IBM and MIT Team Up for Artificial Intelligence Research Lab

Last week, IBM and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced a 10-year, $240 million partnership to establish the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The long-term initiative is expected to bring together industry experts, professors and students to research areas such as cybersecurity, healthcare, machine learning and quantum computing. Researchers will work at MIT and the nearby Watson Health and Security facilities. The lab will be co-chaired by IBM Research VP Dario Gil and MIT School of Engineering dean Anantha Chandrakasan. Continue reading IBM and MIT Team Up for Artificial Intelligence Research Lab

Pew: 67 Percent of Americans Turn to Social Media for News

According to new data from Pew Research Center, 67 percent of American adults “get at least some of their news on social media,” up from 62 percent in 2016. Facebook is most popular for news, followed by YouTube and Twitter. While percentages did not significantly change year-over-year for platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Reddit and Tumblr, an increasing number of adults are turning to Twitter, YouTube and Snapchat. Interestingly, millennials do not represent all new social media news consumers. The research found that 55 percent of today’s Americans age 50 or older say they get news on social media sites, a 10 percent increase over last year. Continue reading Pew: 67 Percent of Americans Turn to Social Media for News

Roku Delivers Free, Ad-Supported Movies on New Channel

Owners of Roku streaming players, sticks and TVs will now have access to a new service — “The Roku Channel” — that offers free, ad-supported streaming of movies and TV shows. The channel, which will roll out in phases “over the coming weeks,” features content that Roku has licensed directly from studios including Lionsgate, MGM, Paramount, Sony and Warner Bros. — and movies from other channel publishers currently on the Roku platform such as American Classics, FilmRise, Nosey, OVGuide, Popcornflix, Vidmark and YuYu. Roku expects additional publishers to participate in the future.

Continue reading Roku Delivers Free, Ad-Supported Movies on New Channel

Amazon Now Spends More on R&D Than Other Companies

Despite an overall slowdown in U.S. productivity, tech companies currently lead the charge in overall spending on research and development, a key factor in measuring productivity of an economy. According to data about companies in the S&P 500 collected by analytic software firm FactSet, Amazon spends more on R&D than any other company in the U.S., followed by Alphabet, Intel, Microsoft and Apple. Other tech companies on the Top 20 list include Oracle, Cisco, Facebook, IBM and Qualcomm. Continue reading Amazon Now Spends More on R&D Than Other Companies

Google Ramping Up its Artificial Intelligence Efforts in China

Despite earlier concerns over censorship and a cyberattack traced to Chinese hackers — and the fact that its search engine can only be accessed in the region by using VPNs (due to the government’s filtering system) — Google is reportedly ramping up its presence in China. Its careers web page lists nearly 60 open positions in Beijing and Shanghai. According to The Wall Street Journal, at least four of the engineering positions involve artificial intelligence, “including a technical lead to develop a team to work on natural language processing, data compression and other machine learning technologies.” Continue reading Google Ramping Up its Artificial Intelligence Efforts in China

Internet Firms Now Describe Themselves as Content Leaders

Google and other members of tech trade groups have gone up against the entertainment industry’s chief lobbying organizations in recent years, but now the tech firms are describing themselves in a new light. “We are the new faces of the American content industry, winning Emmys and Oscars, providing distribution for streaming-only Grammy winners, while creating services that address the challenge of piracy by allowing consumers to legally access content globally,” states a letter sent to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, which details concerns regarding the North American Free Trade Agreement. Continue reading Internet Firms Now Describe Themselves as Content Leaders

Incoming MPAA Chief Faces Industry Shifts, New Challenges

Entertainment industry veteran Charles Rivkin is replacing Christopher Dodd this week as the MPAA chief. While the position has historically faced numerous challenges, such as managing consensus among the six major Hollywood studios, Rivkin takes the helm as the industry contends with a growing list of new hurdles: the MPAA has yet to take a stance on the debate over net neutrality rules, Silicon Valley is a growing force in Washington, digital platforms and changes in consumer behavior are impacting theater attendance and traditional distribution models, and media continues to battle global piracy. Continue reading Incoming MPAA Chief Faces Industry Shifts, New Challenges

Western Digital Acquires Upthere to Expand Cloud Services

Western Digital announced its acquisition of cloud services startup Upthere, which offers storage solutions for photos, videos, documents and music. “The Upthere app is platform agnostic and available for iPhone, iPad and Android devices, as well as macOS and Windows PCs,” notes the press release. “The addition of Upthere’s technology and team to Western Digital’s Client Solutions business unit will enhance the company’s consumer products portfolio with new cloud-based offerings.” Upthere CEO Chris Bourdon and his team will continue under Western Digital. Barbara Nelson, formerly of cloud security business IronKey, will lead Western Digital’s Cloud Services business. Continue reading Western Digital Acquires Upthere to Expand Cloud Services

New Intel Chip Can Handle 4 Trillion Operations Per Second

One year after its acquisition of Movidius, Intel is introducing a new chip called the Myriad X, which TechCrunch describes as “a ‘Pro’ version of the Myriad 2, bringing a major redesign to the computer vision-minded chip, while also flaunting some new sophisticated deep-learning capabilities by way of its new ‘Neural Compute Engine.’” While a dedicated computer vision chip has a wide range of potential applications, Intel is looking to use the Myriad X in drones, robots, smart cameras and VR and AR headsets. Continue reading New Intel Chip Can Handle 4 Trillion Operations Per Second

Instagram Looks to Expand its Global Audience With Stories

As part of its larger strategy to attract international users who may face inconsistent or costly mobile Internet service, Facebook-owned Instagram has been ramping up the web version of its photo- and video-sharing application. The latest upgrade brings Stories, “one of Instagram’s most popular features, copied from Snapchat, which lets people post videos and photos that disappear after 24 hours,” reports Bloomberg. “The number of people accessing Instagram through the web, instead of an app, is growing, the company said. More than 80 percent of its users are outside the U.S.” Continue reading Instagram Looks to Expand its Global Audience With Stories

Vevo Brings New Live Talk Show Format to Social Platforms

Vevo is launching a live talk show format that streams across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vevo.com and Vevo’s mobile apps. Vevo Live includes artist interviews, a studio audience, and interaction with streaming viewers via text chat. The concept evolved from the Vevo Party app, developed during an internal company hackathon last year to enable users to chat while watching the same videos, and eventually became Watch Party. After initial success with its audience, and interest by artists who began hosting their own Watch Parties, the company created Vevo Live. Last week, a Fifth Harmony Vevo Live show attracted more than 3 million viewers across social platforms. Continue reading Vevo Brings New Live Talk Show Format to Social Platforms

Facebook and Google Take the Lead in Popular Mobile Apps

According to comScore’s annual U.S. Mobile Apps Report, consumers spend 57 percent of their digital media time on smartphones and tablets using apps. The figure is roughly the same as the previous year, suggesting that the shift to mobile has reached a point of leveling out. The report also notes that Facebook and Google own eight of the top 10 apps. Among the most popular mobile apps today are Facebook (top app for all age groups except 18- to 24-year-olds), YouTube (No. 2 overall and No. 1 with 18- to 24-year-olds), Facebook Messenger, Google Search, Google Maps, Instagram, Snapchat, Google Play, Gmail and Pandora. Continue reading Facebook and Google Take the Lead in Popular Mobile Apps

Addressing the Myths That Impact Creation of VR Standards

In VentureBeat, The Khronos Group president Neil Trevett and Sensics CEO Yuval Boger list four myths that are standing in the way of VR standards and more rapid market growth — “Myth 1: It’s too early for standards,” “Myth 2: Standards stifle innovation,” “Myth 3: Consumers won’t be impacted” and “Myth 4: There are too many cooks developing standards.” Trevett and Boger counter all four and note that The Khronos Group and IEEE are leading efforts to develop VR standards. The ETC’s VR/AR Initiative program lead, Phil Lelyveld, says that despite outreach efforts to the creative community by those organizations, active contributors are predominantly hardware and tool developers and technologists. Continue reading Addressing the Myths That Impact Creation of VR Standards

Uber Is Expected to Name Expedia’s Khosrowshahi as CEO

The Uber board has settled on Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi as the ride-hailing giant’s next chief exec. Khosrowshahi was the third candidate behind Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman and former GE chief Jeff Immelt. “Called the ‘truce’ candidate by one person close to the board and the ‘compromise’ choice by another — due to extensive infighting between ousted CEO Travis Kalanick and Uber’s big investor Benchmark,” reports Recode, “Khosrowshahi will now try to settle the turbulent waters at the company riven by” numerous issues including a report from former Attorney General Eric Holder regarding a sexist company culture; allegations of regulatory wrongdoings, a lawsuit filed by Waymo, its publicized management shakeup, and declining employee morale. Continue reading Uber Is Expected to Name Expedia’s Khosrowshahi as CEO

Spotify Strikes Licensing Deal with Warner Music, Preps IPO

Music streaming service Spotify, which is planning its IPO for late 2017/early 2018, just signed a new global licensing deal with Warner Music Group. Terms were not disclosed. The company earlier reached long-term agreements with Universal Music Group and Sony Music; Warner was the last of the big three labels Spotify needed to go public. The online music pioneer is reportedly planning a nontraditional IPO in which it will offer shares directly to the public rather than the standard method of going through Wall Street banks. Continue reading Spotify Strikes Licensing Deal with Warner Music, Preps IPO

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