Facebook and News Corp Sign a Multi-Year Deal in Australia

Facebook inked a multi-year agreement with News Corp in Australia, resolving a standoff on paying publishers for content. The News Corp content will include the national newspaper The Australian, The Daily Telegraph in New South Wales, the Herald Sun in Victoria and The Courier-Mail in Queensland. News Corp’s cable channel Sky News Australia reached a separate deal with Facebook. Now, 17 million Facebook users in Australia will be able to access News Corp publications’ breaking news and news articles behind a paywall. Continue reading Facebook and News Corp Sign a Multi-Year Deal in Australia

Shopify Provides Small Businesses an Alternative to Amazon

Shopify, BigCommerce and Magneto are companies that offer online sales solutions for small- and medium-sized businesses that don’t want to do business via Amazon, eBay or Walmart or go it alone and try to attract buyers via advertising. With Shopify and others, the merchant can retain her branding and customer relationships while taking advantage of established cloud-based payments and fulfillment services. These companies can also list merchandise on the dominant e-commerce sites, a time-consuming effort for the smaller businesses. Continue reading Shopify Provides Small Businesses an Alternative to Amazon

States Lead the Way in Proposing Laws to Regulate Big Tech

Arizona, Maryland and Virginia are just three states pushing legislation to limit Big Tech companies such as Google and Apple on issues including digital advertisements, app-store fees and online privacy. Their actions appear to highlight a growing trend: that state capitals are emerging at the forefront of potentially regulating Silicon Valley behemoths. While the federal government is holding hearings and suing some Big Tech companies, states may beat them to passing laws that will become de facto national standards. Continue reading States Lead the Way in Proposing Laws to Regulate Big Tech

Cybersecurity: White House Pursues Public-Private Alliances

Russia and China recently ran sophisticated hacks from servers inside the United States, going undetected by the National Security Agency, which is prohibited from conducting surveillance in the U.S., as well as the FBI and Department of Homeland Security. Private computer security firms were the first to raise the alarm on these foreign attacks, and Microsoft reported that its patches are being reverse-engineered by criminal groups to launch ransomware attacks on corporations. The White House is paying attention. Continue reading Cybersecurity: White House Pursues Public-Private Alliances

Facebook Using Self-Supervised Models to Build AI Systems

Facebook debuted Learning from Videos, a project designed to learn audio, images and text from publicly available Facebook videos to improve its core AI systems. By culling data from hundreds of languages and countries, said Facebook, the project will also help to enable “entirely new experiences.” Learning from Videos, which began in 2020, has also helped to improve recommendations in Instagram Reels. Facebook, Google and others are focused on self-supervised techniques rather than labeled datasets to improve AI. Continue reading Facebook Using Self-Supervised Models to Build AI Systems

Netflix Running Test to Curb Unauthorized Password Sharing

Netflix is reportedly considering a move to enforce one of its terms of service: that a customer’s account credentials cannot be shared with individuals beyond the account holder’s household. The company recently introduced a limited test that displays a warning that reads, “if you don’t live with the owner of this account, you need your own account to keep watching.” It next prompts viewers with three options: to get an email or text verification code to authenticate the account, click on a button to verify later, or sign up for a new account. Continue reading Netflix Running Test to Curb Unauthorized Password Sharing

South Korean E-Commerce Powerhouse Raises $4.6B in IPO

Seoul-based startup Coupang is South Korea’s version of Amazon and the country’s biggest e-commerce retailer. Its IPO last week raised $4.6 billion and valued the company at about $85 billion, while its share offering price of $35 rose 41 percent to close the day at $49.25. Although Coupang plans to expand, it will soon face competition from South Korean family-owned conglomerates, called chaebol, which are building their own delivery networks. Another looming problem for Coupang are accusations of poor labor practices. Continue reading South Korean E-Commerce Powerhouse Raises $4.6B in IPO

Digital Collage Sells for a Record $69.3 Million at NFT Auction

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have been generating headlines, most recently when graphic designer and self-taught artist Mike Winkelmann (also known as Beeple) sold a digital image online at Christie’s auction house for $69.3 million. It was also the most expensive digital asset to ever sell with a “digital certificate of authenticity,” otherwise known as an NFT. The blockchain-based assets differ from cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin in that each NFT is a “singularly unique marker for the digital asset it tags.” Hence the uproar in the art world over Beeple’s record-breaking sale. Continue reading Digital Collage Sells for a Record $69.3 Million at NFT Auction

Bill Could Make Net Neutrality Law Under New Administration

Senator Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) plans to introduce a bill in the next few weeks that would make new neutrality a law. “The coronavirus pandemic has proven that broadband is as essential as electricity and other utilities,” he said. “We need to restore net neutrality protections to ensure that our Internet remains open and free and that consumers can continue to benefit from this critical infrastructure.” Many Republicans still oppose net neutrality, and its existence has largely been subject to who chairs the FCC. Continue reading Bill Could Make Net Neutrality Law Under New Administration

Apple Reveals Plan to Build a Chip Design Center in Germany

Apple is planning to build a 98,400-square-foot semiconductor design center in Munich, Germany, part of a 1 billion euro ($1.2 billion) investment to create customized chips for 5G mobile devices and other wireless technologies in Germany. The company plans to move into the facility in late 2022. Munich is a regional hub for chip development and home to Apple partner Infineon Technologies and the Fraunhofer Group for Microelectronics, a major European semiconductor-based technology research institute. Continue reading Apple Reveals Plan to Build a Chip Design Center in Germany

Game Platform Roblox Goes Public, Now Valued at $45 Billion

Gaming platform Roblox went public on Wednesday and saw its shares rise from a reference price of $45 to $69.50, valuing the company at $45 billion. A year ago, the company was valued at $4 billion. The NPD Group reported that a record-breaking $56.9 billion was spent on gaming in the U.S. in 2020, up 27 percent from 2019. Sony enjoyed a 62 percent rise in profit, and Microsoft recorded a first-ever $5 billion in quarterly gaming revenue. In a hot gaming market, Roblox delayed its listing to more accurately price its shares. Continue reading Game Platform Roblox Goes Public, Now Valued at $45 Billion

Biden Appointing Antitrust Experts to Key Administrative Posts

President Joe Biden is expected to nominate Columbia University law professor Lina Khan, a leader of the Big Tech antitrust movement, for an open seat on the Federal Trade Commission, where she would have power to enforce existing regulations. Biden appointed another Columbia law professor, Tim Wu to the National Economic Council (NEC) as a special assistant for technology and competition policy. Big Tech antitrust wasn’t a signature focus of Biden’s presidential campaign, but the appointments seem to signal his intentions. Continue reading Biden Appointing Antitrust Experts to Key Administrative Posts

European Union Earmarks $150 Billion for New Tech Initiatives

As part of a $2 trillion recovery package, the European Union is investing $150+ billion in “Digital Compass” to boost advanced technologies and narrow the gap with the U.S. and Asia. One goal is to produce at least 20 percent of the world’s semiconductors by 2030. In 2020, said the European Commission, the EU produced 10 percent. In 2019, the EU debuted a public-private cloud-computing project, Gaia-X to increase self-reliance and, in 2017, the European Battery Alliance to develop electricity-storage technologies. Continue reading European Union Earmarks $150 Billion for New Tech Initiatives

Disney+ Achieves 100 Million Subscriber Mark in Record Time

The Walt Disney Company’s streaming service Disney+ reached 100 million subscribers in its first 16 months of operation, after reporting 94.9 million subscribers on January 2. With the latest announcement, Disney+ is clearly on track to reach the goal of 260 million subscribers by 2024. At a shareholder meeting, Disney chief executive Bob Chapek again stressed that Disney+ is a company priority and that it still plans to add 100+ new titles each year. In comparison, Netflix has 203.7 million subscribers. Continue reading Disney+ Achieves 100 Million Subscriber Mark in Record Time

Study Suggests Deepfakes Fool Top Facial Recognition Tech

Deepfakes, in which a person in a video is swapped for another person via AI-enabled tools, are on the rise. Deeptrace reported that, between October 2019 and June 2020, the number of deepfakes on the Internet jumped 330 percent, reaching 50,000 at the peak. Deepfakes have been used to place celebrities in embarrassing and inappropriate content, defraud a major energy producer and many other disruptive or criminal uses. Tools to create deepfakes are readily available, and a recent study said deepfakes can reliably fool commercial facial recognition services. Continue reading Study Suggests Deepfakes Fool Top Facial Recognition Tech

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