SAP Seeks Autistic Employees
Today in international tech news: German software giant SAP is looking for autistic workers; online sleuths collect data on North Korea; a U.S. report says China accounts for 80 percent of U.S. IP theft; and a Chinese report says China's antipiracy campaign is going swimmingly.
05/23/13 10:37 AM PT
SAP, a German software heavyweight, announced that it plans to recruit hundreds of people with autism in a quest to staff employees who "think differently."
The company said it would hire 650 autistic people by 2020, which would account for about 1 percent of its multinational workforce.
SAP has already put the plan in motion in India and Ireland, where 11 autistic workers are employed.
Autism affects people's ability to communicate and interact socially but has the knock-on effect of creating repetitive -- to the point of obsessive -- behavior. This makes autistic people particularly adept at analyzing data and picking up on details -- traits that might not translate well at a dinner party but are invaluable in the world of computer software.
Autismus Deutschland, Germany's largest organization for people with autism, applauded the move, calling it "groundbreaking."
[Source: The Guardian]
Online Sleuths Spying on North Korea
By comparing publicly accessible satellite images, amateur satellite sleuths are collecting intelligence about North Korea.
The group reportedly predicted a recent missile launch date; announced (correctly) that North Korea was expanding prisons; and foresaw an upgrade to North Korea's main TV station.
One detective, David Jorm, who by day studies math and geography at New Zealand's University of Queenland, spoke recently at the AusCERT security conference in Australia. He called his -- and others' -- analysis of North Korea "guerilla intelligence."
Jorm detailed some of the more interesting tidbits online sleuths had collected, including an underground air base that runs through a mountain and a "pleasure palace" for the late Kim Jong Il.
[Source: The Age]
Report: 80 percent of US IP Theft Traced to China
The U.S.-based IP Commission released a report saying that China accounts for up to 80 percent of U.S. intellectual property theft, worth an estimated US$300 billion in would-be exports. That's the same value as America's current trade balance with Asia.
While it certainly indicts China, the report also calls out the U.S. for its inadequate response, saying that "hectoring governments and prosecuting individuals has been utterly inadequate to deal with the problem."
Seventy percent of U.S. corporate assets are linked to "intangible assets" -- like intellectual property -- and 6 percent of that total is being lost to IP theft each year, the IP Commission estimated.
While it's hard to gauge the accuracy of the numbers, the report suggests that should China synchronize its IP law with the U.S., it would create $107 billion in additional sales for U.S. companies and lead to 2.1 million additional jobs.
Russia and India were also mentioned by name as particularly zealous IP thieves.
China Invests Big in Original Software
Between central and local governments, China has invested $350 million in buying original office software over the past three years, according to China's National Copyright Administration.
The purchases reportedly stem from an antipiracy campaign that prompted the purchase of 3.23 million units of office software.
Microsoft, for one, has been outspoken about Chinese government piracy. Last September, the company publicly asked China to prevent four large state-run companies from using pirated software. At the time, Microsoft said that 40 percent of Office and Windows server client software used by China National Petroleum, the parent of China's most valuable company, is unlicensed. Meanwhile, more than 80 percent of China Railway Construction Office software was thought to be unlicensed.
China's National Copyright Administration declared that 62.2 percent of municipal government and 32.85 percent of county governments had been inspected and their piracy habits corrected.