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Mashable

Nokia wins NASA contract to put a 4G network on the moon

Soon, astronauts on moon missions won’t have any excuse for not answering their texts. NASA has awarded Nokia of America $14.1 million to deploy a cellular network on the moon. The freaking moon. The grant is part of $370 million worth of contracts signed under NASA’s “Tipping Point” selections, meant to advance research and development for space exploration.  Nokia’s plan is to build a 4G/LTE network, and eventually transition to 5G (just like the rest of us). It will be “the first LTE/4G communications system in space,” according to NASA’s announcement. “The system could support lunar surface communications at greater distances, increased speeds, and provide more reliability than current standards,” the announcement also reads. To the moon! 🌕 We are excited to have been named by @NASA as a key partner to advance “Tipping Point” technologies for the moon, to help pave the way towards sustainable human presence on the lunar surface. So, what technology can you expect to see? (1/6) pic.twitter.com/wDNwloyHdP — Bell Labs (@BellLabs) October 15, 2020 Nokia’s research arm, Bell Labs, provided more details in a Twitter thread. The company intends for the network to support wireless operation of lunar rovers and navigation, as well as streaming video.  The network is built to be compact and efficient, as well as “specially designed to withstand the extreme temperature, radiation and vacuum conditions of space.” According to UPI, NASA said in a live broadcast of the announcement that the network would extend to spacecraft, and help develop technology fit…Continue readingNokia wins NASA contract to put a 4G network on the moon

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TechCrunch

Spin workers just ratified their first union contract – TechCrunch

A group of 40 workers at Ford-owned Spin just successfully ratified their first union contract. This comes after this group of shift leads, maintenance specialists, operations specialists, community ambassadors, and scooter deployers and collectors joined Teamsters Local 665 toward the end of last year. “This new contract gives us job security and immediate money up front, with guaranteed increases each year going forward. We also got holiday pay and vacation, which we didn’t have before we organized,” Spin worker Shamar Bell said in a statement. “All this means a lot during the pandemic. We know our union will have our back if our boss or the city government tries to make changes. I can say for sure, we’re proud to be Teamsters.” As part of the three-year agreement, Spin workers will get annual pay raises of more than 3% each year, six paid holidays (compared to zero holidays), vacation days based on years of employment (compared to no vacation days), five sick days a year, a $1,200 per employee ratification bonus, benefits accrual for part-time workers and other benefits. “Since this is the first ever group of union e-scooter workers at Spin, we worked to build this contract from scratch,” Local 665 Secretary-Treasurer Tony Delorio said in a statement. “We are proud of this agreement and excited to continue our representation of workers with Spin.” TechCrunch has reached out to Spin and will update this story if we hear back. In January, however, Spin CEO Euwyn Poon told TechCrunch, “We…Continue readingSpin workers just ratified their first union contract – TechCrunch

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TechCrunch

European Space Agency awards $153 million contract for its first planetary defense mission – TechCrunch

The European Space Agency (ESA) is doing its part to help protect the Earth from any errant asteroids that may threaten terrestrial life, awarding a €129.4 million ($153 million) contract to an industry consortium led by German space company OHB. The contract covers the “detailed design, manufacturing and testing” of a mission codenamed ‘Hera,’ after the Greek goddess of marriage and the hearth, which will support NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirect Test mission and help provide a path towards future planetary defense operations in space. ESA’s Hera mission will launch a desk-sized satellite, which itself will contain small CubeSats, to perform a post-impact assessment of the effect NASA’s DART spacecraft has on as asteroid that it’s designed to essentially smash into at high velocity. Hera is intended to navigate around the asteroid autonomously while collecting data to help scientists back here on Earth understand whether their ambitious plan has been successful, in terms of using a human-made spacecraft to intentionally impact with an asteroid and change its trajectory through space. The CubeSats will inspect the asteroid close-up once deployed from Hera – including a potential interior probe with a radar array, the first of its kind for an asteroid body. All told, Hera and its CubeSate companions will be spending six months studying the asteroids following their encounter with DART. NASA’s mission is set to launch sometime in July, 2021, and will arrive at the pair of asteroids – called the ‘Didymos’ pair – in September the following year. The ESA’s…Continue readingEuropean Space Agency awards $153 million contract for its first planetary defense mission – TechCrunch

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TechCrunch

ThoughtRiver nabs $10M to speed up deal-making with AI contract review – TechCrunch

ThoughtRiver, a London-based legaltech startup that’s applying AI to speed up contract pre-screening, has announced a $10 million Series A round of funding led by Octopus Ventures. Existing seed investors Crane, Local Globe, Entrée Capital, Syndicate Room, and angel investor Duncan Painter also participated in the round. The UK startup is one of a number applying AI to automate work that would otherwise be done by legal professions with the aim of boosting operational efficiency. Other startups playing in the space include the likes of Kira Systems, LawGeex and Luminance to name a few. ThoughtRiver argues it has a different focus vs the majority of contract view companies because it’s focusing on pre-signature contracts — with the aim of making securing a deal faster. “Almost all others are just employed to pull data from existing contracts. ThoughtRiver is as much in demand by Sales teams as it is by Legal,” a spokesman told us. The Series A investment comes after twelve month’s of what it’s billed as significant growth for the 2015-founded startup, which says its automated contract review software is now being used by the likes of G4S, Singtel and DB Schenker. It launched a service at the end of 2017 and now has more than 25 customers around the world, per the spokesman. It also trumpets inking a strategic partnership with professional services firm PwC — which will see the latter developing a service for its clients powered by ThoughtRiver’s software, according to a press release. ThoughtRiver touts up…Continue readingThoughtRiver nabs $10M to speed up deal-making with AI contract review – TechCrunch

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Engadget

Pentagon says Microsoft still deserves $10 billion JEDI defense contract

The DoD has said that the cloud contract, which will provide storage, AI processing, machine learning and more is essential to modernizing the US military. Oracle and IBM bid along with Microsoft and Amazon, but were eliminated in 2018. Oracle challenged the decision, but an appeal court recently denied its claim. Microsoft said that the DoD probe validated its bid. “We appreciate that after careful review, the DoD confirmed that we offered the right technology and the best value,” the company told TechCrunch in a statement. “We’re ready to get to work and make sure that those who serve our country have access to this much needed technology.” Amazon: “On JEDI, President Trump reportedly ordered former Secretary Mattis to ‘screw’ Amazon, blatantly interfered in an active procurement, directed his subordinate to conduct an unorthodox ‘review’ prior to a contract award announcement and then stonewalled an investigation into his own political interference.” Amazon, meanwhile, railed against the decision. In its public sector blog, the company said it would continue to fight the contract award, calling it a “flawed, biased and politically corrupted decision.” It also referred to past statements made by President Trump against Amazon: “The question we continue to ask ourselves is whether the President of the United States should be allowed to use the budget of the Department of Defense to pursue his own personal and political ends?” Source linkContinue readingPentagon says Microsoft still deserves $10 billion JEDI defense contract

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The Verge

The Pentagon says Microsoft should still get its $10B JEDI contract following an investigation

Following an investigation by the Pentagon, the Department of Defense says it is standing by its decision to award a $10 billion cloud computing contract to Microsoft, not Amazon, the latest in an ongoing legal battle over the lucrative infrastructure project. On Friday, the Department of Defense said in a statement that it had completed its investigation into the awarding of the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract, an investigation it pursued to determine whether there were discrepancies in the procurement process. The Defense Department said it had “determined that Microsoft’s proposal continues to represent the best value to the Government,” adding that “contract performance will not begin immediately.” That’s because, in February, a judge issued a temporary injunction against the contract after Amazon sued, claiming it was shut out of the contract due to President Trump’s perceived animosity toward CEO Jeff Bezos. Amazon argued that the process of granting the contract had “clear deficiencies, errors and unmistakable bias.” The contract will provide the Pentagon with cloud services that include basic storage and power, artificial intelligence processing, machine learning, and the ability to process mission-critical workloads. The government awarded the contract to Microsoft in October 2019, but President Trump said last July that he was looking into the contract following complaints about the bidding process, which prompted concerns about political influence in the decision. IBM and Oracle also bid on the contract but were eliminated from the process in April 2018. Oracle had challenged the decision in court and lost…Continue readingThe Pentagon says Microsoft should still get its $10B JEDI contract following an investigation

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Tech Radar

Oracle loses its bid for the Pentagon’s $10 billion cloud contract

Oracle’s efforts to get a portion of the US Department of Defense’s $10 billion JEDI cloud computing contract may finally be at an end after a US appeals court fully rejected the company’s argument that it had been wrongfully excluded from the contract.  The decision comes after nearly a year of legal battles and another defeat for Oracle in a lower court. Oracle had claimed that the Pentagon had violated government rules in awarding the project to a single contractor. However, the appeals court found that, regardless of any issues with the award process, Oracle could not have suffered harm because it did not meet the requirements of the contract in the first place. The government contract was awarded to Microsoft last fall and has been mired in controversy ever since. The ruling effectively shuts the door on Oracle’s efforts to be involved in the Defense Department’s JEDI (Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure) project. It is also to some extent a vindication of the Pentagon’s contract process, which has come under fire from cloud computing companies like Oracle, US lawmakers, and even President Trump himself. JEDI The decision on Oracle’s case does little to decide the ultimate fate of the JEDI contract.  Amazon, which was initially thought to be the prime candidate for the contract, has its own appeal pending in the court system. The judge presiding over that case has called Amazon’s claim ‘likely to succeed’ on the grounds that Microsoft’s proposal is technically unfeasible. At the same time, the…Continue readingOracle loses its bid for the Pentagon’s $10 billion cloud contract

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VentureBeat

Lyft suspends service in California following order to reclassify contract drivers as employees

In response to a court ruling that Lyft and Uber’s thousands of drivers should be given the same protections and benefits under California labor law as employees, Lyft today announced that it’ll suspend ride-sharing operations throughout California. Starting at 11:59 p.m. Pacific on August 20, the company will disable the trip-booking features of its mobile, web, and voice apps. “We don’t want to suspend operations. We are going to keep up the fight for a benefits model that works for all drivers and our riders,” Lyft wrote in a statement published to its blog. “We’ve spent hundreds of hours meeting with policymakers and labor leaders to craft an alternative proposal for drivers that includes a minimum earnings guarantee, mileage reimbursement, a health care subsidy, and occupational accident insurance, without the negative consequences.” A Lyft spokesperson told VentureBeat the shutdown only affects ride-sharing operations and that the company is communicating with riders and drivers via email and in-app communications. When asked when Lyft might resume service, the spokesperson decline to provide a firm timeline. Uber hasn’t yet officially confirmed whether it will follow suit. Last week, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said during an MSNBC interview the company’s ride-hailing services in California would stop “at least temporarily” if the order was not changed. In his decision on Monday, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ethan Schulman gave Lyft and Uber 10 days to make their drivers employees. But the companies said they’d need time to retool their apps and couldn’t meet this month’s…Continue readingLyft suspends service in California following order to reclassify contract drivers as employees

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TechCrunch

Clearview AI landed a new facial recognition contract with ICE – TechCrunch

The controversial facial recognition software maker Clearview AI has a new contract with ICE, the most controversial U.S. government agency. Clearview was already known to work with the branch of Homeland Security fiercely criticized for implementing the Trump administration’s harsh immigration policies. The new contract makes it clear that relationship is ongoing — and that Clearview isn’t just playing a bit part in tech’s lucrative scrum for federal contracts. First spotted by tech watchdog Tech Inquiry, the new contract is worth $224,000 and will provide the agency with what is only described as “Clearview licenses,” likely just access to the company’s software services. According to the award notice, the funding office for the contract is Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), a division within ICE that focuses on “cross-border criminal activity,” including drug and human trafficking. Four companies competed for the contract. Clearview is no stranger to controversy. Its somewhat mysterious facial recognition software allows clients to upload a photo of anyone to cross-reference it against a massive database full of photos scraped from online sources, including social networks. Civil liberties groups see Clearview’s tech as a privacy nightmare, but for any law enforcement agency tasked with tracking down people, it’s a dream come true. Clearview has faced near-constant scrutiny from privacy advocates and even large tech companies since the quiet company was exposed in a report this January. Facebook, Google, Linkedin, Twitter and YouTube have all denounced Clearview’s use of data scraped from their platforms, with some of those companies even…Continue readingClearview AI landed a new facial recognition contract with ICE – TechCrunch

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Engadget

Clearview AI wins an ICE contract as it prepares to defend itself in court

Clearview plans to invoke the First Amendment in its defense. CEO Hoan Ton-That has suggested that since those images are “publicly available information,” it’s fair game to scrape them. Several companies — including Facebook, Twitter, Google, LinkedIn and Venmo — have sent Clearview cease-and-desist notices, demanding that the company stop its data-scraping practice. The company is also under investigation in Australia and the UK over the same issue. In December, the Air Force agreed a $50,000 contract with Clearview related to an “open call for innovative defense-related dual-purpose technologies/solutions with a clear airforce stakeholder need.” Hundreds of law enforcement agencies in North America, including the FBI, have used the company’s technology as well. However, some, such as the San Diego police department, have banned Clearview’s facial recognition tool. Source linkContinue readingClearview AI wins an ICE contract as it prepares to defend itself in court