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Women Executives leaving Yahoo in US after Technology Company announced Plans to sell itself Earlier this Year

The total number of women at Yahoo in the United States remained steady at 31 percent

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FILE - The Yahoo logo is shown at the company's headquarters in Sunnyvale, California, April 16, 2013. VOA
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November 5, 2016: Women executives left Yahoo Inc U.S. operations at an unusually high rate after the technology company announced plans to sell itself earlier this year, but it was not immediately clear why, according to the company’s 2016 diversity report, released on Monday.

The sharp drop comes as Silicon Valley faces pressure to diversify a workforce heavily dominated by white and Asian men.

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The last year has been turbulent for the web pioneer, which in February announced it would explore alternatives and put in motion a plan to cut about 15 percent of its workforce. In July, it struck a $4.8 billion deal to sell its core internet businesses to Verizon Communications Inc.

The number of women in Yahoo leadership roles in the United States slipped to 21 percent as of June 30, down from 23 percent the year before, the report showed. Women in non-technical jobs remained flat at 52 percent. The total number of women at Yahoo in the United States remained steady at 31 percent.

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Yahoo had 8,800 employees at the end of the second quarter, down from 9,400 as at March 31.

It was not clear why there was such a marked decline in the proportion of women leaders at Yahoo, which is led by Silicon Valley’s most powerful female CEO, Marissa Mayer.

“Women leaders organically left because other opportunities were more appropriate for them,” said Margenett Moore-Roberts, Yahoo’s global head of diversity and inclusion. She said most of the women executives who left did so voluntarily after the plan to sell the core company was announced.

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She said Yahoo will use a combination of internal searches and promotions, outside recruitment and partnerships with women-focused tech organizations to balance the losses.

The dip in women executives does not seem to be mirrored at other major tech companies. Women held 28 percent of leadership positions at Apple Inc, according to its latest figures, unchanged from the year before. (VOA)

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Why Robots That Are Made To Look Like Human Make Them Feel Uneasy

People who design machines to work with humans do keep the uncanny valley in mind as they think about the look of a robot.

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Why Robots That Look Too Human Make Some People Uneasy Pixabay

An increasing number of robots are being created and designed to work side by side with humans, in a human environment. That means robots have to be structured like a person, because some of them have to walk and sit like a person. Some robots are even being designed to look human.

But seeing an android, a robot that looks human, can make some people uneasy. That growing unsettling feeling or phenomenon as robots begin to look more like human beings is called the “uncanny valley.”

Even researchers who work on robots are not immune to it.

“I know how they work. I know they’re just machines, but something about something that looks like a person but doesn’t quite move like a person is disturbing,” said Jonathan Gratch, director for virtual human research at the University of Southern California’s (USC) Institute for Creative Technologies.

Gratch, who is a research professor of computer science and psychology, studies human-computer interaction.

He said there are many thoughts behind why the uncanny valley exists. One explanation is that it’s biological. People are hardwired to recognize when something seems wrong.

“In my research, I study emotion and how we use emotional cues to read each other’s minds, and I think a lot of the issue for me is if you try to make something very realistic, then you start trying to read all this information into what it’s portraying, and it is not the right information. So, it just communicates something is off. Something is wrong with this interaction,” Gratch said.

Another theory is that a robot that looks too human threatens what it means to be human.

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A robot head is covered by Hanson Robotics’ skin, in Hong Kong. VOA

“Initially, humans were seen as the only intelligent entity. And now, we know more and more that animals can do many of the things that we do, build tools. We know machines are starting to become intelligent. We hold on to the fact that we’re emotional, but now these machines are starting to be emotional as well, which is perhaps a threat. So, where does that lead people?” Gratch explained.

A person’s religious beliefs and culture may also play into how an android is perceived, he suggested.

“In the Western tradition, coming from Christianity, humans are unique, perhaps uniquely possessing a soul. Whereas in Japanese Shinto culture, souls live everywhere, in rocks and machines,” Gratch said.

John Rebula is a postdoctoral fellow at USC and is working on making a humanoid robot walk like a person by being more coordinated and balanced. Applications include the ability to walk up a flight of stairs and sit in a chair made for a person. He said the robot’s face is not necessary and is clearly cosmetic.

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The mock killer robot was displayed in London in April 2013 during the launching of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, which calls for the ban of lethal robot weapons that would be able to select and attack targets without any human intervention. (VOA)

“We really do think of these as research machines that we’re ripping apart and putting back together, ripping apart and putting back together. And so, it’s very easy for us to leave off the cosmetic bits,” Rebula said.

His robot does have cartoon-like eyes, ears and a nose. It could be considered cute. However, if it looked more human, Rebula said he would not necessarily want to be in the lab with it all the time.

“We have lots of late nights in labs. You start yelling at the robot a little bit as it is — ‘Oh, why aren’t you working?’ I don’t necessarily, myself, need that extra layer of weird,” Rebula said.

Also Read: Video- India Scraps Law Criminalizing Homosexuality

People who design machines to work with humans do keep the uncanny valley in mind as they think about the look of a robot, and how widely it will be accepted by humans. (VOA)