Andrew Ng Leaves Baidu’s AI Group to Launch New Startup

AI visionary Andrew Ng — co-creator of the Google Brain research project, former chief scientist at Chinese web giant Baidu, and co-founder of online education platform Coursera — has launched a new AI company called deeplearning.ai. While details are scarce at this point, Ng recently promised “more announcements soon” via tweet. The company’s website simply features the tagline “Explore the frontier of AI,” followed by #deeplearniNgAI and “August 2017,” suggesting more information is coming later this summer. Continue reading Andrew Ng Leaves Baidu’s AI Group to Launch New Startup

Facebook Research Aims to Read Minds With Neuroscience

Facebook is at work on a project that would enable users to control virtual reality and augmented reality experiences telepathically. The company unveiled this research in April at its annual F8 conference, and more details have emerged about a technology that could revolutionize the next era of computing. The technology is, however, a long shot, as both neuroscientists and engineers outside the company are dubious that it can succeed. The solution could be a simple headband, rather than the brain implant some companies propose. Continue reading Facebook Research Aims to Read Minds With Neuroscience

Facebook Develops Interface to Type Words via Brain Waves

At Facebook research unit Building 8, former Alphabet’s Regina Dugan is overseeing a project that will allow people to type using brain signals, the ultimate in hands-free smartphone communication. Dugan reports that, within a few years time, the system will be able to type 100 words per minute by monitoring the brain and without any implants. The technology may not require the person to think in letters. The same lab is also working on a way for people to hear through their skin.

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Google Offers Up its Global Cloud-Based Database Technology

Google’s Spanner, developed a decade ago, created a way to store information across millions of machines in a multitude of data centers around the world. Despite its global reach, Spanner behaves as if it operates in a single location, meaning it can reliably replicate and change data without contradicting actions taken at a different location, and retrieve copies if one of the centers goes down. Since its creation, Spanner has become the foundation for 2,000 Google services including Gmail and AdWords. Now, Google plans to unveil Spanner to everyone as a cloud computing service. Continue reading Google Offers Up its Global Cloud-Based Database Technology

Amazon and Google Look to Turn Home Speakers into Phones

Both Amazon and Google are thinking about turning their respective home speakers — Echo and Google Home — into home telephones. Knowledgeable sources say the tech giants could introduce the feature this year, with the goal of gaining yet more control over consumers’ home lives. But the companies are also finding that it’s not so simple, facing issues related to privacy, telecom regulations and emergency services — as well as the potential that consumers will be wary that their conversations are being recorded. Continue reading Amazon and Google Look to Turn Home Speakers into Phones

Snap Preps for IPO Roadshow, Touting Spiegel as a Visionary

This year Snap Inc. will go on a roadshow to market its expected IPO, and founder Evan Spiegel is expected to play an out-sized role, with the company’s IPO bankers and executives depicting him as a Steve Jobs-like visionary for millennial products. The goal is to portray Snap as a company that will become a media/content behemoth that can meet and exceed its hoped-for $20 billion to $25 billion IPO valuation, in a class with Apple and Facebook, rather than Twitter, which has deflated since its 2013 IPO. Continue reading Snap Preps for IPO Roadshow, Touting Spiegel as a Visionary

Signal Emerges as a Must-Have Hacker-Proof Messaging App

The free encrypted messaging app Signal is gaining users, not just because privacy advocates and security researchers have all given it a seal of approval. The app, available for smartphone and computer, is a bulwark against hacking, which got a national spotlight when WikiLeaks posted emails from Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta. Others fear increased government surveillance under the incoming President Donald Trump, a reaction to Trump’s choice of CIA chief, Mike Pompeo, who advocates just that. Continue reading Signal Emerges as a Must-Have Hacker-Proof Messaging App

Chan Zuckerberg Fund Invests $3 Billion in Medical Research

Facebook chief exec Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Dr. Priscilla Chan announced they plan to invest more than $3 billion over the next 10 years to develop tech focused on research to combat disease. “The first investment by the couple’s for-profit philanthropic arm, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative LLC, will be $600 million to create a research lab of engineers and scientists based in San Francisco,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “This focus on building on tools suggests a road map for how we might go about curing, preventing and managing all diseases this century,” said Zuckerberg. Continue reading Chan Zuckerberg Fund Invests $3 Billion in Medical Research

Testing VR and AR as Next Wave of Videoconferencing Tools

Several companies and academic institutions are studying the use of virtual reality as a way to replace the videoconference call. Among those experimenting in the field is the NYU Media Research Lab, which showed a video of researchers using Samsung Gear VR headsets to collaborate in a simulated environment. The Bank of Ireland and U.K. utility National Grid PLC have also tried out early VR software. Skype, the Microsoft company often used for videoconference calls, is working on an augmented reality solution. Continue reading Testing VR and AR as Next Wave of Videoconferencing Tools

T-Mobile’s Binge On Expands Content with ABC, Apple, Fox

T-Mobile’s Binge On service, which lets subscribers stream selected services without the content counting towards their data cap, just quadrupled its offerings with Fox Now, ABC, Apple Music, NatGeo TV and Disney Jr. among others. With these additions, the Binge On program hosts more than 100 content partners, including Netflix and YouTube. The program is catching on with users, whose streaming hours increased 50 percent between June and July. Video quality for Binge On programming is downgraded to 480p. Continue reading T-Mobile’s Binge On Expands Content with ABC, Apple, Fox

Virtual Reality Naysayers Dub VR ‘Prison’ and ‘Health Hazard’

Virtual reality may be the hottest technology trend now, with new headsets, cameras and content in high gear. But not everyone is enthused. Two naysayers have had big audiences for their caveats recently. The New York Times technology writer Farhad Manjoo has dubbed virtual reality “a prison of fantastical sights and sounds.” On Quora, a community-sourced Q&A site, military flight simulator expert Steve Baker wrote VR headsets are a major health hazard that can disorient the human brain and damage the eyes. Continue reading Virtual Reality Naysayers Dub VR ‘Prison’ and ‘Health Hazard’

Chips From Barefoot to Offer Blazing Speed, Programmability

A new series of high performance chips, dubbed Tofino, run at a rate of 6.5 terabits per second, twice as fast as any other on the market, and can be programmed to change functionality. Developed by Palo Alto-based computer networking company Barefoot Networks, they are designed so that it won’t take a hardware specialist to code the chips. Due out later this year, the chips will reside inside networking switches, which direct traffic across the Internet. For companies such as Google and Facebook, the ability to program a chip opens up tremendous opportunities.

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Facebook Reveals More on Ethical Regulation of its Research

Facebook collects data from 1.6 billion people, on everything from “likes” to social connections, to establish behavioral patterns. That went further — some would say, too far — in June 2014 when the company conducted a psychological test on 700,000 people to look at how omitting “positive” or “negative” words could alter mood. The resulting controversy about the company’s ethics moved Facebook to add an internal review policy in October 2014. But it is just now publishing new details on how it conducts that research. Continue reading Facebook Reveals More on Ethical Regulation of its Research

Virtual Reality Avatars May Soon Replace Video Conferencing

Microsoft, Magic Leap, Facebook and other companies are working on technologies that may soon make video conferencing obsolete in favor of wearable face computers that permit VR conferencing. Some idealists picture a future where everyone will communicate via a digital persona, not a huge leap for those already using social networks for professional endeavors. A solution such as AltspaceVR allows the user to create avatars that are “cautiously cartoonish,” rather than going after realism, with customizable skin and eye colors. Continue reading Virtual Reality Avatars May Soon Replace Video Conferencing

A Twist on Wearables: Two Examples that Use Data Differently

Wearables have mostly been discussed in terms of the data they provide — be it steps walked, calories burned or blood pressure measured. Two examples showcased by The New York Times tech writer Eric Taub at CES do more than simply serve data to the user, differences that help to define this new category. One uses sensory information and a rhythmic feedback to change people’s level of happiness and energy; a second was developed by academics, medical centers and Apple to conduct a global medical study on heart health and exercise. Continue reading A Twist on Wearables: Two Examples that Use Data Differently

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