Christopher T Hummel
Apple has announced intentions to build a new 1 billion dollar campus in Austin, Texas. The company has also announced plans to expand to over 1,000 staff in Seattle, San Diego, and Los Angeles over the next three years, while adding “hundreds” of staff in Pittsburgh, New York, Boulder, Boston and Portland, Oregon. The Austin campus will employ roughly 21,000 employees and will undoubtedly become the leading employer in Austin. The campus will be environmentally friendly and have up to 50 acres of open space. Quite a big leap for an “American” company who has always manufactured it’s products elsewhere.
This is undoubtedly in response to critics saying that Apple is not really an American company (because they do the majority of their business elsewhere) and treats it’s workers unjustly. We all remember the scandal in Foxconn in 2010 where 14 suicides were committed at Apple’s factory and dormitory. I wonder if Apple has made modifications to that factory and gave them 50 acres of open space. I’m sure they have, but this move still hasn’t won me over.
More recently, it was discovered that Chinese workers were still being treated unfairly in Apple’s factories. Filming on an iPhone 6 production line showed exhausted workers falling asleep on their 12-hour shifts. This type of issue should be addressed before developing new campuses in the US.
Elon Musk has just announced a new feature in Telsa vehicles called Summon. Summon is a parking feature that allows the owner of the vehicle to call it to their phone’s location by using a smartphone. This new feature will be released through a over-the-air software upgrade and will be accessible in vehicles made in the past 2 years. Musk also announced that owners will be able to “drive their car like a big RC car if in line of sight.”
Tesla is widely known for their amazing innovations in auto-piloting vehicles, and this is another step in that direction. The “controlling a car like an RC car” is a little frightening to me at first glance, but it’s only if the car is within a certain range of the smartphone.
We have discussed disruptive innovation in class recently and this is a great example of sustaining innovation. Elon Musk understands that in order to stay profitable, you must continue to innovate your products and provide users with better and better experiences. Even though there aren’t really many competitors in the auto-piloting motor vehicles space, Telsa continues to disrupt.
The project known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud or JEDI, is a developing project of the pentagon in which massive amounts of government data are to be moved to cloud based. The Pentagon has elected partner with US-Based companies for obvious reason. Previously, Google had put their name in to be considered but recently removed that submission.
Google has said that its main reason for leaving is because the project conflicts with its principles for ethical use of AI. Google has also stated that components of the contract are out of scope of current government certifications. Employees at the company have protested it’s involvement in yet another US government project. After backing out of “Project Maven” in which google was using AI to build military grade drones for the US military, Google has taken a step back (for now).
Where do we draw the line between government & public tech companies? There are more than a few companies working on artificial intelligence and account massive amount of data into those projects. How can we trust companies to use government information in the right way? What classifies the “right” way and what happens when unintended outcomes take a wrong turn?
In our course, we study how information technology systems are integrated and implemented into a working business or organization. I am pressing further into the discussion and moving past the development of systems. I am posing the question of ethics in a system. This problem is becoming increasingly important as we consider our personal and physical safety.