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Google Debuts Deep Planning Network Agent with DeepMind

Google unveiled the Deep Planning Network (PlaNet) agent, created in collaboration with DeepMind, to provide reinforcement learning via images. Reinforcement learning uses rewards to improve AI agents’ decision-making. Whereas model-free techniques work by getting agents to predict actions from observations, agents created with model-based reinforcement learning come up with a general model of the environment leveraged for decision-making. In unfamiliar surroundings, however, agents must create rules from experience. Read more

Varjo Debuts High-Res VR Headset for Enterprise Use Cases

Varjo introduced its VR-1 virtual reality headset priced at $5,995. The company claims the device is “the world’s only professional VR headset with human-eye resolution,” indicating that it is targeting its professional beta customers, including Airbus, Audi, architecture firm Foster + Partners, and others. Enterprise users of VR are using it for training and simulation, and need the headset to work with their design or rendering software, be it Autodesk VRed, Unreal, Lockheed Martin’s Prepar3D, or others. Read more

Chinese, Iranian, Russian Hackers Honing Their Attack Skills

The National Security Agency and security firm FireEye recently detected extensive attacks by Iran on U.S. banks, businesses and government agencies, prompting the Department of Homeland Security to declare an emergency during the government shutdown. The attacks from Iran took place at the same time that China renewed its efforts to steal trade and military secrets, from Boeing, General Electric Aviation and T-Mobile. Meanwhile, Microsoft detected a Russian government operation targeting think tanks critical of Russia. Read more

Amazon Aims for Quality Not Quantity With 30 Films Per Year

Amazon hasn’t had a good year in the film business since 2017 when it moved away from its Hollywood distribution partners into self-distribution. Since then, the company released six flops in a row, including director Woody Allen’s “Wonder Wheel,” which cost $25 million and only earned $14 million in North America, and “Beautiful Boy,” which cost $23 million and made a mere $7.6 million. Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke surmised that the company put “too much focus on a narrow prestige lane.” Read more

Diller and Spielberg on the Growing Dominance of Streaming

On Kara Swisher’s podcast Recode Decode, Barry Diller declared that Hollywood is “now irrelevant,” adding that those executives who used to hold a lot of power now have much less and that the six movie companies that once dominated everything no longer do. “For the first time, they ain’t buying anything,” he said. “Meaning they’re not buying Netflix. They are not buying Amazon.” Meanwhile, at the Cinema Audio Society Awards, Steven Spielberg declared his affinity for the movie theater experience. Read more

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