Sam Dean

Recent and archived articles by Sam Dean

19 May 2019 | 10:00 AM

Self-driving tech attracts investors, but Uber still relies on its drivers

Former Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick once blamed the high cost of each ride on the "other dude in the car" – the driver.

Ride-hailing drivers picketing on May 8, 2019, near Los Angeles International Airport demanding higher wages. Should self-driving vehicles flood the streets, Uber now believes it may always need some humans behind the wheel to help meet demand. — Los Angeles Times/TNS
9 May 2019 | 11:00 AM

Can Bird build a better scooter before it runs out of cash?

A year ago, Bird Rides Inc was flying high – and Silicon Valley was betting that it would keep on climbing.

16 Apr 2019 | 10:00 AM

As videogames make billions, the workers behind them say it’s time to unionise

At an industry conference for videogame developers in late March, the thousands of lanyarded attendees could try new games, swap business cards and hear from experts on rendering realistic blood spatter. Or they could talk about unionising.

An annual survey conducted by the International Game Developers Association, an industry group formed in the '90s, has found interest in unionisation surging in recent years. — TNS
25 Mar 2019 | 9:00 AM

Astrology app set to disrupt ‘mystical services sector’

Any entity created on this planet comes into the world with a star chart, dominated by a sun sign, reflecting the motion of the spheres above at its moment of birth.

The Sanctuary iPhone app will allow users to chat with astrologers – for a price. — Dreamstime/TNS
19 Mar 2019 | 10:00 AM

Facebook and Google broke down barriers to broadcast media – even for mass killers

The killing of 49 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, was engineered to be viewed and shared on the world's largest technology platforms, taking full advantage of Silicon Valley's laissez-faire approach to content moderation.

The unfiltering of the world was long hailed as a Utopian goal of the Internet, a way to dismantle the gates kept guarded by the bureaucracies of print and broadcast media. But that vision overlooked the toxic spores that the gatekeepers had kept at bay. — TNS
25 Feb 2019 | 9:30 AM

Facebook decided which users are interested in Nazis – and let advertisers target them directly

Facebook makes money by charging advertisers to reach just the right audience for their message – even when that audience is made up of people interested in the perpetrators of the Holocaust or explicitly neo-Nazi music.

Despite promises of greater oversight following past advertising scandals, a Times review shows that Facebook has continued to allow advertisers to target hundreds of thousands of users the social media firm believes are curious about topics such as "Joseph Goebbels", "Josef Mengele", "Heinrich Himmler", the neo-nazi punk band Skrewdriver and Benito Mussolini's long-defunct National Fascist Party. — Getty Images/TNS
19 Dec 2018 | 8:30 AM

To settle a beach violation, Napster founder creates YourCoast app

When a seaside property owner blocks beach access with a gate, the California Coastal Commission can order it removed. But when tech billionaire Sean Parker chose a wedding venue in violation of the California Coastal Act, the state settled on a far more creative form of restitution: a mobile app.

14 Nov 2018 | 7:00 AM

Snap’s content chief is leaving as executive shakeup continues

Snap Inc is losing another high-ranking executive: Its vice-president of content, Nick Bell, is on his way out the door.

Bell, vice president of content at Snap Inc, announced that he plans to leave the company. — Dreamstime/TNS
9 Nov 2018 | 10:30 AM

Bay Area voters decide tech industry should pay its dues

The technology industry has turned the Bay Area into an economic powerhouse that many of the world's most valuable companies call home.

In two ballot measures that amounted to a regional referendum on how much tech corporations should contribute to the common good, voters in San Francisco and in Google's hometown of Mountain View, California, decided that some wealth redistribution was in order. — Dreamstime/TNS
23 Oct 2018 | 10:00 AM

Allegations of sexism and harassment roil Riot Games

Riot Games casts itself as the kind of place where gamers dream to work. Its tricked-out Los Angeles campus features a pirate-themed coffee bar, a gourmet cafeteria and spare workstations where employees can fire up League of Legends, the company's sole title.

Mattias Lehman was a vocal critic of company culture at Riot Games. He and another outspoken employee were both let go. — Los Angeles Times/TNS