Weekend Roundup: App Store Confidential, ‘Westworld,’ and More

It’s (almost!) the weekend, and that means we have the usual roundup of the tech world’s odder, more interesting bits. This week, the world’s richest man is trying to save the world, Apple is freaking out over a new book, and (television) A.I. is getting stylishly out of control.

Ready? Let’s jump in!

Bezos Wants to Cancel Climate Change

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, is throwing $10 billion into something called the Bezos Earth Fund, which will fund scientists’ attempts to solve climate-change issues.

“I want to work alongside others both to amplify known ways and to explore new ways of fighting the devastating impact of climate change on this planet we all share,” he wrote in an Instagram post about the initiative.

Amazon’s employees have pressed for Bezos to address the company’s impact on the environment. That agitation mirrors that at other tech giants such as Google and Microsoft, where employees have protested over everything from sexual-harassment policies to military contracts.

From datacenters to delivery trucks, Amazon clearly has a significant carbon footprint; it will be interesting to see whether, following this funding announcement, Bezos follows up by trying to make his company more eco-friendly. Many of his employees certainly seem to want it. 

App Store Confidential

It’s no secret that Apple is notoriously secretive. The company conducts its research and development with CIA-level confidentiality; and although the ecosystem of Apple blogs has gotten a bit better at predicting what new Apple devices will roll out throughout the year, the regular product launches still manage to pull off some surprises.

So it’s no wonder that Apple is going DEFCON-1 over an upcoming book written by a former employee, titled “App Store Confidential.” The author, Tom Sadowski, ran Apple’s App Store in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland for roughly five years. The book features some things that Apple evidently doesn’t want public, because it’s pressing forward with a cease-and-desist letter.

In a note to The Verge, Apple wrote, in part:

“All workers should have the reasonable expectation that employment policies will be equally and fairly applied and all companies should have the reasonable expectation that their business practices will be kept confidential.”

Will Apple’s attempt at suppressing the book spark off the Streisand Effect, where trying to hide something just makes a lot of people that much more interested in seeing it? Potentially. It also begs the question: What exactly does Apple want to hide? Lots of tech journalists no doubt want to know.

‘Westworld’ Season 3 Trailer

Earlier this week, we covered how Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk thinks that governments should step in and regulate companies trying to develop advanced artificial intelligence (A.I.). Which, of course, begs the question: What would happen if A.I. slipped out of control?

The HBO show “Westworld” offers a view of what rampant, crazed A.I. might look like. Bloody! Stylish! But mostly bloody! Check out the new trailer:

If you think autonomous-driving software is potentially risky to the human race, just wait until A.I. develops thumbs.

Have a great weekend!