Driving The Digital Agenda Through Outcome-Based Models

, I have covered the oil and gas sectors for more than 20 years. Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.


Technology has the potential to create enormous opportunity, but also presents several challenges. Digital disruption in the oil and gas space is no different. As many sectors worldwide have embarked on their own digital journeys, the energy sector has also started to explore the promise of digital enablement and Big Data.

One of the companies leading the march into digital future is Baker Hughes, a GE company (BHGE); merging the oil and gas expertise that Baker Hughes has developed over its many years in the sector with GE’s digital expertise from manufacturing, aerospace and healthcare amongst many other sectors. I recently sat down with Dean Arnison, global product leader-subsea production systems and services, at BHGE to explore what he felt digitization meant to the oil and gas sector.

Arnison believes that there are two main areas for improvement that will continue to dominate. One, in driving up productivity and two, in driving down cost, with new business models, strong partnerships and integrated service models central to these efforts. “We have seen some movement towards operators and suppliers working in a more unified manner, sharing data across the value chain, and this is something we expect to continue,” he said. “When you consider the levels of trust required for this type of integration and data sharing, however, there are undoubtedly significant barriers.”

Through the downcycle we have seen companies talk about the need to make oil and gas developments profitable at break-evens of as low as $35 per barrel. Regardless of whether it’s onshore or offshore, the industry needs new technology solutions that can help lower non-productive time, reduce cost per barrel and increase recovery rates. “So long as the industry makes sure its digital efforts are aligned with stakeholder interests, I believe we will see value created,” Arnison added. “An example from within our own business is in outcome-based business models, as opposed to transactional relationships. While still in its infancy, this approach, enabled by digital tools, is something we anticipate will become increasingly mainstream.”

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Galaxy S10 Leak Reveals Samsung's Radical Breakthrough

, Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

While the upcoming Galaxy Note9 phablet is not expected to be anything more than an iterative update on the existing hardware, the real leap forward according to all reports is going to come with the Galaxy S10. The latest reports out of South Korea suggest one of the advanced technologies is now finally ready for widespread consumer adoption.

That technology is the oft-discussed under-the-screen fingerprint reader. While a number of small-run handsets have demonstrated this biometric ability, Samsung has been seen to shy away from putting it in its handsets which have much larger production runs and demand far higher yield rates at scale. As SamMobile reports, the go/no-go point has been reached, and all the indications are that the South Korean company has decided to make the call:

The impression we get from recent reports is that the company has made a final decision on the matter.

The latest report claims that Samsung has “confirmed” to its industry partners that it has decided to adopt the in-display fingerprint sensor for the Galaxy S10. The display panel will be supplied by Samsung Display whereas Qualcomm is said to be supplying the ultrasonic fingerprint sensor.

Samsung president of mobile communications business DJ Koh presents the new Samsung Galaxy S9 mobile phone during the Samsung Galaxy S9 Unpacked event (Photo:Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty Images)

The inclusion of the technology in the tenth major Galaxy S handset would be a strong statement of intent that the Galaxy brand is still one that can have an impact in the smartphone world. The Galaxy S9 (and arguably the S8 family before it) have been iterative builds, improving the specifications and techniques used in previous flagships without breaking any genuine new ground.

While Chinese manufacturer Vivo might scoff, Samsung would be seen as the first to bring this to the mainstream. And there;s every chance that the launch of the Galaxy S10 will be one of the big smartphone firsts of 2019 if  Samsung brings the reveal forwards to CES in January. The early display of the S10 would see the company anointed as one of change, and leave Mobile World Congress open for the foldable Galaxy X to confirm that role.

Now read more about Samsung’s accelerated launch schedule for the Note9, S10, and Galaxy X…

Microsoft Monday: GDPR Applying Globally, Xbox 360 System Update Launches, June Xbox One Update

Microsoft logo on a building in Issy-les-Moulineaux, France.  (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)

“Microsoft Monday” is a weekly column that focuses on all things Microsoft. This week “Microsoft Monday” features news about the GDPR compliance, the June Xbox One Update, an Xbox 360 system update being released and more!

GDPR Compliance

On May 25th, the European Union rolled out new regulations known as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). GDPR requires that users need to have better access to the personal data that technology companies store and better controls for erasing it.

“We’ve been advocating for national privacy legislation in the United States since 2005. We’re encouraged that some other tech companies are starting to endorse the need to address this issue as well. While debate about how to protect data privacy continues in the U.S., we’re committed to moving forward now to take concrete steps to help strengthen people’s privacy protection,” said Microsoft in a blog post. “That’s why today we are announcing that we will extend the rights that are at the heart of GDPR to all of our consumer customers worldwide. Known as Data Subject Rights, they include the right to know what data we collect about you, to correct that data, to delete it and even to take it somewhere else. Our privacy dashboard gives users the tools they need to take control of their data.”

To further adhere to the GDPR regulations, Microsoft announced the general availability of several compliance tools. The tools include “the Azure GDPR Data Subject Request (DSR) portal, Azure Policy, Compliance Manager for GDPR, Data Log Export, and the Azure Security and Compliance Blueprint for GDPR.”

The Azure Data Subject Request (DSR) enables businesses to manage personal data in the cloud. And Azure will enable customers to access system-generated logs as part of Azure services.

The Azure Policy is a tool for defining and enforcing policies that help your cloud environment become compliant with internal policies and external regulations as well. The Azure Policy is integrated into the Azure Resource Manager and applies across resources in Azure.

The Compliance Manager for Azure is a free Microsoft cloud services solution that was created to help users manage complex compliance obligations. And it helps users assess and manage GDPR compliance.

June Xbox One Update To Save Multiple Wi-Fi Passwords

In a blog post, Microsoft announced the new preview Alpha 1806 System Update, which is being rolled out to members of the Xbox One Preview Alpha Ring. Some of the features in this build will be available immediately, but others will be added over time in system update 1806 (June Update).

The new features include the ability to group your games and apps, improved search functionality and the ability to save multiple Wi-Fi passwords. Other notable features include the ability to hit Y anywhere on the dashboard to pull up search and there are five new languages for the Narrator.

Xbox 360 System Update Released

Microsoft has just released an Xbox 360 system update, which comes two years since the last update for the older generation console. The delay was largely due to Microsoft focusing more on releasing updates for newer consoles like the Xbox One and Xbox One X.

OS version 2.0.17526.0 for the Xbox 360 was released on May 22, 2018, according to OnMSFT. The previous Xbox 360 system update was on March 29, 2016. The system update included several minor bug fixes and performance improvements.

If you have an Xbox 360, you can download the system update by going to the Settings hub and tapping on the System icon. Then go to Console Settings and then System Info.

Remote Assist And Layout Mixed Reality Apps Now Available In Limited Preview

At the Build 2018 event, Microsoft unveiled mixed reality apps designed with first-line workers in mind called Remote Assist and Layout. In a blog post, Microsoft’s Lorraine Bardeen revealed that the apps are now available in a “limited-time” preview download.

With the HoloLens, the Remote Assist app can be used for “hands-free video calling, image sharing and mixed reality annotations.” And people wearing the HoloLens can share what they see with users through the mixed reality headset.

The Layout app was designed to help people use HoloLens to “bring space designs from concept to completion much more quickly by viewing their designs at real-world size and scale.” Users can use the Layout app to design physical spaces by importing 3D models and collaborating with others to manage it.

Paul Allen Donates $1 Million For Gun Control In Washington State

According to Geekwire, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen is donating $1 million for an initiative intended to implement tougher restrictions for the sale of semiautomatic weapons in the state of Washington. Allen partnered with venture capitalist Nick Hanauer to raise nearly $3 million.

The Alliance for Gun Responsibility said that voters in Washington will be able to vote on Initiative 1639 in November. This initiative would increase the minimum age for purchasing semiautomatic rifles to 21 and set up enhanced background checks. This would be a similar process for what is involved in purchasing handguns. And Initiative 1639 would require people to go through firearm safety training and requires a waiting period of up to 10 days to purchase the weapon.

Climate Change Made Zombie Ants Even More Cunning

Raquel Loreto is a zombie hunter, and a good one. But traipsing through dried leaves in a hot forest in Sanda, at the southern end of Japan, she needed a guide. Just a few months before, she’d been on the internet and come across the work of artist Shigeo Ootak, whose fantastical images depict humans with curious protrusions erupting from their heads. She got in touch, and he invited her to Japan for a hike to find his inspiration.

Ootak knew precisely where to look: six feet off the ground. And there in a sparse forest, that’s where they found it: the zombie ant, an entrancing species with two long hooks coming out of its back. By now you may have heard its famous tale. A parasitic fungus, known as Ophiocordyceps, invades an ant’s body, growing through its tissues and soaking up nutrients. Then it somehow orders its host to march out of the nest and up a tree above the colony’s trails. The fungus commands the ant to bite onto the vein of a leaf, then kills the thing and grows as a stalk out of the back of its head, turning it into a showerhead raining spores onto victims down below.

That’s how it all goes down in South American forests, where Loreto had already spent plenty of time. But the zombie she found on her hike in Japan was different. First of all, the fungus had driven it higher up a tree. And two, it hadn’t bitten onto a leaf, but had wrapped itself around a twig, hanging upside down.

See, in the tropics, leaves stay on trees all year—but in Japan, they wither and fall. Same goes for zombie ants in the southern United States. By ordering the ant to lock onto a twig, the fungus helps ensure it can stay perched long enough to mature and rain death on more ants. In a study out today in the journal Evolution, Loreto and her colleagues show that divergence between leaf-biting and twig-biting seems to have been a consequence of ancient climate change. So who knows, modern climate change may also do interesting things to the evolution of the parasite.

Come back in time with me 47 million years to an unrecognizable Germany. It’s much hotter and wetter. As such, evergreen forests grow not only up through Europe, but all the way up to the arctic circle. One day, a zombie ant wanders up a tree and bites onto the vein of a leaf, which conveniently enough gets fossilized. Time goes on. The climate cools, and Germany’s wet forests turn temperate.

Almost a decade ago, Penn State entomologist David Hughes looked at that fossil leaf and noticed the tell-tale bite marks of a zombie ant. “Given the fossil evidence in Germany, we know leaf biting occurred then,” say Hughes, a coauthor on the paper. “We suspect that it was also present in North America, and as those populations responded to climate change and the cooling temperature, we see a shift from biting leaves to dying on twigs.”

David Hughes

As vegetation changed from evergreen to deciduous, the fungus found itself in a pickle. But evolution loves a pickle. Ophio adapted independently in Japan and North America to order the ant to seek out twigs, which provided a more reliable, longer-term perch. The fungus grows much slower.

Loreto and Hughes know this thanks to the work of Kim Fleming, a citizen scientist who discovered zombie ant graveyards on her property in South Carolina. She’s been collecting meticulous data for the researchers, scouring the forest for the zombies and marking them with colored tape. “I made a map for myself so I wouldn’t get lost and leave some out,” says Fleming. (For her efforts, she’s now got a species of her very own: Ophiocordyceps kimflemingiae.)

What Fleming helped discover is that while in the tropics the fungus reaches full maturity in one or two months, in temperate climes like hers, the fungus sets up its zombie ant on a twig in June, but doesn’t reach maturity until the next year. In fact, the fungi may actually freeze over the winter. If it were attached to a leaf, it’d tumble to the ground in the fall.

“So it’s almost as if they’ve decided that nothing is going to happen this year, I’m just going to have to sit around because I don’t have time to mature and get spores out,” says Hughes. Plus, the ants hibernate in the winter anyway. Even if the fungus shot spores, there’d be no ants to infect—they’ll all chilling underground in their nest.

Opting for twigs does come with a downside, though: It’s really tough to get good purchase. Until, that is, the fungus initiates a second behavior, ordering the ant to wrap its limbs around the twig, sometimes crossing the legs on the other side of the twig for extra strength. “The hyphae of the fungus growing out of the legs works as glue on the twig as well,” says Loreto. “Sometimes they would even slide down the twig, but they wouldn’t fall.”

It’s hard to imagine how a fungus with no brain could figure this all out, but that’s the power of evolution. And it goes further: In June in temperate climes, the forest is still full of both twigs and leaves, yet the fungus directs zombie ants to lock onto twigs exclusively. And in the Amazon, where it’s lush all year round, they only ever lock onto leaves. “How in the name of … whoever … does the fungus inside the body know what the difference between the leaf and the twig is?” Hughes asks. It always has both options, yet only ever “chooses” one—the best strategy for its particular surroundings.

And so a parasitic manipulation that already defied human credulity grows ever more incredible, far beyond any work of zombie fiction. Your move, Hollywood.

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The Challenges Marketers Face Becoming Digital


Study after study suggests that firms and marketers are having difficulty “becoming digital”. To better understand the nature of the challenge and what leading marketing organizations are doing to rapidly increase their digital sophistication, I turned to Peggy Chen, CMO at SDL. The language and content management company  works with 78 of the top 100 global brands, like Unilever, Phillips, Lexus and others, to create relevant digital experiences for consumers. Below is Chen’s insight on the digital revolution.

Kimberly Whitler: Before we start, I want to ask a basic question. How do you define “digital”? The term is thrown around regularly and with a great degree of looseness, so getting your perspective on what this means would be terrific.

Peggy Chen: It is a key buzzword that is used differently depending on who you talk to. Digital has become the medium through which people communicate—it’s table stakes. It’s how we understand, relate to, and communicate with everyone. Consumers today spend upwards of eight hours a day on any one of their three connected devices. That’s an incredible shift when you think about it.

In our business, we see a lot of people going from print to digital. And even when you are printing, you are still using digital technology. And so, the whole world now is digital. The challenge is that when it comes to communication, in the digital sphere, you tend to lose that personal connection. Consumers are inundated with meaningless messages, and making your brand stand out – in any language, or device, is a major challenge. We are at a turning point. The question is no longer, “how do we get everything on the digital channel”. Instead it’s “how you bring the human elements into digital—bring back the human interaction?” Digital is a means to an end. Now we have to make it more meaningful.

Whitler: What are the top challenges you see firms/marketers face as they attempt to become more digital (i.e., technology, organization, talent, etc.)?

Chen: Because digital is the primary channel of communication, the primary challenge is how to connect with your customers in a meaningful and relevant way (e.g., consumer experience). So now, it’s converting digital into a more effective vehicle. The first stage was to get everything on digital. Now, most companies have accomplished this. Next is to figure out how to integrate the digital experience and engage with consumers before, during and after a sale. This means how to structure the organization, how to change and train the talent, and how to use technology to engage in exciting new ways.

One of the biggest challenges marketers have is in creating the amount of content needed to deliver this level of engagement. How do you create more customized, relevant content across languages, devices, and channels for each and every person? One of our airline customers does just that – giving 100 million passengers (in nine languages) their own individual digital experience. If you want to reach millions of customers, then you’re going to need more content that humans are capable of creating. That’s where technology steps in. Advances in AI and Machine Learning are changing the game, and automating the way content is created, organized, and delivered to global audiences.

Whitler: Do these challenges vary by industry (for example, are there challenges that are unique to CPG or banking or retailing)? Why and in what ways?

Chen: Companies fall into different buckets. B2C companies (like retail and banking), where there is more competition, have been more at the forefront of figuring out how to leverage digital to deliver that integrated experience. If you look at the big high-tech, software companies, where you have lower volume, higher price, and longer relationship development cycles, they have been slower to adopt personalization and become more digitally sophisticated. This is because they have personal relationships with the buyers and so the digital sophistication hasn’t been as critical as retailers, for example, who have millions of customers (rather than hundreds). Another factor that is affecting industry development is regulation—life sciences, pharma, banking, etc. Regulation will push these companies to become more digitally sophisticated faster.

Whitler: What advice would you give to a CMO who wants to become more digitally sophisticated (themselves)?

Chen: There are a couple of pieces of advice I’d provide. First, I’d suggest that CMOs continuously monitor the entire marketing-technology landscape. The way they can do this is by following Gartner, Forrester, and Scott Brinker’s MarTech Landscape (see here). Another piece of advice is to spend time speaking with other CMOs. There are plenty of CMO events and these conferences represent a great opportunity to learn what peers are doing. The key is to find out what others are doing, and to gain insight about what is working, and what isn’t.

Whitler: What advice would you give to a CMO who wants to create a more digitally-capable organization/firm/culture?

Chen: First, understand your firm’s level of development. The key is to understand how the landscape is changing, understand the options, and then do an evaluation on where your company is in the transformation process. Before figuring out what to change, it’s critical to understand where the company stands. Of course, the pace of growth at every company is different, and technology can support whatever pace you choose – but a big part of becoming more sophisticated requires understanding the human transformation piece. You have to understand how the people, training, culture need to change to ensure that the digital transformation is effective. This is another part of transformation that is often ignored, and yet so crucial.

Join the Discussion: @KimWhitler @pbc88 @SDL

Tencent chairman pledges to advance China chip industry after ZTE 'wake-up' call: reports

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Tencent Holdings chairman pledged to advance China’s semiconductor industry, saying the blow to ZTE Corp from Washington’s ban on U.S. firms supplying telecommunications company was a “wake-up” call, local media reported.

FILE PHOTO: Tencent Holdings Ltd Chairman and CEO Pony Ma attends a news conference announcing the company’s annual results in Hong Kong, China March 21, 2018. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

China’s No.2 telecom equipment maker ZTE was banned in April from buying U.S. technology components for seven years for breaking an agreement reached after it violated U.S. sanctions against Iran and North Korea. American firms are estimated to provide 25-30 percent of the components used in ZTE’s equipment.

While the U.S. administration said on Friday it had reached a deal to put ZTE back in business after the company pays a $1.3 billion fine and makes management changes, the plan has run into resistance in Congress, indicating ZTE was still far from out of the woods. Also, ZTE is yet to confirm the deal.

FILE PHOTO: A sign of Tencent is seen during the third annual World Internet Conference in Wuzhen town of Jiaxing, Zhejiang province, China November 16, 2016. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

“The recent ZTE incident made everyone more clearly realize that however advanced one may be in mobile payment, without the mobile, the chips and the operating system, you still cannot compete,” Chinese media reports cited Tecent’s Pony Ma as saying at a forum in Shenzhen on Saturday.

FILE PHOTO: A sign of ZTE Corp is pictured at its service centre in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China May 14, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

Tencent, which alternates with Alibaba Group to be Asia’s most-valuable listed company, is the largest social media and gaming company in China and operates the popular WeChat app.

Ma said “even though the ZTE situation was in the process of being resolved, we must not lose vigilance at this time and should pay more attention to fundamental scientific research”.

Tencent is looking into ways it could help advance China’s domestic chip industry, which could include leveraging its huge data demand to urge domestic chip suppliers to come up with better solutions, or using its WeChat platform to support application developments based on Chinese chips, Ma said.

“It would probably be better if we could get in to support semiconductor R&D, but that is perhaps admittedly not our strong suit and may need the help of others in the supply chain.”

China has been looking to accelerate plans to develop its semiconductor market to reduce its heavy reliance on imports and has invited overseas investors to invest in the country’s top state-backed chip fund.

Reporting by Sijia Jiang; Editing by Himani Sarkar

BR Pokes Fun At Real Players And 'NBA 2K18' In Game Of Zones And Draws Repost From Ronnie 2K

If you’ve never watched an episode of Bleacher Report’s fantastic animated short series Game of Zones, you should make it a point to catch an episode. It may be a signal of changes to come with the newest version of NBA 2K.

TIBURON, CA – DECEMBER 9: Ronnie Singh poses for a photograph. Mr. Singh is the public face of the hugely popular NBA2K series. Players tweet and send him private messages asking for and complaining about their ratings on the video game. (Nick Otto for the Washington Post)

If you have strong feelings about the NBA 2K series, you may want to make the episode of GOZ below the first one you watch. Hardcore 2K fans will immediately get the references and the comedic shots taking at the game’s much-maligned virtual currency system, inability to skip cutscenes, the polarizing archetype structure and more.

The video features a character named Ronnie 1K who is a medieval version of Ronnie Singh aka Ronnie 2K. There’s so much 2K Community goodness in this video, it’s hard to mention it all. Take a look:

Ronnie 2K added a portion of it to his Instagram story and tweeted the following:

Though it was playfully addressed in the video, the concerns over the VC structure and other aspects of the game are real. 2K has always been cryptic during the pre-release hype. While the video comes from B/R, is it possible the video was a collaborative effort? After all, there are a lot of hardcore 2K references in the video.

Could this be the first in the annual string of cryptic media ahead of a 2K release? Fans should be hoping that’s the case. Ronnie 2K’s public acknowledgment of the media could be a good sign. Would a representative from 2K’s marketing department actually add a video poking fun at last year’s game to his one of his social media accounts if there weren’t plans to address these issues?

Probably not, but there are obviously no guarantees this will lead to the kind of upgrades and alterations that will quiet the increasingly louder rumblings from the 2K community. NBA 2K18 has sold a reported 9 million copies across multiple platforms, but the franchise is still in a unique situation.

While the numbers look promising, it would appear public approval for the series is lower than it has been in years. When will that start to be reflected in sales units and decreased microtransactions? It’s hard to tell, but NBA 2K19 see a dip in numbers if public perception isn’t managed. The first step to resolving an issue is acknowledging that it exists.

Perhaps these videos and the Ronnie 2K reposts are a signal of awareness and action.

Stitch Fix: The Amazing Use Case Of Using Artificial Intelligence In Fashion Retail

, Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Stitch Fix, established in 2011 in San Francisco, has disrupted the fashion retail industry. With input from the customer and collaboration between artificial intelligence (AI) and human stylists, the online styling subscription service eliminates the need for their customers to go out and shop for clothing or even browse online, because they deliver personalized recommendations right to their door on a regular schedule. The customers can keep all of the products or return what they don’t like or need. That feedback gets input into the company’s data vaults to make the algorithms even better at determining the preferred style for each person and even identify trends.

Adobe Stock

Adobe Stock

In 2017, the company had $1 billion in revenue and 2.2 million active customers, but competitors such as Amazon and Trunk Club are lining up to mimic its style of retail. Here are just a few of the most intriguing ways Stitch Fix uses artificial intelligence in combination with human stylists to propel its business.

Personalization of clothing and accessories

Stitch Fix has combined the expertise of personal stylists with the insight and efficiency of artificial intelligence to analyze data on style trends, body measurements, customer feedback and preferences to arm the human stylists with a culled down version of possible recommendations. This helps the company provide its customers with personalized style recommendations that fit their lifestyle and budgets.

Improve satisfaction rate and lower return rate

The better the Stitch Fix stylists—human and machines—are at providing their customers with products they will love, the better their business runs. As they invest in merchandise they know their customers will love, the less they waste on warehouse space, return costs and donating items that weren’t sold. As Eric Colson, chief algorithm officer at Stitch Fix, said, “Our business is getting relevant things into the hands of our customers.”

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Few Rules Govern Police Use of Facial-Recognition Technology

They call Amazon the everything store—and Tuesday, the world learned about one of its lesser-known but provocative products. Police departments pay the company to use facial-recognition technology Amazon says can “identify persons of interest against a collection of millions of faces in real-time.”

More than two dozen nonprofits wrote to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to ask that he stop selling the technology to police, after the ACLU of Northern California revealed documents to shine light on the sales. The letter argues that the technology will inevitably be misused, accusing the company of providing “a powerful surveillance system readily available to violate rights and target communities of color.”

The revelation highlights a key question: What laws or regulations govern police use of the facial-recognition technology? The answer: more or less none.

State and federal laws generally leave police departments free to do things like search video or images collected from public cameras for particular faces, for example. Cities and local departments can set their own policies and guidelines, but even some early adopters of the technology haven’t done so.

Documents released by the ACLU show that the city of Orlando, Florida worked with Amazon to build a system that detects “persons of interest” in real-time using eight public-security cameras. “Since this is a pilot program, a policy has not been written,” a city spokesperson said, when asked whether there are formal guidelines around the system’s use.

“This is a perfect example of technology outpacing the law,” says Jennifer Lynch, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “There are no rules.”

Amazon is not the only company operating in this wide open space. Massachusetts based MorphoTrust provides facial-recognition technology to the FBI, and also markets it to police departments. Detroit police bought similar technology from South Carolina’s Data Works Plus, for a project that looks for violent offenders in footage from gas stations.

The documents released Tuesday provide details about how Orlando, and the sheriff’s department of Oregon’s Washington County use Amazon’s facial recognition technology. Both had previously provided testimonials about the technology for the company’s cloud division.

Orlando got free consulting from Amazon to build out its project, the documents show. In a prior testimonial, Orlando’s chief of police John Mina said that the system could improve public safety and “offer operational efficiency opportunities.” However a city spokesperson told WIRED that “this is very early on and we don’t have data to support that it does or does not work.” The system hasn’t yet been used in investigations, or on imagery of members of the public.

Washington County uses Amazon’s technology to help officers search a database of 300,000 mugshots, using either a desktop computer or a specially built mobile application. Documents obtained by the ACLU also show county employees raising concerns about the security of placing mugshots into Amazon’s cloud storage, and the project being perceived as “the government getting in bed with big data.”

There’s no mention of big data in the US Constitution. It doesn’t provide much protection against facial recognition either, says Jane Bambauer, a law professor at the University of Arizona. Surveillance technology like wiretaps are covered by the Fourth Amendment protections against search and seizure, but most police interest in facial recognition is in applying it to imagery gathered lawfully in public, or to mugshots.

State laws don’t generally have much to say about police use of facial recognition, either. Illinois and Texas are unusual in having biometric privacy laws that can require companies to obtain permission before collecting and sharing data such as fingerprints and facial data, but make exceptions for law enforcement. Lynch of EFF says hearings by the House Oversight Committee last year showed some bipartisan interest in setting limits on law enforcement use of the technology, but the energy dissipated after committee chair Jason Chaffetz resigned last May.

Nicole Ozer, technology and civil liberties director at the ACLU of Northern California, says the best hope for regulating facial recognition for now is pressuring companies like Amazon, police departments, and local communities to set their own limits on use of the technology. “The law moves slowly, but a lot needs to happen here now that this dangerous surveillance is being rolled out,” she says. She says Amazon should stop providing the technology to law enforcement altogether. Police departments should set firm rules in consultation with their communities, she says. In a statement, Amazon said all its customers are bound by terms requiring they comply with the law and “be responsible.” The company does not have a specific terms of service for law enforcement customers.

Some cities have moved to limit use of surveillance. Berkeley, California, recently approved an ordinance requiring certain transparency and consultation steps when procuring or using surveillance technology, including facial recognition. The neighboring city of Oakland recently passed its own law to place oversight on local use of surveillance technology.

Washington County has drawn up guidelines for its use of facial recognition, which the department provided to WIRED. They include a requirement that officers obtain a person’s permission before taking a photo to check their identity, and that officers receive training on appropriate use of the technology before getting access to it. The guidelines also state that facial recognition may be used as investigative tool on “suspects caught on camera.” Jeff Talbot, the deputy spokesperson for the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, said the department is not using the system for “public surveillance, mass surveillance, or for real-time surveillance.”

Ozer and others would like to see more detailed rules and disclosures. They’re worried about evidence that facial recognition and analysis algorithms have been found to be less accurate for non-white faces, and not accurate at all in law enforcement situations. The FBI disclosed in 2017 that its chosen facial-recognition system only had an 85 percent chance of identifying a person within its 50 best guesses from a larger database. A system tested by South Wales Police in the UK during a soccer match last year was only 8 percent accurate.

Lynch of EFF says she believes police departments should disclose accuracy figures for their facial recognition systems, including how they perform on different ethnic groups. She also says that despite the technology’s largely unexamined adoption by local police forces, there’s reason to believe today’s free for all won’t last.

Consider the Stingray devices that many police departments began to quietly use to collect data from cellphones. Amid pressure from citizens, civic society groups, and judges, the Department of Justice and many local departments changed their policies. Some states, such as California, passed laws to protect location information. Lynch believes there could soon be a similar pushback on facial recognition. “I think there is hope,” she says.

Louise Matsakis contributed to this article.

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Foxconn's unit targets raising $4.3 billion in biggest China IPO since 2015

TAIPEI/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Foxconn Industrial Internet (601138.SS), a subsidiary of the world’s largest contract manufacturer Foxconn (2317.TW), announced plans to raise up to 27.1 billion yuan ($4.26 billion) in what will be mainland China’s biggest IPO in almost three years.

FILE PHOTO: Visitors are seen at a Foxconn booth at the World Intelligence Congress in Tianjin, China May 19, 2018. REUTERS/Stringe

The Foxconn unit, which is known as FII and makes electronic devices, cloud service equipment and industrial robots, is offering up to 1.97 billion shares at 13.77 yuan per share in Shanghai, according to a statement it filed to the stock exchange late on Tuesday.

With 10 percent of its enlarged capital offered in the initial public offering (IPO), Shenzhen-based FII would have a valuation of about $43 billion at listing. Bookbuilding for the IPO is on May 24.

The listing is widely seen as a step for Terry Gou’s Foxconn, a major Apple Inc (AAPL.O) supplier formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (2317.TW), to wean itself off heavy reliance on manufacturing smartphones for the California-based iPhone maker and to diversify into new areas.

Foxconn has signaled previously that FII will launch projects in areas including smart manufacturing, industrial internet, cloud computing, and fifth-generation wireless technologies.

The IPO is also a reflection of Beijing’s seriousness in luring tech giants onto mainland exchanges.

At about $43 billion, the unit’s valuation would not be far behind parent company Foxconn’s market capitalization of about $49 billion.

The IPO’s pricing represents 17 times FII’s historical earnings, well below the valuation cap of 23 times favored by Chinese regulators.

FII plans to sell 30 percent of its public share offering to a group of strategic investors in a rare move for mainland deals.

The strategic investors are not being called cornerstones – investors who accept a lock-up period in return for large allocation, which is a practice common in other Asian markets such as Hong Kong to bolster demand for large deals.

However, the group will function as such, with its investments tied up for between one and three years. In an additional unusual move, 70 percent of institutional investors’ allocated shares will also be locked up for 12 months.

FII’s IPO ranks as the fourth largest in the mainland over the past 10 years, outpaced only by China State Construction Engineering (601668.SS), which raised $7.3 billion in 2009; China Railway Construction (601186.SS), which sold shares worth $5.7 billion in 2008; and Guotai Junan Securities (601211.SS), which raised $4.8 billion in 2015.

Clients of FII include companies such as Amazon (AMZN.O), Apple (AAPL.O), Cisco (CSCO.O), Dell, Huawei and Lenovo (0992.HK).

Reporting by Jess Macy Yu in Taipei and Julie Zhu and Jennifer Hughes in Hong Kong; Additional reporting by Engen Tham and Yiming Shen in Shanghai; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman