Amazon Enables Tailored Recommendations via AI Service

Amazon is launching a new service called Amazon Personalize in select regions of the U.S., Asia and Europe, with additional locations to be added. The service, first revealed at last year’s re:Invent conference, aims to personalize the customer experience by helping developers build apps, websites, email marketing and content management systems that provide product recommendations and personalized search results. “We are excited to share with AWS customers the expertise we’ve developed during two decades of using machine learning to deliver great experiences on Amazon.com,” said Swami Sivasubramanian, VP of machine learning. Continue reading Amazon Enables Tailored Recommendations via AI Service

Facebook Opens New Command Post Ahead of EU Election

As part of a range of efforts to show that it has taken regulator and governmental concerns seriously, Facebook has set up an operations center in its European headquarters in Dublin, Ireland ahead of the upcoming European Union’s parliamentary election, which is scheduled for May 23-26 across 28 countries. Employees will monitor and clear Facebook of misinformation, fake accounts, and any signs of foreign meddling aimed at swaying election results. Facebook recently set up a similar post in Singapore for elections in India.

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Global Regulators Looking Into Facebook Privacy Practices

Regulators have reached a tipping point with Facebook after years of half-measures regarding the social media giant’s security-related missteps. Now, regulators across four continents are attempting to reign in Facebook’s behavior. In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission hasn’t come to a decisive conclusion regarding what constraints to implement, but the agency is looking to address a wide range of issues, including violations reported almost monthly, according to a source close to the investigation.

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FAA Approves Commercial Delivery For Alphabet’s Drones

Wing Aviation, a unit of Alphabet, received the Federal Aviation Administration’s first authorization to deliver consumer goods via drone. Being first is a coup for Google’s parent company and a harbinger that many other companies — Amazon among them — will soon launch drone delivery services. Not long ago, officials predicted that the FAA wouldn’t implement the first rules for unmanned aircraft delivery until 2020 or 2021. The current FAA permit for Wing Aviation only includes a rural area around Blacksburg, Virginia. Continue reading FAA Approves Commercial Delivery For Alphabet’s Drones

Verizon Media Tackles Production Tech With Global Studios

Verizon Media (formerly Oath) now has production studios located in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong, London, New York, Paris, Singapore, Sunnyvale and Taiwan. In addition, it built a 5G Los Angeles studio with plans to help pioneer new formats and production tech enabled by advanced 5G wireless connectivity. The worldwide facilities are being used by Verizon Media brands such as AOL, HuffPost, TechCrunch and Yahoo. The L.A. space — led by Verizon Media’s immersive media arm RYOT — is outfitted with full motion capture and volumetric capture stages. Continue reading Verizon Media Tackles Production Tech With Global Studios

Facebook Unveils Tools to Prevent the Spread of Fake News

Facebook is unveiling new tools to prevent the spread of fake news and misinformation, including making more information available about political ads on its platform. The tools will first debut in India next month and then to the European Union in March. Facebook is also tweaking its moderation, announcing plans for an outside group or board to review its content decisions, giving it authority to reverse internal content decisions. The board will be comprised of 40 members worldwide chosen by Facebook. Continue reading Facebook Unveils Tools to Prevent the Spread of Fake News

CES Panel: How Blockchain, a Trust Technology, Is Evolving

CTA’s Tyler Suiters spoke with Phil Klein and Mark Mueller-Eberstein about their book, “The Trust Technology: How Blockchain Is Changing Your World.” “[Blockchain] has rapidly evolved,” said Klein. “The question is when it goes from bleeding edge to leading edge. I think we’re very close to that point. We’ve already crested past the hype cycle.” Mueller-Eberstein noted that blockchain and bitcoin first emerged as something transformational about four or five years ago. The academic research comes mainly from China. Continue reading CES Panel: How Blockchain, a Trust Technology, Is Evolving

Netflix Plans to Experiment With Lower Price in Asian Markets

Netflix revealed its plan to test a lower-priced tier of its subscription streaming service in certain areas as part of a strategy to boost sales, especially in emerging markets such as Asia. While the company has not committed to specific regions or a time frame, CEO Reed Hastings explained that Netflix is looking to experiment. The move would represent a shift for the company, which has consistently maintained or raised its prices while spending more on new content and local productions to attract new customers. Netflix is not expected to reduce the cost of its lowest tier, but rather introduce an alternate fourth tier with different features. Continue reading Netflix Plans to Experiment With Lower Price in Asian Markets

Facebook’s Plans for Innovation Hub in China Hits Roadblock

Facebook has been planning an “innovation hub” in Hangzhou, China — home to Chinese Internet leader Alibaba Group — to support that nation’s startups and developers as well as increase its own presence in the country. However, the approval that was briefly listed on a Chinese government database has now disappeared and, according to one source, the approval has been withdrawn. Facebook has been blocked in China since 2009, spurring the company to find other ways to position itself there. Earlier this year, it inked an agreement with Xiaomi to build a VR headset for the Chinese consumer market. The company planned to provide training and workshops through the proposed hub.

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Amazon Hits 100M Prime Subscribers, Inks Deal with Best Buy

For the first time, Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos revealed the number of Amazon Prime subscribers: 100 million people. In 2015, the company last hinted about the number, saying there were “tens of millions” of Prime members. With this revelation, Bezos is letting shareholders know that Prime is healthy, and that the large number of subscribers will allow the company to continue to invest in technology and thrive. Bezos also recently announced that Amazon is teaming with Best Buy to sell Amazon Fire TV-powered sets. Continue reading Amazon Hits 100M Prime Subscribers, Inks Deal with Best Buy

Broadcom’s Bid for Qualcomm Blocked Over Security Issues

Citing national security concerns, President Donald Trump has put the brakes on Singapore-based Broadcom’s attempt to acquire rival chipmaker Qualcomm. The companies were ordered to abandon the $117 billion acquisition bid and dismiss any proposals for Broadcom’s candidates to run for seats on Qualcomm’s board. Had it been approved, the purchase would have marked the largest tech deal of its kind. Broadcom says it “strongly disagrees that its proposed acquisition of Qualcomm raises any national security concerns.” Continue reading Broadcom’s Bid for Qualcomm Blocked Over Security Issues

U.S., China Grapple Over Dominance in Critical Technologies

The U.S. and China are locked in a battle over technology, which went public over Singapore-based Broadcom’s hostile bid to buy the U.S.-based Qualcomm. Should Broadcom succeed, it will make that company a major influence in computer chip development. But a U.S. Treasury official, in calling for a review of the deal, wrote that, “China would likely compete robustly to fill any void left by Qualcomm.” Under president Xi Jinping, China has made no secret of its plan to dominate tech industries including artificial intelligence and supercomputers. Continue reading U.S., China Grapple Over Dominance in Critical Technologies

Uber Reaches Deal With Benchmark, Loses Ruling in London

Former Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick and major investor Benchmark reached an agreement over board seats, paving the way for a multi-billion dollar investment led by SoftBank Group. This investment will give Uber resources to fend off its global rivals. Until recently, Kalanick and Benchmark were in a stalemate; the new agreement will add six directors and change voting in a way that will limit Kalanick’s power on the board. These changes are the aftermath of scandals that led the board to force Kalanick out. Meanwhile, Uber is facing setbacks in the U.K. regarding the status of its drivers. Continue reading Uber Reaches Deal With Benchmark, Loses Ruling in London

Broadcom Offers $103 Billion in Unsolicited Bid for Qualcomm

Broadcom has made a move to acquire rival Qualcomm, the San Diego-based chipmaker making headlines this year due to its ongoing legal battle with its biggest customer, Apple. In January, Apple filed a federal lawsuit against Qualcomm, claiming the company unfairly blocks rivals and charges steep patent royalties. Qualcomm is now suing Apple for failing to abide by its software license. Broadcom’s unsolicited $103-billion offer marks the largest attempted takeover for the tech industry and is expected to face regulatory hurdles. Continue reading Broadcom Offers $103 Billion in Unsolicited Bid for Qualcomm

Google Debuts Developers Launchpad Studio for AI Startups

To help AI and machine learning startups succeed, Google introduced a Developers Launchpad Studio, a six-month program that will gift participants with $50,000 in financial support without a quid pro quo for Google equity. Benefits also include product credits for Google Cloud and other services, product validation assistance and introductions to AI investors. The program will also make Google director of research Peter Norvig and Israel-based Google R&D Research Center head Yossi Matias available for feedback and advice. Continue reading Google Debuts Developers Launchpad Studio for AI Startups

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