AI Regulation’s First Testing Ground Is the European Union

Artificial intelligence and its potential to harm consumers has been much in the spotlight — now, more than ever, in Europe. Several Big Tech executives are in Europe, prior to heading to Davos for the annual World Economic Forum, and some, such as Microsoft president Brad Smith, are meeting with the European Union’s new competition chief Margrethe Vestager. Under the European Commission’s new president Ursula von der Leyen, new rules regulating free flow of data and competition are under consideration. Continue reading AI Regulation’s First Testing Ground Is the European Union

Mojo Vision Demonstrates Prototype of Smart Contact Lens

After five years of work, California-based Mojo Vision demonstrated Mojo Lens, a smart contact lens that is still in research and development. For now, the demonstrations are via a virtual reality headset rather than an actual contact lens. But Mojo Vision’s goal is to create a means of “invisible computing,” which will provide an interface that enables consumers to reduce their use of screens. Co-founder/chief technology officer Mike Wiemer explains that Mojo Lens will be “very discreet.” Continue reading Mojo Vision Demonstrates Prototype of Smart Contact Lens

YouTube Limits Data Collection, Targeted Ads on Kids’ Videos

This month, Alphabet-owned YouTube will begin limiting the data it collects on children’s videos and stop showing data-driven personalized ads. Video creators will be responsible for designating their content as targeting children and will face Federal Trade Commission fines if they do not do so. The FTC also won’t allow comments or other features such as pop-ups meant to increase viewership. The new data collection limits will likely have negative financial implications for creators of free kids’ content. Continue reading YouTube Limits Data Collection, Targeted Ads on Kids’ Videos

The Dark Side of Big Tech’s Accumulation of Power, Wealth

Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft are valued together at $4+ trillion, with the six surviving founders of four of these companies worth $450 billion, noted Forbes, adding that these valuations have quintupled since 2009. The technology coming out of these companies has also been powerful, from smartphones to ride-sharing. Currently, tech accounts for seven of the top 10 worldwide companies by market cap. This wealth accumulation hasn’t been seen since Standard Oil at the turn of the 20th Century. Continue reading The Dark Side of Big Tech’s Accumulation of Power, Wealth

Google Founders Step Down: New Era for Tech Giant Begins

Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have stepped down from their executive roles, with Google chief executive Sundar Pichai now heading up both Google and Alphabet. For the past 20 years, Page and Brin personified the company and many of their ideas on how to run an Internet company became standard for other Silicon Valley firms. The two first dialed back their involvement in 2015 when they created Alphabet as a holding company and turned their attention to “other bets,” including life-extending technologies. Continue reading Google Founders Step Down: New Era for Tech Giant Begins

AWS Previews Quantum Computing For Enterprise Clients

Amazon Web Services is previewing a quantum computing service to a select group of enterprise customers. The service, Amazon Braket, will allow enterprise customers to develop and test quantum algorithms in simulations to determine if and how quantum computing could be beneficial. “Braket” refers to a standard notation that describes quantum states. Its early stage quantum computer hardware includes solutions from D-Wave Systems, IonQ and Rigetti Computing. Amazon anticipates a wide rollout of the service in 2020. Continue reading AWS Previews Quantum Computing For Enterprise Clients

Alibaba’s Singles Day Reaps $38.3B, Dwarfing Black Friday

On November 11, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba brought in nearly $38.3 billion worth of goods in the 24-hour period known in that country as Singles Day. That surpasses last year’s Singles Day that bought in $30.8 billion. Both figures dwarf the numbers for Black Friday, the massive commercial day-after-Thanksgiving sale in the U.S. Alibaba invented Singles Day ten years ago and, since then, has become a tech giant along the line of Amazon or Alphabet. China also has become wealthier and more digitally connected. Continue reading Alibaba’s Singles Day Reaps $38.3B, Dwarfing Black Friday

Google Culls Patient Data to Build Healthcare Search Tools

Google and Ascension, the second-largest health system in the U.S., have been collecting the personal health data of tens of millions of people in 21 states. Project Nightingale, the tech giant’s effort to enter healthcare, has culled lab results, diagnoses and hospitalization records, which include patient names and dates of birth. No doctor or patient has been notified, which has sparked a federal inquiry, but some experts say the initiative is permissible since Google is developing software to improve the healthcare system. Google explained that its partnership with Ascension is not a secret and was first announced in July during a Q2 earnings call. Continue reading Google Culls Patient Data to Build Healthcare Search Tools

Senate Bill Calls For Search Engines to Divulge Algorithms

For search engines such as Alphabet’s Google, their algorithms are the secret sauce that they claim gives the best results. Not all consumers agree with that, arguing that these algorithms filter their searches in a way that is tantamount to censorship. Now, a bipartisan group of legislators proposed the Filter Bubble Transparency Act, a law that would require search engines and platforms to provide an optional unfiltered search and force them to disclose the algorithms they use to rank searches. Continue reading Senate Bill Calls For Search Engines to Divulge Algorithms

Drones in Delivery Tests, U.S. Agency Bars Chinese UAVs

Amazon, Alphabet’s Wing and Uber Technologies are conducting government-approved trials of drones to deliver packages. Wing is in Christiansburg, Virginia and Uber will begin tests in San Diego before the end of 2019. United Parcel Service also gained FAA approval to create a fleet of drones to deliver health supplies and, ultimately, consumer packages. The FAA predicts that drones for commercial purposes will reach 2.7 million by 2020. Meanwhile, the Department of the Interior is grounding more than 800 drones that were manufactured in China, citing national security concerns. Continue reading Drones in Delivery Tests, U.S. Agency Bars Chinese UAVs

Facebook Has Strong Q3, Settles Cambridge Analytica Suit

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg predicted a “tough year” ahead with the lead-up to the 2020 presidential elections, but the company showed strong Q3 earnings. FactSet said Facebook enjoyed $17.7 billion in total sales and $6.1 billion profit, exceeding Wall Street expectations. In after hours trading, shares rose 5 percent, having already risen more than 43 percent to date. Facebook also agreed to pay U.K.’s privacy regulator a £500,000 ($643,000) fine for its role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Continue reading Facebook Has Strong Q3, Settles Cambridge Analytica Suit

Tech Giants Ramp Up Lobbying as Legal Probes Continue

As lawmakers investigate Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google for antitrust violations, these tech giants are boosting their spending on lobbying. Amazon spent $12.4 million, a 16 percent increase. In the first nine months of 2019, Facebook spent $12.3 million, almost 25 percent more than the same period last year. Apple and Microsoft increased their outlay, by 8 percent and 9 percent respectively. Although parent company Alphabet reduced spending on lobbying by 41 percent, Google spent $9.8 million through September 30. Continue reading Tech Giants Ramp Up Lobbying as Legal Probes Continue

Google Set to Announce 5G Phone Next Week, Say Sources

According to sources, Google may unveil the test version of a 5G smartphone as early as October 15, when it is also expected to also reveal two new 4G Pixel smartphones with OLED screens and possibly a smart watch and notebook. If Google does indeed introduce the 5G phone, it would get a significant jump on Apple, whose plans are to unveil a 5G phone in 2020. Google is making a bigger play in branded hardware to have a greater hold over consumers using its search engine and other software products. Continue reading Google Set to Announce 5G Phone Next Week, Say Sources

Facebook Agrees to $40 Million Fine for Incorrect Ad Metrics

Facebook agreed to pay a $40 million penalty for providing incorrect metrics for average viewing time of ads on its platform. In 2016, Facebook admitted to the problem, and a group of small advertisers sued in California federal court, in part claiming that Facebook knew about the problem long before it admitted and fixed it. Facebook countered the impact was minimal because it doesn’t bill advertisers based on watch-time; plaintiffs disagreed, saying it is a “common indirect barometer to guide ad-buying decisions.” Continue reading Facebook Agrees to $40 Million Fine for Incorrect Ad Metrics

Microsoft Targets Phone Market with Foldable Surface Duo

Having exited the smartphone market in 2017, Microsoft will rejoin it by the 2020 holiday season with the Surface Duo, a foldable, dual-screen device. Developed in collaboration with Alphabet, Microsoft’s Surface Duo will run on the Android operating system and feature the Google Play Store. Microsoft stated its intent to develop its own software for the device. The company also announced its Surface Pro X, a thinner version of its Surface Pro laptop, which features a custom-designed chip co-developed with Qualcomm. Continue reading Microsoft Targets Phone Market with Foldable Surface Duo

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