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Disney Tests Prototype, Pursues Patent for Soft-Bodied Robot

Disney recently submitted a patent application for “a robot that will move and physically interact like an animated character.” The prototype sketch with the application shows a round body similar to the soft-robot character in Disney’s 2014 “Big Hero 6.” Before soft-body robots can be employed at Disney theme parks, the company will have to deal with the issue of robotic interaction safety, since the patent application implies that theme park guests will be able to hug the soft-body characters. Read more

Amazon, Google, Microsoft Democratize AI Tools in the Cloud

Recently, Microsoft software that integrates machine learning spotted a temperature problem in a massive beer vat at Deschutes Brewery, and automatically fixed it, saving the company from a big loss. Deschutes Brewery accesses the software via Microsoft’s cloud computing service, a growing trend among all kinds of businesses relying on such tools from Amazon and Google as well as Microsoft. Use of AI is becoming more widespread as it becomes available as software in the cloud, rather than a huge hardware expenditure. Read more

Tech Companies Plan to Open Major Data Centers Worldwide

Some of the world’s biggest technology companies — namely, Amazon, Microsoft and Google — are investing in massive data centers, dubbed hyperscale computing, to better provide services in the cloud. In that vein, Amazon just announced that it will open an immense network of data centers in Stockholm next year. According to company filings, the three companies spent $31.54 billion in 2016 alone in capital expenditures and leases, in major part linked to improving cloud offerings, which increased 22 percent from 2015. Read more

Third-Party Sellers on Amazon Become Latest Hacking Target

Hackers are reportedly targeting third-party sellers on Amazon by using stolen email and password credentials (available for purchase from previous hacks via the “Dark Web”) in a scam to post fake product deals online and pocket cash. Thieves have changed the bank info of active sellers on Amazon to steal amounts up to tens of thousands from each and have hacked less active sellers to post merchandise that does not exist, offering products at steep discounts. While PayPal and eBay have been targeted by hackers in the past, cybersecurity experts indicate that Amazon is becoming a new target. Read more

Amazon’s Free Shipping Casts Shadow Over Smaller Retailers

As Amazon rapidly expands its free shipping, retailers are struggling to compete, looking to a range of fulfillment companies to help offer faster, less expensive delivery options. Amazon Prime provides two-day shipping on millions of items found on its site. Shipping companies such as FedEx, threatened by Amazon’s reach, have targeted smaller businesses, from startups to midsized national chains, that can’t compete with Amazon, Walmart and other big retailers spending billlions of dollars to speed-up delivery. Read more

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