California Passes Tough New Law to Protect Online Privacy

The California State Legislature quickly passed a digital privacy law that gives consumers much more control over their online personal data. Governor Jerry Brown signed the law into effect, narrowly beating a deadline to remove another, tougher initiative headed for the November ballot. Consumers now have the right to know what information tech companies are collecting, and why they’re collecting it, as well as with whom they are sharing it. Consumers can also demand their data be deleted or not sold or shared. Continue reading California Passes Tough New Law to Protect Online Privacy

Samsung Fund to Boost Startups with New Approaches to AI

Some startups are trying to create another form of AI than deep learning, to minimize the amount of training, data and server power needed. Samsung Next, the South Korean company’s venture capital unit, just launched the Q Fund to jumpstart this idea by funding companies focusing on new ways of developing artificial intelligence. One of Q Fund’s first investments is Vicarious, a startup that wants to give machines “imagination” and is inspired by biology to make machines learn more quickly. Continue reading Samsung Fund to Boost Startups with New Approaches to AI

Facebook Faces Another Privacy Issue Due to Software Bug

Facebook revealed that a software bug was live for 10 days during May and, as a result, may have affected up to 14 million users. The company explained that millions of users who believed they were sharing privately with their friends or small groups may have actually shared their information publicly; the bug apparently updated the audience selector to “public” without notifying users. Facebook announced it plans to contact the individuals that may have been impacted. “We’d like to apologize for this mistake,” said Facebook’s chief privacy officer Erin Egan in a statement yesterday. Continue reading Facebook Faces Another Privacy Issue Due to Software Bug

Disney Tests Prototype, Pursues Patent for Soft-Bodied Robot

Disney recently submitted a patent application for “a robot that will move and physically interact like an animated character.” The prototype sketch with the application shows a round body similar to the soft-robot character in Disney’s 2014 “Big Hero 6.” Before soft-body robots can be employed at Disney theme parks, the company will have to deal with the issue of robotic interaction safety, since the patent application implies that theme park guests will be able to hug the soft-body characters. Continue reading Disney Tests Prototype, Pursues Patent for Soft-Bodied Robot

SoundHound Raises $75M to Advance AI Speech Recognition

Twelve-year old audio recognition company SoundHound just raised $75 million to build its speech recognition AI-based platform, Houndify, betting that voice will become the dominant form of interaction with Internet-connected devices. Although large companies like Apple, Baidu and Microsoft dominate the space, SoundHound has built its own AI technology to identify audio. In contrast to these other companies, SoundHound also plans to offer its voice AI tools to other device manufacturers. Continue reading SoundHound Raises $75M to Advance AI Speech Recognition

IBM, Microsoft Execs Promote the Ethical Development of AI

Many in the artificial intelligence community have called for ethical guidelines for the burgeoning field, and IBM chief executive Ginni Rometty is the latest to add her voice, which she did at the World Economic Forum in Davos. MIT, Harvard and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman have established a $27 million fund to analyze the impact and implications of AI; the IEEE has proposed ethical guidelines; the Obama administration issued a report on AI’s impact on jobs; and Carnegie Mellon studies the future of AI. Continue reading IBM, Microsoft Execs Promote the Ethical Development of AI

Pre-Release Piracy Grows Across Facebook and Publications

Movie studios that use Facebook to promote upcoming films — such as “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” which has 4.4 million likes on its Facebook movie page — have discovered a potent downside to the extra publicity. Pirates post links to copyright-infringing streams; spam includes chain letters, pornography, phishing, malware and hate speech. Illegal sites are harvesting personal data and running money scams and now targeting publications with embedded Facebook comments, including BuzzFeed, ESPN and Huffington Post. Continue reading Pre-Release Piracy Grows Across Facebook and Publications

Expert Predicts Madden NFL and Reality Shows Coming to VR

Videogame designer, Carnegie Mellon University professor and former Disney Imagineer, Jesse N. Schell, soared through a list of 10 virtual reality prognostications at Unity’s recent Vision AR/VR Summit in Hollywood. One of five speakers asked to soothsay about VR’s future, the creative director behind the “Toontown Online” massive multiplayer online game (MMO) predicted that by 2018, “Madden NFL” will be released in VR, and by 2020, there will be at least 10 VR reality television shows and a $10 billion VR adult video industry. Continue reading Expert Predicts Madden NFL and Reality Shows Coming to VR

NSA Turns to Web Images for Facial Recognition Programs

According to top-secret 2011 documents released by Edward Snowden, the NSA is collecting online images of people for its facial recognition programs. As estimated in the documents, the agency intercepts about 55,000 images that have facial-recognition quality. Civil liberties advocates are concerned that these technologies could result in an invasion of privacy. However, neither privacy nor surveillance laws protect against the government’s use of facial images. Continue reading NSA Turns to Web Images for Facial Recognition Programs

Carnegie Mellon Computer Can Teach Itself Common Sense

The Never Ending Image Learner (NEIL), a computer program at Carnegie Mellon, searches the Web for images and tries to understand them in order to grow a visual database and gather common sense. This program is part of recent advances in computer vision where computer programs are able to identify and label objects in images, as well as recognize attributes such as color and lighting. This data will help computers comprehend the visual world. Continue reading Carnegie Mellon Computer Can Teach Itself Common Sense

Megaupload Shutdown: MPAA Rejects Findings of Piracy Study

Last week, the MPAA rejected findings of a European study that suggests the shutdown of piracy site Megaupload damaged revenues for theatrical films other than blockbusters. Megaupload was shut down by the FBI in January 2012. While researchers at Carnegie Mellon found that the shutdown boosted legitimate digital sales of movies, a new study from Ludwig Maximilians University Munich and Copenhagen Business School argues that anti-piracy measures may have unintended consequences for different kinds of movies. Continue reading Megaupload Shutdown: MPAA Rejects Findings of Piracy Study

VES Publishes Analysis: The State of the Global VFX Industry

The Visual Effects Society (VES), the industry’s professional honorary society, released The State of the Global VFX Industry 2013,” a comprehensive strategic analysis of the business drivers impacting all sectors of the VFX industry working in film production and presentation of solutions to mitigate instability. Initial recommendations focus on improving business and financial management acumen among artists and facilities management through training programs and new standards and practices. Continue reading VES Publishes Analysis: The State of the Global VFX Industry

Study Finds Increase in Willingness to Share on Facebook

According to a study from researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, which followed the privacy practices of 5,076 Facebook users over the course of six years, Facebook succeeded in reversing users’ inclination to avoid public disclosure over time. And even as some sought to keep personal data private from strangers by limiting what was available on their profiles, they increased what they shared with friends throughout the years. Continue reading Study Finds Increase in Willingness to Share on Facebook