IBM says no to facial recognition; Google Maps launches new features for COVID-19 travel alerts, and new perks for working from home may be on the way.

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It’s all the tech news that’s popular right now. Welcome to Hashtag Trending! It’s Wednesday June 10, and I’m your host, Baneet Braich.

IBM says it’s exiting the facial recognition business

IBM is exiting the facial recognition business. CEO Arvind Krishna wrote a letter to members of Congress this week about racial justice reform, and noted how IBM will no longer offer, develop, or research facial recognition technology. Krishna wrote IBM opposes using facial recognition for mass surveillance, racial profiling, and violations of basic human rights and freedoms. Facial Recognition technology has been known to struggle with bias regarding age, race, and ethnicity. Krishna’s letter vouches for the responsible use of technology like AI and other surveillance software. The leader of Big Blue added it’s crucial that any bias in the development of AI algorithms is identified and removed. He is asking for a national dialogue on whether and how facial recognition should be used. For more on the story visit ITWorldCanada.com

Google maps has just launched features to help you safely travel during the pandemic. The Covid-19 related alerts are not in Canada just yet. But once it does, the features will tell you how crowded buses, subways, and transit stations will be. There will also be driving alerts, notifying drivers about COVID-19 checkpoints such as national borders. Google says that data will only be available where it can get info from the local transit agencies, and only on trips that are likely to be impacted by COVID-19 restrictions. Countries like the U.S, India, Mexico, Brazil, will be among the first to use the new features but Google says alerts will be coming to more countries soon.

Working from home may soon bring some fresh perks. The work from home era is encouraging companies to look for creative ways to support the mental and physical well-being of their employees. Some employers are turning to the Headspace App for meditation and mindfulness services. Lindsay Crittendon who is the head of the Headspace for Work program told the Wall Street Journal that businesses are seeing the importance of addressing chronic stress and its impact from lost productivity and healthcare spend. Now companies are providing access to apps for team meditation challenges, subsidized gym memberships or virtual fitness livestreams. And since office lunches are no longer a popular option, companies are even giving employees a budget to have snacks sent to their homes. Employers are definitely finding new ways to keep the company culture connected.

That’s all the tech news that’s trending right now. Hashtag Trending is a part of the ITWC Podcast network. Add us to your Alexa Flash Briefing or your Google Home daily briefing. I’m Baneet Braich, thanks for listening.



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