AMD’s New Frontier Will Be World’s Fastest Supercomputer

This week, AMD announced a partnership with Cray to build a supercomputer called Frontier, which the two companies predict will become the world’s fastest supercomputer, capable of “exascale” performance when it is released in 2021. All told, they expect Frontier to be capable of 1.5 exaflops, performing somewhere around 50 times faster than the top supercomputers out today, and faster than the currently available top 160 supercomputers combined. Frontier will be built at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.

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Android Q Live Caption Feature Enables Real-Time Subtitles

During Google’s I/O 2019 developers conference this week, the company demonstrated an impressive new feature for mobile operating system Android Q. Called Live Caption, the feature enables real-time transcription for any video or audio that users play on their smartphones. No matter if they’re listening or watching via YouTube, Skype, Instagram, Pocket Casts, or other applications, Live Caption overlays the text on top of whatever is being used. Additionally, Live Caption will work on top of original video or audio recordings on users’ phones.

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Amazon’s One-Day Shipping Plan Boosts Logistics Startups

Last month, Amazon made a pledge to spend $800 million in efforts to make next-day delivery the new standard. In turn, this put increased pressure on brick-and-mortar rivals like Walmart, Best Buy, Macy’s and many others who are rushing to keep up. And it could mean big deals for the logistics companies that work with those physical retailers. As just one example, the Seattle warehouse space and online order fulfillment startup Flexe just announced a $43 million investment from New York firm Tiger Global Management.

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New Google Privacy Tools Aim to Limit Third-Party Cookies

In what could be touted as a privacy-related commitment, Google is expected to unveil new tools designed to limit the use of tracking cookies, including a dashboard-like function within its popular Chrome web browser that would give users information about where they’re being tracked and how to stop it, when desired. These tools are a product of years of internal debate, but the move could potentially strengthen Google’s lead in the digital advertising sector, while dealing a blow to other digital marketing companies.

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Amazon to Pay U.S. Publishers For International Expansion

Amazon is currently pitching U.S.-based publishers like The New York Times and BuzzFeed on deals that would reward them for expanding internationally. As it currently works, Amazon pays Internet publishers that use affiliate links on their sites. When consumers click, visit Amazon, and make a purchase, the publishers get paid. Amazon seeks to expand its own international presence via the publishers getting more readers outside of the U.S., and it’s willing to cut deals to give publishers money up front rather than waiting until purchases.

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Microsoft Promotes HoloLens 2 at Annual Build Conference

Microsoft’s Build developer conference got off to a bit of a rocky start on Monday. During the keynote, meant to demonstrate how the HoloLens 2 augmented reality headset could recreate the Apollo 11 moon landing in mixed reality, the presenters ran into technical difficulties. Microsoft partnered with Epic Games and Industrial Light & Magic chief creative officer John Knoll for the ambitious demo that worked well during earlier rehearsals. Despite the tech glitches during the live presentation, the HoloLens 2 remains an impressive device. A recording of the demo, captured as intended during rehearsals, is available on YouTube.

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Facebook Opens New Command Post Ahead of EU Election

As part of a range of efforts to show that it has taken regulator and governmental concerns seriously, Facebook has set up an operations center in its European headquarters in Dublin, Ireland ahead of the upcoming European Union’s parliamentary election, which is scheduled for May 23-26 across 28 countries. Employees will monitor and clear Facebook of misinformation, fake accounts, and any signs of foreign meddling aimed at swaying election results. Facebook recently set up a similar post in Singapore for elections in India.

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Microsoft Continues Plan to Democratize Machine Learning

Ranging from no-code tools to hosted notebooks, Microsoft released new machine learning products and announced updates to existing products ahead of its Build developer conference. At the core of these releases and updates is Microsoft’s goal to democratize access to artificial intelligence amidst competition with other big players like Google and Amazon Web Services, as well as a number of highly specialized startups. In general, companies are looking for increasingly powerful tools to be more productive and build models quicker.

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New Google-Landmarks-v2 Dataset Means More AI Training

For a long while, Google’s AI research division has been on a mission to grow capable of accurate instance-level landmark recognition and retrieving images — both widely recognized as extremely difficult. To that effort, last year, it released its Google-Landmarks dataset and hosted two competitions for more than 500 machine learning researchers. Last week, it went a step further with the release of its open-sourced Google-Landmarks-v2, which contains double the photos featuring seven times the landmarks.

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Microsoft Announces Launch of Azure Blockchain Services

In the past year, Microsoft has demonstrated a focus on blockchain technology. It previously launched a blockchain developer kit along with its Azure Blockchain Workbench. Just last week, ahead of its Build developer conference, Microsoft announced the launch of Azure Blockchain Services, a “fully managed service that allows for the formation, management, and governance of consortium blockchain networks” which are “meant to help businesses build applications on top of blockchain technology,” according to TechCrunch.

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Facebook Is Developing Cryptocurrency Payments System

Facebook is currently recruiting financial firms and online merchants to launch a “cryptocurrency-based payments system on the back of its gigantic social network,” reports The Wall Street Journal. At its center is a digital coin that users would be able to send to one another and use to make purchases on Facebook and on the broader Internet. This has the potential to significantly disrupt, or even up-end, “the traditional, lucrative plumbing of e-commerce and would likely be the most mainstream application yet of cryptocurrency.”

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Spotify Tests Voice-Enabled Ads on Mobile Devices in U.S.

If you — like millions of others — log into Spotify via a free mobile account (and if you’re in the U.S. and have enabled voice controls), you might start noticing something new: voice-enabled ads. As part of increased investment in voice technology, the streaming service started a test period of these new ads, which encourage listeners to say verbal commands to take action based on the ad’s content. For now, Spotify is focused on promoted in-app content like branded playlists and podcasts, instead of directing listeners outside the app.

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Facebook Using Artificial Intelligence to Reduce Bias/Abuse

At this week’s annual Facebook F8 developer conference in San Jose, California, company CTO Mike Schroepfer discussed the progress being made by internal teams dedicated to reducing the spread of misinformation, hate speech, and abuse on the social platform using various artificial intelligence techniques. In the course of a single quarter, according to Schroepfer, Facebook takes down more than a billion “spammy” accounts, more than 700 million fake accounts, and tens of millions of items containing violent content or nudity.

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YouTube Aims For Trending Videos to Come From Own Site

On the heels of a controversial quarter, YouTube chief executive Susan Wojcicki sent a newsletter to YouTube users and creators announcing that half of all featured videos on the site’s trending tab will come from YouTube itself. This assurance is meant to alleviate worries from some of YouTube’s most popular content creators who have concerns over copyright challenges, advertising policies, and video monetization, particularly related to YouTube’s favoring of more traditional content (movie trailers, TV clips) on its trending tab.

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Netflix Rolls Out Audio Quality Upgrade For Its Programming

After noticing that the audio in episodes of the Netflix series “Stranger Things” wasn’t as crisp as it should be, the company’s internal sound technicians took steps to address the issue. For the past several months, they’ve been working to enhance the sound quality of all Netflix programming, original and licensed. This week and moving forward, subscribers will have access to what’s simply being called “high-quality audio.” The upgrade, which will not require Netflix users to change their Internet service speeds, is optimized for devices that support Dolby 5.1 and Dolby Atmos sound.

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