Business News at a Glance
Posted February 12, 2018 10:26 p.m. EST
Trump’s Infrastructure Plan Emphasizes Private Funding Over Public Interest
President Donald Trump’s $200 billion infrastructure program, unveiled Monday, recasts the federal government as a minority stakeholder in the nation’s new infrastructure projects. Half of the money promised over 10 years will be used for incentives to spur contributions from states, localities and the private sector. The ability to find sources of outside funding will account for 70 percent of the formula for choosing projects, while spurring "economic and social returns on investment” ranks at the bottom, at 5 percent. Thus, projects aimed at impoverished communities, such as improving drinking water in a place like Flint, Michigan, could be given short shrift.
YouTube Revamped Its Ad System, but AT&T Still Hasn’t Returned
AT&T has yet to return to YouTube nearly a year after pulling its advertising from the platform because of concerns that it could appear alongside offensive material. The company was among a wave of major marketers who paused spending on YouTube because its ads were appearing on videos promoting hate speech or terrorism and other disturbing content. The Google-owned video service has since introduced changes aimed at limiting the types of videos that can run ads, and most brands have resumed marketing. But AT&T still wants YouTube to do more before it resumes advertising, AT&T’s chief brand officer said.
Trump Threatens New Trade Penalties, but It Could Be a Hard Bargain
President Donald Trump said his administration would soon announce a reciprocal tariffs on countries that take advantage of the United States on trade. In a meeting with mayors and governors, Trump complained about "very unfair" tariffs some countries impose on U.S. products while "we won't charge them anything." He said more information would be forthcoming, but trade analysts said the president’s hands were somewhat tied because the relatively low U.S. tariffs on many foreign goods were set after decades of bargaining at the World Trade Organization. The United States would most likely have to leave the WTO to substantially raise tariffs.
Universities Rush to Roll Out Computer Science Ethics Courses
In the wake of fake news and other troubles at tech companies, universities are hustling to bring more morality to computer science. This semester, Harvard University and MIT are jointly offering a new course on the ethics and regulation of artificial intelligence, while the University of Texas at Austin just introduced a course titled “Ethical Foundations of Computer Science.” The idea is to train the next generation of technologists and policymakers to consider the ramifications of innovations — like autonomous weapons or self-driving cars — before those products go on sale.
Steven Cohen’s Investment Firm Accused of Hostility to Women
A female executive at the investment firm run by billionaire investor Steven A. Cohen said in a lawsuit that the company was a testosterone-fueled “boys’ club” in which men commented on women’s bodies, belittled their abilities and paid them less than their male peers. The lawsuit, filed in federal court Monday by an employee of Cohen’s Point72 Asset Management, describes a toxic working environment for women. Cohen, who is in the midst of trying to repair his tarnished public image and raise money from investors, is not accused of inappropriate behavior in the lawsuit.
Google Makes Its Special AI Chips Available to Others
A few years ago, Google created a new kind of computer chip to help power its giant artificial intelligence systems. On Monday, it said it would allow other companies to buy access to those chips through its cloud-computing service. Google hopes to build a new business around the chips, called tensor processing units, or TPUs, which sit inside its data centers. Google is in the vanguard of a movement to design chips specifically for artificial intelligence, a worldwide push that includes dozens of startups as well as familiar names like Intel and Qualcomm.
A New Shuttle Service, Minus the 1980s Frills
American Airlines’ announcement that it would add shuttle service between New York and Chicago this spring seemed to hark to another era. But the American shuttle is a “shuttle” in only the narrowest definition: It will adhere to a regular, frequent schedule. But in the glory days of air shuttles, passengers could buy tickets onboard, and operators kept extra planes on standby so every person who showed up could be accommodated. American acknowledged while its new shuttle service would translate to more daily round trips, some flights would use smaller planes, so overall capacity would not change.