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Engineer and entrepreneur Anthony Levandowski has been charged with 33 counts of attempted and actual trade secret theft from Google, with a maximum sentence of ten years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for each (TechCrunch). Levandowski led Google’s lidar engineering team and is accused of downloading numerous confidential files relating to lidar and self-driving tech in the months before he left the firm.
When his next company, self-driving lorry firm Otto, was bought by Uber, Levandowski became the centre of a civil suit – settled last year – in which Google alleged that he’d given Waymo trade secrets to its autonomous vehicle rival. Levandowski denies all charges and has stepped down as CEO of his most recent startup, Pronto AI, developing self-driving software for heavy goods vehicles, to focus on fighting the case.
The BBC is reportedly developing its own digital voice assistant, specifically trained to understand a wide range of British regional accents (The Guardian). Set to be called ‘Beeb’, it’ll be integrated into the BBC’s websites, media streaming apps such as iPlayer for smart TVs and made available to hardware makers who want to use the software.
Technically, since a US presidential declaration in July, companies based in the United States have been able to apply to do business with Huawei, the flagship privately-held Chinese tech firm that’s been a key target in a US trade war (Reuters). The US Commerce Department has received over 130 applications from US businesses to sell to Huawei, a major client for chipmakers but, so far, not a single one has been granted.
Would you pay a £200 premium for a phone that’s as conflict-free as currently possible and that has been manufactured in a factory that pays the local living wage? (WIRED). Until now the ethical phone conundrum – if you’ve even considered it – has been between an ugly, outdated, £500 smartphone and well, all the innovation and cheap prices and annual upgrades the tech industry can muster. With the Fairphone 3, up for pre-order for €450 (£408) now and on sale from September 3, the Dutch social enterprise company looks like it has its breakthrough product.
Tests of SpaceX’s Starhopper – a prototype for technology to be used in the firm’s planned Starship long-reach spacecraft – are continuing to produce arresting images and technical results in the deserts of South Texas (Ars Technica). A recorded video stream shows the test vessel rising and holding steady before moving laterally around 100 metres and making a slow descent.
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