ETC Executive Coffee: Students, Execs Talk Cloud Resources

As part of ETC@USC’s Executive Coffee with… series, M&E leaders connected via Zoom with eight engineering students, three cinema students and one business student on October 29. The topic of discussion was “Production in the Cloud for Media and Entertainment; content and experience creation, distribution, interaction, and analytics.” Students were particularly interested in new advances related to areas such as production workflow, asset management, gaming, remote collaboration for live music, and the impact of analytics on content creation. Continue reading ETC Executive Coffee: Students, Execs Talk Cloud Resources

Facebook Tech Problems Impact Ad Campaigns, Businesses

After Facebook’s “conversion lift” tool overestimated the effectiveness of advertising campaigns, impacting marketers total spend, the company is offering millions of dollars in credit. The error was undetected for a year beginning August 2019. Some of the advertisers said their confidence in Facebook’s metrics is now shaken, especially at a time of cutting costs and concern over ad spending. Small businesses are also seeing their accounts blocked without explanation and no recourse due to Facebook’s increased reliance on AI and automated filters. Continue reading Facebook Tech Problems Impact Ad Campaigns, Businesses

Spotify Tests Service That Helps Artists Promote Their Music

Spotify is testing a new service that gives artists more power over how their music is discovered on its platform. First, it will allow artists and labels to identify the music that matters most to them, and Spotify will add a “signal” to help the music be found by its personalization algorithms. Spotify has created a model in which artists, labels and rights holders will be paid a “promotional recording royalty rate” for streams that it provides, although the service does not require an upfront budget for artists and labels. Continue reading Spotify Tests Service That Helps Artists Promote Their Music

TikTok and U.S. Reportedly in Talks on Possible Partnership

According to sources, ByteDance and the U.S. government are discussing avoiding a full sale of TikTok’s U.S. operations. Although President Trump issued an executive order for ByteDance to do so by a November 12 deadline, the Chinese government restricted the export of AI technology, making the sale more difficult. One possibility is that TikTok will partner with a U.S. company that would help secure its data. Sensor Tower reported that, again, TikTok was the most downloaded non-gaming app globally in August 2020. Continue reading TikTok and U.S. Reportedly in Talks on Possible Partnership

Google Brings Personalization Features to Your News Update

Google is adding new features to Your News Update, its news aggregation service, to personalize 90-minute news feeds from each user’s preferred sources. The goal is to create a seamless listening experience akin to a customized song playlist. Each news playlist, similar to those on public radio, will begin with short clips about the major headlines moving into longer stories. The end product, available only in the U.S., will compile radio, podcast clips and text-to-speech translations tailored to the individual user. Continue reading Google Brings Personalization Features to Your News Update

Facebook Struggles to Contain Health Misinformation, QAnon

According to global civic movement Avaaz, over the past year Facebook enabled 3.8 billion views of misinformation related to health, almost four times the views of sites such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC). This has occurred despite Facebook’s partnership with these organizations to expose users to reliable information. In another effort to squelch misinformation, Facebook removed 790 QAnon groups and restricted another 1,950 groups, 440 pages and 10,000+ Instagram accounts. Continue reading Facebook Struggles to Contain Health Misinformation, QAnon

TikTok Counters Critics, Regulators With More Transparency

TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer published an open letter aimed at regulators intent on curbing its reach. After listing some of the app’s accomplishments in its thus-far short term in social media, he focused on charges critics are levying. He admitted that, “with our success comes responsibility and accountability,” but insisted that the company is made up of “responsible and committed members of the American community that follows U.S. laws.” The company has launched an effort to win over critics with increased transparency. Continue reading TikTok Counters Critics, Regulators With More Transparency

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

Amazon Debuts Smart Shopping Cart for Simplified Checkout

Amazon unveiled the Dash Cart this week, a “smart” grocery shopping cart fitted with a touchscreen that can automatically detect the items placed in it. The shopper can then take the Dash Cart through a special lane to digitally check out via a combination of computer vision algorithms and sensors. The Dash Cart is the result of Amazon’s aim to apply everything it’s learned in building its Alexa-enabled products to create more convenience in the brick-and-mortar world. The Dash Cart will first be deployed in Amazon’s grocery store in Woodland Hills, a Los Angeles suburb. Continue reading Amazon Debuts Smart Shopping Cart for Simplified Checkout

Facebook Audit Finds Company’s Civil Rights Efforts Wanting

Facebook commissioned an audit, and civil rights attorney Laura Murphy with Relman Colfax attorneys delivered an 89-page report that praised the company for adding rules against voter suppression and creating a team to study algorithmic bias. But it also excoriated Facebook for “vexing and heartbreaking decisions [it] has made that represent significant setbacks for civil rights.” Meanwhile, Facebook is still working to address misinformation on its platform. It recently removed accounts belonging to Roger Stone, which were linked to fake accounts active around the 2016 presidential election. Continue reading Facebook Audit Finds Company’s Civil Rights Efforts Wanting

Amazon Developing AI System for Trying on Clothes Virtually

At Amazon Lab126, researchers proposed three related AI algorithms to create Outfit-VITON, an image-based virtual try-on system for apparel. The algorithms could form the basis of an assistant to help a customer shop for clothes by describing a product’s variations, recommending items that go with the one selected, and synthesizing the image of a model wearing clothes to show how all the items work as an outfit. The algorithms will be presented at the annual IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR will be held virtually this year, June 14-19). Continue reading Amazon Developing AI System for Trying on Clothes Virtually

Pinterest Adds Today Tab for Topics, Shop Tab for Products

Pinterest, the website and mobile app that describes itself as a “visual discovery engine,” showcased “Today,” a tab on the user’s Pinterest home page that features topics and ideas curated by Pinterest staff and trending pins selected by algorithms. “Today” is a response to changing customer behavior during the coronavirus pandemic. The platform’s global monthly active users reached 367+ million, up from about 300 million last September. During the last few months, searches and boards have both leapt up 60 percent compared to last year. Continue reading Pinterest Adds Today Tab for Topics, Shop Tab for Products

Facebook’s Anti-Spam Tool Takes Down 6.6B Fake Accounts

Facebook debuted a powerful tool against spammers that uses Deep Entity Classification (DEC), a machine-learning technology. The company’s data science manager Bochra Gharbaoui reported the tool has already taken down 6.6 billion fake accounts last year and blocked millions of attempts to create new ones. DEC analyzes “deep features” of each individual profile, which refers to its behavioral patterns rather than its direct characteristics and includes the profile’s properties and groups/pages the user has contacted. Continue reading Facebook’s Anti-Spam Tool Takes Down 6.6B Fake Accounts

Amazon Tests AI Customer Support Agents, Opens Go Market

Amazon is testing two AI-powered systems as customer support agents, one of which will automatically field customer calls without human intervention and the other which will help human service agents respond more quickly to requests. Amazon applied-science manager Jared Kramer said the AI agents rely on machine learning and refer requests they can’t handle to human agents. Amazon also debuted its cashierless “Go” technology in a large grocery store, in advance of possibly licensing the system to other retailers. Continue reading Amazon Tests AI Customer Support Agents, Opens Go Market

Google’s AutoFlip for Automated AI-Enabled Video Reframing

Google has unveiled AutoFlip, an open source, AI-enabled tool that offers smarter, automated video reframing. A lot of video is captured in landscape aspect ratios such as 16:9 and 4:3, not optimized for different (read: vertical) display devices. The traditional method has been to statically crop the material that doesn’t fit in the destination device, but that usually offers an unsatisfactory result. AutoFlip, however, relies on AI object detection and tracking to intelligently understand the video content. Continue reading Google’s AutoFlip for Automated AI-Enabled Video Reframing

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