Latest news features and opinion on technology, covering everything from AI innovation to smartphone makers and apps. 

The world’s second largest dam was built insanely fast thanks to AI
China’s newest hydropower will produce so much energy when completed in July that it will dwarf the production of America’s Hoover Dam.  Standing nearly 985 feet tall, and made with more than 8 million cubic metres of concrete, the Baihetan dam towers over the upper section of the Yangtze River.  It will power homes, office buildings and factories as far away as Jiangsu, a coastal province more than 1,240 miles to the east. But it is the speed of the project, in the southwestern province of Sichuan, that has raised the eyebrows of experts, even in China.  Despite many civil engineering difficulties, including treacherous terrain and a remote location, Baihetan has taken just four years to b
How an anime site transformed itself into the YouTube of China
What was once a niche platform targetting fans of anime and comics has transformed itself into one of the Chinese tech industry’s biggest success stories.  Named Bilibili, an army of dedicated users known as “uploaders” has transformed the company from a prototype site built in three days by a recent college graduate to the “YouTube of China.” Originally called MikuFans, and later renamed to Bilibili, the company has leveraged a unique combination of original features and an avid fan base to make it the go-to platform for many content creators. This has made the company a big success, both with its users and with Wall Street. Since going public on the Nasdaq in early 2018, Bilibili’s share
Chinese work culture tries to find its Zen
China’s grueling 72-hour work week has become a defining feature of its rise into a modern tech powerhouse. But now, young entrepreneurs are hoping an older tradition can provide a guiding light. Known as “Buddhist entrepreneurs,” they are thumbing their noses at China’s controversial “996” work culture – which stands for working 9am to 9pm six days a week. Among those embracing the philosophy are Su Hua, the CEO of TikTok-like short video app Kuaishou, and Chen Rui, the chairman of one of China’s most popular video platforms Bilibili. They espouse a more chilled-out approach when it comes to work, choosing when, where and how many hours they work. But many entrepreneurs and investors are s
Clubhouse in China is a party that knows the cops are coming
UPDATE: Multiple media outlets are reporting that Clubhouse went offline in China on the evening of February 8.  Clubhouse, the hottest new social media app from Silicon Valley, is the talk of the town in mainland China because it has emerged as a rare space to discuss sensitive topics freely.  On China’s largest e-commerce platform, Taobao, a search using the keywords “clubhouse invitation” in Chinese generated more than two dozen results. An online shop in Shanghai, boldly calling itself “clubhouse invitation code,” has sold more than 200 invitations in the last month, with codes priced up to US$50. For users in mainland China, the app, which doesn’t support text or video, has offered a fr
Nobody really knows who owns data in China
Data is the new oil, or at least that is what technologists will have you believe. And much like battles over natural resources, there is a virulent debate about who owns the information.  Two of China’s largest tech companies – TikTok owner ByteDance and Tencent –  are locked in a legal fight about who owns the data created by their users. On Monday, the case was accepted by a court in Beijing, a move that experts said could become a “landmark” case as authorities ramp up antitrust efforts. Bytedance is accusing Tencent of blocking links to Douyin, its Chinese-version of TikTok, on WeChat and QQ, saying they are owners of the data their users create.  Tencent has vowed to countersue, accus
Chinese people are fed up with widespread use of facial recognition technology
A vast network of cameras across China records the movements of its residents via facial recognition technology. From schools to shopping centers, public transport, concert venues and education campuses, surveillance cameras equipped with facial recognition are omnipresent, even being used to shame jaywalkers and prevent toilet paper theft. It’s also now a fact of life for many Chinese employees who clock into work using biometric technology. But Chinese people are growing increasingly concerned about its use in public spaces.  A survey of 1,515 anonymous Chinese residents by Beijing News Think Tank on Tuesday found that 87.46% of respondents oppose the use of facial recognition technology
Regulate big tech like tobacco or alcohol, says top expert
Tech giants should join the ranks of big tobacco and alcohol corporations in being forced to mitigate the damage done to users, says a New York University professor. Adam Alter, an author and professor of marketing at New York University’s Stern School of Business, believes that modern technology has never been so “efficient and addictive.” He warned that tech companies’ ability to prey on “behavioral addiction” could have devastating long-term effects on the relationships and mental health of users and called out for their protection by making those companies legally responsible. As tobacco and alcohol companies are bound in many countries to warn consumers about the dangers of consuming a
Deaths at e-commerce giant cause ‘996’ controversy
China is a global leader in the technology industry, and tech companies have grown to become dominant forces in Chinese society. But it also has a dark side.  The death of two employees at the social commerce giant Pinduoduo has placed the spotlight on a culture of high-stress jobs and overwork. Called “996” (meaning working from 9am to 9pm for 6 days per week), many fear the infamous culture has become worse and not better due to pressure from the pandemic. On December 29, 2020, a 22-year-old woman surnamed Zhang, who was working at a new business unit in Urumqi, died. On January 4, another young worker, surnamed Tan, jumped to his death in his hometown of Changsha. Public anger at Pinduod
‘I felt naked’: Chinese worker claims she was gifted a surveillance cushion
A Chinese employee has complained of feeling “naked at work” after discovering that bosses were collecting data from her posterior without her knowledge. The administration employee, Wang, who worked for Hangzhou-based, high-tech company, Hebo Technology in China’s eastern Zhejiang province, was shocked and upset to learn that the ‘smart cushion’ her bosses had given her and nine other employees, supposedly for their wellbeing, was instead being used to monitor their behavior at work. The cushion even alerted her bosses when they were away from their desks. Using social media to voice her outrage, Wang said at first she had welcomed the ‘smart cushion,’ believing it was given to monitor the
This sweater will ensure your family is socially distant over the holidays
Ugly Christmas sweaters just got an upgrade for 2020, and they are made for a socially distant holiday. American home security company SimpliSafe has tackled the Christmas restrictions with a Social Distancing Sweater prototype, rigged with motion sensors that set of a “screeching” alarm and flashing lights when someone steps closer than six feet of the wearer. According to a company press release and advertisement, the sweater will help wearers say, “‘happy holidays’ and “‘back off!’” all at once. SimpliSafe creative director Wade Devers said in a statement:  “As the experts on protection, albeit home protection, we wanted to give people a playful way to protect themselves during this year