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Power

Google will give up direct control of the Knative open-source project

Under an agreement recently approved by the Knative leadership team, the project will transition to a governance structure in which no single vendor will be able to occupy a controlling number of seats, Protocol has learned.

Google's Thomas Kurian

Knative was designed to let developers run so-called "serverless" applications on top of Kubernetes, the container-management platform service originally developed at Google and open-sourced in 2015.

Photo: Bloomberg via Getty Images

Google and its partners on Knative, a key cloud open-source project controlled by Google until very recently, plan to announce sweeping changes to the project's governance structure on Thursday, Protocol has learned.

The new changes are part of many twists and turns in Google's enterprise open-source strategy over the past year, which have angered and confused some of its partners. This time, Google is relinquishing direct control of a popular open-source project: Later this year Knative will implement a steering committee structure in which no single vendor can hold more than two seats on a five-seat committee, according to a blog post released late Thursday, after this report was published.

Individuals will now hold seats on the Knative steering committee rather than vendors, and elections will be held later this year to select two new members. The committee, which sets the overall direction for the project, could expand to as many as seven members in the future to include representatives from the end-user community.

Knative was designed to let developers run so-called "serverless" applications on top of Kubernetes, the container-management platform service originally developed at Google and open-sourced in 2015. The idea is to give companies a way to take advantage of the speed and cost-efficiency of serverless applications — which can automatically scale in response to events without having to manually spin up additional computing resources — while using the deployment flexibility that applications built around containers enjoy.

It's a central link between Kubernetes and Istio, another open-source project developed by Google. For years, partners and contributors to both projects, which include companies like IBM, VMware and Lyft, had expected Google to transfer operational control of Istio and Knative to a foundation like the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, which was created to manage the development of Kubernetes.

But last year Google told Knative contributors directly that it had no plans to transfer it to a foundation, and trickled out news of similar plans for Istio in smaller groups over the end of 2019. At the time, Google controlled a voting majority of the seats on both projects, a troubling development for open-source community members who believed that the neutrality of Kubernetes was one of the greatest reasons for its success.

Google tried to address some of those concerns earlier this year with the Open Usage Commons, which the company said would manage trademark policies around key projects including Istio. The Knative project is setting up a similar committee within the project to manage trademark use, which is an important consideration for companies that are building services around open-source projects.

Google's open-source strategy has waxed and waned since the release of Kubernetes, but for a very long time the company was considered one of the friendliest megacorporations in the open-source community. That perception started to change under Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian, as a contingent within the company that believed it was a strategic mistake to give up control of Kubernetes started to gain traction.

The changes to Knative's governance structure should mollify some of those critics, and follow similar moves undertaken by Istio in August. It could also spread adoption of the project, now that other cloud vendors understand that a rival won't exert overall control over the direction of the project.

Politics

'Woke tech' and 'the new slave power': Conservatives gather for Vegas summit

An agenda for the event, hosted by the Claremont Institute, listed speakers including U.S. CTO Michael Kratsios and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

The so-called "Digital Statecraft Summit" was organized by the Claremont Institute. The speakers include U.S. CTO Michael Kratsios and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, as well as a who's-who of far-right provocateurs.

Photo: David Vives/Unsplash

Conservative investors, political operatives, right-wing writers and Trump administration officials are quietly meeting in Las Vegas this weekend to discuss topics including China, "woke tech" and "the new slave power," according to four people who were invited to attend or speak at the event as well as a copy of the agenda obtained by Protocol.

The so-called "Digital Statecraft Summit" was organized by the Claremont Institute, a conservative think tank that says its mission is to "restore the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life." A list of speakers for the event includes a combination of past and current government officials as well as a who's who of far-right provocateurs. One speaker, conservative legal scholar John Eastman, rallied the president's supporters at a White House event before the Capitol Hill riot earlier this month. Some others have been associated with racist ideologies.

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Emily Birnbaum

Emily Birnbaum ( @birnbaum_e) is a tech policy reporter with Protocol. Her coverage focuses on the U.S. government's attempts to regulate one of the most powerful industries in the world, with a focus on antitrust, privacy and politics. Previously, she worked as a tech policy reporter with The Hill after spending several months as a breaking news reporter. She is a Bethesda, Maryland native and proud Kenyon College alumna.

The current state-of-the-art quantum computers are a tangle of wires. And that can't be the case in the future.

Photo: IBM Research

The iconic image of quantum computing is the "Google chandelier," with its hundreds of intricately arranged copper wires descending like the tendrils of a metallic jellyfish. It's a grand and impressive device, but in that tangle of wires lurks a big problem.

"If you're thinking about the long-term prospects of quantum computing, that image should be just terrifying," Jim Clarke, the director of quantum hardware at Intel, told Protocol.

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Dan Garisto
Dan Garisto is a freelance science journalist who specializes in the physical sciences, with an emphasis on particle physics. He has an undergraduate degree in physics and is based in New York.
Election 2020

Google says it’s fighting election lies, but its ads fund them

A new report finds that more than 1,600 brands, from Disney to Procter & Gamble, have advertisements running on sites that push pro-Trump conspiracy theories. The majority of those ads are served by Google.

Google is the most dominant player in programmatic advertising, but it has a spotty record enforcing rules for publishers.

Photo: Alex Tai/Getty Images

Shortly after November's presidential election, a story appeared on the website of far-right personality Charlie Kirk, claiming that 10,000 dead people had returned mail-in ballots in Michigan. But after publishing, a correction appeared at the top of the story, completely debunking the misleading headline, which remains, months later, unchanged.

"We are not aware of a single confirmed case showing that a ballot was actually cast on behalf of a deceased individual," the correction, which quoted Michigan election officials, read.

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Issie Lapowsky
Issie Lapowsky (@issielapowsky) is a senior reporter at Protocol, covering the intersection of technology, politics, and national affairs. Previously, she was a senior writer at Wired, where she covered the 2016 election and the Facebook beat in its aftermath. Prior to that, Issie worked as a staff writer for Inc. magazine, writing about small business and entrepreneurship. She has also worked as an on-air contributor for CBS News and taught a graduate-level course at New York University’s Center for Publishing on how tech giants have affected publishing. Email Issie.
Protocol | Enterprise

Twilio CEO Jeff Lawson explains how he decided to face off with Parler

Also, why he thinks the $3.2 billion purchase of Segment will help Twilio's customers help their customers and why he's OK with being reliant on AWS.

"I think in a society, words matter, actions matter," Twilio CEO Jeff Lawson said. "That's why companies have things like Terms of Service and acceptable use policies."

Photo: Twilio

Cloud computing companies were one of the few segments of society that enjoyed 2020. But even companies like Twilio, whose stock price tripled over the last 12 months, have had enough of 2021 already.

Last Friday, in the wake of the deadly attack on the Capitol, Twilio sent a letter to the right-wing social media app Parler notifying the company that it was violating Twilio's acceptable use policy for two of its authentication services. Parler decided to turn off Twilio's services rather than moderate calls for violence against elected officials on its app, which became a moot point after AWS cut Parler off from its own computing and storage services Sunday evening.

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Tom Krazit

Tom Krazit ( @tomkrazit) is a senior reporter at Protocol, covering cloud computing and enterprise technology out of the Pacific Northwest. He has written and edited stories about the technology industry for almost two decades for publications such as IDG, CNET, paidContent, and GeekWire. He served as executive editor of Gigaom and Structure, and most recently produced a leading cloud computing newsletter called Mostly Cloudy.

People

Google’s productivity guru has some advice for you

Here's how Laura Mae Martin helps Google's top execs work smarter.

Laura Mae Martin, Google's executive productivity adviser, works one-on-one with the company's top brass.

Image: Google

If productivity were a product at Google, then Laura Mae Martin would be its product manager.

She's Google's executive productivity adviser, a job she created following a successful 20% project about managing inboxes that she debuted while working in keyword sales. As the company's top expert on productivity, her remit seems simple enough: Make Googlers more efficient in their day-to-day work lives. But in practice, that means working directly with the top executives of a trillion-dollar company to make some of tech's most sought-after talent better at what they do.

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Kevin McAllister

Kevin McAllister ( @k__mcallister) is an associate editor at Protocol, leading the development of Braintrust. Prior to joining the team, he was a rankings data reporter at The Wall Street Journal, where he oversaw structured data projects for the Journal's strategy team.

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