Amazon's next big thing may redefine big

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Media captionAmazon executive Werner Vogels on the ethics of facial recognition

"I see Amazon as a technology company that just happened to do retail," begins Werner Vogels, Amazon's chief technology officer.

"When Jeff [Bezos] started Amazon, he wasn't thinking about starting a bookshop. He was really fascinated by the internet.”

Only "mortal humans", he tells me in an interview, ever saw Amazon as merely a retailer. So the question now is: what will Amazon become next? And are mere mortals ready for it?

Its recent Re:Mars event in Las Vegas demonstrated clearly - through presentations about machine-learning, robotics and space - that the firm is going through a transition phase that, if successful, will redefine its relationship with the public.

Amazon's incredible, sophisticated systems are no longer being used just to serve up good deals, fast delivery times, or cheap web storage. Its big data capabilities are now the tool of police forces, and maybe soon the military. In the corporate world, Amazon is positioning itself to be the “brains” behind just about everything.

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Human staff will always be needed, Amazon insists

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Media caption"You need both" - Amazon's Tye Brady on robotics replacing humans

Amazon’s warehouses will always need human staff, the firm’s chief robotics technologist has told the BBC.

The company said it had deployed more than 200,000 warehouse robots working in around 50 of its locations.

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Nancy Pelosi clip shows misinformation still has a home on Facebook

The video of Nancy Pelosi had been slowed by 25% Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had been slowed by 25%

Facebook has said it won’t remove a doctored video that makes Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi appear incoherent. One upload of the clip has been viewed more than 2.5 million times - and remains visible.

"There’s a tension here,” Facebook said, between allowing free speech, and preventing the spread of fake news.

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Huawei's microchip vulnerability explained

The Huawei P30 Pro motherboard, which uses tech sourced internationally (Picture provided by iFixIt.com) Image copyright iFixIt
Image caption The Huawei P30 Pro motherboard, which uses tech sourced internationally (Picture provided by iFixIt.com)

Google’s announcement that it was no longer able to work with Huawei is just one repercussion of the US decision to add the Chinese tech giant to its “entity list” of companies American firms cannot work with.

The true impact to Huawei may be enormous. While we often refer to the firm's devices as simply “Chinese”, the reality is much more complicated - it sources parts and expertise from all over the world. The same can be said for the likes of Apple, of course, which relies at least in part on chips created by its rival, Samsung.

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Microsoft and Sony strike games streaming deal

Analysts say Sony needs the outside expertise and infrastructure if its to move into streaming higher quality games Image copyright Getty Images

Microsoft and Sony have formed a partnership on video games streaming, despite being fierce competitors.

It is expected Sony will use Microsoft’s Azure cloud service to host its upcoming PlayStation streaming service.

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WhatsApp discovers 'targeted' surveillance attack

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Image caption WhatsApp has 1.5bn users, but it believed the attacks were highly-targeted

Hackers were able to remotely install surveillance software on phones and other devices using a major vulnerability in messaging app WhatsApp, it has been confirmed.

WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, said the attack targeted a "select number" of users and was orchestrated by "an advanced cyber-actor".

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'Silicon Valley nonsense': Will Uber drivers be heard?

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Media captionRide-share drivers unite in US strike

Uber drivers protested around the world on Wednesday. It was a spirited, though largely unquantifiable, demonstration against what they see as disgracefully low wages, poor job security, and an unacceptable lack of benefits.

Above all, though, it was a rallying cry against the expanding gulf between their lives, and the lives of those who will become unfathomably rich when Uber makes its stock market debut on Friday.

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Facebook bans 'dangerous individuals'

From left, pictured: Milo Yiannopoulous, Alex Jones and Louis Farrakhan Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption Milo Yiannopoulous, Alex Jones and Louis Farrakhan have all been banned

Facebook is banning several prominent figures it regards as "dangerous individuals".

The social network accused Alex Jones, host of right-wing conspiracy website InfoWars, its UK editor Paul Joseph Watson and ex-Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos of hate speech.

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The growing threat to Mark Zuckerberg's power

Mark Zuckerberg, speaking at his firm's developers' conference, earlier this week Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mark Zuckerberg, speaking at his firm's developers' conference, earlier this week

Nobody else in Silicon Valley has such absolute power over a technology giant.

Mark Zuckerberg is the co-founder, chief executive, board chairman and majority shareholder of Facebook, the most-populated social network in the world.

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An algorithm wipes clean the criminal pasts of thousands

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Media captionWATCH: AI helps clear cannabis conviction backlog

This month, a judge in California cleared thousands of criminal records with one stroke of his pen. He did it thanks to a ground-breaking new algorithm that reduces a process that took months to mere minutes. The programmers behind it say: we’re just getting started solving America’s urgent problems.

Piero Salazar is sitting at a wooden table, swamped by paperwork. His anxious family looks on.

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