Google Offers Its AI Chips to All Comers via Cloud Computing

Google, which created tensor processing units (TPUs) for its artificial intelligence systems some years ago, will now make those computer chips available to other companies via its cloud computing service. Google is currently focusing on computer vision technology, which allows computers to recognize objects; Lyft used these chips for its driverless car project. Amazon is also building its own AI chips for use with the Alexa-powered Echo devices to shave seconds off its response time and potentially increase sales. Continue reading Google Offers Its AI Chips to All Comers via Cloud Computing

Brands Pressure Platforms to Resolve Hate, Fake News Issue

Social media platforms that placed ads on pages espousing extremism and hate have vowed to take steps against this, but the brands involved, from AT&T to Kellogg, are also getting flak for appearing on the sites and inadvertently funding the purveyors of fake news and hate speech. That has happened because brands now depend on automated ad technology to reach targeted demographics, but they are now re-evaluating that strategy; Unilever is considering leaving YouTube and Facebook unless they gain control of the situation. Continue reading Brands Pressure Platforms to Resolve Hate, Fake News Issue

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

IBM Quantum Computers Engage Researchers, Corporations

Quantum computing is beginning to gain traction since, two years ago, IBM made its IBM Q 5-quantum bit (qubit) computer available to researchers. Now, 70,000 users around the world have registered to use the IBM Q, and Big Blue has quadrupled the qubit count. Also recently, IBM and Intel announced quantum computers with 50 and 49 qubits respectively, and Google is reportedly nearing launch of its own qubit computer. Experts are now waiting for the quantum computer to rise above the best supercomputer at accomplishing tasks. Continue reading IBM Quantum Computers Engage Researchers, Corporations

Hulu to Offer High-Quality Live Streaming With 60fps Support

One of the criticisms of Internet-based live television services involves video quality limitations for sports fans. Some of the services support 30fps, a frame rate that leads to problems when streaming live sports. Hulu announced this week that it plans to address this concern with a staggered rollout of support for 60fps for its Live TV service. The streams will initially be available for select channels and devices, to be followed by an expanded rollout. Support for higher-quality streams could attract new customers for Hulu, especially on the eve of the Winter Olympics. Continue reading Hulu to Offer High-Quality Live Streaming With 60fps Support

Google Developing Game Streaming Service for Chromecast

Google is in development on a game streaming service for compatible Chromecast devices (or potential future home consoles). Dubbed “Yeti,” the service would be similar to Sony’s PlayStation Now and Nvidia’s GeForce Now game streaming services, which means that users wouldn’t download software but stream from a Google server. Users could play Android games on a consumer TV via existing technology, but it isn’t clear if that would be Google’s sole strategy. The company recently hired game industry veteran Phil Harrison. Continue reading Google Developing Game Streaming Service for Chromecast

Two Editors Describe New Model to Reinvigorate Local News

Local news is already in sad shape, and Facebook and Google now aim to cover it rather than national news. But two editors of digital outlets are proposing a different model for invigorating local news, especially in urban areas that where the local press has been destroyed by digital technology. In this model, very good journalists would cover the news that no one else is covering — and ignore everything else that isn’t local news, including the Super Bowl, movie reviews and the stock market report. Continue reading Two Editors Describe New Model to Reinvigorate Local News

Amazon and Apple Turn Up the Heat in the Audiobook Market

According to the Association of American Publishers, in the first eight months of 2017, based on data from 1,200 publishers, revenue from audiobooks grew 20 percent, compared to print books sales increasing a mere 1.5 percent and e-books losing 5.4 percent. Amazon, which bought Audible in 2008, has been the dominant player, with Audible carving out a unique and profitable portion of the market. But Apple is now attempting to take on its rival with a redesigned iBooks e-book reading application for iPhones and iPads. Continue reading Amazon and Apple Turn Up the Heat in the Audiobook Market

Reviews: Apple HomePod Offers Great Sound But Not Smarts

Apple’s HomePod smart speaker has debuted to mixed reviews. HomePod can stream music directly from Apple Music but no other popular music streaming service such as Spotify or Pandora. It’s equally partisan in that, despite its Bluetooth, users must use Apple’s own AirPlay to stream the music, and Android phones aren’t able to pair with it. The Home app lets users set up and control a variety of HomeKit-compatible smart home devices. The system currently lacks the ability to link HomePods together for a multi-room setup. Continue reading Reviews: Apple HomePod Offers Great Sound But Not Smarts

Silicon Valley Takes Closer Look at Downsides of Tech Usage

Silicon Valley tech companies are taking a second, serious look at some of the harm that digital technology can cause. First is the so-called productivity paradox, which reveals that the integrati0n of digital technology in the work place has not resulted in big gains in output per worker, as had been expected. In fact, digital technology can actually be a drag on productivity. The companies are also looking at the harmful impact of digital technology on children, and the potential for addictions. Continue reading Silicon Valley Takes Closer Look at Downsides of Tech Usage

Growth in Number of Twitch Partners, Affiliates Earning Money

Amazon-owned Twitch revealed new metrics regarding its popular game streaming service, including more than 2 million monthly streamers and 15 million daily visitors, an increase in Partners who profit from their Twitch videos (27,000), and the number of its Affiliate streamers (150,000). While the total number of Twitch’s creator community held steady in 2017, the increase in number of people making money on the platform is compelling, even as it faces new competition from YouTube Gaming. Continue reading Growth in Number of Twitch Partners, Affiliates Earning Money

YouTube Plans to Include Labels for All State-Funded Videos

YouTube, targeting content that promotes conspiracy theories as well as state-sponsored content, says it will begin to label all videos coming from state-funded broadcasters. That may even include the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), but in fact is intended to target such bad actors as RT, the Russian state news organization identified by U.S. intelligence as the Kremlin’s main international propaganda unit. Last year, YouTube reportedly had 5.5 million views across 20 channels of RT content. Continue reading YouTube Plans to Include Labels for All State-Funded Videos

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

Startup Simplifies Voice App Development With New Interface

Storyline, a startup founded in September, has launched version 2 of its easy-to-use visual interface designed to help businesses, brands and publishers develop Amazon Alexa skills without the need for extensive coding knowledge. Since 39 million U.S. consumers now own a smart speaker, voice apps are needed, and Storyline hopes that its simple drag-and-drop solution will help foster that growth. The company refers to its approach as the “Weebly for voice apps,” drawing a comparison to the popular, easy-to-use, website-building platform. Continue reading Startup Simplifies Voice App Development With New Interface

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

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