Four-day work week worth more than money, hackers access data from Asian data center operators used by Alibaba, Amazon, Apple and more, and 60 countries, including China sign agreement to regulate military AI.
It’s Wednesday, February 22nd. These stories and more on Hashtag Trending–today’s top technology news stories. I’m your host, Jim Love.
92 per cent of companies involved in the massive four-day work week trial in the UK are sticking to it.
The pilot for a four day work week that involved 3,000 employees across 61 British companies is now over and the results are worth thinking about, especially for companies struggling to attract and retain high value employees.
Of the 61 companies that participated, 56 will continue to offer a shorter week, although only 18 companies would commit to the policy becoming a permanent change.
Taking place over a period of six months from June to December last year, the trial did not require any employees’ salaries to be altered, nor were they asked to work extended hours.
The results of the trial consolidate the findings from previous research from 4 Day Week Global, which found that 63 per cent of businesses surveyed found it easier to attract and retain employees after switching to a four-day work week.
Other staffers who participated also suggested that the four-day work week could be more attractive than money. 15 per cent said “no amount of money” would induce them to accept a five-day schedule over the four-day week to which they were now accustomed.
Company revenue also stayed broadly the same over the trial period, rising by 1.4 percent on average, weighted by company size, across respondent organizations.
Plus, the trial concluded that a shorter work week led to more efficient meetings, increased productivity and morale by a whopping 40 per cent.
Source: The Register
Amazon employees take a huge pay cut as stock prices decline
Some Amazon corporate employees will be paid as much as 50 per cent less than previously expected in 2023 because of the company’s falling stock price, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.
Employees’ annual salaries are generally made up of cash compensation and awards of restricted stock units, but because of the 35 per cent decline in Amazon’s share this year, total compensation is set to drop sharply.
An Amazon spokesperson said to Insider that their compensation, is designed to encourage employees to “think like owners” but the model “comes with some year-to-year upside and some risk because the share price can fluctuate”
Amazon’s share price has fallen from around $150 per share in February 2022, to around $97 per share as of Tuesday, a drop of $53, or 35 per cent, Markets Insider data shows.
The company also recently announced plans to lay off 18,000 employees.
Source: Business Insider
Layoffs have indeed rattled the tech industry, but the outlook remains bright for developers, according to news site InfoWorld.
Career experts say hiring remains steady in transportation, manufacturing, healthcare, and other sectors and all are looking for developers with the skills to create innovative products and services.
Recruitment agency Robert Half maintained that hiring will increase early this year, stressing that the need to maintain or further develop organizational technology remains robust, despite the slowing economy.
Plus, the need for developers extends beyond the tech industry.
“Every company today is a tech company in some capacity, and that’s certainly true when it comes to software development,” says Nick Kolakowski, senior editor of Dice Insights at technology career marketplace Dice.
And these non-traditional technology companies, like in automotive, education, healthcare or food are now chasing the developers laid off from traditional tech companies.
Even though recent layoff news from big technology companies is making technology professionals feel less secure about their jobs, “job market prospects are still bright for software developers,” says Sinem Buber, lead economist with jobs site ZipRecruiter.
Still, 80 per cent of job postings are listed within the traditional tech sector.
But developers can still look to join fast-growing fields like IoT and cybersecurity.
Plus, The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that overall employment of software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers is expected to grow 25 percent between 2021 and 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations.
According to Infoworld, “The future is bright, if you know where to look”
Asia’s largest data centres were hacked and with them, some of the world’s largest companies.
According to documents reviewed by Bloomberg, hackers have gotten hold of login credentials for data centers in Asia used by some of the world’s biggest businesses including Alibaba, Amazon, Apple, BMW, Goldman Sachs, Huawei, Microsoft and Walmart.
Shanghai-based GDS Holdings Ltd. and Singapore-based ST Telemedia Global Data Centres are the two impacted data centers that led to emails and passwords on customer-support websites being breached, affecting about 2,000 customers.
The hackers had access to the login credentials for more than a year before posting them for sale on the dark web last month, for $175,000, according to cybersecurity company Resecurity Inc. and a screenshot of the posting reviewed by Bloomberg.
Both data center operators said the rogue credentials didn’t pose a risk to clients’ IT systems or data but executives from four impacted US-based companies said the stolen credentials represented an unusual and serious danger, primarily because the customer-support websites control who is allowed to physically access the IT equipment housed in the data centers.
“The worst-case scenario for any data center operator is that attackers somehow get physical access to clients’ servers and install malicious code or additional equipment, said Michael Henry, former chief information officer for Digital Realty Trust Inc., one of the biggest US data center operators. “If they can achieve that, they can potentially disrupt communications and commerce on a massive scale.”
Among the companies affected, several declined to comment on the breach or claimed that the risk is minimal.
Source: Data Center Knowledge
Microsoft is preparing to launch a new version of Microsoft Teams, designed to deliver higher performance and use less resources on desktops.
Performance improvements include reduced latency and page-load times, smoother scrolling and faster loading for the compose message box.
Google also has some new updates for Chrome users aimed at relieving the resource and memory demands that have plagued the Chrome browser.
The giant is rolling out Energy Saver and Memory Saver, announced back in December, with the release of Chrome 110. The features will be turned on by default.
Memory Saver will help users keep multiple tabs open at once, frees up memory from inactive tabs and ensures active websites run smoothly. In comparison, Battery Saver mode kicks in once a laptop’s battery level reaches 20 per cent, limiting background activity and visual effects on websites with animations and video.
Both modes can be disabled in settings.
Your WhatsApp account can get inadvertently hijacked, who would’ve thought?
A reader, Eric, told news site The Register that this happened to his son, Ugo.
Upon changing his phone number, Ugo received a barrage of a stranger’s private WhatsApp messages and was even able to send messages to all of the person’s contacts.
The security hole stems from wireless carriers’ practice of recycling former customers’ phone numbers and giving them to new customers.
A WhatsApp spokesperson acknowledged that this can happen but it is extremely rare.
If a person no longer wants to use a WhatsApp account tied to a particular phone number, then they should transfer it to a new number or delete the account within the app, the spokesperson said. He added that two-step verification is strongly recommended for more security.
WhatsApp’s parent company Meta said that it has doesn’t have control over telecom providers who reissue phone numbers or with users having a phone number linked to their Facebook account that is no longer registered to them.
Regardless, the messaging company should take steps to mitigate the problem, Eric believes, like checking to ensure a user’s phone number is correct or provide a help page on how to transfer accounts.
Source: The Register
We have been talking in previous episodes the harms and absurdities that appeared with the recent viral developments in AI. But AI’s misuse in warfare could potentially be the gravest.
Sixty countries including China have signed an agreement at the first global Summit on Responsible Artificial Intelligence in the Military Domain (REAIM) to develop and use military AI in a responsible manner. They committed to abide by “international legal obligations and not compromise “international security, stability, and accountability,” with their use of AI.
All nations that attended the summit, except for Israel, signed the agreement. Russia was not invited to take part, while Ukraine did not attend.
The signatories sought to address the reliability of military AI, the unintended consequences of its use, escalation risks, and the way humans need to be involved in the decision-making process.
India’s push into AI-powered military systems potentially leading to a nuclear war with Pakistan is one of the predominant consequences that many fear.
However, some attendees did point out the benefits of using AI in conflict, especially in Ukraine where ML and other similar technology has been used to fend off a bigger aggressor.
“Imagine a missile hitting an apartment building,” said Dutch deputy prime minister Wopke Hoekstra. “In a split second, AI can detect its impact and indicate where survivors might be located. Even more impressively, AI could have intercepted the missile in the first place.
Critics of the agreement however argue that it is not legally binding and fails to address many other concerns around military AI.
The summit was co-hosted by the Netherlands and South Korea last week at The Hague.
That’s the top tech news stories for today.
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I’m Jim Love, have a great Wednesday.