics-industry-and-transportation-businesses/

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Meituan shares slump as fallout from CEO’s poem post festers

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SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Shares of Chinese food delivery giant Meituan slumped further on Tuesday in a sell-off precipated by the social media posting by its chairman of an ancient poem that was perceived by some as criticising the government and President Xi Jinping.

The company, which recently raised $10 billion, has lost $30 billion in market value over two days amid a broader drop in Chinese tech shares as investors remain jittery over a regulatory clampdown that last month ensnared Meituan.

The poem, posted on May 6 by Chairman and CEO Wang Xing on a small social media site that he founded, criticises the emperor of the Qin dynasty, who burnt books to suppress intellectual dissidents, only for it to be overthrown by illiterates. While many on Chinese social media interpreted the posting as an allusion to the anti-monopoly campaign backed by Xi, Wang on Sunday said he was referring to business rivals, saying that “the most dangerous opponents are often unexpected ones”.

The original posting has been removed.

Meituan declined further comment.

Adding to investor concerns, the Shanghai Consumer Council said late on Monday that it had summoned Meituan and e-commerce firm Pinduoduo, accusing them of violating consumer rights. On Tuesday, Meituan shares tumbled 5.3% to a seven-month low. “I think mainland investors paid more attention to the poem, but international investors are more worried about the rising cost of employing riders of the company,” said Fred Wong, chief investment officer at Hong Kong-based eFusion Capital.

He was referring to social media criticism of Meituan and other industry players’ treatment of delivery riders, most of whom are not covered by basic social and medical insurance.

The Hang Seng Tech Index, which includes Chinese tech giants Alibaba, Tencent and JD.com, dropped as much as 4.5% on Tuesday to a six-month low.

(Reporting by Shanghai and Beijing newsrooms, Editing by Tony Munroe and Gabriela Baczynska)

Image Credit: Reuters

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Source: https://datafloq.com/read/meituan-shares-slump-fallout-ceos-poem-post-festers/14574

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Meituan shares slump as fallout from CEO’s poem post festers

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SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Shares of Chinese food delivery giant Meituan slumped further on Tuesday in a sell-off precipated by the social media posting by its chairman of an ancient poem that was perceived by some as criticising the government and President Xi Jinping.

The company, which recently raised $10 billion, has lost $30 billion in market value over two days amid a broader drop in Chinese tech shares as investors remain jittery over a regulatory clampdown that last month ensnared Meituan.

The poem, posted on May 6 by Chairman and CEO Wang Xing on a small social media site that he founded, criticises the emperor of the Qin dynasty, who burnt books to suppress intellectual dissidents, only for it to be overthrown by illiterates. While many on Chinese social media interpreted the posting as an allusion to the anti-monopoly campaign backed by Xi, Wang on Sunday said he was referring to business rivals, saying that “the most dangerous opponents are often unexpected ones”.

The original posting has been removed.

Meituan declined further comment.

Adding to investor concerns, the Shanghai Consumer Council said late on Monday that it had summoned Meituan and e-commerce firm Pinduoduo, accusing them of violating consumer rights. On Tuesday, Meituan shares tumbled 5.3% to a seven-month low. “I think mainland investors paid more attention to the poem, but international investors are more worried about the rising cost of employing riders of the company,” said Fred Wong, chief investment officer at Hong Kong-based eFusion Capital.

He was referring to social media criticism of Meituan and other industry players’ treatment of delivery riders, most of whom are not covered by basic social and medical insurance.

The Hang Seng Tech Index, which includes Chinese tech giants Alibaba, Tencent and JD.com, dropped as much as 4.5% on Tuesday to a six-month low.

(Reporting by Shanghai and Beijing newsrooms, Editing by Tony Munroe and Gabriela Baczynska)

Image Credit: Reuters

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Source: https://datafloq.com/read/meituan-shares-slump-fallout-ceos-poem-post-festers/14574

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Renault, Nissan looking for more savings on batteries – De Meo

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PARIS (Reuters) – French carmaker Renault and its Japanese alliance partner Nissan are in talks to collaborate more and improve the savings they can derive from using the same battery technology, Renault Chief Executive Luca de Meo said on Tuesday.

Batteries are one of the costliest aspects of developing electric cars, at a time when auto groups are racing to pull ahead in this segment. For Renault and Nissan, it has also long been one of the weaker points of a partnership stretching back over 20 years, with each sourcing batteries in different ways, including from South Korea’s LG for the French firm.

“If we manage to come up with a very synergetic approach on batteries, the alliance will probably be one of the first to cross the threshold of a million cars sold on the same battery module,” De Meo told a Financial Times car conference.

Collaborating on battery technology will be a big test of the future of the Renault-Nissan alliance, shaken by the 2018 arrest of its architect-turned-fugitive Carlos Ghosn, and which new managers at both firms are trying to get on track.

They face stiff competition from the likes of Volkswagen in the race to produce cleaner, electric vehicles at an appealing price for consumers. Their German rival is planning to build six battery factories in Europe alone by 2030.

De Meo said on Tuesday that Renault and Nissan were cooperating closely on production and sourcing components.

“We are making a lot of decisions to communalise things… battery modules for example is one of the things we’re discussing right now,” De Meo added.

Both firms are still straining to deliver on their own turnaround plans, and Nissan on Tuesday posted a record annual loss, triggered in part by the COVID-19 pandemic. That will drag on earnings at Renault, which has a stake in the firm.

Renault shares were down 4.8% at 0944GMT.

(Reporting by Gilles Guillaume and Sarah White, editing by Estelle Shirbon)

Image Credit: Reuters

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Source: https://datafloq.com/read/renault-nissan-looking-savings-batteries-de-meo/14573

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