Friday, January 21News That Matters

Tag: Innovation

Economists Pin More Blame on Tech for Rising Inequality

Economists Pin More Blame on Tech for Rising Inequality

Technology
Yet the technological shift evolved as growth in postsecondary education slowed and companies began spending less on training their workers. “When technology, education and training move together, you get shared prosperity,” said Lawrence Katz, a labor economist at Harvard. “Otherwise, you don’t.”Increasing international trade tended to encourage companies to adopt automation strategies. For example, companies worried by low-cost competition from Japan and later China invested in machines to replace workers.Today, the next wave of technology is artificial intelligence. And Mr. Acemoglu and others say it can be used mainly to assist workers, making them more productive, or to supplant them.Mr. Acemoglu, like some other economists, has altered his view of technology over time. In economic th...

The Metaverse’s Dark Side: Here Come Harassment and Assaults

Technology
VRChat did not respond to a request for comment.After Ms. Siggens faced abuse while playing the Population One virtual reality game, she said, she joined a virtual support group for women, many of whom also play the game. Members regularly dealt with harassment in the game, she said. In June, Meta acquired BigBox VR, the developer of Population One.Another member of the support group, Mari DeGrazia, 48, of Tucson, Ariz., said she saw harassment and assault happen in Population One “two to three times a week, if not more.”“Sometimes, we see things happen two to three times day that violate the game’s rules,” she added.BigBox VR did not respond to a request for comment.Ms. DeGrazia said the people behind Population One had responded to her complaints and appeared interested in making the gam...

A German Architectural Firm Embraces Sustainable Building Practices

Technology, World
This article is part of a special report on Climate Solutions, which looks at efforts around the world to make a difference.There was a time, including when Martin Henn’s grandfather and father were at the peak of their careers, when many architects lived by a simple creed: bigger was better. But with a growing awareness of how that thinking contributes to the greenhouse gas emissions that are linked to climate change, a new vocabulary has sprouted in many firms: sustainability, circular economy, organic design.That is the kind of language that Martin Henn, 41, said he brought into the German architecture firm HENN that his grandfather, Walter Henn, founded in Dresden in 1947 and that his father, Gunter, joined in 1979 and later expanded into Munich. It is in line with a growing awareness ...

Google Pixel 6 Review: Playing Catch-Up With the iPhone

Technology
For half a decade, Google, the maker of Android, the world’s most widely used phone software, has had a dream to make a best-selling phone that rivals the gold standard, the iPhone.Google’s Pixel phones have consistently received positive reviews but sell tepidly because of a major weakness: They have relied on off-the-shelf parts from other companies. As a result, they have felt sluggish compared with devices made by Apple, which tightly controls the quality of its iPhones by doing design in-house.With the new Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, which cost $600 and $900 and will be available on Thursday, Google believes it now has phones that level the playing field.These are the company’s first phones to include Tensor, its own computing processor, similar to how Apple designed the silicon that pow...

Nuclear Fusion Edges Toward the Mainstream

Technology
ABINGDON, England — Harnessing fusion energy into something commercially viable — and maybe, ultimately, a clean source of power that replaces fossil fuels for centuries to come — has long been considered by some as the ultimate moonshot.But investor interest in fusion energy continues to slowly rise, and the number of start-ups in the field is multiplying, with an estimated 1,100 people in several countries making their living at these firms. An industry is taking shape, with a growing network of companies that supply highly specialized equipment, like the components of the powerful magnets that fusion devices require.The British government even recently saw the need to issue regulations for fusion energy — a kind of milestone for a burgeoning industry.No one knows when fusion energy will...

Warby Parker and the Spirit of Invention

Technology
This article is part of the On Tech newsletter. Here is a collection of past columns.In yesterday’s newsletter, I lamented that more companies don’t ask, “Is this a good idea?” when they’re cooking up new products.Today I want to write about the admirable question that is behind many inventions: Why does it have to be this way?This is the unifying query behind technologies that try to simplify selling a home, let small businesses avoid leasing and operating their own office space, and give us the power to buy a car from our sofas.Sometimes the upstarts that bring these ideas to life are wildly overhyped or create miserable jobs. Often, though, it’s worth admiring the spirit of challenging the old ways.I’m going to tell you the dirty secret of lots of “technology” start-ups and inventions: ...
Inside Facebook’s Push to Defend Its Image

Inside Facebook’s Push to Defend Its Image

Business
The changes have involved Facebook executives from its marketing, communications, policy and integrity teams. Alex Schultz, a 14-year company veteran who was named chief marketing officer last year, has also been influential in the image reshaping effort, said five people who worked with him. But at least one of the decisions was driven by Mr. Zuckerberg, and all were approved by him, three of the people said.Alex Schultz, Facebook’s chief marketing officer, has been influential in reshaping the company’s image.Credit...Tommaso Boddi/Getty ImagesJoe Osborne, a Facebook spokesman, denied that the company had changed its approach.“People deserve to know the steps we’re taking to address the different issues facing our company — and we’re going to share those steps widely,” he said in a state...
Apple iPhone 13 Review: The Most Incremental Upgrade Ever

Apple iPhone 13 Review: The Most Incremental Upgrade Ever

Technology
The truth is that smartphones peaked a few years ago.After so many advances, the miniature computers have reached incredible speeds, their screens have become bigger and brighter, and their cameras produce images that make amateur photographers look like wizards.The problem with so much great innovation is that upgrades are now so iterative that it has become difficult to know what to write about them each year. That’s especially the case with Apple’s iPhone 13, which may be the most incremental update ever to the iPhone.The newest iPhone is just 10 percent faster than last year’s models. (For context, in 2015, the iPhone 6S was more than 70 percent faster than its predecessor, the iPhone 6.) Its flashiest new feature, a higher screen “refresh rate” on the $1,000-plus models, makes motion ...
The Battle for Digital Privacy Is Reshaping the Internet

The Battle for Digital Privacy Is Reshaping the Internet

Technology
“The internet is answering a question that it’s been wrestling with for decades, which is: How is the internet going to pay for itself?” he said.The fallout may hurt brands that relied on targeted ads to get people to buy their goods. It may also initially hurt tech giants like Facebook — but not for long. Instead, businesses that can no longer track people but still need to advertise are likely to spend more with the largest tech platforms, which still have the most data on consumers.David Cohen, chief executive of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, a trade group, said the changes would continue to “drive money and attention to Google, Facebook, Twitter.”The shifts are complicated by Google’s and Apple’s opposing views on how much ad tracking should be dialed back. Apple wants its custom...
Smartphones May Be Too Good

Smartphones May Be Too Good

Technology
This article is part of the On Tech newsletter. Here is a collection of past columns.I’m going to pose an intentionally provocative question: What if smartphones are so successful and useful that they are holding back innovation?Technologists are now imagining what could be the next big thing. But there may never be anything else like the smartphone, the first and perhaps last mass market and globally transformative computer.I may wind up looking like a 19th-century futurist who couldn’t imagine that horses would be replaced by cars. But let me make the case that the phenomenon of the smartphone may never be replicated.First, when people in technology imagine the future, they’re implicitly betting that smartphones will be displaced as the center of our digital lives by things that are less...