Weekend update: Amazon workers call for action on climate change, Uber and Pinterest take steps toward public listings and gaming world placed under investigation

Innovation Enterprise's weekly update rounds up some of the best content from across our Channels from the past few days, including reports on AI ethics, fintech, unicorns, automated workforces, self-driving cars and AI in healthcare

12Apr

It was a big week on the IPO front with both Uber and Pinterest taking significant steps toward going public. Ride-sharing giant Uber said it probably would not be able to achieve profitability anytime soon, although it will reportedly seek to achieve an impressive valuation of $100bn when it lists on the NYSE. Meanwhile, scrapbooking website Pinterest set IPO terms at a valuation $1bn less than expected. Despite the high profile IPO announcements of the past few days, a report on VC investment in the US by PitchBook and the National Venture Capital Association found that the momentum of 2018's record year of VC activity had slowed down somewhat during the first quarter of 2019.

Elsewhere, we saw the European Commission (EC) take the unprecedented step of releasing ethical guidelines for AI development, while in Chicago, KPMG opened up a brand new 30,000 sqm tech and innovation center in the heart of the Windy City.

Tickets are still available for DATAx San Francisco, but with the line-up including Amazon, Google, PlayStation, Facebook, Hinge, Uber and many, many more, it will not be long before tickets sell out. Passes for the data extravaganza are available here and more information on all of our upcoming events, including Future Work Live and CFO Live, can also be found on our Summits page.

Below, we present our pick of tech and business stories and analysis from across our Channels from the past seven days.

Amazon workers demand action on climate change

It was a big week for people power at one of the planet's largest companies, as Amazon workers called for the retail giant's leaders to take action and commit to reducing its carbon footprint.

More than 2,400 Amazon employees signed a letter calling on the company to reconsider the way it addresses and contributes to global warming by establishing firm commitments to reduce its carbon footprint and halting its practice of offering custom cloud-computing service to the oil and gas industry.

"We want to make Amazon a better company – it is a natural extension of that," stated Rajit Iftikhar, a software engineer in Amazon's retail business.

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London to take San Francisco's fintech unicorn crown

A new report has revealed that San Francisco may be on the verge of losing its crown for being home to the most fintech unicorns.

The Bay Area is home to nine fintech companies valued at $1bn or over, according to data from recruitment consultancy Robert Walters and market analysis firm Vacancy Soft. London, which seven fintech unicorns currently call home, could take the lead as early as this year.

The report found the UK enjoys the highest rate of consumer fintech adoption of any country in the Western hemisphere.

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Helping employees transition to an automated workforce

Automation may be changing the way we live our daily lives, but its lasting effect on businesses is what Innovation Enterprise contributor and EnSight+ CEO Lee Schwartz discusses in his most recent analysis.

"It will not be long before most workers – from welders to mortgage brokers to CEOs – will be working alongside rapidly evolving machines," Schwartz writes. "In fact, one McKinsey report estimates that 30% of tasks in 60% of all industries could be automated.

"But many business leaders have not changed the structure of their organizations to excel in this new reality. It might soon be time for you to answer this question: Is your company ready for a more automated workforce?"

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Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft under investigation for unfair renewal practices

The gaming world was shaken by revelations that three of its biggest players were being investigated by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) for potentially unfair subscriptions renewals on their online games services.

The competition watchdog requested that Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft provide information on their online gaming contracts to help the CMA "better understand their practices".

"Our investigation will look into whether the biggest online gaming companies are being fair with their customers when they automatically renew their contracts, and whether people can easily cancel or get a refund," said CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli.

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DATAx insights: Helping users trust AI in healthcare

Accenture has predicted the AI healthcare market will value $6.6bn by 2021, leading one of our regular contributors, data analyst Steve Jones, to write about the trust patients and medical professionals have in the role AI is playing within the modern healthcare system.

"Many medical professionals and everyday patients in need of care have no understanding of intelligent machines and the role they are coming to play in our hospitals," Jones notes. "If robotic doctors, algorithms and software programs that can bolster positive patient outcomes are going to remain central to the healthcare system for long, we will need to work as a society toward establishing trust between AI and users."

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Ford "overestimated" self-driving cars admits CEO

Ford's boss made an unpopular call this week as he admitted that the motoring titan had "overestimated" the arrival of autonomous vehicles.

Jim Hackett said that while the company would go ahead with plans to launch a self-driving fleet in 2021, the fleet's applications "will be narrow, what we call geo-fenced, because the problem is so complex".

Hackett's admission comes just six months after Sherif Marakby, CEO of Ford's autonomous vehicles division, revealed the company's plan to invest $4bn in autonomous vehicle technology.

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