A week after it was bought by Amazon, Zoox engineers defect to Waymo — eek!
- Last week, Amazon bought self-driving startup Zoox for over $1billion.
- Now, two of Zoox’s longest serving engineers have left to work for Alphabet subsidiary and rival, Waymo.
- Last week, e-commerce giant Amazon bought self-driving startup Zoox with the intention of helping it “realize its dream.” But Amazon doesn’t really have any business in robotaxis, so it’s not immediately clear what the online retailer is wanting to get out of the deal.
- Some, including TNW, suggest that Amazon might eventually get Zoox to work on autonomous delivery robots.
- According to an exclusive from The Information, two of Zoox’s longest serving and most senior engineers, James Philbin and Marc Wimmershoff, have left the company to go and work for rival Waymo, which is a sister company of Google.
- A far more realistic outcome is that Amazon will use its existing business units and Zoox’s expertise to develop sustainable autonomous delivery robots.
Amazon’s New Cloud Service Makes It Easier to Build Mobile Apps
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- Amazon Web Services on Wednesday released Amazon Honeycode, which lets businesses build web and mobile applications without diving into computer programming languages.
- Technology companies have invested in low-code or no-code in recent years as a workaround for customers that want to give employees the ability to make use of software tools without monopolizing the time of expensive, in-demand engineers.
- Amazon’s chief rivals in the business of selling rented processing power and software services, Microsoft Corp.
- AWS said potential uses for Honeycode include process approvals, event scheduling and inventory tracking.
- Amazon said messaging software builder Slack Technologies Inc. is among the customers planning to use Honeycode.
Jeff Bezos will finally be grilled by Congress
- A month and a half after US Congressional members called on Jeff Bezos to testify in an antitrust probe, Amazon has said its founder and CEO would be willing to appear at a hearing — under certain conditions.
- In the case of Amazon, lawmakers have expressed concerns about the data Amazon uses to create its own brands that end up competing against small businesses that sell on Amazon’s platform.
- The original call for Bezos to testify came in the wake of a Wall Street Journal investigation in April that revealed Amazon employees have at times accessed data from individual marketplace sellers to help decide which products Amazon would create and sell under its private-label brands.
- Beyond the antitrust investigations in Europe and by US Congress, the Federal Trade Commission has also been probing Amazon on similar antitrust matters, including how it competes with its merchants, and whether Amazon Prime unfairly undercuts competitors on price.
Uncovered: 1,000 phrases that incorrectly trigger Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant
- As Alexa, Google Home, Siri, and other voice assistants have become fixtures in millions of homes, privacy advocates have grown concerned that their near-constant listening to nearby conversations could pose more risk than benefit to users.
- The findings demonstrate how common it is for dialog in TV shows and other sources to produce false triggers that cause the devices to turn on, sometimes sending nearby sounds to Amazon, Apple, Google, or other manufacturers.
- In all, researchers uncovered more than 1,000 word sequences—including those from Game of Thrones, Modern Family, House of Cards, and news broadcasts—that incorrectly trigger the devices.
- Finally, we analyze the privacy implications of accidental triggers and discuss potential mechanisms to improve the privacy of smart speakers.
- The researchers analyzed voice assistants from Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Deutsche Telekom, as well as three Chinese models by Xiaomi, Baidu, and Tencent.
An internal Amazon memo shows how closely it's tracking coronavirus data at warehouses
- But the internal memo reveals the infection rate at an Amazon warehouse in Shakopee, Minnesota, is notably higher than the surrounding communities.
- Last week, the Minnesota Department of Health said 88 workers at the facility have tested positive for coronavirus, revealing a look into the numbers that Amazon has repeatedly refused to make public.
- The company has faced pressure from more than a dozen attorneys general who've called on Amazon to release a state-by-state breakdown of confirmed Covid-19 cases at its facilities as part of broader demands concerning worker health and safety.
- New York Attorney General Letitia James' office has interviewed workers from several Amazon facilities in New York City as part of an investigation into worker concerns over coronavirus-related safety measures.
- While the total scope of confirmed coronavirus cases across its facilities is unknown, there have been at least 10 deaths among Amazon warehouse employees who have tested positive for coronavirus.
Money-laundering drug cartels are driving deforestation in Guatemala
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Amazon’s latest PC game to be delisted from Steam after less than two months
- Its developers at Relentless Studios (a wholly owned Amazon subsidiary) have announced plans to delist the free-to-play action-MOBA game from Steam starting tomorrow, July 1, while continuing to operate the game as a "closed beta" for anyone who already downloaded the game (or paid for one of its "founders packs" of cosmetic DLC).
- Relentless Studios, the wholly owned Amazon subsidiary responsible for the game, was already able to make drastic changes to the Crucible client in the past month, particularly by removing an entire game mode in order to better focus its remaining player population.
- (The reasoning didn't seem to be entirely about making money via microtransactions, as all players who signed up over the past month were given roughly $10 of free credits for joining the game's launch period.) That kind of sudden rush to market was doubly weird in the case of this game's "action-MOBA" genre, since other major forays into that gameplay model, particularly Epic's Paragon and Gearbox's Battleborn, had so loudly crashed-and-burned.
Amazon Cloud Group Targets Space, Government Deals With New Unit
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- Amazon Web Services, the company’s cloud-computing division, on Tuesday announced a new business segment targeting aerospace, satellite and other space customers.
- AWS helped pioneer cloud computing, which has seen many businesses unplug their data centers in favor of rented data storage and software services from technology giants like Amazon, Microsoft Corp.
- AWS has sought to expand its government and defense contracting business in recent years, building off a landmark 2013 deal to provide services to the Central Intelligence Agency.
- Even as some Silicon Valley giants debate whether to wade deeper into military contracting, Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos has said Amazon is committed to supplying technologies to U.S. government clients.
- The company last year launched AWS Ground Station, which lets customers control satellites and download data to AWS data centers.
Need a referral for a job at Google or Facebook? It'll only cost you $50
- Meet Rooftop Slushie — a site created by the founders of anonymous tech forum Blind — which has facilitated nearly 11,000 referral purchases since launching in 2019, according to an investigation by OneZero.
- The approach might seem morally questionable but Rooftop Slushie product manager Kim says it doesn’t matter where the candidate came from — as long as their skills match the role.
- “At the end of the day, as long as the best candidate is hired, how the talent came to the company doesn’t matter — as long as they have the skills,” he told OneZero.
- Although Rooftop Slushie launched as a platform aiming to connect applicants to employees who can offer advice on their resumes and provide details about what they can expect during an interview, users eventually began selling referrals on its Misc section.
Amazon launches giant robot-filled centre in Sydney
- In its single largest investment in Australia since launching its online store in December 2017, Amazon has confirmed plans to build a 200,000 square metre "fulfilment centre" at Goodman Group's Oakdale West industrial estate in western Sydney.
- This will enable Amazon to store 50 per cent more items per square metre and house up to 11 million items, 10 times the number in its existing Melbourne or Sydney fulfilment centres.
- The sites will incorporate some of the robotics used at Woolworths' Melbourne South Regional Distribution Centre and will enable the retailer to increase its range by about one third and better service its bricks and mortar and online stores.
- Meanwhile, Kogan.com-backed eStore Logistics is opening two state-of-the-art fulfilment centres in Melbourne which use AI-enabled robots to help speed up deliveries.