U.K. Considers Big Tech Regulation in Preparation for Brexit

The U.K. government released a 150-page report stressing that the country needs to update its antitrust policies to deal with big technology companies. The report, which was ordered by the U.K.’s top treasury official, Exchequer chancellor Philip Hammond, states that the U.K. should implement tighter rules on acquisition in the tech sector to make it easier for new competitors to arise. The European Union and U.S. presidential hopefuls Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Amy Klobuchar have expressed similar points of view. Continue reading U.K. Considers Big Tech Regulation in Preparation for Brexit

TV Networks Partner on Technology to Deliver Targeted Ads

A consortium of television networks teamed up to create a technology standard for targeted advertising. Project OAR (Open Addressable Ready)’s watermark technology makes it easier to send specific ads to consumers with smart TVs. The consortium expects to complete its work by 2020. Such collaborative ventures are atypical for the highly competitive TV market. Currently, TV networks depend on cable and satellite operators to send targeted ads, and this technology will help networks control part of the process for smart TVs. Continue reading TV Networks Partner on Technology to Deliver Targeted Ads

Microsoft Closer to Consumer AR, Streaming Games Service

Magic Leap and Apple are the two technology companies currently at the forefront of augmented reality, but, behind the scenes, Microsoft has also been working on AR for years. It’s easy to discount Microsoft, since its HoloLens AR headset is squarely aimed at the enterprise sector. But the company also has its sights set on the consumer market. In addition, Microsoft has started to leak details about its upcoming Project xCloud cloud-based game streaming system. Project xCloud will enter beta testing this year. Continue reading Microsoft Closer to Consumer AR, Streaming Games Service

Companies Bid On Their Own Brands For Google Search Ads

According to NetMarketShare, Google controls 81+ percent of the mobile search market, which is why many businesses believe buying ads on the platform is necessary to stay in business. Appearing on top of search results is critical for many companies, and buying ads is the best way to achieve that. The urgency heats up when it comes to branded keywords, whereby companies must bid on their own names or see their rivals capture the space. If Lyft, for example, doesn’t buy the ad, Uber likely will, and grab the top spot. Continue reading Companies Bid On Their Own Brands For Google Search Ads

Microsoft Opens an AI Business School For Non-Tech Execs

Microsoft debuted its AI Business School, offering instructional videos and case studies to help business executives create and implement AI within their companies. The school, which is similar to such guides as Andrew Ng’s AI Transformation Playbook, grew out of three years of conversations with customers already implementing AI, as well as the company’s own experiences. Microsoft vice president of AI marketing and productization Mitra Azizirad said the guide will focus on strategy, culture, technology basics and AI ethics. Continue reading Microsoft Opens an AI Business School For Non-Tech Execs

Developers Are Struggling to Create Alexa-Centric Killer App

Four years after launching its program to allow outside developers to write apps for Alexa, Amazon’s voice system has some 80,000 “skills” — but no huge hit. In fact, most people with Alexa-enabled smart speakers still use them only to listen to music or make simple requests. That compares to Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store, each of which are home to over 550,000 apps, many of which have been huge successes for developers. But voice-centric apps are challenging to build and don’t appear to attract consumers. Continue reading Developers Are Struggling to Create Alexa-Centric Killer App

Elizabeth Warren Looks to Break Up Major Tech Companies

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) aims to be the Democratic Party’s candidate for the 2020 U.S. presidential election, but she just alienated Silicon Valley when she proposed to break up tech companies that generate more than $25 billion in online revenue. Her rationale is that companies such as Amazon, Facebook and Google have become too big and too powerful, squashing small businesses and innovation, and more focused on their financial well-being than “the broader interests of the American people.” Continue reading Elizabeth Warren Looks to Break Up Major Tech Companies

Analyst Predicts Apple’s AR Headset to Launch in Mid-2020

According to a recent note to investors written by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who is known for frequently having inside information on Apple’s product plans, Apple could begin mass production of its augmented reality headset by the end of 2019 and unveil it as early as mid-2020 — although he admitted the timeline is optimistic. In May 2018, however, Loup Ventures founder Gene Munster predicted we wouldn’t see the Apple AR headset until late 2021. Kuo stated his belief that Apple’s first AR device will only be a display, with the iPhone performing all the rendering, data connection and GPS. Continue reading Analyst Predicts Apple’s AR Headset to Launch in Mid-2020

Study’s Fantasy Text-Based Game Tests AI Agents’ Abilities

Facebook AI Research, the Lorraine Research Laboratory in Computer Science and its Applications (LORIA), and University College London recently conducted a study to determine if AI can navigate a fantasy text-based game, dubbed “LIGHT.” To examine the AI agents’ comprehension of the virtual world, the study investigated the so-called grounding dialogue, comprised of mutual knowledge, beliefs and assumptions allowing communication between two people. The large-scale, crowdsourced “LIGHT” environment allows AI and humans to interact. Continue reading Study’s Fantasy Text-Based Game Tests AI Agents’ Abilities

France Slated to Impose Tax on Digital Companies’ Revenue

The French government introduced a three percent tax on the revenue of technology companies such as Google and Amazon that offer e-commerce or targeted advertising in France. Experts estimate that the tax could reap “billions of dollars” from Silicon Valley companies. The tax is also likely to come up as a topic of conversation in U.S. and European talks, convened by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), about corporate taxes in the digital age. Europe is pushing to tax Silicon Valley companies on profits made there. Continue reading France Slated to Impose Tax on Digital Companies’ Revenue

Disney to Move Its Classic Movies to New Streaming Service

At Disney’s annual meeting, chair/chief executive Bob Iger made several upbeat announcements to shareholders. First, he assured them that regulatory approval of the 21st Century Fox acquisition will close “soon” and that the expanded company will “hit the ground running.” He also revealed that Disney will debut its immersive Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge experience earlier than expected: May 31 at in Disneyland, and August 29 at Disney World. Other big news was that Disney Plus (also known as Disney+) will carry the company’s entire “Vault” program. Continue reading Disney to Move Its Classic Movies to New Streaming Service

Tech Companies Appeal an Increase in Songwriter Royalties

Spotify, Google, Pandora and Amazon have joined forces to appeal a decision of the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) they believe “harms both music licensees and copyright owners.” In separate filings, the companies are asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to review the decision regarding “recently issued … U.S. mechanical statutory rates” that they said “raises serious procedural and substantive concerns.” With the rule as it stands, songwriters would receive a 44 percent increase in payments. Proponents suggest the rule is necessary for songwriters in a digital age. Continue reading Tech Companies Appeal an Increase in Songwriter Royalties

Mark Zuckerberg States Intent to Upend Facebook’s Basics

Mark Zuckerberg, who runs Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger, stated his intent to focus on private and encrypted communications that can be deleted after a certain amount of time. This new goal is opposite the originally stated purpose of Facebook, which was built around public posts in what he said would resemble a digital town square. Zuckerberg said the first step towards this new goal for Facebook would be to integrate Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger, to enable cross-application messaging. Continue reading Mark Zuckerberg States Intent to Upend Facebook’s Basics

Huawei Sues U.S. Over Law Banning Sale of Its 5G Products

Huawei Technologies challenged the constitutionality of the National Defense Authorization Act’s provision that restricts federal agencies from buying any product from the Chinese telecom, its rival ZTE or third parties, such as contractors. One of Huawei’s chairmen, Guo Ping, stated that, in passing this law, “Congress acted unconstitutionally as judge, jury and executioner.” Huawei also opened a Cyber Security Transparency center in Brussels to allay suspicions that it is involved in espionage for China. Continue reading Huawei Sues U.S. Over Law Banning Sale of Its 5G Products

Rivals Qualcomm, Apple Cite National Security in 5G Cases

Qualcomm stated that a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) case arguing it suppressed competition in smartphone chips and charged excessive licensing fees could risk U.S. national security. The company is joined by officials from the Defense and Energy Departments who, said sources, have urged FTC commissioners to settle the lawsuit. Those opposing the case contend that Qualcomm’s financial losses from its passage will limit its ability to compete with China’s Huawei Technologies in developing 5G networks and equipment. Continue reading Rivals Qualcomm, Apple Cite National Security in 5G Cases

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