Defense Dept. Taps Microsoft For Cloud Computing Project

Microsoft won a $10 billion, 10-year technology contract with the Department of Defense for its Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) project. Although Amazon was the front-runner, President Trump had upped his criticism of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and stated he might intervene to prevent Bezos’ company from getting the JEDI contract. Google, IBM and Oracle also competed for the contract. A group of Microsoft employees has protested the company’s involvement in the military project. Continue reading Defense Dept. Taps Microsoft For Cloud Computing Project

Google Claims Major Breakthrough in Quantum Computing

Google stated it achieved “quantum supremacy,” a breakthrough in quantum computing that researchers have been pursuing since the 1980s. According to Google, at its Santa Barbara, California-based research lab, its quantum computer took 3 minutes and 20 seconds to complete a mathematical calculation that would take supercomputers over 10,000 years. Quantum computing is expected to unleash major advances in artificial intelligence and other complicated technologies. IBM, however, has disputed Google’s claim. Continue reading Google Claims Major Breakthrough in Quantum Computing

Major Tech Firms Are Taking Action to Combat Deepfakes

Ahead of next year’s U.S. Presidential election, social platform Twitter is planning to introduce a new policy that intends to help curb manipulated media including altered videos known as “deepfakes.” Twitter plans to create its first ever such policy regarding deepfakes and will seek feedback from the public in doing so. Meanwhile, Amazon Web Services has joined Facebook, Microsoft and others in the Deepfake Detection Challenge (DFDC) and will serve as a tech partner and committee member helping to oversee the challenge. Continue reading Major Tech Firms Are Taking Action to Combat Deepfakes

Google’s Latest Pixel Takes Phone Cameras to Next Level

At Google’s annual hardware event this week, the company introduced the new Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL smartphones, both featuring an extra camera lens, infrared scanner for unlocking the phone, and emphasis on computational photography for automatically processing more professional-looking images (even photos of the night sky). Both phones use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 chipset and come equipped with 19:9 “Smooth” displays, which refresh up to 90 times per second, and the touchscreens allow users to poke it or squeeze the body if they want to call upon Google’s built-in Assistant. 

Continue reading Google’s Latest Pixel Takes Phone Cameras to Next Level

Google Upgrades Shopping Portal, Extends Lens Capability

Google has streamlined its Shopping desktop and mobile portals in anticipation of the holiday season and unveiled a fashion recommendation engine for Google Lens, its AI-enabled computer vision search tool. According to Google Shopping vice president Surojit Chatterjee, the redesign is aimed at making it easier for users to “research and buy” what they are looking for. A personalized homepage offers product suggestions, and new sections allow re-ordering. Also more prominent are links to “nearby and online” stores. Continue reading Google Upgrades Shopping Portal, Extends Lens Capability

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

Amazon Forms Coalition for Voice Assistant Interoperability

Amazon created the Voice Interoperability Initiative to achieve software compatibility among digital voice assistants, encouraging its widespread adoption. Although 36 companies have joined the initiative, Apple and Google have not. Their absence is a significant impediment to the initiative’s goals, since Apple’s Siri and Google’s Assistant software are installed by default in most of today’s smartphones. Amazon’s Alexa, meanwhile, has no presence on smartphones, although its Echo speakers are a hit with consumers. Continue reading Amazon Forms Coalition for Voice Assistant Interoperability

ETC@USC Shares Video Series From Grand Convergence

The Entertainment Technology Center at USC today announces the release of its latest series, “vETC | The Grand Convergence 2019: Innovation and Integration,” recorded August 27-28 in Technicolor’s Experience Center and Google’s Spruce Goose airship. ETC’s 5th annual virtual conference of significant presentations around emerging technologies and their impact on the M&E industry, the program’s concentration included AI, machine learning, adaptive production, blockchain, immersive media, virtual beings and streaming. Speakers presented concepts, workflows, business models and case studies in showcasing these disruptive and enabling technologies. The videos are now available on our YouTube channel. Continue reading ETC@USC Shares Video Series From Grand Convergence

Pinterest Becomes a Visual Discovery Engine for Shopping

Pinterest is now promoting itself as a “visual discovery engine,” where its 300 million global monthly active users can not only browse billions of images but also purchase the items they find there. For most of its users, Pinterest is a go-to place for home décor, gardening and personal style, allowing users to “pin” or post photos to create inspiration boards. According to Pinterest, its AI technology can accurately pinpoint 2.5+ billion objects in photos, millions of which can be purchased by clicking on the item. Continue reading Pinterest Becomes a Visual Discovery Engine for Shopping

Google Claims Quantum Supremacy in Briefly Posted Paper

In a paper briefly posted to the NASA website, Google stated that it conducted an experimental demonstration that proved the supremacy of a quantum computer, dubbed Sycamore, over a traditional one. Although the quantum computer is “unproven,” it offers the possibility of solving “formerly ungraspable mathematical problems.” A Google source hinted that NASA published the paper before it could be vetted via scientific peer review. Since the article was pulled off the site, Google has not acknowledged its existence. Continue reading Google Claims Quantum Supremacy in Briefly Posted Paper

Facebook Announces Three New AI-Powered Portal Devices

Facebook is introducing three Portal models, starting at $129, a more competitive price than previous models. Two offer a smart display with screen, camera and microphone, and the third can turn a TV into a venue for video chat. The first Portal offered AI-enabled tracking that kept all the participants in the frame and could follow a single person. The AI has been upgraded to provide more accuracy. Although the company “paused” human review of audio, it will resume the practice for some Portal audio. Continue reading Facebook Announces Three New AI-Powered Portal Devices

Intel’s 3D Tracking, VR and Other Tech to Enhance Olympics

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be enhanced by a suite of augmented and immersive tools and experiences empowered by artificial intelligence, it was announced last week by Intel and the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Intel will bring a host of innovations to the official games and to the new Intel World Open eSports tournament including 3D Athlete Tracking (3DAT), which combines augmented reality (AR) and AI for real-time insights, VR broadcasts and managerial training, and NEC facial recognition for streamlined operations. Continue reading Intel’s 3D Tracking, VR and Other Tech to Enhance Olympics

Amazon, Apple Research How to Improve Digital Assistants

Apple researchers investigated what people really want in a digital assistant, finding that people deem an assistant “likeable” and “trustworthy” when it mirrored their own degree of chattiness. It also found that the features that make up mirroring can be extracted from the user’s speech patterns. Amazon researchers conducted a project that found Alexa can figure out what a user wants via so-called dialogue state tracking, in which it estimates and keeps tabs on a person’s goals throughout a conversation. Continue reading Amazon, Apple Research How to Improve Digital Assistants

Companies Call on U.S. Government to Up Its AI Investment

The U.S. federal government has come up with $973.5 million for multiple agencies that have requested funding for non-defense-related artificial intelligence pursuits. (Spending on AI for national defense is classified.) This is the first time the government has done so, but numerous industry executives are already saying that it’s not enough to “maintain a competitive edge.” The Trump administration stated that the figures they are putting forward are more transparent than those from China, which aims to dominate AI by 2030. Continue reading Companies Call on U.S. Government to Up Its AI Investment

Academic Supercomputer Is Unveiled by Intel and Dell EMC

Dell EMC and Intel introduced Frontera, an academic supercomputer that replaces Stampede2 at the University of Texas at Austin’s Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC). The companies announced plans to build the computer in August 2018 and were funded by a $60 million National Science Foundation grant. According to Intel, Frontera’s peak performance can reach 38.7 quadrillion floating point operations per second (petaflops), making it one of the fastest such computers for modeling, simulation, big data and machine learning. Continue reading Academic Supercomputer Is Unveiled by Intel and Dell EMC

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