Amazon Music Debuts Voice Feature to Customize Playlists

Amazon Music debuted a voice feature that lets Amazon Music Unlimited and Prime Music customers on Echo devices and in the Amazon Music iOS and Android apps converse with Alexa to find playlists and music for specific moods. The listener can identify songs by lyrics, among other features, and reject or “like” individual songs. Amazon’s overall aim is to allow each listener to create a more customized listening experience. Amazon is also in trials with a feature that allows Alexa Answers to be shared worldwide. Continue reading Amazon Music Debuts Voice Feature to Customize Playlists

Industry Experts Say Music Streaming, Vinyl Not Competitors

Although streaming may be hastening the end of the CD, it’s actually helping sales of vinyl. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) reported this year that 75 percent of the music revenue in the country comes from streaming services such as Apple Music and Spotify. At the same time that CD sales have plummeted, vinyl sales have risen $2 million per year over the last three years. At a Making Vinyl conference in Detroit, experts said that streaming and vinyl are not competitive, but rather complementary. Continue reading Industry Experts Say Music Streaming, Vinyl Not Competitors

Pandora Launches Beta Version of Podcast Genome Project

With over half-a-million podcasts today, discoverability is often difficult for consumers. To make the process easier, Pandora has come up with its algorithm-based Podcast Genome Project, first announced a year ago and just released in beta. Pandora rose to success with its initial Music Genome Project, and the Podcast version is similar, in that it uses more than 1,500 tags to create a recommendation engine. Also similar to the Music Genome Project, the Podcast Genome Project relies on humans as an adjunct to the algorithms. Continue reading Pandora Launches Beta Version of Podcast Genome Project

Instagram Star: What It Takes to Build and Maintain a Career

Instagram stars excel at making their beautiful lives seem effortless, but according to one such professional, Meghan Young, it’s harder than it looks. Social media influencers who go pro receive money from companies whose products they endorse. That such a career even exists is due to billions of users eager to consume aspirational content and advertisers eager to reach a young demographic. Marketing agency Mediakix estimates that companies will spend $1.6 billion this year on Instagram influencers alone. Continue reading Instagram Star: What It Takes to Build and Maintain a Career

Amazon Unveils Graviton, Its Own ARM Chips for Data Centers

In a surprise announcement, Amazon revealed that it is making its own chips, dubbed Graviton, for its cloud computing division. Similarly, Google also recently stated its plans to create chips for artificial intelligence algorithms in its data center. Amazon’s chips are likewise targeting its data centers, where the company hopes to better integrate software and hardware, resulting in less expensive services for customers. Typically, companies like Amazon and Google would use AMD or Intel’s off-the-shelf chips. Continue reading Amazon Unveils Graviton, Its Own ARM Chips for Data Centers

NBCU Testing Machine Learning Tool for Better Ad Placement

NBCUniversal introduced its Contextual Intelligence Platform, a machine learning-powered tool that places ads in the most relevant spots across its many media properties. The tool examines program scripts, closed captions, and visual descriptions of the program and ads to find the best moment for an advertiser’s spot. The tool also relies on proprietary algorithms to gauge the emotionality of each scene. NBCU is beta-testing the system with three to five advertisers, and plans to release it in early 2019. Continue reading NBCU Testing Machine Learning Tool for Better Ad Placement

Intel Launches Neural Network Stick to Embed AI in IoT Devices

Intel just announced its latest invention: the Neural Compute Stick 2 (NCS2), a self-contained neural network on a thumb drive. NCS2 is intended to make the process of embedding intelligence into Internet of Things and network edge devices faster and easier. Edge devices, which include routers, switches, gateways and a range of IoT devices, are defined as any hardware that controls the flow of data between the boundaries of two networks. The announcement came just before Intel’s first AI developers’ conference in Beijing. Continue reading Intel Launches Neural Network Stick to Embed AI in IoT Devices

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

Accounting, Finance Industries Demand Explainable AI Tools

As artificial intelligence-based tools become more widespread in the business industry, cloud service companies are debuting tools that explain the artificial intelligence algorithms they use to provide more transparency and assure users of their ethical behavior. That’s because regulated industries are demanding it. Capital One and Bank of America are just two such companies interested in using AI to improve detection of fraud, but want to know how the algorithms work before they implement such tools. Continue reading Accounting, Finance Industries Demand Explainable AI Tools

Google Shares New Vision for Search: Keeping Users Closer

At an event on the “Future of Search,” Google unveiled what’s next for its search engine. The Google homepage will start highlighting a user’s frequently searched topics before she begins searching, in response to a finding that one in eight queries per month are repeats. Google Feed is being rebranded as “Discover,” and will be placed underneath the Google.com search bar on all mobile browsers, highlighting news, video and information Google believes the user is interested in. Visuals will be more prominent on the site. Continue reading Google Shares New Vision for Search: Keeping Users Closer

Journalists Unveil The Markup to Investigate Tech Algorithms

ProPublica journalist Julia Angwin has worked with programmers and data scientists to uncover the algorithms used by big tech companies such as Facebook and how these tools can be used to promote scams, racial bias and extremist content. Now, with a $20 million gift from Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, Angwin and data journalist Jeff Larson are starting The Markup, a new site focused on investigating technology and its impact on society. Wikimedia Foundation former head Sue Gardner will be executive director. Continue reading Journalists Unveil The Markup to Investigate Tech Algorithms

Huawei Kirin 980: First 7nm Mobile Chip Amps Up Processing

Huawei, in partnership with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), debuted the Kirin 980, the first mobile chip fabricated on a 7nm process. The Kirin 980 features 6.9 billion onboard transistors, about 1.6 times the number on the Kirin 970, while shrinking the die size down from 10nm. The result offers a 40 percent reduction in power consumption, and a 20 percent improvement in several processing metrics. That feat took 1,000 senior engineers three years and more than 5,000 prototypes to achieve success. Continue reading Huawei Kirin 980: First 7nm Mobile Chip Amps Up Processing

Facebook, Twitter Turn to Algorithms to Weed Out Bad Actors

Facebook revealed a ratings system it has been developing over the past year, assigning users a “reputation score” that estimates their trustworthiness on a scale from zero to one. The idea behind the system is to weed out bad actors, according to Facebook product manager Tessa Lyons who is in charge of the battle against fake news. Up until now, Facebook, like other tech companies, has depended on users to report problematic content, but discovered that users began to file false reports about items they said were untrue. Continue reading Facebook, Twitter Turn to Algorithms to Weed Out Bad Actors

Why This Reviewer Hails Mastodon as a Refuge From Twitter

For people who may be growing tired of Twitter, there is Mastodon, an open-source community-run microblogging website that first appeared in 2017. The social media platform lets users post “toots” and “boost” other users’ posts. The decentralized network exists as numerous “instances,” each of which has its own rules and administrators and which together form a “federation.” There is no central server, so if one “instance” stumbles in some way (for example, forgets to pay for the Internet), none of the other instances are harmed. Continue reading Why This Reviewer Hails Mastodon as a Refuge From Twitter

Netflix Deletes All Customer Reviews Based on Declining Use

After last month’s announcement, Netflix began to remove all customer reviews of TV shows, movies and other programming from its site, saying it was due to “declining use.” Although Netflix did allow customers to post new reviews until July 30, the company said it will have erased more than ten years’ worth of reviews by mid-August. Netflix removed the five-star rating system a year ago. Rival services Amazon, Apple’s iTunes and App Store, Google Play and Rotten Tomatoes still display user reviews and ratings. Continue reading Netflix Deletes All Customer Reviews Based on Declining Use

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