EU Parliament Passes Laws That Impact Online Companies

The European Parliament voted to fine Internet platforms such as Facebook, Google and Twitter up to 4 percent of their annual global turnover if they do not remove extremist content within one hour of authorities’ request to do so. The vote was 308 to 204, with 70 abstentions. The European Parliament also approved a platform-to-business (P2B) law proposed by the European Commission in April 2018. The P2B law forces Amazon and Google to reveal how they rank products and Facebook and others to be more transparent. Continue reading EU Parliament Passes Laws That Impact Online Companies

Two Facebook Groups Are Developing New Voice Assistant

Social giant Facebook confirmed a report that it is working on developing its own voice assistant. Originally, two former Facebook employees described the plans to CNBC, which broke the news. The company has been developing its own voice assistant since early 2018 in its augmented reality/virtual reality group based in Redmond, Washington. Facebook Assistant and AR/VR director Ira Snyder leads a team that has been “contacting vendors in the smart speaker supply chain,” according to sources. Continue reading Two Facebook Groups Are Developing New Voice Assistant

EU Votes For Copyright Rules Opposed by Nativist Groups

In a vote of 348 to 274, nineteen out of the European Union’s 28 member countries voted in favor of reformed laws to protect content creators. Critics of the reform — including large tech companies — argue that the rules will reduce free speech online, with Articles 11 and 13 of particular concern. European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker declared that the new copyright rules are “fit for the digital age.” In the lead-up to the vote, nativist groups in many countries worked to defeat the new rules. Continue reading EU Votes For Copyright Rules Opposed by Nativist Groups

China’s Internet Model Gains Popularity Among Autocracies

Autocratic countries are moving towards China’s version of the Internet — limited content and controlled data — as a way of ensuring their own continued power and mimicking the success of Chinese corporations such as Alibaba Group and Tencent Holdings. Vietnam, Thailand, India and Russia are among those embracing a government-controlled model. China has also become the first government to intentionally use artificial intelligence for racial profiling, in this case its 11 million Uighurs, a Muslim minority group. Continue reading China’s Internet Model Gains Popularity Among Autocracies

Industry Panel on Latest AI Trends in Media & Entertainment

Overcoming the uncanny valley of emotion is the major challenge of AI when creating a virtual human, according to Armando Kirwin, co-founder of Artie. He spoke at the NAB panel titled “AI in Media and Entertainment: Driving the Future, New Content Formats – Immersive.” HP’s Joanna Popper moderated the panel that also included Digital Domain’s John Canning, Lillian Diaz-Przybyl from Butcher Bird Studios, and Baobab Studios’ Kane Lee. The panel discussion ranged from synthetic characters and evolving views on acceptable versus realistic behavior, to what happens when your smart speaker becomes a virtual character. Continue reading Industry Panel on Latest AI Trends in Media & Entertainment

Private Facebook User Data Made Public on Amazon Cloud

Cybersecurity firm UpGuard has discovered that Facebook user data has been publicly available on Amazon cloud services. UpGuard was unable to determine how long the personal data was vulnerable, but Mexico-based Cultura Colectiva, for example, stored account names, identification numbers, comments and reactions in 540 million records of Facebook users, which anyone could access and download. The discovery makes it clear that Facebook user data is still insecure, even after the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Continue reading Private Facebook User Data Made Public on Amazon Cloud

Snapchat Now Competing in the Multiplayer Gaming Arena

Snap Inc. announced yesterday that its popular Snapchat app now features multiplayer games, starting with “Bitmoji Party” and five other titles. The move is an effort to compete in a new social space dominated by “Fortnite” in which real-time, multiplayer games also serve as online communities. Snap plans to work with game developers such as Zynga and ZeptoLab. The combination of gaming and social networking is on the rise. According to Epic Games, its “Fortnite” had 250 million players as of March, while Netflix recently suggested that it competes with “Fortnite” more than HBO. Continue reading Snapchat Now Competing in the Multiplayer Gaming Arena

AWS Tool Aims to Simplify the Creation of AI-Powered Apps

Amazon introduced AWS Deep Learning Containers, a collection of Docker images preinstalled with preferred deep learning frameworks, with the aim of making it more seamless to get AI-enabled apps on Amazon Web Services. At AWS, general manager of deep learning Dr. Matt Wood noted that the company has “done all the hard work of building, compiling, and generating, configuring, optimizing all of these frameworks,” taking that burden off of app developers. The container images are all “preconfigured and validated by Amazon.” Continue reading AWS Tool Aims to Simplify the Creation of AI-Powered Apps

Facebook to Launch a Dedicated News Tab With Publishers

Facebook wants to team with the news industry to create a tab in its app devoted to publishers’ content. In a conversation with Axel Springer SE chief executive Mathias Döpfner, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg explained the plan is in its early stages, and that he doesn’t want to build it without input from publishers. He compared the proposed news tab to the Watch tab that aggregates video from publishers, some of which do so exclusively for the platform. He also suggested that Facebook would pay publishers to ensure high-quality content. Continue reading Facebook to Launch a Dedicated News Tab With Publishers

How Apple News+ Service Rates Among Other News Apps

Apple News+ is a service that makes an entire newsstand of content — including that of mainstream publications — available to subscribers. There are limits; a section from The Wall Street Journal, for example, only offers a handful of stories. However, Apple says a deeper search in WSJ’s News channel will reveal “everything from the last three days” thanks to an agreement with WSJ’s publisher Dow Jones. Apple stated News+ will evolve as publishers avail themselves of tools to create new reader experiences. The service will compete with apps including Flipboard, Nuzzel, SmartNews and others. Continue reading How Apple News+ Service Rates Among Other News Apps

Facebook CEO Calls For Increased Government Regulation

Mark Zuckerberg thinks tech companies, including Facebook, have “immense responsibilities.” Acknowledging the problems related to social media, he stressed that tech companies can’t solve all those problems on their own. Instead, he opined, the government and regulators need to play a stronger role. “By updating the rules for the Internet,” he said, “We can preserve what’s best about it.” He focused on four areas that he said should be regulated: harmful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability. Continue reading Facebook CEO Calls For Increased Government Regulation

Valve Plans to Introduce its Valve Index VR Headset in May

In May, Valve Corporation will unveil a virtual reality headset, dubbed the Valve Index. In 2016, the company teamed up with HTC to launch the SteamVR headset. Valve, which has a dedicated website for the new VR headset, will only reveal that it features two sensors flanking the front and supports a 135-degree field of view (FOV), which is greater than HTC Vive and Oculus Rift’s 110-degree FOV. Valve doesn’t mention SteamVR Knuckles controllers, which it has promoted via developer outreach since 2016. Continue reading Valve Plans to Introduce its Valve Index VR Headset in May

Federal Agencies Investigate Facebook for Legal Violations

Facebook is under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Justice Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for numerous potential civil and criminal violations. The Silicon Valley company, which denies the charges, said it is cooperating with law enforcement. The HUD investigation, the most recent, states that Facebook allowed advertisers to restrict who they target, based on race, religion and national origin. Continue reading Federal Agencies Investigate Facebook for Legal Violations

Viacom Digital Eyes Streaming to Target Younger Audience

For years, Viacom didn’t move decisively into the digital arena, but chief executive Bob Bakish changed that in 2017 when he hired digital media executive Kelly Day to head Viacom Digital Studios in leading MTV, Nickelodeon, BET, Comedy Central and other youth-oriented properties. With her team of 400+ employees, Day has created new original series for different platforms and led the purchase of Awesomeness. In February 2019, Tubular Labs ranked Viacom No. 9 for online video views, up from No. 24 in October 2017. Continue reading Viacom Digital Eyes Streaming to Target Younger Audience

AI Pioneers Are Honored With the Prestigious Turing Award

The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) honored three artificial intelligence pioneers with the prestigious Turing Award for their work on neural networks. The Turing Award, often dubbed the Nobel Prize of computing, was launched in 1966 and includes a $1 million prize that the three honorees will share. Doctors Geoffrey Hinton, Yann LeCun and Yoshua Bengio helped lay the foundation for the evolution of technologies including facial recognition, digital assistants and self-driving vehicles. Continue reading AI Pioneers Are Honored With the Prestigious Turing Award

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