Crypto Meltdown Renewing Regulatory Interest on Capitol Hill

The FTX crash and ensuing fallout has fueled efforts by Congress and federal regulators to rein in the cryptocurrency business, which caused massive investment losses this past year. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Congressman Patrick McHenry (R-North Carolina) are among those leading the charge to put consumer safeguards in place. McHenry in January became chair of the House Financial Services Committee. Legislators are also calling for robust enforcement of existing laws, which the crypto industry has been resisting. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) said Congress needs the resources “to be an effective cop on the beat.” Continue reading Crypto Meltdown Renewing Regulatory Interest on Capitol Hill

Google’s MusicLM AI Can Generate Tunes from Text Prompts

Google is introducing a new artificial intelligence app called MusicLM that creates music in any style or genre based on text prompts and can translate a whistled melody or casually hummed snipped into instrument sounds. TechCrunch calls the technology “impressive” but says the Alphabet company “fearing the risks, has no immediate plans to release it,” in recognition of the controversy surrounding AI models trained using copyrighted material. MusicLM was created using a dataset of 280,000 musical hours, resulting in the ability to generate minutes-long songs of “significant complexity.” Continue reading Google’s MusicLM AI Can Generate Tunes from Text Prompts

Watermark-Erasing AI Worries Photographers, Other Creatives

A new artificial intelligence service offering free watermark removal from photographs is causing worry among copyright holders. Photographers took to Twitter to complain about this threat to their livelihoods while the creative community at large pondered the broader implications for AI infringement on intellectual property rights — a central aspect of discussions involving ChatGPT, which was trained using privately held as well as public domain data. Available to download as an app from sites including Product Hunt and the Google Play Store, the WatermarkRemover.io app itself is legal, while some of its potential uses are not. Continue reading Watermark-Erasing AI Worries Photographers, Other Creatives

Apple Developing User-Friendly AR Creation App for Headset

Apple is preparing for the release of its upcoming mixed reality headset by engineering software that, while aimed largely at developers, would also allow users to create their own augmented reality apps in the same way as Final Cut Pro, which is used to edit video by both professionals and laymen. Apple’s highly anticipated headgear is expected to come to market this year, and a general use AR development tool would be a major coup for the company, given that AR apps are complicated to create and new technologies typically rely on fresh content to drive sales. Continue reading Apple Developing User-Friendly AR Creation App for Headset

Disney Expands Its Ad Measurement with EDO and Samba TV

Disney Advertising has struck a deal with measurement firm EDO to examine audience engagement across multiple platforms, starting with Hulu. EDO will also provide outcome data, quantifying the effectiveness of streaming campaigns. The agreement allows Disney to provide brands with information detailing the impact of streaming ad exposure “on cross-screen digital behavior like search and site visits,” said Disney Advertising SVP of data enablement and category strategy Danielle Brown from the company’s annual Tech & Data Showcase last week. The company has also expanded its relationship with Samba TV, another vendor in the new currency space. Continue reading Disney Expands Its Ad Measurement with EDO and Samba TV

BuzzFeed Eyes a Future Collaborating with Meta and OpenAI

BuzzFeed stock jumped last week as news of collaborative efforts with Meta Platforms and OpenAI began circulating. The New York-based digital media firm famous for viral content said it is using OpenAI’s artificial intelligence to enhance lists, quizzes and other content. Meanwhile, a 2022 deal valued at close to $10 million with Meta Platforms is seeing results as BuzzFeed trains creators to expand their online presence and generate content for Meta’s social platforms, including Facebook and Instagram. BuzzFeed shares, which were trading at under $1 through January, rose to $3.87 in after-hours trading on Friday. Continue reading BuzzFeed Eyes a Future Collaborating with Meta and OpenAI

TikTok On the Offense in Battle to Protect Its U.S. Operations

TikTok is taking a proactive stance to quash U.S. government concerns that user data might be collected and exploited by China, where the viral video platform’s parent, ByteDance, is based. TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew made the rounds in Washington last week, sharing with think tanks and public interest groups his plan to prevent data on Americans from being transmitted out of the country. The strategy marks a shift for TikTok, which kept a low profile during attacks by the Trump administration and continuing pressure under President Biden. Chew is now scheduled to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee about security and privacy. Continue reading TikTok On the Offense in Battle to Protect Its U.S. Operations

Feds Say Time to Prep for Y2Q Quantum Computer Hacking

Quantum computing promises future benefits, but also poses present-day cybersecurity risks that the federal government is urging commercial businesses to prepare for now. In fact, a law passed in December, the Quantum Computing Cybersecurity Preparedness Act, requires federal agencies to develop security plans addressing the vulnerability posed by the so-called “Y2Q” moment. Quantum computers are so quick and efficient as to be able to crack virtually any encryption. Although quantum computing is still in the development stage, the machines are expected to reach practical operability by 2030. Continue reading Feds Say Time to Prep for Y2Q Quantum Computer Hacking

Twitter Teams with IAS, DoubleVerify to Ensure Brand Safety

In an effort to reassure advertisers that their messaging won’t wind up in a “hellscape,” Twitter has teamed with ad tech firms DoubleVerify and Integral Ad Science (IAS) on a third-party brand safety and suitability initiative. The program, which allows companies to analyze surrounding content and make filtering choices, will initially roll out in the U.S. The move comes in the wake of reports of advertiser unrest at Twitter since Elon Musk took control, though at least one outlet reports that more companies than ever (though smaller ones) are alighting at the blue bird’s nest, “sensing a pricing opportunity.” Continue reading Twitter Teams with IAS, DoubleVerify to Ensure Brand Safety

NBA Collaboration with Niantic Could Be AR Game Changer

Niantic, the mobile games company famous for the “Pokémon GO” augmented reality venture has yet to duplicate the success of that 2016 mega-hit. “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite” and “Pikmin Bloom” fell short, and last June Niantic laid off nearly 90 people, about 8 percent of its staff. The company, which was incubated by Google, has a lot riding on “NBA All-World,” its latest bid for AR virality on Android and iOS. The game releases globally this week. The concept is brand-to-boots: hoop enthusiasts are invited to play one-on-one or enjoy team time with their NBA favorites. Continue reading NBA Collaboration with Niantic Could Be AR Game Changer

Senators Grill Live Nation on Antitrust After the Swift Debacle

Anticompetitive practices, outrageous ticket fees and poor customer service were among the allegations leveled at Live Nation Entertainment Tuesday at a contentious Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing over botched Taylor Swift concert ticket presales by the company’s Ticketmaster subsidiary. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) called the Live Nation relationship to Ticketmaster “the definition of monopoly,” adding that venues fearful of losing the company’s concerts don’t have the ability to push back because Live Nation is “so powerful that it doesn’t even need to exert pressure, it doesn’t need to threaten because people just fall in line.” Continue reading Senators Grill Live Nation on Antitrust After the Swift Debacle

Murdochs Call Off the Proposal to Merge Fox and News Corp

Rupert Murdoch has cancelled plans to consider merging the Fox Corporation, parent of Fox News, with News Corp, which owns The Wall Street Journal. Murdoch, who is chairman of Fox and executive chairman of News Corp, said in a statement that he and son Lachlan Murdoch, co-chairman of News Corp and chairman and CEO of Fox, have “determined that a combination is not optimal” for shareholders at this time. The move comes as News Corp is embroiled in negotiations to sell Realtor.com owner Move Inc. to commercial realty firm CoStar Group in a deal valued at around $3 billion. Continue reading Murdochs Call Off the Proposal to Merge Fox and News Corp

NBA Arena and Avatar Apparel Debut in Meta Horizon Worlds

The National Basketball Association is extending its partnership with Meta Platforms in a multiyear deal that will include virtual reality experiences via the Horizon Worlds online platform and Meta Quest, “the official VR headset of the NBA and WNBA.” The NBA Arena in Meta Horizon Worlds will feature live NBA League Pass games in VR throughout the season. NBA-licensed apparel will launch in the Meta Avatars Store. Authenticated NBA accounts will also be able to experience shared watching in HD using Quest with VR sports hub Xtadium. Continue reading NBA Arena and Avatar Apparel Debut in Meta Horizon Worlds

Microsoft Invests $10 Billion in OpenAI, Valued at About $29B

Microsoft is expanding its relationship with OpenAI, entering what it calls “the third phase of our long-term partnership” with a multiyear, multibillion dollar investment to accelerate AI breakthroughs to ensure these benefits are broadly shared with the world.” Although the companies did not disclose financial terms, Microsoft’s investment was previously reported as $10 billion. The New York Times reports OpenAI is also in talks to complete a tender offer for as much as $300 million (contingent on the number of employees selling stock), “which would value the company at around $29 billion.” Continue reading Microsoft Invests $10 Billion in OpenAI, Valued at About $29B

Disney Announces Plans for Its Proprietary Ad Delivery Stack

Disney touted its capabilities this week at the company’s Tech & Data Showcase for advertisers, part of the company’s Road to the Upfront. Among the disclosures, Disney in April will begin adding some Hulu ad-targeting capabilities to Disney+, with Hulu’s “full suite of ad products and services” available throughout the entire Disney streaming portfolio by July. Since last year Hulu has been deploying a proprietary ad server Disney is said to have built from the ground up, putting it to work on the ad-supported Disney+ Basic tier launched in December. Continue reading Disney Announces Plans for Its Proprietary Ad Delivery Stack