Facebook Explores Robotics and NLP, Opens More AI Labs

To strengthen its AI Research division (FAIR) and focus on robotics, Facebook is adding five highly regarded computer scientists to its Menlo Park, California headquarters, as well as facilities in Pittsburgh, Seattle and London. The new hires include Carnegie Mellon University professors Jessica Hodgins and Abhinav Gupta, who will head a lab focusing on robotics, a newer area for Facebook. University of Washington’s Luke Zettlemoyer, an expert on natural language processing (NLP), will join the Seattle AI research team. Continue reading Facebook Explores Robotics and NLP, Opens More AI Labs

Netflix Q2 Subscriber Dip Likely Just a Blip in Overall Picture

In Q2 2018, Netflix reported lower subscriber growth numbers than Wall Street predicted, causing its stock to fall 14 percent in after-hours trading. The company added 670,000 subscribers domestically and 4.47 million internationally, which significantly missed predictions of 1.23 million in the U.S. and 5.11 million international. The streaming content company also made predictions on its Q3 growth below the forecasts of analysts. Company executives said they did not know why subscriber growth was less than expected. Continue reading Netflix Q2 Subscriber Dip Likely Just a Blip in Overall Picture

Facebook Strategizes Ways to Draft Off Instagram’s Growth

Instagram is threatening to overshadow its parent company Facebook. The platform now has 1 billion users, more than Facebook had when it bought Instagram for $715 million, and, according to Bloomberg Intelligence, is worth more than $100 billion. Most critically, Instagram appeals to a younger demographic, which Facebook needs to keep growing. Other Facebook users are also gravitating to Instagram’s more lighthearted photo and video app, in the wake of Facebook’s involvement in privacy and political scandals. Continue reading Facebook Strategizes Ways to Draft Off Instagram’s Growth

IBM and MIT Media Lab Test AI Recommendation Algorithm

Tech companies rely on artificial intelligence algorithms to recommend content, thus keeping users on their apps and platforms. While the benefit of that is obvious for the companies using AI, how the consumer might reap rewards is less clear. Some of those same companies are now asking themselves if they can both use AI to keep the consumer’s attention while also adhering to an ethical framework. IBM Research and MIT Media Lab have developed a recommendation technique that its research scientists say does just that. Continue reading IBM and MIT Media Lab Test AI Recommendation Algorithm

Microsoft Calls On Congress to Regulate Facial Recognition

Microsoft is calling for regulation of facial recognition technology, with president Bradford Smith writing a blog post detailing its potential misuse, and comparing it to medicine and cars, both of which are highly regulated. He urged Congress to act, saying that, “government needs to play an important role in regulating facial recognition technology,” and that, “a world with vigorous regulation of products that are useful but potentially troubling is better than a world devoid of legal standards.” Continue reading Microsoft Calls On Congress to Regulate Facial Recognition

Intel to Purchase eASIC to Expand Programmable Solutions

Intel is acquiring eASIC, a 120-person custom chip company in Silicon Valley, to help boost its Programmable Solutions Group. The company stated that, “FPGAs [field programmable gate arrays] are experiencing expanding adoption due to their versatility and real-time performance,” and that “eASIC has a proven, 19-year success record … [and its] addition … will help us meet customers’ diverse needs of time-to-market, features, performance, cost, power and product life cycles.” Terms of the deal were not revealed. Continue reading Intel to Purchase eASIC to Expand Programmable Solutions

Apple Targets Creatives With MacBook Pro Speed, Features

Apple’s latest 15-inch and 13-inch MacBook Pros feature improvements in processor speeds, RAM and internal storage, and allow the user to access Siri with voice commands. The new MacBook Pros also feature a much quieter keyboard. The 15-inch version, with a six-core processor, is estimated to be 70 percent faster than the previous model, and the amount of memory and storage is double the amount of the previous model. It also gave a seal of approval to Blackmagic’s eGPU peripheral, ideal for intensive graphics use. Continue reading Apple Targets Creatives With MacBook Pro Speed, Features

Senators Request Investigation of Smart TV Privacy Practices

Senators Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) have written a letter to Federal Trade Commission chair Joseph Simons requesting that his agency investigate the business practices of smart TV manufacturers. The two senators are concerned about “consumer privacy issues raised by the proliferation of smart TV technology,” since some companies are able to identify what people are watching and use that data to feed ads to other device’s in the consumer’s home. Continue reading Senators Request Investigation of Smart TV Privacy Practices

OTOY Rolls Out Blockchain-Based Rendering Platform RNDR

OTOY, a Los Angeles-based visual effects software firm, launched RNDR to allow more people to create 3D computer generated images. The company, which created software used for productions such as “Westworld” and “The Avengers,” relied on cloud, blockchain and cryptocurrency technologies to create a way that people can create 3D imagery rendered by shared hardware hosted in the cloud, and then sold and/or traded via blockchain. Doing so, says chief executive Jules Urbach, reduces the cost, time and labor of creating such assets. Continue reading OTOY Rolls Out Blockchain-Based Rendering Platform RNDR

Major Advertisers Use Blockchain to Trim Digital Ad Spending

Anheuser-Busch, AT&T, Kellogg, Bayer and Nestle are a few of the advertisers using blockchain to dig deeper into the economics of online advertising. With blockchain, they can learn if real people or bots are viewing their ads and how much of their digital ad spending is going to middlemen. Blockchain, touted as a secure and transparent way to keep transaction records, is booming, and now the advertising world — rife with less-than-transparent dealings — hopes that blockchain can help cut down on wasted dollars. Continue reading Major Advertisers Use Blockchain to Trim Digital Ad Spending

U.S. Commerce Department Lifts Trade Ban on China’s ZTE

Following a deal made by President Trump, the U.S. Commerce Department has given the go-ahead to Chinese telecom company ZTE to resume its commercial relations with U.S. suppliers. ZTE was told the ban would be lifted once the company placed $400 million into an escrow account and paid a $1 billion fine, part of the penalty the Department had imposed on ZTE for breaking an earlier agreement to not sell to Iran and North Korea. ZTE’s failure to make good on this agreement led the Commerce Department to ban U.S. companies from selling to the Chinese company. Continue reading U.S. Commerce Department Lifts Trade Ban on China’s ZTE

Wattpad Disrupts Hollywood Status Quo as New IP Incubator

Wattpad, a digital literature app with social networking, draws 65 million unique monthly visitors with a core readership of 13- to 35-year-olds, who spend about 20 billion combined minutes per month on the site. The site is home to user-generated stories and fan fiction in a wide range of genres, including sci-fi, young adult, horror and poetry. Wattpad also debuted Wattpad Studios two years ago, a “one-stop shop” for new intellectual properties in Hollywood, such as “The Kissing Booth,” a story turned into a Netflix movie. Continue reading Wattpad Disrupts Hollywood Status Quo as New IP Incubator

AT&T, Magic Leap Strike Exclusive Mobile Distribution Deal

AT&T inked an exclusive partnership with Magic Leap to distribute its augmented reality glasses. Later this year, potential buyers will be able to try them out at stores in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Magic Leap, which promises a “more practical” AR experience, is reportedly debuting a Creator Edition version later this year. With the deal, AT&T, which is making an equity investment in the company, will offer wireless service and content, most likely from existing partners such as the NBA. Continue reading AT&T, Magic Leap Strike Exclusive Mobile Distribution Deal

Facebook Faces First Fine for Cambridge Analytica Scandal

The British Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) levied the toughest fine possible — 500,000 pounds (or about $660,000) — against Facebook for allowing Cambridge Analytica to harvest the personal data of millions of people without their consent. The ICO, the agency that enforces the United Kingdom’s data protection laws, began investigating Facebook’s possible misuse of personal data in May 2017, but revelations of the Cambridge Analytica incident spurred it to complete its examination. Continue reading Facebook Faces First Fine for Cambridge Analytica Scandal

New Features Make it Easier to Run Ads on Google Services

Google launched four new ad products to automate the process of buying ads and create a central marketing hub for Google. Via an integration with Shopify, Google now runs shopping ads on its site and enables advertisers to buy these ads directly through Shopify, a move that helps both companies fend off rival Amazon. The new ad products allow marketers to set a goal and then pursue it with ads across Google Search, Google Maps, YouTube and the Internet. Google ads head Sridhar Ramaswamy describes it as a “one-stop shop.” Continue reading New Features Make it Easier to Run Ads on Google Services

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