News & Analysis

5 things you should know about tech today

- October 14, 2019 2 MIN READ

 

Happy Monday everyone.

Here’s the latest tech world news from around the globe.

1.  WeWork needs to find a major financial backer or it’s the end within weeks.

WeWork’s financial woes are so severe that the business could run out of cash by the end of November, some analysts believe.

Will SoftBank, having already invested US$10 billion-plus in the office-sharing giant before its recent disastrous IPO attempt, throw more money into the loss-making venture in a bid to salvage some of its funds, having already suffered a massive reputational blow over the bet?

Bloomberg reported on Friday that the business was in talks with JPMorgan Chase & Co. as lead lender over a $5 billion debt package.

The business is already shedding staff and announced it would close its New York elementary school, WeGrow, at the end of the year.

 

2. Don’t lie about your Airbnb income to the ATO.

Because if you do they’ll know. The US tech platform told its 190,000 Australian hosts last week that they’d given the Australian Tax Office their income data and lots more about what they’d been doing on the platform, for tax officials to data match with returns. More here.

 

 

4. RMIT is looking at the ethics of automated decisions.

While the federal government is having its own difficulties with automated decision-making thanks to the $2.1 billion Centrelink “robodebt” program, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) is building a new $71 million research centre to look at how autonomous decision-making technologies can be used safely and ethically.

Federal education minister Dan Tehan announced $31.8 million towards the Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society at RMIT last week.

Centre lead Professor Julian Thomas said the global research project would help ensure machine learning and decision-making technologies were used responsibly, ethically and inclusively.

“From artificial intelligence to the blockchain and big data, automated systems are changing our everyday life,” he said.

“New systems offer enormous benefits in many areas but they also pose substantial risks to our privacy and security, and to our welfare as citizens and consumers.

“We urgently need a much deeper understanding of the potential risks of the new technologies, and the best strategies for mitigating these risks.”

Researchers from RMIT will collaborate with experts at seven other Australian universities and 22 academic and industry partner organisations from Australia, Europe, Asia and America.

Together they will provide an additional $39.3 million in cash and in-kind support, including access to top national and international facilities, systems and research expertise.

 

5. Suncorp’s Digital Incubator has taken on two more fintech startups.

Athenix, co-founded by Lachlan Teale and Austin Wilshire to help individuals and self-managed super funds improve their investment decision-making through data and machine learning, will join Suncorp’s Digital Labs because of the startup’s “significant potential to expand into the B2B market”.

The second venture is My Business Manager, founded by Ian McManus, which seeks to improve financial literacy and deliver management accounting insights for small business owners.

The three-month program helps fintechs refine their business model. Details on the next round of applications are available here.
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