Tech Digest daily round up: Tech firms alter return-to-work plans


Big tech firms are altering their return-to-work plans for employees, as Covid-19 cases rise in the US – with some stipulating that staff working in the office must be vaccinated. Google announced that it would delay a return to the office until 18 October. The company joined Facebook in saying it would require US workers returning to the office to be vaccinated. Twitter said it would pause office re-opening, closing offices in San Francisco and New York once again. The two Twitter offices had been operating at up to 50% capacity for staff who wanted to return. BBC 

If you’re homeless and looking for temporary shelter in Hawaii’s capital, expect a visit from a robotic police dog that will scan your eye to make sure you don’t have a fever. That’s just one of the ways public safety agencies are starting to use Spot, the best-known of a new commercial category of robots that trot around with animal-like agility. The handful of police officials experimenting with the four-legged machines say they’re just another tool, like existing drones and simple wheeled robots, to keep emergency responders out of harm’s way as they scout for danggoers. But privacy watchdogs — the human kind — warn that police are secretly rushing to buy the robots without setting safeguards against aggressive, invasive or dehumanizing uses. AP News

The International Space Station has been knocked out of position after a Russian science lab malfunctioned.  The newly arrived lab accidentally fired its thrusters, resulting in the ISS losing control of its orientation for 47 minutes, NASA said. Russian cosmonauts had been checking for leaks between the 22-tonne lab – named Nauka – and the service module, when automatic sensors on the ground detected the problem. Communication between the station and ground controllers was also cut twice for a few minutes. NASA said that the crew was “never and is not in any danger”, adding that ground teams had regained control and the “motion of the space station is stable”. Sky News

Google will ban ‘sugar daddy’ apps from its Google Play app store from September 1 this year, the firm has quietly revealed in an update.  Sugar daddy, or ‘compensated sexual relationship’ apps, allow older users to pay younger users in return for sexual intimacy. Users are mostly older males, known as ‘sugar daddies’, and younger females (‘sugar babies’), although there are ‘sugar mummies’ too. Examples of sugar dating apps include My Sugar Daddy, Spoil, SDM, Elite Millionaire Singles and Seeking Arrangement. Daily Mail 

Google has announced it is building a further two undersea internet cable systems to boost network capacity between the Middle East, southern Europe and Asia. The two systems – named Blue and Raman – will be constructed in partnership with communications company Sparkle and equipped with a whopping 16 fiber pairs, each capable of carrying millions of high-definition videos simultaneously. Once complete, the former will connect Italy, France, Greece and Israel, while Raman (named after a Nobel prize-winning physicist C.V. Raman) will dock in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, Oman and India. Tech Radar

Deliveroo is to pull out of Spain in the face of fierce competition and new laws forcing it to treat its riders as staff. The London-listed food delivery company said the move would affect about 100 full-time employees, roughly 5pc of its total headcount, while about 3,000 couriers would also lose work. The decision is subject to a consultation. It is the first major retrenchment by the company since listing in March at a valuation of £5.2bn, about a third lower than forecast. Deliveroo shares have recovered slightly since the float, up 0.7pc to 327p on Friday, and the company is now worth about £5.6bn. Telegraph

Chris Price
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