Department of Justice Files Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google

As anticipated, the U.S. Department of Justice has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Alphabet’s Google, accusing the company of “unlawfully maintaining monopolies” involving its search and related advertising services. The DOJ is also questioning the terms of Google’s Android operating system, which the Department believes essentially forces phone makers to pre-load Google apps and set Google Search as a default feature. The concern is that the practice unfairly hinders competition and enables Google to generate significant revenue from its search-related advertising business. Continue reading Department of Justice Files Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google

Smaller Rivals Lose Google Search Engine Auction in the EU

To comply with a 2018 EU antitrust decision, Google now provides Android OS users in Europe a “choice” screen that lists competing search engines to pick as the device’s default. The problem is that numerous smaller search engines that have popular followings in Europe didn’t win spots in large European countries in the latest auction and therefore don’t appear on that list of choices. DuckDuckGo, for example, a U.S.-based search engine that doesn’t collect personal data, only won the auction in four small European countries. Continue reading Smaller Rivals Lose Google Search Engine Auction in the EU

Ex-Facebook Scientist Reveals Slow Action on Fake Accounts

A recently fired Facebook data scientist, Sophie Zhang, sent a 6,600-word memo giving specific examples of how the social media company ignored or was slow to act on solid information on fake accounts undermining global politics and elections. That included her proof that, in Azerbaijan and Honduras, government leaders and political parties used fake accounts to shift public opinion. She found similar evidence of coordinated campaigns to impact candidates or elections in Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, India, Spain and Ukraine. Continue reading Ex-Facebook Scientist Reveals Slow Action on Fake Accounts

Oracle Joins Microsoft and Twitter as Latest to Pursue TikTok

Oracle Corporation is making a bid to buy the U.S. operations of TikTok, and President Trump has voiced his approval. Oracle cofounder and chair Larry Ellison held a fundraiser for Trump at his house earlier this year, and Oracle chief executive Safra Catz worked on Trump’s transition team in 2016. According to sources, Oracle has engaged in some preliminary conversations with minority TikTok owners, but it is unknown if the talks have advanced. Microsoft has also been in talks with TikTok and Twitter has explored a purchase. Continue reading Oracle Joins Microsoft and Twitter as Latest to Pursue TikTok

Microsoft’s Fiscal Q3 Boosted by Growth in Cloud Computing

Microsoft enjoyed a strong fiscal Q3, ending March 31, with revenue rising 14 percent from a year earlier to $30.57 billion, due largely to a 41 percent growth in cloud computing (now almost one-third of its sales) and a 9 percent uptick in sales of its Windows operating system to PC makers. A 5 percent decline of Windows sales in the previous quarter was due to a dearth of Intel computer chips, depressing PC sales. Chief financial officer Amy Hood said Microsoft also saw “unexpected good performance” in Japan. Continue reading Microsoft’s Fiscal Q3 Boosted by Growth in Cloud Computing

EU Parliament Passes Laws That Impact Online Companies

The European Parliament voted to fine Internet platforms such as Facebook, Google and Twitter up to 4 percent of their annual global turnover if they do not remove extremist content within one hour of authorities’ request to do so. The vote was 308 to 204, with 70 abstentions. The European Parliament also approved a platform-to-business (P2B) law proposed by the European Commission in April 2018. The P2B law forces Amazon and Google to reveal how they rank products and Facebook and others to be more transparent. Continue reading EU Parliament Passes Laws That Impact Online Companies

Facebook Shared Private Data to Advance Its Own Interests

According to its 2017 internal records, Facebook shared users’ personal data with the world’s biggest tech firms, allowing them to circumvent privacy rules. By doing so, Facebook boosted its advertising revenue, partner companies enhanced their products with more features, and Facebook users were able to connect across websites and devices. For example, Facebook allowed Microsoft’s Bing search engine to see names of all its 2.2 billion global users without consent, and let Netflix and Spotify read users’ private messages. Continue reading Facebook Shared Private Data to Advance Its Own Interests

LinkedIn Unveils Language Translation Tool and QR Codes

LinkedIn is introducing two new features: the ability to use QR codes for quickly sharing profiles and contact details, and a “See Translation” button that will translate posts into different languages. Currently available for iOS and Android, the QR codes offer users a quick option for accessing someone’s profile or sharing their own code via messaging apps, email, websites or printed materials such as business cards, conference badges and company brochures. The translation tool, available for more than 60 languages, is offered through LinkedIn’s desktop and mobile web versions (and soon via iOS and Android). Continue reading LinkedIn Unveils Language Translation Tool and QR Codes

Microsoft Claims Brainwave Pushes Bing’s AI 10 Times Faster

Microsoft’s Brainwave system, which is “specialized hardware for AI computation,” was able to “get more than 10 times faster performance for a machine learning model that powers functionality of its Bing search engine,” reports VentureBeat. Brainwave is designed to run trained neural networks as quickly as possible with minimal latency and with the goal of providing “roughly real-time artificial intelligence predictions for applications like new Bing features.” This news was shared with a handful of Bing updates announced Monday.

Continue reading Microsoft Claims Brainwave Pushes Bing’s AI 10 Times Faster

Microsoft Debuts AI-Powered Software, Customer Service Bot

At the Microsoft Ignite annual IT event in Orlando, Florida this week, Microsoft announced it will soon debut a customer-service virtual assistant as part of its Dynamics 365 product line that will incorporate artificial intelligence. A user will be able to describe a problem in her own words, and the virtual assistant will answer by relying on user manuals, help documents and other materials. The customer can request a human, in which case the bot will assist the human customer service agent; a manager can view the result on a dashboard. Continue reading Microsoft Debuts AI-Powered Software, Customer Service Bot

Amazon and Pinterest Challenge Google in Search Advertising

For years, Google dominated the search advertising market because two-thirds of all Internet searches are performed on the site. Now, Amazon is entering into the mix with new ad products that are competitively priced and bring consumers directly to the Amazon product pages. Pinterest also launched search ads last month that rely more heavily on images than Google’s text-based search ads. Advertisers believe players like Amazon and Pinterest could add much needed innovation. Both companies are trying to chip away at Google’s hold on the $37 billion market. Continue reading Amazon and Pinterest Challenge Google in Search Advertising

New Microsoft Group Aims to Link AI Research with Products

Microsoft is reorganizing itself to better address the burgeoning field of artificial intelligence. The company says it has opened a new organization, staffed by 5,000 employees, that combines its sizeable research group and AI-enabled products including the Bing search engine and Cortana virtual assistant. The new group’s creation had a setback when computer scientist Qi Lu, who had overseen Bing and Microsoft Office products, suffered a serious bicycling accident and had to temporarily leave the company.   Continue reading New Microsoft Group Aims to Link AI Research with Products

Microsoft Speeds Up AI with New Programmable FPGA Chips

In 2012, Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer and computer chip researcher Doug Burger believed they had found the future of computing: chips that could be programmed for specific tasks, dubbed field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). Project Catapult, as it was called, was intended to shift the underlying technology of all Microsoft servers in that direction. FPGAs now form the basis of Bing. Soon, the specialized chips will be capable of artificial intelligence at a tremendous speed — 23 milliseconds versus four seconds. Continue reading Microsoft Speeds Up AI with New Programmable FPGA Chips

With Smart App Genee, Microsoft Aims to Boost Cortana’s AI

Microsoft acquired Genee, a smart scheduling app that can help improve the company’s virtual assistant Cortana. Currently, Cortana can track packages and set reminders based on location among other tasks but, with Genee, it could also automatically set business meetings simply by recognizing key phrases in emails. That’s just one of the many tasks that an AI-enhanced Cortana would be able to do, all based on Genee’s ability to interpret language. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. Continue reading With Smart App Genee, Microsoft Aims to Boost Cortana’s AI

Uber Inks Deal with Chinese Rival Didi, Focuses on Mapping

After two years of spending big to succeed in China, Uber has thrown in the towel and made a deal with rival Didi Chuxing. As a result, for a 20 percent stake, Uber China will become part of the larger Chinese company, which is valued at $35 billion. Prior to the deal, Didi was valued at $28 billion. Uber purportedly spent more than $2 billion in China. Meanwhile, Uber is using some of the $13.5 billion raised recently from investors to double-down on its global mapping project, with a $500 million investment. Continue reading Uber Inks Deal with Chinese Rival Didi, Focuses on Mapping

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