Summary of “Inside Google’s Shadow Workforce”

Google has a name for them: TVCs, or “Temps, vendors and contractors.” They are employed by several outside agencies, including Adecco Group AG, Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp. and Randstad NV. Google declined to say how many agencies the company uses.
Yana Calou, an organizer with advocacy group Coworker.org who speaks with Google employees and contractors, said that both groups are concerned about the workers who aren’t full Google employees.
Google’s initial flood of contractors came with its first “Moonshot.” Dozens of temporary workers were hired, more than a decade ago, to photocopy dog-eared pages for the company’s free digital library, Google Books.
One 2016 TVC employment contract from Zenith Talent Corp., a recruiting agency, states that TVCs “Will not be entitled to any compensation, options, stock, insurance or other rights or benefits accorded to employees of Google.” The terms hold even if a court later determines the worker was legally a Google employee.
In Google’s home county of Santa Clara, a family of four with an income of as much as $94,450 a year is considered by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development to be “Low income”; total annual compensation for a full-time Google janitor-including benefits as well as wages- is a bit over half that amount.
Contractors must agree to assist Google in securing the company’s intellectual property, and if Google is unable to get the worker’s signature, the search giant becomes the worker’s de facto attorney.
Google did not provide comment on that episode, but a spokeswoman said that TVCs have access to Google’s complaint channel, and that it reviews those it receives and investigates when appropriate.
According to two former Google managers, Adecco takes roughly 20 percent of the pay of Google’s contracted employees.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Why Is Google Translate Spitting Out Sinister Religious Prophecies?”

Type the word “Dog” into Google Translate 19 times, request that the nonsensical message be flipped from Maori into English, and out pops what appears to be a garbled religious prophecy.
That’s just one of many bizarre and sometimes ominous translations that users on Reddit and elsewhere have dredged up from Google Translate, Google’s decade-old service that can now interpret messages in over 100 languages.
“Google Translate learns from examples of translations on the web and does not use ‘private messages’ to carry out translations, nor would the system even have access to that content,” said Justin Burr, a Google spokesperson, in an email.
When Motherboard provided Google with an example of the eerie messages, its translation disappeared from Google Translate.
It’s more likely, Rush said, that the strange translations are related to a change Google Translate made several years ago, when it started using a technique known as “Neural machine translation.”
As a result, he said, it’s possible that Google used religious texts like the Bible, which has been translated into many languages, to train its model in those languages, resulting in the religious content.
Burr, the Google spokesperson, declined to say whether Google Translate’s training materials include religious texts.
Google Translate interprets “w hy ar e th e tran stla tions so wei rd” in Somali as “It is a great way to make it so much better.”

The orginal article.

Summary of “5 Smart Home Tricks That Are Actually Impressive”

Going to the effort of setting up a smart home just so you can turn your lights on and off from your phone may not seem like the best use of your time and resources, but with the right gear and apps you can put together some routines that really will impress family, friends, and occasional Airbnb guests.
The best smart home tricks should work like magic and if you use the location triggers that are available in free web service IFTTT, you can get all your smart home gear to respond to you leaving the house.
Many smart home services have this kind of geofencing built in, but we like IFTTT because it works with so many services and devices-insuring nothing is left on that shouldn’t be.
Assuming you’ve set up Google Home, linked it to your Google account, got the Google Home app installed on your phone, and allowed personalizations-full instructions here-you can then make a call by simply saying “Call…” followed by someone in your Google Contacts list.
Setting up your smart home so you know exactly when the kids get back from school is really useful and not that difficult to do.
On a basic level you can set up a motion-sensing camera like the $129 Canary, which will buzz you as soon as a person is detected coming through the front door-it can distinguish between people and other types of motion, and of course does plenty of other tricks too, like measuring temperature and humidity at home.
Another cool feature of this and other smart locks is being able to temporarily let family, friends, Airbnb guests and others into your home.
You also don’t actually need a physical smart home device for tracking your kids-the Life360 apps for Android and iOS will automatically ping you when your youngsters enter a certain area, no manual effort required.

The orginal article.

Summary of “”Google Was Not a Normal Place”: Brin, Page, and Mayer on the Accidental Birth of the Company that Changed Everything”

In 1996, as the World Wide Web was taking off, Larry Page and Sergey Brin watched from the sidelines.
The company itself was almost literally founded at Burning Man, which is apt, because the true point of Google was always to get as far-out as possible: to build cars that drove themselves, an elevator that could reach into outer space, even someday a true, general artificial intelligence.
Page and Brin stayed on, and changed as Google did-monetized, and thoroughly civilized.
Scott Hassan: Then the next year, Larry comes as a first-year PhD student, and Larry is very different.
Scott Hassan: In the fall of ’95, for some reason, I started hanging out with Larry in his office…. At the time, Larry was trying to download a hundred pages simultaneously.
Kevin Kelly, founding editor at Wired, futurist, and best-selling author: When I met Page, I said, “Larry, I don’t get it. What’s the future of search for free? I don’t see where you’re going with this …” And Larry said, “We are not really interested in search. We are making an A.I.” So from the very beginning, the mission for Google was not to use A.I. to make their search better, but to use search to make an A.I. Heather Cairns: To rule the Earth!? Here we are.
We always kind of worried that Sergey was going to date somebody in the company …. Charlie Ayers: Sergey’s the Google playboy.
Google could make the case: “Oh, don’t worry, this is going to feel a lot like when you were a researcher. This isn’t like selling out and going into the corporate world, you’re still an academic, you just work at Google now.” They ended up getting a lot of really smart people because of that.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Let’s make private data into a public good”

All are designed to maximize the advantages of sticking with Google: if you don’t have a Gmail address, you can’t use Google Hangouts.
The bulk of Google’s profits come from selling advertising space and users’ data to firms.
Let’s not forget that a large part of the technology and necessary data was created by all of us.
The low tax rates that technology companies are typically paying on these large rewards are also perverse, given that their success was built on technologies funded and developed by high-risk public investments: if anything, companies that owe their fortunes to taxpayer-funded investment should be repaying the taxpayer, not seeking tax breaks.
Measuring the value of a company like Google or Facebook by the number of ads it sells is consistent with standard neoclassical economics, which interprets any market-based transaction as signaling the production of some kind of output-in other words, no matter what the thing is, as long as a price is received, it must be valuable.
There is indeed no reason why the public’s data should not be owned by a public repository that sells the data to the tech giants, rather than vice versa.
The key issue here is not just sending a portion of the profits from data back to citizens but also allowing them to shape the digital economy in a way that satisfies public needs.
Mariana Mazzucato is a professor in the economics of innovation and public value at University College London, where she directs the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Google Duplex really works and testing begins this summer”

In the demo, we saw what it would be like for a restaurant to receive a phone call – and in fact each of us in turn took a call from Duplex as it tried to book a reservation.
The briefings were in service of the news that Google is about to begin limited testing “In the coming weeks.” If you’re hoping that means you’ll be able to try it yourself, sorry: Google is starting with “a set of trusted tester users,” according to Nick Fox, VP of product and design for the Google Assistant.
There were several variations on the robot disclosure – Google seems to be testing to see which is most effective at making people feel comfortable sticking with the call.
If you take a Duplex call and want to take that initial “Um” as an opportunity to say “Yeah no, I don’t want to be recorded,” Duplex can recognize that and end the call with something like “‘OK I’ll call back on an unrecorded line’ and then we have an operator just call back,” Fox says.
There are a few states where Duplex won’t work – Fox says Google doesn’t yet have the permitting for Texas, for example – but it should start making calls in the vast majority of the US soon.
Google will ensure that businesses won’t receive too many calls from Duplex – say, for example, from people who might use it to prank restaurants with fake reservations.
Valerie Nygaard, product manager for Duplex, emphasized that “This is a system with a human fallback.” Those operators serve two purposes: they handle calls that Duplex can’t complete and they also mark up the call transcripts for Google’s AI algorithms to learn from.
Google got quite a bit of blowback after its Google IO demo, both from people who were wondering about disclosure and from those who thought it might have not been a real call.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Talking to Google Duplex: Google’s human-like phone AI feels revolutionary”

At I/O 2018, Google shocked the world with a demo of “Google Duplex,” an AI system for accomplishing real-world tasks over the phone.
Then all of a sudden, Google said it was ready to talk more about Duplex.
In a consumer Google Duplex interaction, a user would say something like “OK Google, reserve a table for four at the THEP Thai Restaurant at 6pm.” From there, the Google Assistant would fire up Duplex and make the call.
To start, a Google rep went around the room and took reservation requirements from the group, things like “What time should the reservation be for?” or “How many people?” Our requirements were punched into a computer, and the phone soon rang.
In my group, I took the first phone call from Google Duplex.
Listening to recordings of Duplex are one thing, but participating in a call with Google’s phone bot is a totally different experience.
During the I/O keynote, Google played a brief, pre-recorded Duplex call.
Google basically built a secretary AI with Duplex, but it doesn’t speak with the practiced confidence of someone accustomed to making reservations-it often sounds like a teenager ordering a pizza.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Google Is Training Machines to Predict When a Patient Will Die”

The harrowing account of the unidentified woman’s death was published by Google in May in research highlighting the health-care potential of neural networks, a form of artificial intelligence software that’s particularly good at using data to automatically learn and improve.
Google had created a tool that could forecast a host of patient outcomes, including how long people may stay in hospitals, their odds of re-admission and chances they will soon die.
In contrast, Google’s approach, where machines learn to parse data on their own, “Can just leapfrog everything else,” said Vik Bajaj, a former executive at Verily, an Alphabet health-care arm, and managing director of investment firm Foresite Capital.
Another Google researcher said existing models miss obvious medical events, including whether a patient had prior surgery.
“Companies like Google and other tech giants are going to have a unique, almost monopolistic, ability to capitalize on all the data we generate,” said Andrew Burt, chief privacy officer for data company Immuta.
Google is treading carefully when it comes to patient information, particularly as public scrutiny over data-collection rises.
With the latest study, Google and its hospital partners insist their data is anonymous, secure and used with patient permission.
Even if consumers don’t take up wearable health trackers en masse, Google has plenty of other data wells to tap.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Essential Google Tricks for Better Search Results”

Are you using Google effectively as possible? If you’re just entering words into the search field without using these totally basic but totally essential tricks to improve your results, you’re missing out.
If you want to exclude a word from your search results, put a dash in front of it.
Use quotation marks to search an exact set of words, such as song lyrics.
You can search for something within a specific website by using ‘site:’.
You can do a reverse image search by going into the ‘images’ tab on Google and clicking on the camera icon in the search bar.
Google will then deliver its best guess on the image.
I then reverse image searched it on Google to find the recipe.
If you’ve got search tips that everyone should know about, tell us in the comments.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How do Apple’s Screen Time and Google Digital Wellbeing stack up?”

Apple and Google are both adding new dashboards, with options for more zoomed-out perspectives on how you’re spending your time, along with more granular views of how often you’re using individual apps – down to the minute.
Google does offer a separate app called Family Link that can do many of the same time-monitoring and app-blocking tricks, but it’s a separate app that parents have to go out of their way to install and enable, not something that’s built into the OS. Google and Apple are both updating their Do Not Disturb and notification features to put more options back in the hands of users, too.
While Apple is expanding the scope of Do Not Disturb to include location-based or event-based triggers, Google is making its version more powerful.
Information or action Overall, one could probably say that Google is taking a bit more of a brute force approach with its Digital Wellbeing program, whereas Apple’s approach is a bit more tilted toward simply supplying information to the user so they can make better decisions themselves.
Both are beta pieces of software, so there’s a very real chance that Apple and Google may make huge changes to how these features work by the time they’re released in the fall.
At the end of the day, Apple and Google are taking some real, introspective strides here when it comes to giving users information about how they use their phones.
Yes, there are certainly cynics who may feel that Apple and Google’s efforts are disingenuous – after all, these companies have always wanted to ensure that users, hardware sales, and, most importantly, profits go up ahead of anything else.
At least Google and Apple are starting to think about the problem.

The orginal article.