Electric vehicles (EVs) have been around for over 100 years and despite being especially popular in the Bay Area, they’ve never quite cracked the national market. But with Tesla briefly overtaking General Motors as the most valuable automaker in America on Monday and Tesla’s more affordable Model 3 set to be released later this year, electric vehicles might be headed for the mainstream. In this hour of Forum, we’ll discuss the current state of electric cars in the U.S. and how President Trump’s policies on energy and trade might affect the EV industry.
The U.S. Department of Labor has accused Google of violating federal employment laws and discriminating against its female employees. In an ongoing investigation, a regional solicitor said last week that the government found “systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce.” Google has denied the allegations, which come as one San Francisco supervisor has proposed legislation barring employers from asking prospective employees for their salary history. In this hour of Forum, we’ll discuss the issue of gender pay discrimination and possible solutions.
Our focus on pay equity (Google)
In the latest drama at Uber, company president Jeff Jones announced his resignation this week after only six months on the job. Jones’ departure comes as the San Francisco ride-hailing company grapples with a raft of lawsuits and scandals, including recent sexual harassment allegations. Also this week, Uber announced plans to significantly scale back its planned expansion to Oakland after buying space in the new Warriors arena project at Mission Bay. We’ll discuss what these newest developments mean for the company, the Bay Area and for the tech community.
The CIA figured out how to spy on people through cell phones, websites and smart TVs, and then lost control over that information, according to the website Wikileaks. In what it called its largest release ever, Wikileaks made 8,761 files available Tuesday that detailed surveillance techniques. Wikileaks says it will release more details soon, after allowing tech companies to review the information so that they can patch any security vulnerabilities. We discuss the implications of the disclosure and Wikileaks’ political influence.
Few companies have altered city life as deeply and swiftly as Airbnb and Uber, writes Bloomberg technology editor Brad Stone. The two companies, which together are now worth $99 billion, have generated controversy in every urban center they’ve entered, outpacing regulation and agitating entire industries. We speak with Stone about the people behind the rise of Airbnb and Uber, and about the “nonstarters” — those who had similar ideas but whose businesses failed. Stone’s new book is “The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley Are Changing the World.”
On the surface, Paul English’s story resembles that of many successful tech entrepreneurs: awkward software engineer turned billionaire. But author Tracy Kidder’s “A Truck Full of Money” goes beyond that stereotype and digs into English’s complicated relationship with money and his day-to-day life with bipolar disorder. Nearly 35 years after Kidder’s Pulitzer-Prize winning book, “The Soul of A New Machine,” examined the world of computer hardware, Forum talks to Kidder about Paul English and the new age of tech entrepreneurs.
On Tuesday, Twitter banned Breitbart tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos from its platform in response to an ongoing barrage of racist and sexist comments directed against “Ghostbusters” star Leslie Jones. In a statement, Twitter said, “No one deserves to be subjected to targeted abuse online, and our rules prohibit inciting or engaging in the targeted abuse or harassment of others.” Yiannopoulos, who gained notoriety when he wrote in defense of gamers during the Gamergate controversy, accused Twitter of waging a culture war that he claimed would infringe on free speech and conservative voices.
Pokémon Go, a newly released game for smartphones using GPS, is so popular that it has already topped Twitter’s number of daily active users. This free game is being downloaded so much that it’s overloading servers and is showing up in such unlikely places as the front lines of the battle against ISIS and the Holocaust Memorial Museum, sparking controversy over where it is — and is not — appropriate to chase Pikachu, the game’s cute yellow cartoon creature. We look at the revival of this cultural franchise from a simple card game to the promise of so-called “augmented reality” — and the upcoming “Pokémon Go Crawl” being organized next week in San Francisco.
Former Facebook product manager Antonio Garcia Martinez begins his memoir with the following dedication: “To all my enemies: I could not have done it without you.” A tech insider, Martinez sold a startup to Twitter and was then hired — and later fired — by Facebook. His new book “Chaos Monkeys” shatters some of the myths of startup culture and provides a window into the day-to-day workings of Silicon Valley, including the double-dealing and depravity he willingly participated in.
The “Fair Share Tech Tax” proposed by San Francisco Supervisor Eric Mar would impose a 1.5 percent payroll tax on the city’s tech companies, who many blame for the sky-high housing costs that are pricing many residents out of the city. If approved, the tax could bring in up to $120 million annually for homeless services and affordable housing, according to Mar. But opponents, including Mayor Ed Lee, think the measure is a job killer. We’ll discuss the proposal, which comes a year before the expiration of the controversial “Twitter tax break.”
When Facebook first rolled out its “trending news” feature, the company assured the public that it used impartial algorithms to determine story rankings. But on Monday, the tech blog Gizmodo reported that Facebook’s “news curators” were instructed to exclude conservative-oriented stories. Facebook denies the allegations. But the news has sparked outrage among conservative and liberal media outlets alike and prompted a Senate inquiry into Facebook’s practices. We discuss how curated news shapes the stories that you see online.
It’s been a busy month in the field of artificial intelligence (AI). In a face-off of man versus machine, the world champion of the Go board game lost to Google’s AI program. And just last week, Microsoft unveiled a program designed to Tweet like a teenage girl — only to have it devolve into praising Hitler and lambasting feminists. Both these events offer a glimpse into the machine learning industry, where companies are competing to create the first viable artificial intelligence software. Forum discusses the latest in AI and machine learning – a field that’s estimated to reach $40 billion by 2020.
Just over two years ago protesters in Oakland made national headlines when they surrounded Google and Apple commuter buses and threw rocks at them. For Douglas Rushkoff, these protests symbolized everything that is wrong with the tech economy. In his new book, “Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus: How Growth Became the Enemy of Prosperity,” Rushkoff takes a deeper look at why the success of Silicon Valley companies has contributed to deeper economic and social tensions in the Bay Area. He joins us to talk about rebooting our economy to create a more sustainable and equitable future.
A recent report from Silicon Valley Bank found that when it comes to the tech sector, executive confidence is at its lowest level since the start of the 2008 recession. The number of Silicon Valley deals and venture capital funding dipped in 2015, tech stocks fell sharply in February and unicorn companies are starting to lose their value. We examine whether these are signs of a dot-com style bust or a simple correction in the market.
The #tech sector is facing
— KQED Forum (@KQEDForum) March 17, 2016