Technology

It was earlier this summer when Justin Grierson noticed that the number of “hackathons” seemed to be trailing off around “Silicon Roundabout”, the east London area touted as Britain’s answer to the Californian valley that is home to technology giants Google and Facebook. “Last year there used to be at least two every weekend and now there might be about two a month,” said the freelance programmer who is a regular at the sprint-like design events for coders and others, which often bring him into contact with others in the sector. There was little doubt in his mind that the decline of the events was a symptom of the Brexit vote. Activity has slowed, and many startups are reining back on spending amid uncertainty about the economic outlook. They also fear that they will not be able to attract the international talent needed to preserve London’s mantle as Europe’s pre-eminent technology hub. Last week those …

eSports could be added to the Olympic programme as an official medal sport in 2024. Tony Estanguet, co-president of the Paris bid committee, has confirmed that he will speak with the International Olympic Committee and eSports representatives about the full-fledged inclusion of competitive video gaming when the Games come to France in seven years’ time. “We have to look at it because we can’t say, ‘It’s not us. It’s not about Olympics,’” Estanguet said in an interview with the Associated Press. “The youth, yes they are interested in eSport and this kind of thing. Let’s look at it. Let’s meet them. Let’s try if we can find some bridges. “I don’t want to say ‘no’ from the beginning. I think it’s interesting to interact with the IOC, with them, the eSports family, to better understand what the process is and why it is such a success.” Paris will be confirmed as as the host city …

James Damore went from an unknown software engineer at Google to widespread internet notoriety when the technology company fired him for writing a memo criticizing diversity initiatives. But as mainstream journalists across the globe reached out to him for interviews this week, Damore largely ignored the queries and instead selected two rightwing YouTube personalities to make his first, expansive comments on the international firestorm he has ignited. Damore – who argued in his memo that “biological” differences between men and women contribute to the gender gap in the tech industry – gave lengthy video interviews to Stefan Molyneux and Jordan B Peterson, who both have large followings on YouTube and have espoused anti-feminist views. The videos posted Tuesday, which quickly racked up hundreds of thousands of views, come as Damore has threatened to take legal action against Google over his termination, making him an overnight celebrity amongst the “alt-right” and other conservatives in Silicon Valley. …

Susie the computer: sophisticated but cheap. Susie and her computer friend Sadie appeared in 1960s adverts to promote a now defunct UK computer company, accompanied by a young, attractive, nameless woman. Feminised adverts like these were a common ploy in Britain at the time, when male managers, uninitiated in the complexities of this new technology, viewed the machines as intimidating and opaque. “Computers were expensive and using women to advertise them gave the appearance to managers that jobs involving computers are easy and can be done with a cheap labour force,” explains technology historian Marie Hicks. They might have been on a typist’s salary, but women like the one who appears alongside Susie and Sadie were not typists – they were skilled computer programmers, minus the prestige or pay the modern equivalent might command. As Hicks’ book Programmed Inequality illustrates, women were the largest trained technical workforce of the computing industry during the second world …

TalkTalk has been fined £100,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) after the telecoms giant was found to have placed personal data from 21,000 customers at risk. An ICO investigation found the company breached data protection laws after staff from an IT firm working with TalkTalk were able to access large amounts of customer data through an online company portal. According to the investigation, “rogue” staff at Indian firm Wipro, who resolved high-level complaints and network problems on TalkTalk’s behalf, used the portal to gain unauthorised access to customer data – including names, addresses and phone numbers. Information commissioner Elizabeth Denham said: “TalkTalk may consider themselves to be the victims here. But the real victims are the 21,000 people whose information was open to abuse by the malicious actions of a small number of people. TalkTalk should have known better and it should have put its customers first.” The investigation was launched after TalkTalk received …

Qichen Zhang couldn’t believe what she was hearing. The technical specialist was in the middle of the office at Google when a white male colleague began joking with her about her hiring. “He said, ‘It must’ve been really easy for you to get your job because you’re an Asian woman and people assume you’re good at math,’” Zhang recalled in a recent interview. “It was absolutely stunning. I remember me just emotionally shutting down.” The conversation was one of many instances where Zhang said she felt isolated as a woman of color working for the technology giant, and a few months later, feeling like there was no future for her at Google, she quit. “I didn’t see a lot of women, especially Asian women, black women or other women of color in the executive ranks,” she said. “I didn’t see any opportunities for myself … The culture there is really discouraging, and that’s ultimately why …

Nestlé has been accused of copying Atari’s classic 1970s video game Breakout for a KitKat marketing campaign. In a complaint filed on Thursday in a federal court in San Francisco, Atari said Nestlé knowingly exploited the Breakout name, look and feel through social media and a video, hoping to leverage “the special place it holds among nostalgic baby boomers, Generation X, and even today’s millennial and post-millennial gamers”. Atari cited an ad titled KitKat: Breakout, in which adults and children sitting on a sofa used paddles to knock down KitKat bars. According to Atari, “Nestlé simply took the classic Breakout screen, replaced its bricks with KitKat bars, and invited customers to ‘break out’ and buy more candy bars.” The games firm accused Nestlé of copyright and trademark infringement and unfair competition. KitKat ‘Breakout’ ad “The infringing conduct in this case is so plain and blatant that Nestlé cannot claim to be an ‘innocent’ infringer,” Atari …

Fake articles made to look like they have been published by legitimate news websites have emerged as a new avenue for propaganda on the internet, with experts concerned about the increasing sophistication of the latest attempts to spread disinformation. Kremlin supporters are suspected to be behind a collection of fraudulent articles published this year that were mocked up to appear as if they were from al-Jazeera, the Atlantic, Belgian newspaper Le Soir, and the Guardian. The creators of the articles made them look genuine at first glance by building doppelganger sites that have domain names extremely similar to the news organisations they are purporting to be. The stories were then pushed out to the world through sharing on social media and other websites – often Russian – following up on the article. The fake Le Soir story in February said Saudi Arabia was funding Emmanuel Macron’s French presidential campaign, while in July a fake al-Jazeera …

Nestlé has been accused of copying Atari’s classic 1970s video game Breakout for a KitKat marketing campaign. In a complaint filed on Thursday in a federal court in San Francisco, Atari said Nestlé knowingly exploited the Breakout name, look and feel through social media and a video, hoping to leverage “the special place it holds among nostalgic baby boomers, Generation X, and even today’s millennial and post-millennial gamers”. Atari cited an ad titled KitKat: Breakout, in which adults and children sitting on a sofa used paddles to knock down KitKat bars. According to Atari, “Nestlé simply took the classic Breakout screen, replaced its bricks with KitKat bars, and invited customers to ‘break out’ and buy more candy bars.” The games firm accused Nestlé of copyright and trademark infringement and unfair competition. KitKat ‘Breakout’ ad “The infringing conduct in this case is so plain and blatant that Nestlé cannot claim to be an ‘innocent’ infringer,” Atari …

I have to agree with Angela Saini (In Silicon Valley, misogyny thrives on shoddy science, 8 August). When I went to university in 1964 to study mathematics, half of the other students studying maths were female. When I started work as a programmer in 1967 half of the other programmers were female. As Saini says, it was not until the advent of personal computers (and computer games) in the late 70s and 80s that this all changed and female programmers became a small minority. There was no inherent difference in skill and aptitude between the men and the women. The Google “manifesto” is clearly ill-informed and written by someone without knowledge of the early days of computing. Sadly, we are now suffering from a serious shortage of skilled programmers because half the population with the appropriate skills have been put off entering the industry, maybe by the sexist attitudes of those with these false views.Peter …

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