Google Brain Leverages AI to Generate Wikipedia-Like Articles

The latest project out of Google Brain, the company’s machine learning research lab, has been using AI software to write Wikipedia-style articles by summarizing information on the Internet. But it’s not easy to condense social media, blogs, articles, memes and other digital information into salient articles, and the project’s results have been mixed. The team, in a paper just accepted at the International Conference on Learning Representations (ICLR), describes how difficult it has been. Continue reading Google Brain Leverages AI to Generate Wikipedia-Like Articles

Google Releases its Chrome-Based Ad Blocker, Critics Cry Foul

Google just released its Chrome-based ad blocker designed to stop ads from sites that are repeat offenders of the Coalition for Better Ads standard. Especially strict are Google’s standards for mobile ads; it will filter out pop-up ads, ad displayed before the content loads, autoplay video ads with sound, large sticky ads, flashing animated ads, fullscreen scroll-over ads and particularly dense ads. Some critics, however, say Google blacklisted ad formats that won’t impact its own business. Continue reading Google Releases its Chrome-Based Ad Blocker, Critics Cry Foul

Uber, Waymo Settle Lawsuit for $245 Million, 4 Days into Trial

Uber Technologies has settled a year-old lawsuit brought by Alphabet’s self-driving vehicle unit Waymo, which claimed that Uber stole and used trade secrets. In the agreement, Uber said it would not use Waymo technology in its autonomous vehicles and make certain that no such Waymo components were already in use. The ride-hailing firm also agreed to give Waymo 0.34 percent of its equity, equal to about $245 million, based on a valuation of $72 billion. The companies settled four days after the trial started. Continue reading Uber, Waymo Settle Lawsuit for $245 Million, 4 Days into Trial

Alphabet, Amazon and Apple Post Record-Breaking Quarters

Alphabet, Amazon and Apple recorded glowing quarterly financial results for Q4 2017, for a combined market value of over $2 trillion. Apple’s revenue rose 13 percent to $88.29 billion, in part due to the iPhone X. Alphabet marked its 32nd consecutive quarter of revenue growth of 20 percent or more, and a 38 percent increase in revenue to $60.5 billion, with $1 billion per quarter profit in cloud computing. Amazon built beyond its core market, with the largest cloud-computing business, a Hollywood studio and the purchase of Whole Foods. Continue reading Alphabet, Amazon and Apple Post Record-Breaking Quarters

Alphabet, Uber and Lyft Take Actions to Promote Smart Cities

In October 2017, Alphabet debuted a partnership with Toronto to further the goals of a smart city. Dubbed Sidewalk Labs, Alphabet plans to observe and measure how people live, to optimize city streets. To that end, Alphabet just launched another venture under the Sidewalk Labs rubric, Coord, intended to utilize the company’s cloud-based platform to streamline transportation networks. Separately, ride-sharing competitors Uber and Lyft, with 13 other companies, signed a shared “mobility pledge” to enable more livable cities. Continue reading Alphabet, Uber and Lyft Take Actions to Promote Smart Cities

YouTube Introduces Plan to Unify Artists’ Disparate Channels

YouTube debuted plans to streamline its service by consolidating artists’ channels. In doing so, it will combine separate channels for live albums, music videos, live performances, single songs and complete albums to a single site. Among YouTube’s many music partners, the new plan will especially impact Vevo channels where Official Artist Channels, marked with a musical note, will be the first thing a user sees in search. Channels can still be accessed with YouTube’s advanced channel filter in search. Continue reading YouTube Introduces Plan to Unify Artists’ Disparate Channels

Apple Announces Launch Date of Delayed HomePod Speaker

Apple’s wireless smart speaker HomePod will hit shelves February 9, with pre-orders starting this Friday in the U.S., U.K. and Australia. The device was delayed from its intended December launch, costing Apple sales during the recent holiday shopping season. The voice-activated speaker will compete with market leaders Amazon Echo and Google Home devices. At $349, the HomePod is priced more than $200 higher than the current market leaders, but on par with the $400 Google Home Max. Apple is emphasizing the device’s “stunning sound quality” for playing music. Continue reading Apple Announces Launch Date of Delayed HomePod Speaker

Google Plans Undersea Cables to Ramp Up its Cloud Business

Google has revealed plans to build three underwater fiber-optic cables for ocean areas from the Pacific to the North Sea, in order to speed the transfer of data and catch up with Amazon and Microsoft. The new undersea cables are slated for completion by 2019 and will also allow Google to reroute data to servers around the globe to avoid an overloaded or failed region. Although the cables will cost a significant amount — “hundreds of millions of dollars” — Google believes the move is its only option to compete in cloud computing. Continue reading Google Plans Undersea Cables to Ramp Up its Cloud Business

Big Tech Firms Batten Down the Hatches for Midterm Elections

As the midterm elections approach, some tech companies are making changes to minimize harm and build credibility. Facebook plans to let users rank news sources they see as most trustworthy, as a means of prioritizing high-quality news. Twitter, which is still cleaning house from the presidential election, reports it has discovered 1,062 more accounts linked to an official Russian propaganda unit. Google and YouTube chief executives have promised to examine videos and other content more closely to ferret out misleading news. Continue reading Big Tech Firms Batten Down the Hatches for Midterm Elections

YouTube Promises Human Vetting of Google Preferred Videos

After YouTube star Logan Paul posted a video of a dead body hanging in a Japanese forest, YouTube again promised to scrutinize its top videos more closely, and also change the threshold for which videos can accept ads. Last year, marketers discovered their ads were being shown next to extremist videos. In response, YouTube developed new policies to give advertisers more control over the placement of their content and said it would better police videos. But the Logan Paul video shows just how challenging that can be. Continue reading YouTube Promises Human Vetting of Google Preferred Videos

Google and Lenovo Intro First Standalone Daydream Headset

Google teamed with Lenovo to launch a new standalone VR headset with specialized cameras that intends to reach beyond gaming. The new Lenovo Mirage Solo, on display at CES this week, features VR180 cameras designed to encourage users to capture 360-degree video. Google hopes this will help ramp up the current lack of VR content. The headset runs Daydream and is designed to interact with Google services such as YouTube and digital maps. The Mirage Solo touts displays that do not blur during user movement, and does not require a PC or smartphone. It is expected to ship by Q2 2018 for less than $400. Continue reading Google and Lenovo Intro First Standalone Daydream Headset

BlackBerry Bets on Operating Systems for Self-Driving Vehicles

BlackBerry is now focusing its efforts on QNX, a division to create technology for in-car entertainment and information systems. The Canadian company plans to spend $76 million and double its QNX engineering staff to 1,000 in the next few years. Although BlackBerry competes with major tech companies in autonomous vehicles, it has already inked partnerships with Ford Motor Company and General Motors’ spinoff Aptiv (formerly Delphi Automotive). Deals with Tata Motors and Jaguar Land Rover are also pending. QNX tech will be on display at CES 2018 next month. Continue reading BlackBerry Bets on Operating Systems for Self-Driving Vehicles

YouTube Signs Agreement With Universal, Sony Music Labels

After two years of negotiations, YouTube is finally inking a long-term pact with Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment, the top two music labels. The new agreement, say the labels, establishes royalty rates for rights holders of professional music videos and user-loaded clips, offers stronger policing of uploads of copyrighted songs, and gives artists more money and flexibility. The deal is also a precursor to YouTube launching a paid music service early in 2018. Continue reading YouTube Signs Agreement With Universal, Sony Music Labels

Amazon Lowers Echo Prices to Gain Foothold in Smart Home

It’s a great time to buy a smart speaker, due to Amazon lowering prices of its six Echo devices on Black Friday. Over the Thanksgiving Day weekend, the entry-level Dot — whose price plummeted from $50 to $30 — became the No. 1 seller on Amazon’s website. Amazon, Apple and Google share the same strategy for smart speakers and their virtual assistants: as an entry point to the connected home. But because home speakers’ functionality is limited, consumers don’t see them as necessary and aren’t willing to pay a high price. Continue reading Amazon Lowers Echo Prices to Gain Foothold in Smart Home

YouTube Readies Subscription-Based Music Streaming Service

According to sources, YouTube will debut a paid music service in March, marking the third attempt by parent company Alphabet to compete with Spotify and Apple. Warner Music Group has reportedly already signed on to the new effort and discussions are underway with the other two major record labels, Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group, as well as Merlin, an alliance of independent labels. Apple and Spotify’s paid streaming music services have helped the music business grow after two decades of decline. Continue reading YouTube Readies Subscription-Based Music Streaming Service

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