Lawsuits Against Facebook Likely Following Antitrust Probes

Sources said that state and federal investigators plan to bring antitrust charges against Facebook, with a focus on whether its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp created an anticompetitive environment. Investigators examined how Instagram and WhatsApp changed after they were acquired and whether customers had fewer privacy protections. When Facebook purchased WhatsApp in 2014, it vowed to customers and regulators to preserve its strong privacy protections, but later tried to integrate user data into its other services. Continue reading Lawsuits Against Facebook Likely Following Antitrust Probes

Nvidia Cuts Video-Conferencing Bandwidth by Factor of Ten

Last month Nvidia launched Maxine, a software development kit containing technology the company claims will cut the bandwidth requirements of video-conferencing software by a factor of ten. A neural network creates a compressed version of a person’s face which, when sent across the network, is decompressed by a second neural network. The software can also make helpful corrections to the image, such as rotating a face to look straight forward or replacing it with a digital avatar. Nvidia is now waiting for software developers to productize the technology. Continue reading Nvidia Cuts Video-Conferencing Bandwidth by Factor of Ten

ILMxLAB Debuts New Star Wars Experience for Oculus Quest

ILMxLAB’s virtual experience, “Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge,” launches today in the Oculus Quest store for $25. Critical buzz is that it is levels above ILMxLAB’s previous VR series, “Vader Immortal,” a classic story in three episodes. The new VR experience excels at immersing the user in the Star Wars universe with the freedom to play and interact in a multitude of ways and have numerous exciting experiences, including chatting with bartender Seezelslak, played by Bobby Moynihan. former cast member of “Saturday Night Live.” Continue reading ILMxLAB Debuts New Star Wars Experience for Oculus Quest

‘Ripple Effect’ Team Outlines Safety Protocols and Workflows

During a November 19th Digital Town Square hosted by the Entertainment Technology Center and Equinix, ETC specialist Erik Weaver led an online session on the making of “Ripple Effect,” ETC’s latest R&D short film that tested new technologies and workflows, including the cloud, virtual production and remote editing and VFX. The production also tested the tools and procedures that meet or exceed industry standards for a safe set during COVID-19. Weaver, who executive produced “Ripple Effect,” was joined by executive producer Greg Ciaccio, who also headed up post and production technologies, and other members of the production team. Continue reading ‘Ripple Effect’ Team Outlines Safety Protocols and Workflows

YouTube Intros Audio Ads, Targeting Based on Music Genres

Google-owned YouTube is introducing 15-second audio ads on its video-sharing platform, the first such format aimed at those who listen to music or podcasts in the background. It is also enabling advertisers to make buys across “dynamic music lineups” such as Top 100 charts and collections of channels in genres like Latin or Country in addition to buys targeting moods or interests such as fitness or relaxation. But ads running on creators’ videos won’t generate a profit for them if they’re not big enough to be in YouTube’s Partner Program. Continue reading YouTube Intros Audio Ads, Targeting Based on Music Genres

ARM-Based Supercomputer Earns Top Spot in Global Ranking

The world’s fastest supercomputers are ranked twice a year, and Innovative Computing Laboratory director Jack Dongarra, one academic behind the rankings, noted that the Top500 list of the world’s fastest high-performance computing (HPC) systems is showing “flattening performance” due to the slowdown of Moore’s Law. In the most recent ranking, Japan’s Fugaku ARM-based supercomputer set a record of 442 petaflops. In 2021, however, the first exascale — 1,000 petaflops — supercomputers are expected to appear, including one from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. Continue reading ARM-Based Supercomputer Earns Top Spot in Global Ranking

Facebook, Twitter Chief Execs Support Section 230 Changes

At a Senate Judiciary Committee, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey reported that their companies made improvements in blocking misinformation during the 2020 presidential election, compared to their inability to stop Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Judiciary chair Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) said both companies will face modifications to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects them from liability for user-posted content, and the two chief execs expressed cautious support for the idea. Continue reading Facebook, Twitter Chief Execs Support Section 230 Changes

Twitter Intros Ephemeral Tweets, Gathering Spaces for Audio

Twitter is launching Fleets, a feature that allows users to post photos or text that will disappear after 24 hours. Snapchat pioneered the ephemeral post, followed by Instagram and Facebook. Rollout of the Stories-like feature is moving forward, but has been scaled back as Twitter addresses “some performance and stability problems.” The platform’s “global town square” continues to be its “marquee product” but, said Twitter director of design Joshua Harris, the Fleets feature creates a space with less pressure for users who lurk but don’t post. The company is also testing Spaces, a new audio feature similar to Clubhouse, a startup that debuted earlier this year. Continue reading Twitter Intros Ephemeral Tweets, Gathering Spaces for Audio

The Cerebras CS-1 Chip Is 10,000 Times Faster Than a GPU

Cerebras Systems and its partner, the Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), revealed that its CS-1 system, featuring a single massive chip that features an innovative design, is 10,000+ times faster than a graphics processing unit (GPU). The CS-1, built around Cerebas’ Wafer-Scale Engine (WSE) and its 400,000 AI cores, was first announced in November 2019. The partnership between the Energy Department and Cerebras includes deployments with the Argonne National Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Continue reading The Cerebras CS-1 Chip Is 10,000 Times Faster Than a GPU

Universal, Cinemark Sign Deal for Shorter Exclusivity Window

Comcast’s Universal Pictures teamed with Cinemark Holdings, the third largest theater chain in the U.S., to permit online distribution of movies after three weekends (or 17 days) in theaters. The exception is movies that gross $50+ million domestically during their first weekend, lengthening the exclusivity window to five weekends or 31 days. Universal inked a similar deal with AMC Entertainment in July. Pre-pandemic, the exclusivity window was 2-1/2 months from a film’s premiere in theaters until it could be distributed to homes. Continue reading Universal, Cinemark Sign Deal for Shorter Exclusivity Window

Nvidia Debuts New Version of A100 GPU for Supercomputers

At the beginning of its SC20 supercomputing conference, Nvidia unveiled its 80GB version of the A100 GPU (graphics processing unit) based on its Ampere graphics architecture and aimed at AI and graphics for supercomputing. The chip is intended to enable faster real-time data analysis for business and government applications. This new version doubles the memory of the predecessor, debuted six months ago. Nvidia executive Paresh Kharya noted that 90 percent of the world’s data was created in the last two years. Continue reading Nvidia Debuts New Version of A100 GPU for Supercomputers

Global Competition Ramps Up in the Semiconductor Industry

In light of the U.S. ban on selling chips and chipmaking technology to China, that country has raised $38 billion so far this year with the goal of achieving self-sufficiency. According to S&P Global Market Intelligence, that number — achieved through public offerings, private placements and asset sales — is “more than double” the total raised in 2019. Corporate registration tracker Tianyancha stated that 50,000+ Chinese businesses related to semiconductors registered this year, four times the total five years ago. Meanwhile, Seoul-based Samsung is investing heavily in its own next-generation chip business, ramping up competition in the semiconductor sector. Continue reading Global Competition Ramps Up in the Semiconductor Industry

European Union Plans to Announce Regulations for Big Tech

On December 2, European Commission EVP and commissioner for competition Margrethe Vestager and European commissioner for internal market Thierry Breton plan to announce the new rules governing powerful online companies. Among the draft rules of the Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act, Big Tech companies will have to share data with rivals and regulators. Alphabet chief executive Sundar Pichai also apologized to Breton over a leaked document revealing his company’s proposed tactics against the European Union’s new, tougher rules. Continue reading European Union Plans to Announce Regulations for Big Tech

Cable TV Partners Push Back Against T-Mobile OTT Service

Only two weeks after T-Mobile introduced its OTT pay-TV bundles, the cable industry has taken it to task, stating that its rebundling of networks for different tiers is not allowed under the carriage deals it inked. T-Mobile’s TVision costs $10 per month for 34 networks that included comedy and entertainment but not sports, news or local TV stations. T-Mobile also offered three Live TV tiers, starting at $30 per month. Now, its offerings, priced lower than rivals YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV, must change. Continue reading Cable TV Partners Push Back Against T-Mobile OTT Service

Consumer E-Commerce Behavior Likely to Last Post-COVID

In a recent survey of consumers, McKinsey & Co. found that nearly 70 percent intend to continue buying online for store pickup, even post-pandemic. It concluded that, within three months, consumers adopted new c-commerce habits that otherwise would have taken ten years. During the pandemic, many more people were forced to try online shopping as well as other remote applications such as medical appointments or workout classes. As a result, all kinds of businesses added or expanded digital services. Continue reading Consumer E-Commerce Behavior Likely to Last Post-COVID

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