Google Ramping Up its Artificial Intelligence Efforts in China

Despite earlier concerns over censorship and a cyberattack traced to Chinese hackers — and the fact that its search engine can only be accessed in the region by using VPNs (due to the government’s filtering system) — Google is reportedly ramping up its presence in China. Its careers web page lists nearly 60 open positions in Beijing and Shanghai. According to The Wall Street Journal, at least four of the engineering positions involve artificial intelligence, “including a technical lead to develop a team to work on natural language processing, data compression and other machine learning technologies.” Continue reading Google Ramping Up its Artificial Intelligence Efforts in China

Incoming MPAA Chief Faces Industry Shifts, New Challenges

Entertainment industry veteran Charles Rivkin is replacing Christopher Dodd this week as the MPAA chief. While the position has historically faced numerous challenges, such as managing consensus among the six major Hollywood studios, Rivkin takes the helm as the industry contends with a growing list of new hurdles: the MPAA has yet to take a stance on the debate over net neutrality rules, Silicon Valley is a growing force in Washington, digital platforms and changes in consumer behavior are impacting theater attendance and traditional distribution models, and media continues to battle global piracy. Continue reading Incoming MPAA Chief Faces Industry Shifts, New Challenges

Uber Is Expected to Name Expedia’s Khosrowshahi as CEO

The Uber board has settled on Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi as the ride-hailing giant’s next chief exec. Khosrowshahi was the third candidate behind Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman and former GE chief Jeff Immelt. “Called the ‘truce’ candidate by one person close to the board and the ‘compromise’ choice by another — due to extensive infighting between ousted CEO Travis Kalanick and Uber’s big investor Benchmark,” reports Recode, “Khosrowshahi will now try to settle the turbulent waters at the company riven by” numerous issues including a report from former Attorney General Eric Holder regarding a sexist company culture; allegations of regulatory wrongdoings, a lawsuit filed by Waymo, its publicized management shakeup, and declining employee morale. Continue reading Uber Is Expected to Name Expedia’s Khosrowshahi as CEO

China Issues Plan to Become the World’s AI Leader by 2030

China’s State Council released a statement of intent to build a domestic industry in artificial intelligence worth $150 billion and become the world leader in AI by 2030. China is also planning a multi-billion dollar investment in startups and academic research related to AI, say two professors consulting with the Chinese government. At the same time, the U.S. is cutting back on investments in science, and budget proposals from the Trump administration aim to cut funds from agencies supporting AI research. Continue reading China Issues Plan to Become the World’s AI Leader by 2030

Facebook Reaches New Milestone of 2 Billion Monthly Users

Social media giant Facebook announced it now has 2 billion monthly active users. The new milestone comes five years after reaching 1 billion users, and 13 years after Mark Zuckerberg first launched the platform. According to TechCrunch, Facebook leads social apps based on number of logged-in users, “above YouTube’s 1.5 billion, WeChat’s 889 million, Twitter’s 328 million and Snapchat’s estimated 255 million.” Facebook’s WhatsApp and Messenger each have 1.2 billion users, while its Instagram photo-sharing app recently exceeded 700 million. Continue reading Facebook Reaches New Milestone of 2 Billion Monthly Users

Uber CEO Considers Investor Concerns and Resigns Position

Travis Kalanick stepped down from his chief exec position of ride-hailing service Uber yesterday. Kalanick helped found the company in 2009, but months of scrutiny regarding charges of harassment and discrimination, followed by a recent shareholder revolt resulted in his departure. “Five of Uber’s major investors demanded that [he] resign immediately,” according to The New York Times. “The investors included one of Uber’s biggest shareholders, the venture capital firm Benchmark, which has one of its partners, Bill Gurley, on Uber’s board.” The company will seek new leadership, although Kalanick will remain on Uber’s board of directors. Continue reading Uber CEO Considers Investor Concerns and Resigns Position

Google May Be Facing a Record Fine by the European Union

Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s commissioner for competition, is reportedly close to ruling on an antitrust case regarding Google’s search services that is likely to result in a record fine, according to insiders. The penalty is expected to exceed the $1.4 billion antitrust fine that Intel paid in Europe in 2009. “Officials could also force Google to alter how it operates in the region, and potentially elsewhere, to give rivals a greater ability to compete,” reports The New York Times. The case “claims that Google diverted traffic from competitors’ services to favor its own comparison shopping site.” The European Commission is also investigating two other cases that involve Android and Google’s advertising products. “Google has denied any wrongdoing,” notes NYT. Continue reading Google May Be Facing a Record Fine by the European Union

Tim Cook Reveals Details of Apple’s Autonomous Car Plans

Apple chief executive Tim Cook is revealing the company’s plans in autonomous vehicles, which he states is a very important core technology. With this admission, Apple now joins numerous tech and auto companies that are pursuing a future in self-driving cars. Among those companies are BMW, GM, and Alphabet’s Waymo division, which has inked partnerships with Fiat Chrysler. Apple originally wanted to build its own car, but scaled back its plans to focus on the technology powering autonomous vehicles. Continue reading Tim Cook Reveals Details of Apple’s Autonomous Car Plans

Uber CEO Steps Away as Company Initiates Major Changes

Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick announced his plans to take a leave of absence as chief exec while the company works to salvage its brand and launches a reorganization that includes closer supervision by its board of directors. “At a packed meeting with employees on Tuesday morning,” reports The New York Times, “Uber released 13 pages of recommendations compiled as part of an investigation into sexual harassment and other wrongdoing conducted by the former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. and his law firm, Covington & Burlington.” Continue reading Uber CEO Steps Away as Company Initiates Major Changes

China’s Tencent Invests in Feature Films, U.S. Tech Startups

Tencent, parent company of China’s biggest social network WeChat and, by revenue, the biggest global online game business, is also an entertainment titan, with China’s biggest online businesses in music, literature, comics and animation. Tencent Pictures, which invested in last weekend’s smash hit “Wonder Woman,” and “Kong: Skull Island,” is key to Tencent’s effort to become a global player in feature filmmaking. The company is also investing heavily in Silicon Valley projects so as not to miss out on the next big thing. Continue reading China’s Tencent Invests in Feature Films, U.S. Tech Startups

Mary Meeker Delivers Her Annual State of the Internet Report

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner Mary Meeker delivered her annual Internet trends report at last week’s Code Conference in California. This year’s presentation featured 355 slides and a new section on healthcare. Among the key takeaways: global Internet users reached 3.4 billion in 2016 (46 percent of the world’s population, more than double the number from 2009); digital advertising jumped 22 percent to $73 billion; worldwide smartphone growth is slowing; China is the new leading market for interactive gaming; Apple, Alphabet, Amazon and Facebook are collectively worth $2.4 trillion, while seven of the next 16 top tech firms are Chinese companies such as Alibaba and Tencent. Continue reading Mary Meeker Delivers Her Annual State of the Internet Report

Waymo and Lyft Partner to Develop Self-Driving Vehicle Tech

Google’s self-driving car unit Waymo has signed an agreement with ride-hailing startup Lyft to collaborate on autonomous vehicle tech including development and pilot projects. “The deal between Waymo and Lyft has competitive implications for Uber, the world’s biggest ride-hailing company, which has recently had to confront a spate of workplace and legal problems,” reports The New York Times. “Waymo is also competing fiercely with Uber in the creation of technology for autonomous cars and is embroiled in a lawsuit over what it says is Uber’s use of stolen Waymo trade secrets to develop such technology.” Continue reading Waymo and Lyft Partner to Develop Self-Driving Vehicle Tech

Facebook’s 5 Million Advertisers Get New, More Robust Tools

Facebook now counts more than 5 million active advertisers, of which 1 million — 75 percent outside the U.S. — signed on in the last seven months. E-commerce, media and entertainment, and retail are the most popular verticals. To make it easier for small and medium-sized businesses to advertise, Facebook introduced a new suite of tools. Within Ad Manager, one-click will reinstate high-performing ads. A new “studio” allows businesses to build ads via a mobile device, and Facebook also expanded its small business council. Continue reading Facebook’s 5 Million Advertisers Get New, More Robust Tools

China and Others Vie for Top Scientists in Race to Dominate AI

When Chinese company Baidu was able to lure Andrew Ng away from his position leading Google Brain, that company’s deep-learning project, it seemed like a good omen for China’s prospects in AI. Now, however, Ng has left Baidu, and China’s ability to compete with U.S. companies is in question. That’s in part because Chinese tech firms rely on free-agent talent to lead research, and Ng’s departure makes it unclear whether they can retain foreign talent. But even U.S. firms are vying for top talent in the burgeoning field. Continue reading China and Others Vie for Top Scientists in Race to Dominate AI

Netflix Continues Push to Become the First Global TV Network

Journalists were recently invited to the Silicon Valley offices of Netflix for a behind-the-scenes look at the company’s distribution efforts for its latest Marvel series, “Iron Fist.” Through a series of talks that emphasized how the streaming service is essentially becoming a global Internet-based television network for more than 93 million subscribers, the “Netflix Lab Days” event addressed the tech and business considerations involved with programming for an international audience, creating “taste communities” for recommendations and personalization, initiating deals with TV operators and ISPs around the world, language translations for original content, and translating the Netflix apps and catalog into multiple languages. Continue reading Netflix Continues Push to Become the First Global TV Network

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