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Government Establishes Task Force to Promote AI Innovation

The Biden administration has formed the National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource Task Force with plans to “develop a roadmap to democratize access to research tools that will promote AI innovation and fuel economic prosperity.” The task force, composed of 12 academic, government and industrial members led by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), will establish the National AI Research Resource (NAIRR). The task force is charged with drafting a strategy to create an AI research system about Americans and finding enough computing power to analyze the data.  Read more

Netflix to Launch Online Shop for Show-Branded Merchandise

Streaming giant Netflix has plans to open an e-commerce shop to sell branded goods tied to its many popular shows. The effort is led by Netflix vice president of consumer products Josh Simon, who held a similar position at Nike. Thus far, Simon has grown his team to 60 people (from 20) and inked deals with Amazon, Sephora, Target and Walmart to sell beauty kits, clothes, toys and other products related to its series and films. The online store — which Simon dubs a “boutique” — was created with e-commerce tech company Shopify. Read more

Amazon Advertising Rates, Revenues Jump Due to COVID-19

The surge in online shopping due to COVID-19 allowed e-commerce giant Amazon to raise its advertising rates in May 50+ percent from a year earlier. The leap, as reported by Marketplace Pulse, is more grist for lawmakers trying to require Amazon to pay higher taxes. Amazon is expected to reap about $578 billion this year, according to eMarketer. The increased competition is leading even big brands like Procter & Gamble and Clorox to spend “billion-dollar advertising budgets” on Amazon to fend off smaller rivals. Read more

Biden Introduces Broader Review of Foreign-Controlled Apps

President Biden revoked former President Trump’s executive order banning social-networking services TikTok and WeChat — developed by Chinese companies ByteDance and Tencent Holdings, respectively — but didn’t let Chinese companies off the hook. Instead, he replaced the previous order with another that establishes a broader review of the potential security risks found in numerous foreign-controlled apps. Biden officials said the new order would create “clear intelligible criteria” to evaluate those risks. Trump’s executive order was immediately challenged in court, and Biden’s move, said analysts, is intended to withstand such a test. Read more

Bitcoin Ransom Recovery May Impact Cryptocurrency Status

Bitcoin is touted as a secure, decentralized and anonymous way to conduct financial transactions, one reason why cybercriminals use it or some other cryptocurrency when conducting illegal business, whether it’s drug trafficking or ransomware. But this week the Justice Department revealed that it traced and recovered 63.7 of the 75 Bitcoins ($2.3 million of the total $4.3 million) that Colonial Pipeline paid in ransom to release its computer systems. The feds declined to detail how they recouped the Bitcoin. Meanwhile, El Salvador has become the first nation to formally adopt Bitcoin as legal tender. Read more

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