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Hashtag Trending – Tech firms face employee backlash; IBM’s Project Debater; Canada’s top 6 memes

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Tech employees are pushing back against selling to law enforcement; IBM has a computer that will beat you at a debate; and we’ve got the scoop on the top six most-searched memes in Canada. You won’t believe what’s #4.

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In the U.S., major tech brands that work with government law enforcement are facing a backlash from their own employees. The controversy follows public outrage over the separation of families attempting to cross the border from their children. First, Microsoft employees denounced its work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement with a letter that’s collected at least 300 signatures. CEO Satya Nadella responded with a statement explaining the work was only supporting some Office-related tasks and not involved in the splitting up of families. Then on Friday, some Amazon employees began circulating a letter asking that it stop selling its facial recognition service to law enforcement. Some shareholders also made that request. We’ll see this week if that chorus gets any louder, or affects more tech giants.

IBM has already programmed computers to beat world champions at chess and conquer Jeopardy tournaments. Will a computer that can win any debate be next? That’s what Project Debater has been working on since 2012. Last week IBM debuted this new AI-powered experiment in San Francisco, where it debated Israeli national champion Noa Ovadia on the topic of government-subsidized space exploration. Project Debater took the side of being pro-space exploration and most people in the audience agreed that it did more to enrich their knowledge of the topic than the human debater. In a Youtube video, IBM says the project will help AI learn how to master language.

What would you guess the most popular memes are in Canada? We’ve all wasted too much time scrolling through our social feeds and laughing at a good cat meme. But apparently cats are only the third most-popular type of meme in Canada. That’s according to SEMrush, a web search data provider. Topping the list of Canada’s most popular memes is cartoon character Spongebob Squarepants, with 18,100 searches monthly. He’s followed by Donald Trump memes at 12,500 searches monthly. So I guess when he said he was going to put America back on top, he almost did it in terms of meme popularity. You know, next to the suspenders-wearing sponge. Also on the list are Kermit the Frog memes, dog memes and Harry Potter.