EU-tech-news-digest-updatedEU Hits Google With Record $5 Billion Fine

The European Union struck a blow at Google this week, handing the tech titan a $5 billion fine and promising to add more penalties if the company doesn't conform to EU rules.

"The penalty -- the same amount the Netherlands contributes to the EU budget every year -- is far higher than any other dished out by the U.S., Chinese or other antitrust authorities. More significantly, Google was given until mid-October to stop what the EU called "illegal practices" on contracts with handset manufacturers that push its services in front of users. It faces daily fines of 5 percent of revenue if it doesn't obey," write Aoife White, Stephanie Bodoni and Natalia Drozdiak of Bloomberg. "Google owner Alphabet Inc. generated about the same amount of money as the penalty every 16 days in 2017, based on the company's reported annual revenue of $110.9 billion."

It's not clear how Google will respond to the EU's demands. But it seems likely that some sort of accommodation will be reached.

buzzfeed-walmart-tech-news-digest-updatedWalmart Patents New Surveillance System   

Walmart has apparently patented a system for monitoring sounds near the checkout areas of its stores, but whether the retail giant plans to use the surveillance capabilities to monitor customers and employees isn't certain. 

"Walmart recently obtained a patent for a surveillance system that would use a series of sensors placed around the checkout area to monitor audio data, BuzzFeed reports. This data includes beeps, the sound of bags rustling, and conversations between shoppers and associates. It's unclear whether the retailer will actually build and employ this technology in stores," writes Gregory Magana of Business Intelligence.  

It's not surprising that Walmart would be innovating in the area of audio monitoring, since ambient room noise also generates signals that can be collected, analyzed and converted into valuable business insights.

McKinsey-tech-news-digest-updatedChina and U.S. Competing for AI Leadership

The rivalry between the U.S. and China extends far beyond trade. The two superpowers are also competing for leadership in the field of artificial intelligence. 

AI entrepreneur Kai-Fu Lee offered his candid assessment of the competition in a recent interview with Michael Chui of McKinsey:

"China has several things going for it. It has a large amount of data, not only in mobile users but also the amount of mobile payments, the amount of transactions, the amount of data that's being captured. The fact that most users are willing to trade off some degree of privacy for convenience makes the data acquisition even easier. And on top of that, it's a bigger market," Lee said in the interview

China's "techno-utilitarian" approach to solving problems gives it an edge in fast innovation, since there isn't a huge public debate over issues raised by AI. In China, Lee says, "it's full speed ahead with AI."