Business / Technology

Intel issues diversity challenge

(Agencies) Updated: 2015-01-08 13:38

CEO telling managers to increase ranks of women

The tech industry says it wants more diversity in its workforce, but the actual hiring does not reflect that. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich challenged his own company and the entire industry to do more.

Meanwhile, the future of driverless cars was the background for a Ford Motor Co keynote address at the International Consumer Electronics Show. The carmaker hopes to cure the world's transportation ills by delivering everything from a quicker trip down the Las Vegas Strip and helping drivers more easily finding a parking spot, to improving access to medical services in remote areas of West Africa.

The gadget show opened to the public on Tuesday.

Krzanich on Tuesday challenged the tech industry to increase the hiring of women and minorities, and he set a goal of full representation in his company's workforce by 2020.

He said the company will hold its managers accountable by tying their pay to progress. The company also is investing $300 million to improve diversity, including initiatives to create a pipeline of women and minorities entering the technology field.

"This isn't just good business," he said. "It's the right thing to do. When we all come together and commit, we can make the impossible possible."

He said it was no longer enough to talk about valuing diversity and still "have our workplaces and our industry not reflect the full availability and talent pool of women and underrepresented minorities".

According to a report on Intel's website, women made up 24 percent of Intel's workforce in 2013. Non-Asian minorities made up 14 percent.

The challenge comes as tech companies have begun releasing employment-diversity reports and women have faced harassment and threats in the video-gaming community. Krzanich cited both developments and said his company will regularly release progress reports on hiring.

Krzanich also used a keynote to showoff the company's Real Sense technology for seeing and understanding depth. With that, Intel showed the ability to use hand gestures to scroll a recipe on a tablet while cooking. Drones thought for themselves and maneuvered an obstacle course without human intervention. One man with visual problems showed how RealSense sensors on his clothing let him know what's around him through vibrations.

It is all part of Intel's efforts to free machines from acting in just two dimensions, defined by the interaction between the screen and input device.

Ford CEO Mark Fields said the company is not racing to have the first driverless car on roads but is taking a thoughtful approach to creating an autonomous car for the masses. And with an eye on congested city hubs and a connected generation more keen on car-sharing, mass transit and cycling, the carmaker is getting involved in those avenues, too.

Fields said Ford is conducting 25worldwide experiments to study driver habits, test ridesharing and research whether a person's entire driving history could follow them from car to car regardless of brand in order to get personalized insurance quotes.

Want to try a Mustang for the weekend or need a truck for a move? The company's employees in Michigan are testing an app-based program where they can trade cars among themselves.

"We'll learn something from each of these experiments," Fields said.

While consumer electronics companies are celebrating a coming bonanza of health trackers, connected cars and smart home appliances, the head of the Federal Trade Commission is pressing the tech industry to protect consumer privacy.

Powerful networks of data sensors and connected devices, dubbed the Internet of Things, will collect a vast trove of user information that represents "a deeply personal and startlingly complete picture of each of us"-including our finances, health and even religious leanings, said Edith Ramirez, the chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission.

Ramirez urged the global electronics companies, Internet giants and tech startups at CES to make data security a priority as they build new products. She also called on companies to give consumers more control over how their data are used, and to collect only the data that are necessary for a product to perform its function.

Ramirez did not propose specific regulations, but her remarks underscore the Obama administration's concerns over consumer privacy.

It is often tempting to buy a WiFi-only model of a tablet computer because it is cheaper-by $130 in the case of the iPad. But what if you decide later you want connectivity on the go?

AT&T will soon sell cases to connect your WiFi tablet to its network. You will need to buy data service, of course, and it is not immediately clear whether the cases will work with service from rival carriers.

The Modio cases will initially work with recent iPad models. AT&T did not announce prices or release dates. The cases also will allow users to expand battery and storage capacity.

Many Android tablets have already slots for micro SDstorage cards, but iPads do not.

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