Skip to main content

Tech News Roundup - 11/20/2017

Tech News Roundup

Go Back

Key Issues


Key GOP Senator Cites Concerns Over Senate Tax Bill. Sen. Susan Collins on Sunday recited a list of concerns she had with the Republican tax bill barreling through the Senate, raising pressure on the party's leadership to slow its progress and make changes to secure passage.. (Wall Street Journal)

Why a Firm Believer in Tax Cuts Could Derail the Senate Tax Cut Plan. On the eve of the House's vote to pass a far-reaching $1.5 trillion tax cut, Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin placed a hasty phone call to his state's senior senator, Ron Johnson, in hopes of resolving an unlikely conflict in his own back yard. (New York Times)

How Cutting Taxes Makes Life Worse for the Rich. The Republican effort to cut federal taxes is still underway, and many crucial details are still unsettled. But little doubt remains that the effort has been heavily shaped by wealthy donors. (New York Times)

Senate, Like House, Opts to Keep Tax Break for Rich That Trump Vowed to End. The authors of the Senate's proposed $1.5 trillion tax cut bill did no more than their House counterparts to close a contentious tax loophole favored by managers of private equity firms and some real estate ventures. (New York Times)

Tax bill that passed the House would cripple training of scientists. Yesterday, the US House of Representatives passed its version of a tax bill that would drop corporate tax rates and alter various deductions. While most of the arguments about the bill have focused on which tax brackets will end up paying more, an entire class of individuals appears to have been specifically targeted with a measure that could raise their tax liability by 300 percent or more: graduate student researchers. (Ars Technica)

Senate Tax Plan Includes Exemption for Private Jet Management. It may look like a giveaway to rich people who own their own private jets. But the aviation industry and legislators, including a liberal Democratic senator who helped inspire the provision, said it only reinforces the status quo. (New York Times)

Tax Cuts for Small-Business Owners? It's Complicated. The House Republicans' tax overhaul bill calls for reducing the tax burden on people who own small businesses like Steve's Bike Shop - not giving breaks to professional athletes like Stephen Curry, the N.B.A. All-Star. (New York Times)

Reuters poll: Major U.S. tax cuts not likely this year - economists. U.S. Republicans are not expected to push major tax cuts through Congress this year, according to a majority of economists in a Reuters poll, who in any case were skeptical that the legislation would provide a significant boost to the economy. (Reuters)

Wall Street pulls back at week's end with tax changes mulled. Wall Street ended the week on a sour note on Friday, with major indexes slipping modestly as investors weighed the fate of the Republicans' tax overhaul plan. (Reuters)

In towns and cities nationwide, fears of trickle-down effects of federal tax legislation. It took the city of Pataskala, Ohio, nine ballot measures before its 15,000 residents agreed to a new 1 percent tax to pay for repairs to its crumbling roads and to buy new police cruisers. (Washington Post)

Tax reform roadblocks emerge in Senate. Republicans were able to muscle their tax-rewrite plan, through the House exactly two weeks after it was unveiled, but they are already facing far tougher sledding in the Senate. (Politico Pro)

In Democrat-led state capitals, GOP tax reform push could scramble fiscal plans. The Republican tax reform push in Washington is setting off budgetary alarm bells in high-tax states like New York, California and New Jersey, in the latest political skirmish to pit national Republicans against Democratic state and big city leaders. (Politico Pro)

Mulvaney: White House 'OK' pulling individual mandate repeal from tax bill. White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said Sunday that the administration wants to repeal part of Obamacare in Congress' tax bill but is "OK with taking it out" if "it becomes an impediment." (Politico)


Wireless carriers on mute as U.S. top court hears big privacy case. The U.S. Supreme Court is set to consider a major cellphone privacy case later this month, but leading players in the wireless industry that is at the center of the closely watched dispute are keeping their distance. (Reuters)

Senate gets privacy-favored companion bill to revise surveillance tools. The Senate now has its own version of a middle-ground bill to revise and extend controversial online surveillance programs that has won over key privacy advocates. (Politico Pro)

Global Trade

Tech, business groups tell Lighthizer not to abandon TPP IP language. Technology and business groups are raising an alarm over the U.S. intellectual property proposal in the NAFTA negotiations, with eight associations this week sending a letter to United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer urging him to stick with language agreed to in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. (ITI Mention, Inside U.S. Trade)

Trump administration updates demands as NAFTA talks continue. President Trump's top trade official has issued new objectives for renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement - including some likely to irk Canada and Mexico, as well as the U.S. recording industry and other major business interests, as talks continue this weekend. (Los Angeles Times)

'No fireworks' at NAFTA talks, but few signs of progress. Negotiations in Mexico to update NAFTA have not made much progress on tough U.S. demands that could sink the 1994 trade pact, but the current round of talks are progressing with civility, some participants said on Saturday. (Reuters)

With little movement, NAFTA talks said to run risk of stalemate. Talks to update the North American Free Trade Agreement appeared to be in danger of grinding to a stalemate amid complaints of U.S. negotiators' inflexibility, people familiar with the process said on Sunday. (Reuters)

Trump's updated NAFTA goals show no retreat from hardline stance. The Trump administration on Friday bowed to Democratic demands to produce an updated list of its negotiating objectives for NAFTA 2.0, but the revamped goals showed few signs of a desire to tone down controversial proposals. (Politico Pro)

Artificial Intelligence

Stanford trained AI to diagnose pneumonia better than a radiologist in just two months. There's a clear trend that having more data makes it easier to train artificial intelligence. Bigger datasets, like ImageNet, originally showed that AI could be useful for tasks like image recognition, leading to a race among everyone from large technology companies to academics to compile new datasets to stretch the limits of AI. (NextGov)

AI experts slam proposed use of 'extreme vetting' algorithms. The use of algorithms for screening immigrants could easily lead to an "inaccurate and biased" process, a group of artificial intelligence and machine learning experts argues. (FedScoop)


Trump Administration Tightens Scrutiny of Skilled Worker Visa Applicants. The Trump administration is adding hurdles and increasing scrutiny in the employment-visa application process, making it harder for businesses to hire foreign workers, and companies and immigration attorneys are bracing for more changes soon. (Wall Street Journal)

The movement to protect DREAMers is still divided on the details. Wednesday morning, Todd Schulte stood before a podium, dressed in a grey suit and orange tie, to talk about the urgent need for legislation that protects undocumented people who came to the United States as children, also known as Dreamers. (Wired)

This is what it's like to be a 'Dreamer' working at IBM and fighting to keep from being deported. Alan Torres is a "dreamer," meaning his parents brought him to the US illegally when he was a kid, he grew up not knowing he wasn't a legal resident and he loves the US as his home country. (Business Insider)


Exclusive: Qualcomm set to win conditional Japanese antitrust okay for NXP deal - source. U.S. smartphone chipmaker Qualcomm is set to win "imminent" Japanese antitrust clearance for its $38-billion bid for NXP Semiconductors and gain Europe's approval by the end of the year with slight tweaks to its concessions, a person familiar with the matter said. (Reuters)


How the FCC could be the model for IT modernization. During his four years as the Federal Communications Commission's chief information officer, David Bray set lofty goals and accomplished many of them. (Federal News Radio)

Pai's limited contact with recipients of the subsidies he plans to cut. The FCC on Thursday voted to seek comment on a plan that would significantly limit the Lifeline program that subsidizes phone and internet service for low-income people. (Axios)

Public Sector

Government Outlines When It Will Disclose Or Exploit Software Vulnerabilities. Government agencies that deal with cybersecurity, like the National Security Agency, have two competing interests. On the one hand, they want to protect America's online infrastructure and economy from cyberattacks. On the other hand, government agencies want to harness tools to attack opponents in cyberspace. (NPR)


A fight is brewing between Congress and the military over cyber war. U.S. military commanders want more authority to launch cyber operations. But Congress is mulling new restrictions and reporting requirements, setting up a showdown that will shape American defense in the network era. (NextGov)


China named world's worst abuser of internet freedom again. Freedom's House has released its "Freedom on the Net 2017" report. (Axios)


Think the digital workplace doesn't reach you? Think again. No profession is untouched by the changing digital landscape, from construction to retail, never mind the health care and finance professions, according to a report from Brookings Institution. What's more, the pace is accelerating. (CBS News)

Internet of Things

Self-driving car tech can help another form of transport: wheelchairs. Autonomous vechicle technology often prompts discussions about profit, safety, efficiency, jobs, and more. But this innovation can change millions of lives today without introducing a single car to the road. Think: self-driving wheelchairs. (Wired)


Oil rises over 2 percent, but shows first weekly fall in six. Oil rebounded more than 2 percent on Friday after falling for five straight session as a major U.S. crude pipeline was shut and traders anticipated an OPEC deal to extend curbs on production. (Reuters)

Big Oil and Auto Makers Throw a Lifeline to the Combustion Engine. Big oil companies and giant auto makers are teaming up to preserve the internal combustion engine, as tough regulation and electric vehicles put the car industry's century-old technology at risk. Their secret weapon: high-tech engine oil. (Wall Street Journal)

Keystone pipeline spill injects new uncertainty into Nebraska decision. The TransCanada oil pipeline rupture in a remote corner of South Dakota injects an unexpected element of suspense into the decision over the controversial Keystone XL pipeline due Monday at Nebraska's Public Service Commission. (Washington Post)

Six Years After Fukushima, Robots Finally Find Reactors' Melted Uranium Fuel. Four engineers hunched before a bank of monitors, one holding what looked like a game controller. They had spent a month training for what they were about to do: pilot a small robot into the contaminated heart of the ruined Fukushima nuclear plant. (New York Times)


Trump Wants More Big Infrastructure Projects. The Obstacles Can Be Big, Too. President Trump says he is frustrated with the slow pace of major construction projects like highways, ports and pipelines. Last summer, he pledged to use the power of the presidency to jump start building when it became bogged down in administrative delays. (New York Times)

What Happened (and Didn't) at the Bonn Climate Talks. After wrangling through the night, the 23rd conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change wrapped up early Saturday with modest accomplishments, paving the way to complete by next year the rules that will set the Paris agreement in motion. (New York Times)

At Bonn Climate Talks, Stakes Get Higher in Gamble on Planet's Future. Perhaps the most revealing moment at this year's United Nations climate talks came on Wednesday, when Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany addressed the nearly 200 nations gathered here. (New York Times)

Treaty to Phase Out 'Greenhouse Gasses on Steroids' to Enter Force. Hydrofluorocarbons. It's a mouthful of a name for a chemical that keeps the turkey frozen in our refrigerators and also heats up the planet. (New York Times)

Tesla Unveils an Electric Rival to Semi Trucks. Tesla has aimed to reinvent the automobile and the way electricity is generated for homes. With those efforts still in progress, it is setting out on another quest: to remake the multibillion-dollar trucking industry. (New York Times)

Volkswagen accelerates push into electric cars with $40 billion spending plan. Volkswagen approved a 34 billion euro ($40 bln) spending plan on Friday that accelerates its efforts to become a global leader in electric cars. (Reuters)

What climate-conscious cities can learn from each other. In many ways, Essen is the envy of cities trying to move past their industrial days. (Wired)

The left's nuclear problem. America's liberal leaders are torn between fighting climate change and resisting nuclear power. (Axios)

Tech Business

As Silicon Valley Gets 'Crazy,' Midwest Beckons Tech Investors. They seem an odd couple. J. D. Vance, author of "Hillbilly Elegy," his best-selling memoir of growing up in the postindustrial Midwest and his journey of escape. And Steve Case, the billionaire co-founder of America Online. (New York Times)

Two years after going public, Square is now worth more than Twitter. Jack Dorsey's payments company has edged past Jack Dorsey's tweeting company. (Recode)

The Latest Path to Silicon Valley Riches: Stake Sales. To reap riches in Silicon Valley, entrepreneurs and venture investors typically had to wait until their startup was acquired or went public. (Wall Street Journal)

The Secret to Tech's Next Big Breakthroughs? Stacking Chips. As microchips become 3-D, there are dividends in performance, power consumption and capabilities. (Wall Street Journal)

Marvell Nears Deal to Buy Cavium for About $6 Billion. Marvell Technology Group Ltd. is nearing a deal to buy chip maker Cavium Inc. for about $6 billion, an acquisition that would create a bigger and more well-rounded competitor to industry giants like Intel Corp. and Broadcom Ltd. (Wall Street Journal)

ITI Member News

Apple Postpones Release of HomePod Speaker. Apple is putting the brakes on the arrival this year of HomePod, its much-ballyhooed rival to Amazon's Echo smart speaker. (New York Times)
Twitter says you can lose verified status for bad behavior - even if it's off Twitter. Twitter has put itself in quite the predicament. (Recode)
Digital media struggles to survive technology's chokehold. The economic strains of technology on the entire media landscape are intensifying. Weeks after Google and Facebook announced record earnings, some of the biggest players in the digital media industry are still struggling to hit revenue projections, make profit or grow. (Axios)
The ultra-efficient, hidden heat source for Amazon's new HQ. Historically speaking, the concept of district heating is far from new - the village of Chaudes-Aigues Cantal in France has been using a geothermal version for centuries. (GreenBiz)

Today on the Hill

The House is not in session today.
The Senate is not in session today.
Share this News Roundup on: