Humanloop Raises $2.6 Million as Interest in NLP Tech Grows

Interest in natural language processing (NLP) as an AI training tool is exploding, with analysts predicting a bumper crop of new startups. One such startup, Humanloop, is already gaining attention, having just pulled in $2.6 million in seed funding led by Index Ventures with participation by Y Combinator, LocalGlobe and AlbionVC. Founded in 2020 by computer scientists from the University of Cambridge with alumni from Google and Amazon, the company says its technology makes it “significantly” easier for companies to leverage NLP that helps humans “teach” AI algorithms. Continue reading Humanloop Raises $2.6 Million as Interest in NLP Tech Grows

Tech Firms Seek Energy Alternatives to Power Data Centers

Hotter temperatures are not only wreaking havoc on residential electric bills and power grids, but also on data centers, which are looking for reliable green backup power to prepare for “the new normal” and keep our planet’s collective knowledge accessible online through record heat. Cooling system failures resulting from the UK’s July heatwave resulted in Google Cloud’s London data centers going offline for a day, creating a ripple effect for customers as far off as the U.S. and in the Pacific region. Oracle’s London cloud-based data center was also impacted by what the company called “unseasonal temperatures.” Continue reading Tech Firms Seek Energy Alternatives to Power Data Centers

AWS, Microsoft, Google Likely to Continue Cloud Domination

The global cloud storage market is white hot, and the big keep getting bigger while indies lose ground, according to a study by Synergy Research Group that says the top three companies — Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft and Google — account for 65 percent of what was in the first quarter of 2022 assessed as a $53 billion worldwide market. That’s up from a combined 52 percent of worldwide sales four years ago, Synergy notes, explaining the trio’s slice of this rapidly growing market is expected to expand as their efficiencies of size make them better equipped to continue investing and wooing new clients.  Continue reading AWS, Microsoft, Google Likely to Continue Cloud Domination

EU Asserts Itself on Standards, Takes Position on Ad Consent

The European Commission is seeking a more prominent seat at the regulatory table in the hall where global technology standards are being crafted. Experts periodically confer, beyond public view, to establish rules for emerging technology, and the norms for everything from connectivity to artificial intelligence. Now, EU commissioners are concerned they’ll wind up sidelined as a market-dominant U.S. and emboldened China white-knuckle their way to the lectern when groups like the International Organization for Standardization and the UN’s International Telecommunication Union dictate how technology is to be deployed across the globe. Continue reading EU Asserts Itself on Standards, Takes Position on Ad Consent

Startups Want Consumers to Be Paid for Their Personal Data

Personal data is fueling a $455.3 billion online advertising market, and a crop of new startups wants consumers whose information creates the value to get a piece of that action. Among the startups are Brave Software, Tapestri, Reklaim and Streamlytics. Now real estate billionaire Frank McCourt has committed $250 million to fund Project Liberty, which he hopes will restyle the web as a platform owned by the public. Of that amount, McCourt — former owner of the L.A. Dodgers — earmarked $25 million to create a decentralized social networking protocol that aims to reinvent the model for consumer data governance online. Continue reading Startups Want Consumers to Be Paid for Their Personal Data

FTC Files Lawsuit to Block $40 Billion Nvidia Purchase of Arm

The Federal Trade Commission is suing to block Nvidia’s $40 billion acquisition of UK-based semiconductor IP firm Arm, claiming it would stifle competition and hurt consumers. In October, the European Commission cited like reasoning when it launched an investigation into the purchase. Arm licenses its chip and software technology to a about 500 companies, including Apple, Qualcomm, Samsung, TSMC and Nvidia. The major concern is whether the purchase would provide Nvidia an unfair competitive advantage. The global chip shortage and opposition on both sides of the pond dim the deal’s prospects. Continue reading FTC Files Lawsuit to Block $40 Billion Nvidia Purchase of Arm

Biden Administration to Face China’s Push for Tech Hegemony

When president-elect Joe Biden takes office, one challenge he will face is China’s aim to dominate technology. President Trump’s efforts to limit China’s abilities have only partially succeeded and, in fact, may have even accelerated the nation’s development in AI, 5G, biotechnology and chipmaking. China is already ahead of the United States in 5G. Experts say the U.S. should more forcefully confront China on issues including market access, forced technology transfers and human rights. Continue reading Biden Administration to Face China’s Push for Tech Hegemony

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’

Walmart Monitors Store Registers with AI-Powered Cameras

Walmart is leveraging computer vision tech by Ireland-based Everseen and several other companies in more than 1,000 of its stores to more closely monitor checkouts. The surveillance program is internally referred to as Missed Scan Detection, and uses AI-powered cameras to identify and correct problems such as errors, fraud and theft during the checkout scanning process at self-checkout registers and those run by cashiers. The National Retail Federation notes that U.S. retailers lost an estimated $47 billion in 2017 to such problems. Continue reading Walmart Monitors Store Registers with AI-Powered Cameras

Researchers Advocate for Deeper Analysis of Online Habits

Determining the impact of screen time isn’t easy. It’s almost impossible to put together a “control group” of people living non-digital lives, and there are no baselines for such factors as “average daily Facebook usage.” Stanford University professor of communication Byron Reeves, in a paper in Human-Computer Interaction, suggested a new approach that eschews the term “screen time” as hopelessly ambiguous. Instead, he argued, scientists should analyze what people are watching — but this data doesn’t exist. Continue reading Researchers Advocate for Deeper Analysis of Online Habits

Hollywood Warms Up to AI Algorithms For Planning Content

Los Angeles startup Cinelytic uses artificial intelligence to project box office returns. It licenses data about past movie performances and cross-references that with themes and actors in order to identify patterns. The software allows the user to input script and cast, and then try to see how specific actors would likely impact box office receipts. Other companies are experimenting with applying AI to film production, including the Belgium-based ScriptBook, which its founders say can predict success via an analyzed script. Continue reading Hollywood Warms Up to AI Algorithms For Planning Content

Private Facebook User Data Made Public on Amazon Cloud

Cybersecurity firm UpGuard has discovered that Facebook user data has been publicly available on Amazon cloud services. UpGuard was unable to determine how long the personal data was vulnerable, but Mexico-based Cultura Colectiva, for example, stored account names, identification numbers, comments and reactions in 540 million records of Facebook users, which anyone could access and download. The discovery makes it clear that Facebook user data is still insecure, even after the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Continue reading Private Facebook User Data Made Public on Amazon Cloud

McDonald’s Uses Machine Learning to Modernize its Menus

McDonald’s is buying Dynamic Yield, an Israeli startup decision-logic technology company, for $300+ million with the aim of better personalizing its menus. The technology will let restaurants vary their electronic menu displays depending on the weather, time of day or regional preferences — and suggest meal add-ons. McDonald’s serves about 68 million customers every day, the majority of whom use the drive-thru window. Chief executive Steve Easterbrook has pushed technology to drive sales and lift the company’s profile. Continue reading McDonald’s Uses Machine Learning to Modernize its Menus

New Government Task Force Zeroes in on Tech Regulation

In the United States, the debate continues about whether control of data is an antitrust or consumer protection issue — or both. Recent indicators show that the Federal Trade Commission, U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division and state regulators are taking action. The FTC’s new Technology Task Force, made up of agency lawyers in coordination with Consumer Protection Bureau and agency technologists, will examine technology-related matters including prospective and consummated technology mergers. Continue reading New Government Task Force Zeroes in on Tech Regulation

AI-Powered Tools Assist Human Reporting at News Outlets

Robot reporters are on the rise, in use at Bloomberg News, The Associated Press, The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times among other news outlets. The Cyborg system helps Bloomberg reporters produce thousands of articles on company earnings and analyze/write financial reports very quickly. Not only do business reporters find this kind of writing dull, but Cyborg’s speed helps it compete with rival Reuters. The other news outlets above use robots to report on sports, although the LAT relies on them for earthquakes. Continue reading AI-Powered Tools Assist Human Reporting at News Outlets