Google’s Third-Gen Tensor Processor Unit Key to AI Ambitions

At Google’s I/O conference, chief executive Sundar Pichai reflected on the backlash against Silicon Valley companies while, at the same time, promoting the company’s advances and ambitions in artificial intelligence. Among those were specific positive solutions, such as an AI-powered software that helps diagnose eye disease, and a demonstration of what Google Assistant — in a variety of voices and accents — can do for ordinary consumers, and how Smart Compose in Gmail will suggest complete sentences to make the process speedier. Continue reading Google’s Third-Gen Tensor Processor Unit Key to AI Ambitions

Xiaomi Plans Hong Kong IPO, China Reins In Tech Companies

Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi plans to launch its IPO in Hong Kong in what is anticipated to be the world’s biggest IPO in 2018. The filing with the Hong Kong stock exchange did not reveal the size or projected valuation of the offering, but sources say the company hopes to raise at least $10 billion. A source also reported that the listing will value the company at “less than the $100 billion figure previously suggested.” Xiaomi’s filing also uncovered some financial details for the first time. Continue reading Xiaomi Plans Hong Kong IPO, China Reins In Tech Companies

T-Mobile, Sprint Announce All-Stock Deal for $26 Billion Merger

Wireless carriers T-Mobile and Sprint on Sunday announced they have entered into a merger agreement for an all-stock transaction. The $26 billion merger would reduce the U.S. wireless market to three major players and give Japan’s SoftBank (Sprint’s majority owner since 2012) a greater presence in the U.S. If approved, the newly combined company would keep the name T-Mobile, and would be run by current T-Mobile U.S. CEO John Legere and T-Mobile COO Mike Sievert. The $146 billion entity would be controlled by T-Mobile parent company Deutsche Telekom. Continue reading T-Mobile, Sprint Announce All-Stock Deal for $26 Billion Merger

SmugMug Acquires Photo Service Flickr From Verizon’s Oath

Pioneering online photo-sharing community Flickr, created in 2004 and sold to Yahoo in 2005, has now been sold again. As first reported by USA Today, Verizon’s Oath, Flickr’s owner since 2017, just sold the company to SmugMug, a Silicon Valley photo-sharing and image-hosting service. Chief executive Don MacAskill, who founded the company with Chris MacAskill in 2002, has vowed to “move heaven and earth to thrill … photographers everywhere.” Flickr reportedly has more than 100 million unique users. Continue reading SmugMug Acquires Photo Service Flickr From Verizon’s Oath

Silicon Valley Pioneers Question Today’s Dysfunctional Internet

Testifying before Congress, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg listed all the ways his company has erred, from fake news to hate speech and data privacy — and then apologized for not taking “a broad enough view of our responsibility.” He isn’t the only Silicon Valley leader to take stock of the state of the Internet and worry about its future. Facebook’s first president, Sean Parker, has warned about what social media is “doing to our children’s brains,” calling it a “dangerous form of psychological manipulation.” Continue reading Silicon Valley Pioneers Question Today’s Dysfunctional Internet

Startup Using AI to Help Create Effects for Movies, TV, Games

Palo Alto-based startup Arraiy is developing methods for automating part of the often-tedious process of producing visual effects for movies, TV shows and video games. “Filmmakers can do this stuff, but they have to do it by hand,” said CTO Gary Bradski, who has worked with tech companies such as Intel and Magic Leap. The Arraiy team, led by Bradski and CEO Ethan Rublee, “are building computer algorithms that can learn design tasks by analyzing years of work by movie effects houses,” reports The New York Times. “That includes systems that learn to ‘rotoscope’ raw camera footage, carefully separating people and objects from their backgrounds so that they can be dropped onto new backgrounds.” Continue reading Startup Using AI to Help Create Effects for Movies, TV, Games

Google’s Expansion Plans in San Jose Spark Public Debate

Google, the largest property owner in Silicon Valley, is in the midst of acquiring 40 acres of city-owned land in San Jose, California, to build a new campus. The property is near San Jose’s SAP Center indoor arena and Diridon train station, and could bring as many as 20,000 jobs to the city over the next 10 to 12 years. The city residents are torn between those who feel that an influx of Google employees will making already-expensive housing even less affordable and those who point out that Google’s presence will bring growth and jobs. Continue reading Google’s Expansion Plans in San Jose Spark Public Debate

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

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

Silicon Valley Could Compete with Pay TV in Streaming Sports

Silicon Valley companies are getting closer to becoming major players in sports broadcasting. Up until now, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Verizon and Yahoo have been happy to ink contracts for various smaller sports packages that allow them to stream what has already been broadcast by the TV networks. But that scenario may be poised for a change, evidenced by the recent bidding war for primetime TV rights to NFL’s “Thursday Night Football” (Fox just signed a 5-year broadcast agreement, but a digital partner has yet to be announced). Continue reading Silicon Valley Could Compete with Pay TV in Streaming Sports

AT&T Chief Exec Calls for Creation of an Internet Bill of Rights

AT&T, one of the winners in the recent end of net neutrality rules, is clarifying its stance. In an open letter that was published nationwide, including in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times, chief executive Randall Stephenson called on Congress to establish an Internet Bill of Rights that would apply to all Internet companies and guarantee “neutrality, transparency, openness, non-discrimination and privacy protection for all Internet users.” Continue reading AT&T Chief Exec Calls for Creation of an Internet Bill of Rights

With New Tax Legislation, Apple to Repatriate $252B in Cash

Apple plans to leverage the recently passed tax legislation, said to be the most important in 30 years, by bringing $350 billion back to the United States over the next five years. Of that, $252 billion in cash was held abroad; Apple keeps 94 percent of its total cash outside the U.S. A provision in the new tax code allows a one-time repatriation of corporate cash held in other countries. The move is consistent with Apple’s long-time stance that it wouldn’t bring the cash back until the tax code changed. Continue reading With New Tax Legislation, Apple to Repatriate $252B in Cash

CES Offers Global Look at How to Compete in Tech Innovation

HRH Prince Constantijn of the Netherlands, Business France’s Pascal Cagni, and IBM Global Technology Services CTO Bridget Karlin discussed how countries and companies around the world leverage capital, talent and the markets to gain an edge in today’s global innovations. In a conversation at CES 2018 led by Time Inc. chief content officer Alan Murray, both Europeans were quizzed on how their countries create an entrepreneurial culture. Prince Constantijn pointed to his country’s focus on tech education and open migration policies. Continue reading CES Offers Global Look at How to Compete in Tech Innovation

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

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