Netflix Unveils Ambitious Slate of Animated Features, Series

Netflix released its four-year plan to produce a variety of animated series and feature films. The company usually withholds information about upcoming projects until just prior to release, but animation typically involves a long lead-time. As a result, Netflix is publicizing its family-oriented programming in advance, similar to Disney, Pixar and DreamWorks. Netflix also revealed that 60 percent of its users watch family-friendly fare every month and that the new content is intended to appeal to “the tastes of every member of the family.” Continue reading Netflix Unveils Ambitious Slate of Animated Features, Series

AMD Debuts Zen 2 Chip Architecture, Turns to Chiplet Design

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) debuted Zen 2 processor architecture, a follow-up to the Zen design introduced in March 2017, to be launched beginning in 2019. AMD chief executive Lisa Su said the Zen 2 doubles performance of the first Zen generation, which itself could process 52 percent more instructions per clock cycle than its previous generation. The company hopes its new processors will help it surpass or at least maintain parity with Intel processors. AMD is also relying on new chiplet design to maintain growth. Continue reading AMD Debuts Zen 2 Chip Architecture, Turns to Chiplet Design

Alternative Data Company Thasos to Offer Info to Bloomberg

Your smartphone creates data constantly, and now a few companies are leveraging it to give Wall Street traders a leg up on market movements. So-called alternative data includes a range of information, from credit-card charges to construction permits. Thasos is one of the leading companies reaping such data from about 1,000 apps, which share the user’s location. Beginning this month, AI-based data analytics firm Thasos Group will offer its data through Bloomberg terminals. Company founder/chief executive Greg Skibiski calls the smartphone a “beacon.” Continue reading Alternative Data Company Thasos to Offer Info to Bloomberg

Tim Berners-Lee Publishes Magna Carta for a Better Internet

At Web Summit 2018 in Lisbon this week, Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, unveiled his “Contract for the Web,” which outlines central principles to protect users from abuse, discrimination, political manipulation and other ills. More than 50 organizations have signed the contract, which was published on Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web Foundation site. The full contract will be published in May 2019, when it is deemed that half the world’s population will be able to access the web. Berners-Lee also published a call-to-action. Continue reading Tim Berners-Lee Publishes Magna Carta for a Better Internet

In First, Amazon Offers Free Holiday Shipping for All Orders

To better compete with Walmart and Target for online holiday shopping, Amazon will offer free shipping without the $25 minimum purchase required of shoppers who are not Prime members. This first-time Amazon offer is good only in the U.S., and will be in effect from November 5 until Amazon can no longer promise delivery in time for Christmas, typically five to eight days. Also for the upcoming holiday season, Amazon plans to add 100,000 staffers, fewer than the last two holiday seasons, evidence that the company is successfully automating operations. Continue reading In First, Amazon Offers Free Holiday Shipping for All Orders

Unfold, an App for Designing Instagram Stories, Gains Steam

Instagram’s Stories — featuring short, disappearing photos and videos — are now read by 400 million people per day. An app called Unfold, created specifically for Instagram Stories, is growing in popularity. Alfonso Cobo, an architect, created Unfold in March 2017 and the app already has 11 million users. Cobo is also opening a design agency to help brands and companies that need to create compelling content for Stories. Cobo originally created Unfold as an app for designers to use the iPad to create portfolios. Continue reading Unfold, an App for Designing Instagram Stories, Gains Steam

Oregon Senator Proposes a Consumer Data Protection Bill

Oregon Democratic Senator Ron Wyden drafted a data privacy bill akin to the recent General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) legislation in Europe. Dubbed the Consumer Data Protection Act, Wyden’s bill would give users more control over selling and sharing their data, and would give the Federal Trade Commission authority to set privacy and security standards and fine those companies that do not protect consumer data. One provision is a “Do Not Track” feature that would allow people to opt out of being tracked. Continue reading Oregon Senator Proposes a Consumer Data Protection Bill

20th Century Fox, Google Use AI to Analyze Movie Trailers

Researchers at 20th Century Fox published a paper to reveal how they are using artificial intelligence to analyze movie trailers. Published last month, the paper described Merlin, the code name for machine vision systems examining trailers frame by frame and labeling the objects and events. Then this data is compared to data from other trailers, with the idea that trailers with similar labels will attract similar kinds of people. Movie studios already cull similar data via interviews and questionnaires. Continue reading 20th Century Fox, Google Use AI to Analyze Movie Trailers

‘League of Legends’ Tournament Highlights eSports Growth

In South Korea, where eSports was born, a world championship match-up between the Chinese team Invictus Gaming and European team Fnatic was watched by tens of millions of fans around the world. The two battled out the championship finals of “League of Legends” in a 50,000-seat stadium in Incheon, where the Chinese team won the championship for the first time. Riot Games’ “League of Legends” (dubbed LoL by fans), released ten years ago, is still highly esteemed in the $13 billion global gaming industry. Continue reading ‘League of Legends’ Tournament Highlights eSports Growth

IBM, Harvard University Develop New Tool for AI Translation

At the IEEE Conference on Visual Analytics Science and Technology in Berlin, IBM and Harvard University researchers presented Seq2Seq-Vis, a tool to debug machine translation tools. Translation tools rely on neural networks, which, because they are opaque, make it difficult to determine how mistakes were made. For that reason, it’s known as the “black box problem.” Seq2Seq-Vis allows deep-learning app creators to visualize AI’s decision-making process as it translates a sequence of words from one language to another. Continue reading IBM, Harvard University Develop New Tool for AI Translation

Intel, Tencent Partner on New AI Products to Advance Retail

Intel and China’s Tencent have partnered to create two AI-powered products. Announced at Tencent’s Global Partner conference, the two companies revealed DeepGaze, which uses artificial intelligence to track customers in brick-and-mortar stores, and YouBox, also designed for use in retail settings, an on-premises server that uses AI to input real-time feeds from up to 16 cameras. Both products were developed in Tencent’s YouTu Lab for computer vision research, and sport Intel’s Movidius Myriad chips. Continue reading Intel, Tencent Partner on New AI Products to Advance Retail

Apple Shares Dip Despite Report of Record Revenue, Profit

Apple reported record revenue and profit for the fourth consecutive quarter, due to higher iPhone prices and App Store sales, but shares fell 6.5 percent to $207.76 in after-hours trading. Investors were unhappy about the company’s announcement that it plans to stop reporting unit sales for products. Apple’s numbers reflect a trend of tech share price drops, due to investor concern about the combination of high valuations, slowing revenue growth and rising costs. Apple forecasts that December quarter revenue will be between $89 billion and $93 billion. Continue reading Apple Shares Dip Despite Report of Record Revenue, Profit

YouTube Grows Investment in Creators for Change Program

In light of how bad actors use online platforms to sow dissension and disinformation, many beleaguered tech behemoths have added another tool in its arsenal to fight this problem: so-called counterspeech initiatives. The term is based on Supreme Court Louis Brandeis’ statement that the best remedy for bad speech isn’t silence but more speech. YouTube — in addition to Redirect Method, which sends users searching for terrorism-related keywords to videos offering an alternative view — has its Creators for Change program. Continue reading YouTube Grows Investment in Creators for Change Program

Facebook’s VideoStory Relies on AI to Automate Storytelling

Facebook’s video clips get over 8 billion views a day on average, but people with bad Internet connections or disabilities often don’t have access to them. That led Facebook to create VideoStory, which the company described in a research paper as “A Dataset for Telling the Stories of Social Media Videos.” The paper, to be delivered at the Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing, noted that, “automatically telling the stories using multi-sentence descriptions of videos would allow bridging this gap.” Continue reading Facebook’s VideoStory Relies on AI to Automate Storytelling

Amid Record Profits, Samsung Faces a Slowing Chip Market

Samsung Electronics reported an approximately 20 percent increase in operating profit for the latest quarter from a year earlier, resulting in a record high profit of about $15 billion. But that sudden lift may not last. According to industry experts, the higher numbers are due to increased demand for memory chips for use in data centers and smartphones. Samsung and other chipmakers invested to expand production, but now demand for smartphones (and other consumer electronics) is reaching a plateau. Continue reading Amid Record Profits, Samsung Faces a Slowing Chip Market

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