Tim O’Reilly: ‘Generosity is the thing that is at the beginning of prosperity’

The tech pioneer, CEO of publishing company O’Reilly Media, says his industry will fail unless the web giants start putting consumers ahead of shareholders

Tim O’Reilly believes we need to have a reset. This means more coming from him than it does from most people. The 63-year-old CEO, born in Ireland and raised in San Francisco, is one of the most influential pioneers and thinkers of the internet age. His publishing company, O’Reilly Media, began producing computer manuals in the late 1970s and he has been early to spot many influential tech trends ever since: open-source software, web 2.0, wifi, the maker movement and big data among them.

His new book, WTF: What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us, looks at work and how jobs will change in a world shaped by technology. It is sometimes hard not to be pessimistic about what’s coming over the hill, but he is convinced that our destiny remains in human hands.

Continue reading… …read more

Tech giants face Congress as showdown over Russia election meddling looms

Facebook, Twitter and Google once seemed to encapsulate freedom and connectivity. At a hearing on 1 November a new question will be posed: have they become a tool for foreign autocracies and domestic extremists?

A showdown is looming in Washington between Congress and the powerful social media companies that have helped define the current unsettled age in western democracies.

The immediate issue before the Senate and the House intelligence committees, which have summoned representatives from Facebook, Twitter and Google to appear on 1 November, is to determine the extent the companies were used in a multi-pronged Russian operation to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Continue reading… …read more

Is Richard Branson’s high-speed train in a pneumatic tube pie in the sky?

First airlines, then spaceships. Now the Virgin boss wants to build Hyperloop One – a high-speed, pneumatic maglev railway. But engineering experts doubt that it will ever leave the station

Last week, Richard Branson gave a boost to tech tycoon Elon Musk’s vision of a futuristic transport system. Hyperloop One is the frontrunner among several companies working on plans for magnetically propelled ground shuttles capable of keeping pace with commercial airliners. Branson announced an investment of an undisclosed sum in the company, which took its total funding to £186m.

Musk first outlined his plans, entitled Hyperloop Alpha, in 2013, when he said the system could provide a safer, faster and more convenient mode of long-distance transport than cars and trains, while also being low cost, sustainable, immune to adverse weather and earthquake-resistant.

Continue reading… …read more

Google’s plan to revolutionise cities is a takeover in all but name

Parent company Alphabet would provide services in response to data harvested

Last June Volume, a leading magazine on architecture and design, published an article on the GoogleUrbanism project. Conceived at a renowned design institute in Moscow, the project charts a plausible urban future based on cities acting as important sites for “data extractivism” – the conversion of data harvested from individuals into artificial intelligence technologies, allowing companies such as Alphabet, Google’s parent company, to act as providers of sophisticated and comprehensive services. The cities themselves, the project insisted, would get a share of revenue from the data.

Cities surely wouldn’t mind but what about Alphabet? The company does take cities seriously. Its executives have floated the idea of taking some struggling city – Detroit? – and reinventing it around Alphabet services, with no annoying regulations blocking this march of progress.

Continue reading… …read more