Meta Adding a Customer Service Unit for Content Complaints

Based on feedback from its Oversight Board, Meta Platforms is creating a customer-service division that will help users of its social networks who have experienced issues with accounts being unexpectedly locked or posts being removed. In addition to Facebook and Instagram, Meta operates WhatsApp, Messenger and Horizon Worlds, collectively serving more than 3 billion global users. The early-stage initiative has reportedly been escalated as Meta’s use of artificial intelligence for content moderation has resulted in increased customer frustration over content removal with little notice or explanation. Continue reading Meta Adding a Customer Service Unit for Content Complaints

Led by SaaS, 2022 Cloud Spending to Approach $500 Billion

Cloud computing costs are expected to rise by 20 percent to an estimated $494.7 billion this year, according to a new report from Gartner. Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) is earmarked for the most significant growth, up 30.6 percent to $119.7 billion this year. Desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) is the second most robust sector, at 26.6 projected growth, followed by platform-as-a-service (PaaS), at 26.1 percent. “Cloud-native capabilities such as containerization, database platform-as-a-service (dbPaaS) and artificial intelligence/machine learning contain richer features than commoditized compute such as IaaS or network-as-a-service,” which makes them more expensive, said Sid Nag, research VP at Gartner. Continue reading Led by SaaS, 2022 Cloud Spending to Approach $500 Billion

Soul Machines Provides Brands AI with an Empathetic Touch

Soul Machines, which creates autonomously animated digital characters that use AI and natural language processing to interact with humans in real time, has completed a Series B1 financing round of $70 million led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2. The 6-year-old New Zealand-based firm has thus far raised $135 million to fund its effort to create AI-powered “digital people” for digital environments involving entertainment, the metaverse, customer service and education. Soul Machines says it plans to use the new investment to fund continued growth in enterprise markets and ongoing deep tech research for its Digital Brain project. Continue reading Soul Machines Provides Brands AI with an Empathetic Touch

Google’s Bot-in-a-Box Brings Conversational AI to Enterprises

Google Cloud recently unveiled a new AI-powered service product named Bot-in-a-Box. The feature, available via Google Cloud Platform (GCP) Business Messages, will help enterprises easily manage conversations with their customers. Bot-in-a-Box creates chatbots that can naturally respond to customers’ questions by using Google’s Dialogflow software. The conversational bot does not require any additional coding but will learn directly from businesses’ customer service data. The new product is expected to cut the customer service budget for businesses and improve the service level of chat function on GCP Business Messages. Continue reading Google’s Bot-in-a-Box Brings Conversational AI to Enterprises

Amazon to Open Cashierless Whole Foods Stores Next Year

Amazon plans to open two “Just Walk Out” Whole Foods stores in 2022, in Washington D.C. and Sherman Oaks, California, leveraging the same technology used in its Amazon Go and Amazon Fresh stores. The company also offers the technology for sale to other retailers. This marks the first time that Amazon is using its cashierless technology at the 500-store Whole Foods, which it bought in 2017. Shoppers enter and leave the store by scanning a QR code in Amazon or Whole Foods apps and motion sensors track their shopping choices. Continue reading Amazon to Open Cashierless Whole Foods Stores Next Year

AT&T: Gains in HBO and HBO Max Subs, Wireless Customers

AT&T has experienced an increase in HBO and HBO Max subscribers and wireless customers. Its number of domestic HBO and HBO Max subscribers grew from 41.5 million three months ago to 44.2 million today, including those who signed up for the new streaming service and others who subscribed via a cable TV provider. The company has also added 595,000 postpaid phone subscribers and a net gain of 207,000 prepaid phone subscribers. The telco cut expenses by increasing online customer service and promoting simpler plans. Continue reading AT&T: Gains in HBO and HBO Max Subs, Wireless Customers

EU Releases Its Draft Policy to Regulate Artificial Intelligence

The European Union issued a 108-page policy that establishes rules to govern the use of artificial intelligence, setting limits on its use in everything from bank lending and school enrollment to self-driving cars and hiring decisions. Use of artificial intelligence by law enforcement and court systems, considered “high risk” because of the potential to threaten safety and fundamental rights, is also regulated. Live facial recognition in public spaces would be banned except in cases of national security “and other purposes.” Continue reading EU Releases Its Draft Policy to Regulate Artificial Intelligence

Facebook Plans to Buy Customer Service Startup Kustomer

Facebook disclosed plans to buy Kustomer, a customer relationship management startup, in a deal valued by sources at close to $1 billion. Crunchbase stated the New York-based Kustomer has raised about $170 million in venture capital funding. Kustomer would help Facebook provide customer support on its main platform and its services such as WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger. The deal, subject to regulatory scrutiny, comes as Facebook is already being investigated for its acquisition of startups as anticompetitive behavior. Continue reading Facebook Plans to Buy Customer Service Startup Kustomer

Amazon Fresh Stores Aim to Reinvent Shopping Experiences

Amazon Fresh Stores have a very different look from Whole Foods, which the e-commerce giant purchased in 2017. The Fresh Store, which just opened its second outpost last week in Irvine, California, looks like a small warehouse, with Dash Carts offering integrated touchscreens and cameras. The Fresh Store is designed to be as easy as possible to retrofit in an existing retailer space and the look is spartan and appears to be optimized for robots. Prepared foods are available but there’s no place to sit and eat them. Continue reading Amazon Fresh Stores Aim to Reinvent Shopping Experiences

Latest Twitter Hack Puts Spotlight on Internal Security Issues

Since 2015, Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey and the company board have been warned annually about internal cybersecurity risks. In fact, there are about 1,500 employees plus contractors with the power to make changes in 186 million daily user accounts, and the company had experienced breaches due to internal sources. Then, on July 15, hackers tricked employees to compromise 130 Twitter accounts, including those of Jeff Bezos, Joe Biden, Barack Obama and Elon Musk, stealing data from eight unidentified accounts. Continue reading Latest Twitter Hack Puts Spotlight on Internal Security Issues

Microsoft Will Offer Free Digital Training for 25 Million People

To help fight the unemployment created by the COVID-19 pandemic, Microsoft and LinkedIn (which Microsoft acquired in 2016) plan to offer free online classes and job-hunting resources to 25 million people around the world by the end of 2020. The two companies have identified 10 booming occupations — including data analyst, digital marketer and help-desk technician — that require digital skills they aim to teach. These professionals also pay relatively well, even for those without a college degree. Continue reading Microsoft Will Offer Free Digital Training for 25 Million People

Netflix Adds About 16 Million New Subscribers, New Content

At the end of Q1 2020, Netflix added 15.8 million new subscribers, more than double the company forecast. The growth spiked in March when people began to be confined due to the coronavirus pandemic, and Netflix stated that viewing and membership growth will decline when those circumstances end. As chief executive Reed Hastings put it, “We, too, are really unsure of what the future brings.” The company is still adding to its stock of original programs, buying the rights to a period piece set in the world of Sherlock Holmes. Continue reading Netflix Adds About 16 Million New Subscribers, New Content

Zoom Use Skyrockets, Revealing Privacy and Security Issues

Remote conferencing services company Zoom Video Communications has become an overnight success as more Americans stay home during the coronavirus pandemic. Zoom, once mainly used by businesses, is now being used for everything from yoga courses to happy hours, but is also stretching the tool’s limits to serve both those who pay for the premium service and consumers who gravitate to the free version. There’s also a dark side to Zoom’s uptick: online trolls who “Zoombomb” meetings, and concerns about the San Jose-based company’s privacy policies. Continue reading Zoom Use Skyrockets, Revealing Privacy and Security Issues

As Sales Shift to E-Commerce, Bose Shutters Retail Stores

Bose, which opened its first retail store in 1993, will close its remaining 119 retail stores in Australia, Europe, Japan and North America. The company didn’t reveal how many jobs will be lost due to the closures, but it is believed to be in the hundreds. Bose stated that the move is due to “the dramatic shift to online shopping in specific markets,” and that “approximately 130 stores located in Greater China and the United Arab Emirates; and additional stores in India, Southeast Asia, and South Korea” will remain open. Continue reading As Sales Shift to E-Commerce, Bose Shutters Retail Stores

CES 2020: Global Economic Impact of AI to Go Mainstream

According to Ritika Gunnar, IBM vice president, data & AI expert labs & learning, AI is at an inflexion point. An IBM study on AI adoption among 4,500 top global organizations revealed that it has skyrocketed from 4 to 14 percent a few years ago to close to 40 percent today. “In next 18 to 24 months, that will change to 80 to 90 percent adoption across all industries,” she predicted, noting that AI will be used to provide expertise to the knowledge worker and process-intensive workloads. Continue reading CES 2020: Global Economic Impact of AI to Go Mainstream