Google Scientists Generate Realistic Videos at Scale with AI

Google research scientists report that they have produced realistic frames from open source video data sets at scale. Neural networks are able to generate complete videos from only a start and end frame, but it’s the complexity, information density and randomness of video that have made it too challenging to create such realistic clips at scale. The scientists wrote that, to their knowledge, “this is the first promising application of video-generation models to videos of this complexity.” The systems are based on a neural architecture known as Transformers, as described in a Google Brain paper, and are autoregressive, “meaning they generate videos pixel by pixel.” Continue reading Google Scientists Generate Realistic Videos at Scale with AI

Microsoft’s Next-Gen 8K Xbox Will Significantly Boost Power

Just ahead of this week’s E3 conference in Los Angeles, Microsoft announced that its next-gen Xbox console, dubbed Project Scarlett and slated for release Christmas 2020, will feature an AMD Ryzen processor that will make the console four times more powerful than today’s Xbox One X. The AMD processor features 120 fps operation, which means that latency for loading games will be greatly reduced. Project Scarlett will also feature 8K capability and will ship with a new version of “Halo.” Additionally, Microsoft’s xCloud streaming platform will debut in October, enabling users to stream games from their Xbox One to numerous devices. Continue reading Microsoft’s Next-Gen 8K Xbox Will Significantly Boost Power

Google and Microsoft to Intro Cloud-Based Gaming Services

Google and Microsoft are about to go mano-a-mano with new cloud-based gaming services. Google plans a limited launch in November of its Stadia service, which the company says will stream any title to any device. Microsoft, meanwhile, is building its Project xCloud on Azure, its own cloud network. Because every game on Xbox One, including Xbox 360 backward-compatible titles will be able to run on xCloud, the new service will debut with 3,500+ game titles. Microsoft said a beta version of its xCloud service will debut in October of this year. Continue reading Google and Microsoft to Intro Cloud-Based Gaming Services

AT&T’s WarnerMedia Readies Beta of Its Streaming Service

According to sources, AT&T’s WarnerMedia will package HBO, Cinemax, the Warner Bros. TV/movie library and original content into a streaming service priced at $16 to $17 per month. The new offering, which would be competitively priced in a crowded market of streaming services, is expected to launch in beta later this year. Currently, an HBO Now streaming subscription costs $14.99 per month and Cinemax for cable customers is priced at $12.99 per month. WarnerMedia executives are meeting to discuss the service’s name and other details of its operation. Continue reading AT&T’s WarnerMedia Readies Beta of Its Streaming Service

Tech Companies Have Long Prepared for Antitrust Scrutiny

Apple, Facebook and Google have been preparing for announcements from the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that leading U.S. tech companies were going to be closely scrutinized for evidence of antitrust behavior. The news has sent shares roller-coasting but the three companies’ lawyers are, said sources, taking a “wait-and-see” approach. While Apple has been battling antitrust battles for years and Google has already faced antitrust investigations in the U.S. and Europe, some experts believe Facebook is not as prepared for the coming scrutiny. Continue reading Tech Companies Have Long Prepared for Antitrust Scrutiny

Amazon Adds Human Touch to Its Recommendation Model

Amazon created features — such as searching by star ratings or browsing best-selling products — to help consumers navigate “choice overloads” when selecting among thousands of similar products in any given category. The online shopping behemoth also offers “Amazon’s Choice,” which it says is given to “highly rated, well-priced products available to ship immediately.” Amazon will not reveal if a human or an algorithm is making these choices but, given the massive number of products, the latter is more likely. The company did reveal, however, that it recently began adding recommendations from outside publications. Continue reading Amazon Adds Human Touch to Its Recommendation Model

YouTube Enacts Policy to Ban Noxious Videos, Hate Speech

Google’s YouTube unveiled a new policy in its latest attempt to clean up the content of the popular video platform. The policy bans videos “alleging that a group is superior in order to justify discrimination, segregation or exclusion,” as well as those that deny violent events happened, such as the Holocaust or the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Discrimination includes age, gender, race, caste, religion, sexual orientation and veteran status. With this policy in place, YouTube has begun to remove thousands of videos to rid its site of bigotry, extremism and hate speech. Continue reading YouTube Enacts Policy to Ban Noxious Videos, Hate Speech

Graphcore Builds Intelligence Processing Units For Better AI

British startup Graphcore has developed an AI chip for computers that attempts to mimic the neurons and synapses of the human brain, so that it can “ponder” questions rather than analyze data. Up until now, said Graphcore co-founder and chief executive Nigel Toon, GPUs and CPUs have excelled at precision, using vast amounts of energy to achieve small steps. Toon and Graphcore co-founder and CTO Simon Knowles dub their less precise chips as “intelligence processing units” (IPUs), that excel at aggregating approximate data points. Continue reading Graphcore Builds Intelligence Processing Units For Better AI

GlobalCoin: Facebook Expected to Debut Bitcoin Rival Soon

Facebook reportedly plans to release its GlobalCoin cryptocurrency later this month, and will hand over control of it to an independent foundation. GlobalCoin, which is intended to rival Bitcoin, is the fruit of Facebook’s development, linked to a project dubbed Libra in concert with financial and technology partners. GlobalCoin is likely to target developing countries with unstable currencies and will be pegged to the U.S. dollar. Facebook will purportedly integrate GlobalCoin on WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram. Continue reading GlobalCoin: Facebook Expected to Debut Bitcoin Rival Soon

Disney’s Hotstar: India’s Dominant Video-Streaming Platform

The dominant video-streaming provider in India is Hotstar, which debuted four years ago by media conglomerate Star India. Its 300 million monthly users gravitate to the mobile-first platform to watch cricket, TV shows and movies. Now owned by The Walt Disney Company, Hotstar’s usage is 10 percent larger than that of YouTube, India’s second largest video streaming platform. Only three million of Hotstar’s users are paying subscribers, but that’s still more than those paying for Amazon and twice as many as those subscribed to Netflix. Continue reading Disney’s Hotstar: India’s Dominant Video-Streaming Platform

Coalition of Banks Launches Bitcoin for Cross-Border Trade

Led by UBS Group, 14 financial firms including banks in the United States, Europe and Japan are using blockchain technology to settle cross-border trades. The group, which spent the last four years developing this project, invested £50 million ($63.2 million) to establish Fnality International, a company to control the bitcoin token, dubbed the utility settlement coin (USC). Trades can take a long time to clear and failed trades are common; the USC token would both carry all the information to complete a trade and be payment for it. Continue reading Coalition of Banks Launches Bitcoin for Cross-Border Trade

Apple Reinstates Kid Controls, App Developers File Lawsuit

Apple abruptly reversed a decision made a year ago to remove iPhone apps that use one of two technologies to allow parents to control their children’s use of Apple devices. The company revealed its move to allow parental controls in a short blog post on its website. The reversal comes on the heels of news that the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission are scrutinizing Silicon Valley tech companies for antitrust behavior. App developers filed a lawsuit in California accusing Apple of monopolizing app distribution. Continue reading Apple Reinstates Kid Controls, App Developers File Lawsuit

Apple Promotes Privacy Features at Developers Conference

At this week’s WWDC in San Jose, California, Apple introduced an anonymous login system and tools that prevent apps from tracking the user’s location, in an attempt to gain the high ground among big tech companies targeted by regulators for privacy issues. Apple also differentiated itself from Facebook and Google, which rely heavily on tracking users’ behavior and activity. The company’s next mobile operating system, iOS 13, slated to debut this fall, will allow users to log into apps without giving up any personal information and generate “automated and random” email addresses. Continue reading Apple Promotes Privacy Features at Developers Conference

Apple Divides iTunes Features into Music, Podcast, TV Apps

Apple executives announced the end of iTunes at its annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) this week. But iTunes features will live on in three apps: Apple Music, Apple Podcasts and Apple TV. The iconic iTunes was created 18 years ago as a so-called digital jukebox that allowed users to import and organize music and burn custom mixes. It evolved into a music store, where an enormous variety of songs sold for 99 cents. In 2003, Steve Jobs declared that “people want to buy their music on the Internet by buying downloads.” Continue reading Apple Divides iTunes Features into Music, Podcast, TV Apps

Microsoft Demonstrates its Dual-Screen Prototype Internally

Microsoft started internal demos of its dual-screen Surface hardware, codenamed Centaurus, including an “all-hands” event for its device team, said sources. The company allowed employees to get up close to the prototype hardware, and also showed a sizzle reel. Centaurus, in development for about two years, is intended to be the showpiece of the company’s upcoming assortment of dual-screen tablet/laptop hybrids. Sources also said that Centaurus is more similar to the Courier tablet than the prior Andromeda project. Continue reading Microsoft Demonstrates its Dual-Screen Prototype Internally

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