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Diversity Issues Take Centre Stage at Google Shareholders’ Meet

Google CEO Sundar Pichai eventually fired the author of the 3,000-word memo James Damore - a move that attracted criticism from conservatives

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Google preparing to launch display-equipped smart speakers. Pixabay
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Issues regarding representation and treatment of marginalised communities took the centre stage at Google’s parent company Alphabet’s annual shareholders meeting, the media reported.

Even Google employees themselves stepped up on Wednesday to challenge management on diversity issues — a rarity for a company’s rank and file in such a public and formal corporate setting, CNET reported.

Google last year was rocked by the now infamous “Damore memo”, which argued that the gender gap in the tech industry is due mainly to “biological” differences between men and women, not because of sexism.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai
Google CEO Sundar Pichai. (Wikimedia Commons)

Google CEO Sundar Pichai eventually fired the author of the 3,000-word memo James Damore – a move that attracted criticism from conservatives.

On Wednesday, Irene Knapp, a Google engineer, teamed up with Zevin Asset Management to present a proposal that advocated tying executive pay with improvement in diversity metrics at Alphabet.

Also Read: Google’s Experimental AI-powered Terrarium can Simulate Real-World Weather

“The lack of clear communicated policies and actions to advance diversity and inclusion with concrete accountability and leadership from senior executives has left many of us feeling unsafe and unable to do our work,” Knapp was quoted as saying.

Like many other tech giants, Alphabet has been criticised for not having enough diversity on its board, said the CNET report, adding that of the 11 board members at the company, only two are women. (IANS)

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Google Planning to Introduce Smart Speakers with Display

Other technology players, including JBL, Lenovo, LG and Sony have also signed up to make screen-equipped smart speakers

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Google preparing to launch display-equipped smart speakers. Pixabay

Google is reportedly preparing to launch a display-equipped smart speaker in a direct competition with Amazon and Alibaba Group Holding in the voice-activated gadgets category.

“Google targets to ship some three million units for the first batch of the new model of smart speaker that comes with a screen. It’s an aggressive plan,” Nikkei Asian Review quoted an industry source as saying on Thursday.

The new product would be part of the Google Home range of smart speakers, running on Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based Google Assistant, similar to Amazon’s “Echo Show”, which is a pair of two-inch speakers with a 7-inch touchscreen that displays visual output for Alexa’s responses.

Google’s upcoming model with the display is still likely to rely on voice commands, but users should be able to play YouTube videos, check their calendars and view maps, the report added.

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Other technology players, including JBL, Lenovo, LG and Sony have also signed up to make screen-equipped smart speakers. Pixabay

The Android developer’s AI speaker lineup currently features the standard Google Home, the cost-effective Home Mini and the high-end Home Max.

The first two options are positioned against Amazon’s regular Echo and Echo Dot, while the top-of-the-line model competes with Apple’s HomePod, which comes with the Siri voice assistant.

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The search engine giant accounted for 36 per cent of over 9 million smart speakers units shipped in the January-March period of 2018 with Amazon acquiring a 28 per cent market share.

Other technology players, including JBL, Lenovo, LG and Sony have also signed up to make screen-equipped smart speakers. (IANS)