Tech Digest daily round up: Google fires head of AI ethics unit



Google has fired the founder and co-head of its artificial intelligence ethics unit, claiming she violated the company’s code of conduct. In a statement, Google said an investigation found Margaret Mitchell had moved files outside the company. The ethics unit has been under scrutiny since December, following the departure of another senior figure, Timnit Gebru. Both women had campaigned for more diversity at Google, with both raising concerns about censorship within the company. See story here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-56135817

Online used-car dealer Cazoo is the latest British technology company to be linked with a stock market listing. According to reports, the business could float with a valuation of around £5billion, making it one of the largest and fastest tech IPOs in recent years.  The firm was launched just 15 months ago by Zoopla and Love Film founder Alex Chesterman and generated revenues of £160m in its first year. See here: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/markets/article-9279511/Internet-car-dealer-Cazoo-eyes-5bn-flotation.html

Australia’s prime minister says Facebook is back at the negotiating table after the tech giant this week blocked news on its site in the country. However, despite Scott Morrison saying Facebook has “tentatively friended us again”, the company has publicly indicated no change in its opposition to the proposed law requiring social media platforms to pay for links to news content. See story here: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2021/feb/20/australia-v-facebook-pm-claims-tech-giant-back-at-the-table-after-executives-apology

Vodafone and Three are to follow EE with price hikes. If you signed up with Three as a pay-monthly customer or renewed your pay-monthly Three contract on or after October 29 last year, your bills will increase by 4.5% from April. If you joined Three (or renewed with them) between May 29, 2015 and October 29 last year, you will see a smaller increase of 1.4% from May. If you took out a new contract with Vodafone before December 9 last year, your bill will rise in line with the Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) Retail Price Index (RPI) from April. If you joined or renewed your Vodafone deal after that date, your bills will increase by 4.5% from April. See story here: https://www.forbes.com/uk/advisor/personal-finance/2021/02/19/vodafone-and-three-follow-ee-with-price-hikes-of-up-to-4-5/

First seen at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show, Yamaha is expected to start producing its E01 and EC-05 electric scooters very soon. The E01 scooter will have power equivalent to a 125cc combustion engine, and offer the typical electric benefits of recharging at home and simple maintenance and upkeep while the EC-05 will feature an exchangeable battery unit. See story here: https://www.visordown.com/news/industry/yamaha-electric-scooters-are-coming-e01-and-ec-05-naming-rights-are-filed

The US Army is building a laser weapon more than a million times more powerful than any used before. Existing laser weapons produce a continuous beam that is held on a target, such as a drone or missile until it melts – the first was deployed by the US Navy in 2014. The new weapon, known as the Tactical Ultrashort Pulsed Laser for Army Platforms, would be more like science-fiction movie lasers, firing bullet-like pulses of light. Read more: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2268553-the-us-army-is-building-the-most-powerful-laser-weapon-in-the-world/#ixzz6n12TYIcK

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