What’s new in tech
Google staffers resist Pentagon work
Several thousand Google employees have signed a letter protesting the company’s work for the Pentagon, said Scott Shane and Daisuke Wakabayashi in The New York Times. The Google staffers say they vehemently object to the company’s involvement in a Pentagon program, code-named Project Maven, that relies on artificial intelligence “to interpret video imagery and could be used to improve the targeting of drone strikes.” The letter, which is addressed to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, has so far accumulated more than 3,100 signatures. “We believe that Google should not be in the business of war,” it states.
Amazon takes on PayPal and Venmo
Amazon is contemplating entering yet another new market—banking and finance, said AnnaMaria Andriotis and Laura Stevens in The Wall Street Journal. The e-commerce giant is exploring several new ventures designed to grow its footprint in the online-payments industry. One effort is focused on how consumers might use the virtual assistant Alexa to send money to friends, in a direct challenge to PayPal and Venmo. Other payment options would allow “drivers of cars equipped with Alexa to pay for gas at a station via voice.” Amazon has also pitched retail companies on using Alexa to facilitate in-store customer payments. That move wasn’t warmly received, however, since many retailers “have long viewed Amazon as a revenue-sapping rival.”
Uber acquires dockless bike service
“Uber is officially entering the dockless bike-sharing space,” said Johana Bhuiyan in Recode.net. The ride-hailing company announced this week it has acquired the on-demand electric bike-sharing startup Jump Bikes for an undisclosed sum. Known for its large, basket-clad red bicycles, Jump currently operates in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco and will be available in Sacramento next month. “Jump doesn’t require a dock, which means it can be parked almost anywhere.” Uber is likely to expand the bike-sharing service and has already opened a wait list for its customers in other cities to be notified when Jump bikes arrive. “Integrating bike sharing into Uber’s platform will enable users to bike to a place where it’s more convenient or cheaper for a driver to pick them up.” Because the bikes are GPS-enabled, users can “plan their ride-sharing trips around where there are available bikes.”