Energy Department Plans to Build a Secure Quantum Internet

The U.S. has unveiled a national project to build a quantum Internet, which would function alongside existing Internet networks. A quantum Internet is based on photons exhibiting a quantum state known as entanglement that allows it to share information over long distances without a physical connection. One goal of the project is to build a network that would be more secure and nearly unhackable. The Department of Energy created a strategy by which its 17 national labs would serve as a backbone for a prototype national quantum Internet to launch in 10 years. Continue reading Energy Department Plans to Build a Secure Quantum Internet

Google Ramps Up Online Shopping, Faces Scrutiny in Europe

Google has tried to compete with Amazon in online shopping four times since 2013. But, with shoppers stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, the company now sees another opportunity. To lure sellers, Google said it would waive sales commissions, which range from 5 percent to 15 percent, and let retailers use third-party payment and order management services like Shopify. In the European Union, meanwhile, Google is facing the demand that it “make major concessions” related to its $2.1 billion purchase of Fitbit, including how it uses customer data for search and advertising. Continue reading Google Ramps Up Online Shopping, Faces Scrutiny in Europe

Microsoft Cloud Service Revenues Skyrocket Past $50 Billion

Microsoft reported that sales rose 13 percent to $38 billion in its fiscal Q4, for a net profit of $11.2 billion. Largely due to continued demand for its Azure cloud-computing services, both figures exceeded Wall Street expectations. Microsoft’s revenue from the commercial cloud division “surpassed $50 billion for the first time ever in the latest fiscal year.” The company is also the target of a complaint Slack filed with the European Commission, accusing it of using its market power to crush rivals. Continue reading Microsoft Cloud Service Revenues Skyrocket Past $50 Billion

Spotify, Universal Music Join Forces With New Licensing Pact

Spotify inked a new multi-year global licensing deal with Universal Music Group after being out-of-contract for about a year. Under the terms of the agreement, Spotify has access to UMG’s catalog for streaming and UMG will be part of Spotify’s so-called two-sided marketplace, whereby it will pay for analytics, data and marketing. Spotify, under pressure to prove to investors that it can be more consistently profitable, spends most of its revenue on licensing deals with music publishers and record labels. Continue reading Spotify, Universal Music Join Forces With New Licensing Pact

Facebook Greenlights Equity Teams to Study Algorithmic Bias

Facebook-owned Instagram created an “equity and inclusion team” to look at how Black, Hispanic and other U.S. minority users are impacted by the company’s algorithms and machine-learning systems. An Instagram spokesperson revealed that Facebook is planning a similar team. Only last year, Facebook wouldn’t allow employees to study the issue of bias introduced by algorithms, so the move is a reversal. Meanwhile, the advertiser boycott against Facebook, in part for how it deals with racial issues, is still in effect. Continue reading Facebook Greenlights Equity Teams to Study Algorithmic Bias

Nvidia and University of Florida Partner on AI Supercomputer

The University of Florida (UF) and Nvidia joined forces to enhance the former’s HiPerGator supercomputer with DGX SuperPOD architecture. Set to go online by early 2021, HiPerGator will deliver 700 petaflops (one quadrillion floating-point operations per second), making it the fastest academic AI supercomputer. UF and Nvidia said the HiPerGator will enable the application of AI to a range of studies, including “rising seas, aging populations, data security, personalized medicine, urban transportation and food insecurity.” Continue reading Nvidia and University of Florida Partner on AI Supercomputer

Musicians Experiment With Live Streaming During Coronavirus

Since COVID-19 shut down in-person concerts, live-streaming versions from the likes of Diplo, John Legend and Keith Urban have become the norm. At first the streamed concerts were mostly free and aimed at soothing nerves or raising money for charity. Since then, concerts have become more professionally produced while artists also experiment with interactive Q&A sessions, specialized mini-concerts and performing in video games. Some artists, like Erykah Badu, built their own platforms — and venues, media organizations like Billboard and NPR, and even retailers such as Urban Outfitters and Navy Exchange started participating. Continue reading Musicians Experiment With Live Streaming During Coronavirus

Twitter Bans Accounts Promoting QAnon Conspiracy Theories

Twitter removed about 150,000 accounts disseminating QAnon right-wing conspiracies for violating the social platform’s policies and distributing harassment and misinformation that could potentially lead to harm. The company added that it will no longer recommend QAnon-related accounts and content, including that contained in email. Twitter also stated it will make efforts to limit these theories from appearing in trending topics and search, as well as users posting links affiliated with the theories. Continue reading Twitter Bans Accounts Promoting QAnon Conspiracy Theories

Security Regulation Causes Tech Firms to Rethink Hong Kong

Since China imposed its new national security law in Hong Kong, numerous technology companies — especially startups — are making plans to leave the city, just as it was developing into a significant regional fintech hub. One reason is that clients and suppliers are concerned that their data and Internet services will be under the surveillance of Chinese authorities. While the startups are already packing up, the bigger technology companies, including Facebook, Google and Twitter, are mulling over their next move. Continue reading Security Regulation Causes Tech Firms to Rethink Hong Kong

Weta Digital Opens Virtual Production Service in New Zealand

Visual effects company Weta Digital — founded by Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor and Jamie Selkirk — joined forces with production facility Avalon Studios and live event, production and broadcast specialist Streamliner Productions to develop an LED-stage virtual production service based in Wellington, New Zealand. That country has done a good job of controlling COVID-19, making it an appealing destination for new TV and film productions. Similar to ILM’s StageCraft platform, Weta Digital’s system is based on Epic Games’ real-time Unreal Engine. Continue reading Weta Digital Opens Virtual Production Service in New Zealand

Beta Testers Give Thumbs Up to New OpenAI Text Generator

OpenAI’s Generative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT), a general-purpose language algorithm for using machine learning to answer questions, translate text and predictively write it, is currently in its third version. GPT-3, first described in a research paper published in May, is now in a private beta with a select group of developers. The goal is to eventually launch it as a commercial cloud-based subscription service. Its predecessor, GPT-2, released last year, was able to create convincing text in several styles. Continue reading Beta Testers Give Thumbs Up to New OpenAI Text Generator

FTC Probe of Facebook Unlikely to Conclude by Election Time

About a year ago, the Federal Trade Commission chair Joseph Simons predicted that the antitrust probe of Facebook would be done before the presidential election, a goal that now seems unlikely. If it runs into next year, a new president could change the FTC’s priorities. For now, the Facebook investigation continues, with staff members prepping depositions of Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg and examining its purchase of Giphy, a search database for short videos. Continue reading FTC Probe of Facebook Unlikely to Conclude by Election Time

Facebook Targets E-Commerce with Updated Instagram Shop

Facebook debuted a major redesign of its Instagram Shop platform, which had already been accessible from a button in the Explore tab but now offers more functionality. The new version of Instagram Shop will first be available in the U.S., with a global rollout “in the coming weeks” said the company. In Shop, consumers will find special collections, a “Suggested for You” section and curated offerings from Instagram’s @Shop account. A double arrow symbol means the user can buy the product without leaving the app. The move is seen as Facebook’s stronger push into e-commerce. Continue reading Facebook Targets E-Commerce with Updated Instagram Shop

Google’s Area 120 Debuts Shoploop Video Shopping Platform

Google’s Shoploop, developed in its R&D unit Area 120, is a video shopping platform for consumers to discover, evaluate and purchase products within the app. Shoploop general manager Lax Poojary explained that the experience is “more interactive than just scrolling through images, titles and descriptions on a traditional e-commerce site.” The Shoploop videos, which are under 90 seconds, currently focus on beauty products. Consumers can save products or follow product creators for additional videos. Continue reading Google’s Area 120 Debuts Shoploop Video Shopping Platform

Netflix Names Sarandos Co-CEO, Subscriber Numbers Grow

Streaming giant Netflix announced that chief content officer Ted Sarandos is now co-chief executive officer with long-time chair & chief executive Reed Hastings. The move is largely seen as clearing the path for Sarandos to eventually succeed Hastings, who noted that the promotion “makes formal what was already informal — that Ted and I share the leadership of Netflix.” The company added 26+ million subscribers in the last two quarters as consumers began seeking more in-home entertainment while sheltering in place due to COVID-19. Continue reading Netflix Names Sarandos Co-CEO, Subscriber Numbers Grow