ETC@USC Gears Up For January’s CES 2020 in Las Vegas

When CES 2020 opens on January 7 in Las Vegas, it is almost certain that entertainment will be taking center stage. Where emerging technologies have disrupted media and entertainment on a rollercoaster of change for the past few decades, today’s M&E companies are harnessing technologies, driving innovation, and emerging as disruptors themselves. The days of entertainment as a CES sideshow and a way to light up screens to sell TVs are over. Our team of reporters will be at CES again this year covering the latest news from keynote addresses, product demos and related events. Continue reading ETC@USC Gears Up For January’s CES 2020 in Las Vegas

Facebook and Academics Use AI to Generate Game Worlds

Facebook, the University of Lorraine and the University College London published a paper that detailed how they researched a way to use artificial intelligence to create complex game worlds. Building video game environments has always been time-consuming, but this group’s approach — using content from the fantasy text-based multiplayer adventure “LIGHT” — demonstrated how machine learning algorithms can learn to “assemble different elements, arranging locations and populating them with characters and objects.” Continue reading Facebook and Academics Use AI to Generate Game Worlds

Europe’s Antitrust Chief Aims to Keep Pressure on Big Tech

In her five-year tenure, European Commission head of the antitrust division Margrethe Vestager fined Google more than $9 billion and required Apple to pay $14.5 billion in back taxes. But she still has a dark view of the landscape, saying that, “in the last five years, some of the darker sides of digital technologies have become visible.” She has been appointed to an unprecedented second term and has been given expanded power regarding EU digital policy, and has already revealed an agenda that includes making sure that major technology companies pay more taxes in Europe. Continue reading Europe’s Antitrust Chief Aims to Keep Pressure on Big Tech

Qualcomm Offers Roadmap of Global 5G Networks Rollout

At Qualcomm’s Analyst Day in New York City, Qualcomm president Cristiano Amon presented a visual roadmap projecting the global rollout of 5G networks in 2020, stating that mid-band (sub-6GHz) 5G will spread broadly, first in major cities and then, in 2021, in developing countries. The deployment of 5G is important for Qualcomm, which is expected to be a major provider of 5G chips and IP to global carriers and OEMs. The deployment projected by Amon is subject to change based on potential regulatory changes. Continue reading Qualcomm Offers Roadmap of Global 5G Networks Rollout

Yahoo Japan and Line to Merge, Plan For New ‘Super App’

SoftBank Group founder Masayoshi Son has developed a plan to create an Internet company that could rival Big Tech companies Amazon and Google. Son wants to combine Yahoo Japan with Line Corp., a public company that SoftBank and South Korean corporation Naver Corp. plan to take private. The two would then be merged in a joint venture dubbed Z Holdings, scheduled to close by October 2020 given shareholder approval. The combined companies would share engineering resources and data and invest in artificial intelligence. Continue reading Yahoo Japan and Line to Merge, Plan For New ‘Super App’

TikTok Is a Hit in India: 400 Million Downloads in Two Years

Although U.S. lawmakers are suspicious of the popular Chinese app TikTok, in India, people are mad for it, particularly those who are young, unemployed and new to the Internet. To stoke the growing enthusiasm, TikTok owner’s ByteDance has pledged to invest $1 billion and build a data center. TikTok India director of sales/ partnerships Sachin Sharma reported that users range from farmers to rich people showing off their Lamborghinis. TikTok is ideal for a market that avoids English and is uncomfortable with search. Continue reading TikTok Is a Hit in India: 400 Million Downloads in Two Years

Microsoft Pairs Azure Cloud Platform, Graphcore AI Chips

Microsoft will begin providing customers of its Azure cloud platform with chips made by U.K. startup Graphcore, with the goal of speeding up the computations for artificial intelligence projects. Graphcore, founded in Bristol in 2016, has attracted several hundred million dollars in investment and the attention of many AI researchers. Microsoft invested in Graphcore last December, with the hope of making its cloud services more compelling. Graphcore’s chips have not previously been available publicly. Continue reading Microsoft Pairs Azure Cloud Platform, Graphcore AI Chips

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

5G Offers Wireless Carriers More Security, Privacy Options

One of the benefits of 5G, expected to be 100 times faster than 4G networks, is the improved protection of sensitive data. Much of the conversation about 5G networks has focused on the security issues related to Chinese vendors of gear used in 5G networks. But Verizon chief information officer Chandra McMahon noted that “security is designed into 5G and there will be additional [security] technical features.” Another advantage is that 5G providers will rely on the cloud, providing more capacity and flexibility. Continue reading 5G Offers Wireless Carriers More Security, Privacy Options

In U.S. and Europe, Some Oppose the Breakup of Big Tech

Many public figures have called for the breakup of leading technology companies, but the European Commission’s head of competition Margrethe Vestager is not one of them. She stated that breaking up such companies should be a remedy if it’s “the only solution to [their] illegal behavior.” “We don’t have that kind of case now,” she said, although she didn’t exclude a future possibility. In the U.S., conservatives and libertarians, who often oppose antitrust measures, are also pushing back against the move to break up Big Tech. Continue reading In U.S. and Europe, Some Oppose the Breakup of Big Tech

Lawmakers Introduce Sweeping Online Privacy Legislation

Currently, the Federal Trade Commission is the government agency responsible for monitoring privacy violations. But, in response to rising calls to regulate big tech companies, two legislators — Anna Eshoo (D-California) and Zoe Lofgren (D-California) — have sponsored the Online Privacy Act. Among its provisions, the Act would create the Digital Privacy Agency (DPA) to enforce privacy legislation, backed up by 1,600 officials. The size would make it on a par with the Federal Communications Commission. Continue reading Lawmakers Introduce Sweeping Online Privacy Legislation

Adobe Reveals AI-Enabled One-Click Audio Enhancement

At the Adobe MAX conference in Los Angeles this week, the company gave a sneak peek of its Project Awesome Audio, which will clean up problematic audio recordings in Adobe Audition with the click of a button. The project is the brainchild of Adobe research scientist Zeyu Jin who, back in 2016, demonstrated a tool that allows the user to easily insert speech into an existing clip. For Project Awesome Audio, Jin, with Princeton University computer science PhD student Jiaqi Su, leveraged Adobe’s Sensei AI for “end-to-end audio enhancement.” Adobe also showcased a mobile Photoshop app, a new AR authoring app, and more. Continue reading Adobe Reveals AI-Enabled One-Click Audio Enhancement

Europe Aims for Digital Sovereignty With Gaia-X Cloud Plan

Germany and France plan to launch Gaia-X, a government-backed cloud infrastructure project, with the goal of allowing local providers to compete with dominant U.S. cloud providers. Amazon and Microsoft criticized Gaia-X for limiting data services by national borders. However, French and German companies are wary of dependence on those tech behemoths, which must comply with the U.S. Cloud Act, a 2018 law that requires them to provide personal data to law enforcement, even when the servers are outside of the U.S. Continue reading Europe Aims for Digital Sovereignty With Gaia-X Cloud Plan

Foreign Investment Law Does Not Deter Chinese Investing

The U.S. has yet to define the specifics of a 2018 law designed to limit foreign access to critical technologies. In the meantime, Chinese investors continue to put money in U.S. startups and venture capital funds. U.S. tech entrepreneurs also welcome a connection with China, and investment between the two countries remains significant. The tangle of investments in a single company can make it hard to determine provenance. Even so, successful Chinese AI startup SenseTime Group was blacklisted by the Trump administration. Continue reading Foreign Investment Law Does Not Deter Chinese Investing

Nvidia Introduces Two Next-Generation Shield TV Devices

Nvidia just launched two new Shield TV set-top boxes, making them the third generation after the 2015 debut and 2017 update. The new Shield TV 2019 Editions are both faster and offer a new remote. The Nvidia Shield TV, priced at $149.99, is housed in a new cylindrical form factor, with HDMI and microSD on the top and wired Gigabit Ethernet and power on the bottom. The Nvidia Shield TV Pro, priced at $199.99, maintains its existing design, with an upgraded Nvidia Tegra X1+ SoC, 3GB of RAM, and 16GB of storage. Continue reading Nvidia Introduces Two Next-Generation Shield TV Devices

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