In First, Amazon Offers Free Holiday Shipping for All Orders

To better compete with Walmart and Target for online holiday shopping, Amazon will offer free shipping without the $25 minimum purchase required of shoppers who are not Prime members. This first-time Amazon offer is good only in the U.S., and will be in effect from November 5 until Amazon can no longer promise delivery in time for Christmas, typically five to eight days. Also for the upcoming holiday season, Amazon plans to add 100,000 staffers, fewer than the last two holiday seasons, evidence that the company is successfully automating operations. Continue reading In First, Amazon Offers Free Holiday Shipping for All Orders

Unity Deepens Storytelling Workbench With CineCast Feature

At the Unite 2018 developers conference last week, Unity Technologies’ head of cinematics, Adam Myhill, unveiled CineCast, a synthetic co-director for filming video games that has implications for narrative storytelling and sports broadcasts of all kinds. Myhill, with the help of four players and a stand-in director — professional gamer Stephanie Harvey — demoed the CineCast mode for “GTFO,” a first-person shooter and the first property to use CineCast. Under Harvey’s watchful eye, CineCast automatically and in real-time chose the best and highest quality shot to move the action forward, with Harvey making only a few, on-the-fly adjustments. Continue reading Unity Deepens Storytelling Workbench With CineCast Feature

AI-Based Software Automating Mundane Workplace Chores

Artificial intelligence is making its way into the workplace via the back office, automating tasks in accounting, billing, payments and customer service, and is capable of scanning documents, filling out spreadsheets and checking accuracy of records. In early projects, AI bots are following simple rules, observing and making yes-no decisions rather than high-level choices. Bigger things are coming, especially from tech companies like IBM, Microsoft and Oracle, which partner with robotic automation startups. Continue reading AI-Based Software Automating Mundane Workplace Chores

Amazon Web Services Testing Two ‘Provable’ Security Tools

To help its Amazon Web Services customers keep their data secure, the AWS Automated Reasoning Group is beta-testing two new tools, Zelkova and Tiros, which analyze security configurations, provide automated feedback on various set-ups and help administrators avoid mistakes that could endanger their data. Tiros focuses on checking for “unexpected access from the open Internet,” and Zelkova aids developers in understanding how permissive their setups are compared to existing infrastructure. Continue reading Amazon Web Services Testing Two ‘Provable’ Security Tools

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

Netflix ‘Smart Downloads’ Tool Makes Mobile Viewing Easier

Netflix’s new “Smart Downloads” tool helps mobile viewers manage their content storage by automatically deleting TV show episodes after they have been viewed and then replacing them with upcoming episodes in the queue. The company introduced offline viewing of certain movies and TV shows in 2016 based on subscriber demand. Now, Netflix estimates that about 60 percent of its global users access the streaming service on their mobile devices at least once a month. With the new feature, mobile users can minimize the amount of manual TV show downloads necessary for offline viewing. Continue reading Netflix ‘Smart Downloads’ Tool Makes Mobile Viewing Easier

Twitter Cuts Millions of Followers to Combat Fake Accounts

In an effort to restore trust in its social platform, Twitter plans to “begin removing tens of millions of suspicious accounts from users’ followers” today, reports The New York Times. “Many users have inflated their followers on Twitter or other services with automated or fake accounts, buying the appearance of social influence to bolster their political activism, business endeavors or entertainment careers.” Twitter has acknowledged that easily creating or buying fake followers has negatively affected the legitimacy of the platform. Continue reading Twitter Cuts Millions of Followers to Combat Fake Accounts

Social Media Platforms Ramp Up Removal of Fake Accounts

On Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, millions of fake profiles take on the identities of authentic celebrities and public figures in music, movies and politics. Such profiles can be a cover for crimes, as when Australian authorities busted a 42-year old man who impersonated Justin Bieber and racked up 900 child sex offenses. Such social media imposters are so rife that Oprah Winfrey has warned her Twitter followers, and her chief marketing officer Harriet Seitler reported that, due to sheer volume, her team only reports the impostors if the miscreants are trying to scam fans. Continue reading Social Media Platforms Ramp Up Removal of Fake Accounts

ARM to Enhance IoT Management With Purchase of Stream

ARM announced that it has acquired Stream Technologies in a deal that will bring Stream’s connectivity management capabilities to ARM’s Mbed IoT Device Management Platform. The integration of Stream tech is expected to provide customers with greater efficiencies and cost savings while managing connected devices regardless of location or network (Stream supports connectivity across wireless protocols including cellular, satellite and LoRa). ARM also recently announced a new processor designed to prevent attacks and tampering with IoT devices. Continue reading ARM to Enhance IoT Management With Purchase of Stream

NAB 2018: Analytics Scientists Look at Social Media and Bots

Fabric Media chief executive/founder Jason Damata led a discussion at NAB with two experts in the field of social media intelligence. Dr. Indraneel Mukherjee founded LiftIgniter, which is “a machine learning personalization, recommendation and discovery engine” for websites and apps to have one-on-one conversations with users. Dr. John Kelly is chief executive at Graphika, which turns “network relationships into dynamic maps of social influence, enabling precision targeting and action to drive business results.” Continue reading NAB 2018: Analytics Scientists Look at Social Media and Bots

NAB 2018: IBM Watson on Refining AI for Closed Captioning

Closed captioning isn’t just for the hard-of-hearing anymore. According to Digiday, 85 percent of Facebook video is viewed without sound. That signals a trend of viewers who prefer to watch closed captioning, putting the heat on solutions providers to come up with compliant systems that are also accurate and speedy. With artificial intelligence, says IBM Watson Media senior offering manager David Kulczar, closed captioning can be enhanced to go beyond transcription, and automatically identify background audio descriptions. Continue reading NAB 2018: IBM Watson on Refining AI for Closed Captioning

Facebook Rolls Out Plan in Effort to Increase Platform Security

Last week, Facebook executives detailed their plan to protect future elections from meddling on the social media platform, elaborating on Facebook’s “use of human moderators, third-party fact checkers, and automation to catch fake accounts, foreign interference, fake news, and to increase transparency in political ads,” reports Wired. This comes in response to what happened nearly three years ago, when “a Russian propaganda group infiltrated Facebook and other tech platforms in hopes of seeding chaos in the 2016 U.S. election.”

Continue reading Facebook Rolls Out Plan in Effort to Increase Platform Security

Thousands of Applicants Line Up for First Amazon Jobs Day

Amazon is in the process of filling 50,000 positions — 40,000 of them full-time — for its fulfillment network, hiring people who will pack orders in warehouses and drive delivery trucks. Although the jobs are tough and relatively low-paying, thousands of people lined up to apply at a dozen locations for the company’s first Jobs Day on Wednesday. Many of the applicants hope that a foot in the door at the tech giant could lead to better compensated work in the future. Amazon’s non-union warehouse jobs pay $12 to $15 an hour. Continue reading Thousands of Applicants Line Up for First Amazon Jobs Day

Facebook Messenger 2.1 Offers Built-In NLP, Payments SDK

Facebook’s newly debuted Messenger Platform 2.1 features built-in Natural Language Processing (NLP), provided by Wit.ai, a company acquired by Facebook in 2015. NLP has been available to app developers since the acquisition, but Messenger 2.1 is the first time it is a built-in feature. The built-in NLP currently detects common phrases (“hello,” “bye,” and “thanks”) as well as date/time, location, phone number, email and amount of money, all of which trigger an automated response from the bot. Continue reading Facebook Messenger 2.1 Offers Built-In NLP, Payments SDK

Report Lists 29 Governments That Manipulate Social Media

The University of Oxford just released a disturbing report documenting increasing evidence that 29 governments around the world are exploiting Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms to influence — both domestically and internationally — public opinion, distribute false news and sabotage those perceived as foes. As might be expected, autocratic rulers use these strategies, but so do governments that have been elected democratically. The tactics employed vary from country to country. Continue reading Report Lists 29 Governments That Manipulate Social Media

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