NY regulator vows to investigate Apple Card for sex bias


NEW YORK (AP) — A New York regulator is investigating Goldman Sachs for possible sex discrimination in the way it sets credit limits. The bank denies wrongdoing.

The investigation follows a series of viral tweets by entrepreneur and web developer David Heinemeier Hansson about algorithms used for the Apple Card, which Goldman Sachs manages in partnership with Apple.

Hansson said the card offered him a credit limit 20 times greater than it gave to his wife, even though she has a higher credit score. He called the algorithm a sexist program.

A spokeswoman for the New York Department of Financial Services confirmed Saturday that the agency will investigate.

The agency is “troubled to learn of potential discriminatory treatment in regards to credit limit decisions reportedly made by an algorithm of Apple Card, issued by Goldman Sachs,” said spokeswoman Sophia Kim. She said the department “will be conducting an investigation to determine whether New York law was violated and ensure all consumers are treated equally regardless of sex.”

“Our credit decisions are based on a customer’s creditworthiness and not on factors like gender, race, age, sexual orientation or any other basis prohibited by law,” said Goldman Sachs spokesman Andrew Williams. He added that the bank could not comment on decisions about individual customers.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In several tweets that were often liked thousands of times and frequently retweeted, Hansson didn’t disclose his or his wife’s income, but wrote that they have been married a long time, file joint tax returns and live in a community-property state. He tweeted that appeals when she got a far lower credit limit fell on deaf ears.

When Apple Card finally raised her credit limit without addressing the scoring system, he tweeted, it was essentially trying to “bribe one loudmouth on Twitter, then we don’t have to actually examine our faulty faith in THE ALGORITHM.”

Apple introduced the Apple Card earlier this year in a partnership with Goldman Sachs. A press release announcing the card called Goldman Sachs “a newcomer to consumer financial services” that was “creating a different credit card experience.” It pledged not to share or sell information to other parties for marketing and advertising.

“Simplicity, transparency, and privacy are at the core of our consumer product development philosophy,” said Goldman Sachs Chairman and CEO David M. Solomon.

What Apple is doing is a shock to me and should not be tolerated. The  NY regulator is making the right choice in investigating Apple for misconduct against women.


Hey Google and Alexa, how easy is it to take control?


“Hey, Google and Alexa – say it ain’t so.

Berlin-based researchers Security Research Labs have published their latest findings online, showing how the Google Home and Nest speakers, as well as Amazon’s Echo products, could be taken over by hackers. Once there, they could listen to your conversations, steal your passwords and more.

“As the functionality of smart speakers grows, so too does the attack surface for hackers to exploit them,” the company noted, in a blog post.

The seemingly innocuous little speakers that only come to life after hearing the “wake” word (“Alexa” or “Hey, Google”), in fact, listen in way more often.

By default, Amazon records every interaction with Alexa, and Google also records you, after getting you to grant it permission. Both hold onto your recordings unless you go into Settings and make a change.

Best gifts for teachers 2019: Amazon Echo Dot\

Amazon, Google and Apple say they keep the recordings, and monitor them, to improve the accuracy of the assistants.

Beyond the speaker snooping, consumers should also be concerned about adding the third-party Alexa “skills” and Google “actions,” to do more things with the speakers.

Manners:: Say thank you and please: Should you be polite with Alexa and the Google Assistant?

More: No, Alexa won’t stop recording you

SRLabs developed eight bogus ones to show how easy it would be to exploit the speakers, calling them “smart spies” and posted several videos on YouTube to demonstrate.

Amazon and Google both say they have updated their processes for publishing new Alexa skills and Google actions to prevent this from happening.

“We have put mitigations in place to prevent and detect this type of skill behavior and reject or take them down when identified,” Amazon said in a statement. Said Google: “We are putting additional mechanisms in place to prevent these issues from occurring in the future.”

This news is deeply disturbing and yet I am grateful the companies are taking notes and addressing the security concerns the consumers might have. It is important to note without these exploits being discovered companies like Amazon and Google won’t make fixes for their products.

Facebook has reportedly reached deals with multiple publishers to provide content for upcoming news tab


According to USA Today, the article Facebook has reached a deal with multiple publishers to provide content for its upcoming news tab.

“Facebook will soon launch a new tab dedicated to news, and the tech giant has already reportedly reached deals with several prominent publishers that will supply content.

Whisperings about the news section emerged in August after the Wall Street Journal reported that it was approached by the social networking website. On Friday, the publication said it reached a deal with Facebook, which is also said to be working with the New York Post, Washington Post, BuzzFeed News, and Business Insider.

The WSJ also said that other News Corp. and Dow Jones publications will supply headlines for the news section. It could launch before the end of October.”

This is a step in the right direction since it might filter out fake news that rampant across the internet. However, some of the publishers will be paid licensing fee according to the news source.

Amazon offers a way to delete Alexa recordings automatically

September 26, 2019         
Users of Alexa can now have the option of deleting their recording automatically. Currently, users of the tech have to manually delete their recording. According to the article, users can be asked Alexa to automatically delete their message after three to eighteen months. However there is a catch, “But users need to specify that in the settings, as recordings are kept indefinitely by default. And there’s no automatic option for immediate deletion. Users would still need to do that manually.” It also states that users can “Amazon will also let users request deletions through an Alexa voice command. The use of human reviewers will continue.”
Excerpt from the article:

“Tech companies have been reviewing their practices in light of privacy concerns. There’s greater concern when humans are involved because of the potential for rogue employees or contractors to leak private details embedded in the voice commands.

When Facebook starts selling a new version of its Portal video-calling gadget next month, the company will resume using humans to review voice interactions with the device. Users will be able to decline, or opt out. People on existing devices will get a notification pointing them to the appropriate settings. New Portal users will get the option when setting up.

Human reviews involving Facebook’s Messenger app elsewhere remain suspended as Facebook re-examines the privacy implications.

Google is also restarting the practice of reviewing voice commands to improve its digital assistant, though it’s now making it clear human transcribers might listen to recordings. The company also said it will delete most recordings after a few months, and people can review their recordings and delete them manually at any time.

Apple, which suspended the practice with Siri, also plans to resume it this fall, but only after getting explicit permission. Apple would not say how it will seek permission.

As with Amazon, Microsoft didn’t suspend the use of human reviewers. In response to concerns, Microsoft added language in its frequently asked questions for Skype to say that using the translation service “may include transcription of audio recordings by Microsoft employees and vendors.”


I think this is a step in the right direction concerns the issue of privacy on these types of apps used by well-known companies.

The War for Talent in the Age of Netflix


y Joe Flint
Sept. 21, 2019 12:00 am ET
When Walt Disney Co. recently struck a big production deal with Dan Fogelman, creator of the hit drama “This Is Us,” it tore up the usual playbook for signing up TV talent.

Normally, a TV producer’s biggest paydays come after a show has run for a long time, when it sells reruns. But Mr. Fogelman’s new deal, valued at between $100 million and $150 million, according to a person familiar with the pact, is frontloaded. He won’t get any profits from reruns down the road, for “This is Us” or other shows, but in lieu of that he gets an unusually big check right away.

Behind the new model: Netflix Inc., which popularized upfront payments for talent.

The entertainment industry is going through its most dramatic period of change in decades, as Hollywood’s traditional players, fortified by megamergers, launch new streaming services—selling programming directly to consumers online for the first time. They’re spending hundreds of millions of dollars to secure high-quality programming, and in the process are fundamentally reimagining how they do business with talent.

Many of Netflix’s tactics are becoming the industry norm. Industry titans like AT&T Inc. ’s WarnerMedia and Disney are locking up the biggest creators, from “Star Wars” veteran J.J. Abrams to “Riverdale” producer Greg Berlanti in lucrative multiyear deals. Studios are looking for more flexibility to put shows on whichever platforms they choose, including their nascent streaming outlets.

Warner Bros. signed star producer and director J.J. Abrams (pictured on the set of “Star Trek: Into Darkness with actor Chris Pine) to a deal valued at $275 million or more. The deal commits him to projects for HBO Max but also gives him freedom to make shows elsewhere. PHOTO: ZADE ROSENTHAL/PARAMOUNT PICTURES
On the creative side, even successful shows are likely to have shorter runs—as is increasingly the case on Netflix—because of rising production costs and the difficulty of keeping audiences’ attention given a plethora of viewing options. For consumers, that means more shows they love will run their course within three or four years instead of seven or eight. For the talent, it means moving on to new jobs more frequently.

Luring TV’s biggest stars to jump into streaming, if they already haven’t, is a high priority. Kaley Cuoco has had a charmed life in broadcast TV, most recently starring for 12 years on CBS’s hit comedy “The Big Bang Theory.” She plans to take up her next role in a drama for HBO Max, the upcoming WarnerMedia streaming service that will bring together HBO and the rest of the Warner empire.

“I’m one of the guinea pigs,” Ms. Cuoco said of her deal to star in and produce “The Flight Attendant,” a thriller series based on the novel of the same name. “It is a little scary.”

The new streaming launches are around the corner. Disney, which already controls Hulu, in November will debut a new low-cost service, Disney+, which will feature its major Marvel and Star Wars franchises and a bevy of kids content, some of which is coming from outside suppliers, including “Diary of a Female President,” from CBS Studios. Apple Inc. around the same time is launching with a handful of premium shows featuring big stars. WarnerMedia’s HBO Max and Comcast’s Peacock will debut next year, adding to the already fierce competition between Netflix, Amazon.com Inc., Hulu and CBS’s “All Access.” In just the past several weeks the companies have collectively committed several billion dollars to secure deals with top producers and rights to popular old shows.

On set at ‘Diary of a Female President,’ a series from CBS Studios that will run on Disney’s streaming service, Disney+.l PHOTO: ALEX WELSH FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Upfront Money
For decades, the formula for producers to make big money in TV was for a show to stay on the air long enough to have 100 episodes or more—enough to sell reruns to other TV networks. The bulk of the profits for production studios and show creators have come from those “syndication” deals, not the initial fees to produce and air the show. The creators of “Seinfeld,” “Friends” and “The Simpsons” made hundreds of millions of dollars this way, as stakeholders who were entitled to a cut of the profits.

“Television used to be about bulk and volume and you fought to keep your show alive to get to that magic number,” said producer Josh Schwartz, whose credits include the teen drama hits “Gossip Girl” and “The O.C.”

Netflix signed prolific producer Shonda Rhimes, shown above in Cannes, France, this past June, to a lucrative multiyear deal. PHOTO: CHRISTIAN ALMINANA/GETTY IMAGES
Netflix did away with that model when it started wooing superstar producers to make content exclusively for the service, including “Grey’s Anatomy” creator Shonda Rhimes and “Glee” producer Ryan Murphy. Netflix paid nine-figure upfront fees to Ms. Rhimes and Mr. Murphy. Netflix doesn’t sell reruns of its shows to other platforms, so there weren’t any syndication profits to be had for the producers, and the producers wanted a bigger check to work for Netflix.

Now, Warner Bros., Disney and other studios are embracing the Netflix approach with some of their top producers. When Warner Bros. signed Mr. Berlanti for $300 million last year, the deal was structured similarly to those Netflix pacts. He gets a large amount of upfront money that essentially buys him out as a “profit participant”—or financial stakeholder—in the shows he has made with the studio, a person familiar with the deal said. He will also receive bonuses based on how long a show runs.

Messrs. Berlanti and Fogelman declined to comment on their deals.

These ideas aren’t just being applied to the superstar producers. At Disney, the TV business unit has developed a new set of standard deal terms that gives producers big upfront fees but no back-end profits. The stakeholders can be rewarded during a show’s run based on ratings, longevity and even awards, an executive familiar with the system said.

Netflix signed producer Ryan Murphy, shown above at the Tony Awards in New York in June, to a multiyear exclusive deal. PHOTO: JENNY ANDERSON/GETTY IMAGES
“This is a massive switch in the business and we’re seeing that all over right now,” said Ari Greenburg, president of the talent agency WME. New buyers are driving up costs and traditional studios “are paying more for writers and producers than ever before,” he added.

In traditional TV deals, creators face the risk that their show might not live long enough to get into syndication—or, even worse, they could create 80 or 100 episodes of a show, but never get a big financial payoff because there wasn’t a market for its reruns. Mr. Schwartz, who is making shows for Disney’s Hulu and WarnerMedia’s HBO Max, said that was the predicament after he produced the NBC comedy “Chuck” for five seasons.

By guaranteeing creators a good amount of money early on, those risks go away, he said. On the other hand, there are possible downsides. If a show becomes a monster hit and does generate a windfall in profits from reruns, “you’re probably leaving a lot of money on the table,” he said.

In essence, it’s a hedge.




In the age of Netflix, a lot of well-known actors have signed up with the video streaming service thereby competition large networks and regular entertainment shows.

Cyberpunk 2077 Character Creator Will Offer Non-Binary Gender Options Too


CD Projekt Red has endured pushback for gender representation in Cyberpunk 2077, but the developer is eager to respond to fan feedback and create a more traditional cyberpunk experience. The studio has begun with the character creator, adjusting it to allow for gender options beyond the binary male and female.

“You know, we really want to make a video game that’s really inclusive,” senior concept artist Marthe Jonkers said in an interview with Metro. “Of course, if you tackle certain subjects then you will expect people to have an opinion about it and we respect that. And it’s good that people give us feedback. And our character creation menu, for instance, compared to the last demo we now give you so many more options. For instance, you don’t choose your gender anymore. You don’t choose, ‘I want to be a female or male character,’ you now choose a body type. Because we want you to feel free to create any character you want.”

After selecting your preferred body type, you then have the option to give your character one of two different voices. “One that’s male-sounding, one is female sounding,” Jonkers said. “You can mix and match. You can just connect them anyway you want. And then we have a lot of extra skin tones and tattoos and hairstyles. So we really want to give people the freedom to make their own character and play the way they want to play.”

By providing more agency over your character’s preferred gender and skin tone, CD Projekt Red is hoping more players are able to create the type of protagonist they want in Cyberpunk 2077. Most NPCs you meet will have an established gender and sexual orientation as well in hopes of curating more believable in-game relationships. But the team is open to further changes and welcome feedback from their fans. “Our team is very international and very diverse but we have asked for a lot of feedback,” Jonkers said. “We always ask for feedback and even when we show these demos, we still ask people to tell us what they think. We just want to know what we can improve on because we want to make a really good game and we really want to make a game that everybody is comfortable playing. But at the same time, we’ll tackle difficult issues. It is a cyberpunk world after all.”

This was in response to a transgender person who addresses his concerns on Twitter and CD Project responded by going nonbinary genderless.  That demographic however only count a small percentage of the Cyberpunk Community but most are open to the idea of a nonbinary character.


Google borrows dating app feature to recommend personalized movies and shows



Google decides to use a dating app feature to simplify finding streaming video content of your favorite shows. “Like Tinder, users can swipe left or right to indicate their dislike or like for something. The process will train Google’s algorithms, bringing up more personalized recommendations the next time you ask it to recommend a show or movie.” as stated in the article.


Once you pick a recommendation, Google will give all services that provide that show such as how much you rent or buy the program or watch for free from your subscription. Another cool feature of the app will show movies and shows matching them with a term such as horror. You can even search specific genre, documentaries and so on. It also uses Google trends on what type of shows, movies, and documentaries that people are searching online. A useful tool So far, the feature is innovative and not sure if Tinder would get credited for having their feature being used by Google for their streaming content. I do think it is an awesome feature and probably use it.

The image above shows the services that pricing for each provider in regards to This is Us.  The providers range from Google’s Youtube services to Vudu. It gives the consumer a watch option such free, placed on a watch list as well as buying and renting.

According to Engadget, Google has a simple solution to those nights when you just don’t know what to watch: borrow a cue from dating apps. The internet giant has introduced a search feature on mobile that invokes a swipe interface when you search for terms like “what to watch” or “good shows to watch” and tap a start button in the Top Picks For You carousel. You can swipe right to show your approval for a show, or left if you can’t stand it — the more shows you flick through, the better your recommendations become.

You can specify movie genres, periods or even specific activities, such as “horror movies from the ’80s” if you’re in a Nightmare on Elm Street mood. And when you do find something to watch, info cards will display all the services that host a given show. You can specify the ones you use to ensure that recommendations focus on titles that won’t cost extra. This won’t guarantee that you’ll settle on a new must-watch series, but it’ll at least save you from being overwhelmed with choice.

Overall it is a step in the right direction since it simplifies streaming content to ease of use content. It has yet to be seen whether this app will catch on to the mass media and consumer content or it will flop. Success will be determine by those who use it. My only question is regarding the service is Netflix was not added to their search results.




Uber, Lyft and DoorDash Pledge $90 Million to Fight Driver Legislation in California

=Travelers waiting for rides to arrive at San Francisco International Airport. Uber and Lyft are fighting a bill in California that would change the legal designation of their drivers.


CreditCreditAileen Son for The New York Times.

A bill in California’s legislature could soon force the likes of Uber to be treated as employees instead of contractors. A plan both companies are totally against and have over 60 million dollars on a ballot initiative to have their companies exempt from the law. Door Dash a food delivery is contributing 30 million dollars on the ballot. This law will give fair treatment to Uber drivers and left drivers as well as getting paid above minimum wage. This article interests me because it deals with customers like me who use uber and left services in the local Philadelphia area. I think this will eventually make its way to Pennsylvania Area. To counter such an initiative, the ballot that both companies propose would have the driver set their schedule. The companies hope to preserve their concession wages, which set in the ballot initiative. Lyft plans to take their plan directly to the voters to combat the California bill which would make services such as Uber and Lyft to change the status of their drivers from contractors to workers which both companies vehemently opposed. As Lyft spoke person Adrian Durbin stated, “We are working on a solution that provides drivers with strong protections that include an earnings guarantee, a system of worker-directed portable benefits and first-of-its-kind industrywide sectoral bargaining, without jeopardizing the flexibility drivers tell us they value so much,”

This article is interesting to the reader such as me because thousands of riders in Philadelphia uses services such as Uber and, Lyft as well as the fact their type of service continues to grow. A similar initiative such as those in California might pop up in our region as well