advertisement advertisement When you think of Afghanistan, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? War? Taliban? Makes sense. How about “The next Bangalore”? Probably not. But there’s a team at the Pentagon working on that. And last week, they brought five Afghan entrepreneurs to Silicon Valley and New York to give them a glimpse of the U.S. tech industry. “We’re showing them what a startup environment feels like,” Paul Brinkley, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense, tells Fast Company. Brinkley is in charge of the Pentagon’s Task Force on Business and Stability Operations. The unusual group was created in 2006 as an innovative approach to the military’s counter-insurgency efforts in Iraq. The team was tasked with finding ways to grow Iraq’s economy under the premise that the stronger the economy, the more jobs there would be and the harder it would be for insurgents to recruit members. Two years ago, the Task Force … [Read more...] about Google, IBM, YouTube, And Kabul? Pentagon Hosts Afghan Tech Entrepreneurs In The U.S.
Google data center
Google’s ongoing quest for your health data isn’t going over smoothly with lawmakers. One day after the Wall Street Journal revealed “Project Nightingale,” Google’s project to gather and “crunch” millions of people’s health data through a deal with healthcare company Ascension, Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota said the project raises “privacy concerns” in a statement published by CNBC. The deal is just one piece of Big Tech’s increasing push into healthcare. Google recently announced that it’s buying Fitbit, maker of step trackers and smartwatches; Apple has also waded into healthcare with its own smartwatch and research projects; and Amazon has been working to upend how people get their medication. “This collaboration isn’t the only one that raises serious privacy concerns,” Klobuchar said in the statement. “New technologies have made it easier for people to … [Read more...] about Amy Klobuchar is concerned about Google’s plans to gather your health data
It’s been called the “electronic sweatshop” and its employees “digital slaves.” It’s the call center, and if you’ve ever been on the other end of a (scripted) call from a telesalesperson or a customer service associate, you’ve glimpsed how soul-sucking such rote work can be. advertisement advertisement On their end: hours of sitting shoulder-to-shoulder in a cubicle farm, chatting with customers who range from clueless to chafed to irate, all for a paycheck that barely peeps over minimum wage (if they’re fortunate enough not to have their pay based on commission). Pile on the presence of pushy supervisors and the lack of upward mobility, and it’s no wonder turnover at call centers is about 33% and can go as high as 70% at those with staff exceeding 1,000 agents. It’s workplaces such as this that present the ultimate challenge for companies like Tenacity. Tenacity is a spin-out from Alex Pentland’s … [Read more...] about The Company That’s Figured Out How To Help Call Center Employees Not Hate Their Jobs
My interview with Republican media strategist Rick Wilson came under somewhat ironic circumstances at the Fast Company Innovation Festival last week in New York City. While we sat discussing the meltdown of American democratic standards in the Trump Age upstairs from the festival’s main stage, people had sealed off the building for a security check before the appearance of Trump’s friend and supporter Kanye West. West would say during the appearance that he may run for president in 2024. advertisement advertisement It is exactly this kind of statement that Wilson now uses his influence to fight against—though that wasn’t always the case. Wilson is best known for creating GOP TV ads that bedeviled opposing Democratic campaigns, such as the controversial 2008 spot featuring disturbing soundbites from the sermons of Barack Obama’s pastor, Jeremiah Wright. But these days, Wilson is a public speaker, author, and Twitter celebrity who … [Read more...] about How Democrats can beat Trump in 2020: data science and fighting dirty
PayPal is one of the biggest financial institutions in the world, with 130 million accounts and more than 13,000 employees, but in recent years the company’s success has become an obstacle. While a new crop of payments startups were nipping at PayPal’s heels, the company was moving more slowly than ever. Development teams were still following a waterfall model, not the more modern agile development, and launching even a small service required more than 100 tickets and it took three weeks to provision 50 servers. To fix the problem would require a major engineering change–and a lot of charm to convince developers to change their workflow. advertisement advertisement “In the process of scaling, the company got a little too conservative, and by way of doing that started driving away some of the technologists and innovators,” PayPal’s CTO James Barrese says. “We are really going back to the roots of PayPal and reinventing the … [Read more...] about How PayPal Created A Private Cloud And Switched To Agile