Alphabet Unveils Master Plan for Toronto Smart City Project

Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs project began in 2017 when Toronto invited the company to turn an undeveloped 12-acre lot, Quayside, into a model of the digital city of the future. Now, Alphabet has issued a 1,524-page master plan that, in four volumes, details how it will spend the $1.3 billion earmarked for the project. Among those plans, Alphabet details using environmentally-friendly timber, installing an underground pneumatic tube for garbage removal, and building streets for autonomous vehicles from subsidiary Waymo. Continue reading Alphabet Unveils Master Plan for Toronto Smart City Project

Amazon Launches Echo Show 5 and Alexa Privacy Features

Amazon unveiled Echo Show 5, the third generation of its Alexa-enabled Echo Show, which offers a 5.5-inch 960×480-pixel diagonal smart display and built-in far-field microphones. Although in numerous ways, the Echo Show 5 resembles past generations of the device, it differs in that it includes a mechanical slide that lets the user close the shutter on the device’s front-facing camera. To assuage consumers’ privacy concerns about Alexa, Amazon has also added the “Alexa Privacy Hub,” an online collection of privacy settings. Continue reading Amazon Launches Echo Show 5 and Alexa Privacy Features

Cable Providers Hope Wireless Deals Will Curb Cord-Cutting

New York-based cable provider Altice USA is planning to compete in the crowded wireless market by launching a new mobile service that offers consumers unlimited data at a $20-$30 monthly price point per phone, according to individuals familiar with the plans. Employees will test the new service, likely to be named Altice Mobile, in the coming weeks, with plans for a summer launch. The company will be joining cable rivals Charter and Comcast in offering wireless deals to subscribers. Cable providers are hoping that offering wireless service will discourage their customers from cord-cutting. Continue reading Cable Providers Hope Wireless Deals Will Curb Cord-Cutting

New Google Privacy Tools Aim to Limit Third-Party Cookies

In what could be touted as a privacy-related commitment, Google is expected to unveil new tools designed to limit the use of tracking cookies, including a dashboard-like function within its popular Chrome web browser that would give users information about where they’re being tracked and how to stop it, when desired. These tools are a product of years of internal debate, but the move could potentially strengthen Google’s lead in the digital advertising sector, while dealing a blow to other digital marketing companies.

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New Google-Landmarks-v2 Dataset Means More AI Training

For a long while, Google’s AI research division has been on a mission to grow capable of accurate instance-level landmark recognition and retrieving images — both widely recognized as extremely difficult. To that effort, last year, it released its Google-Landmarks dataset and hosted two competitions for more than 500 machine learning researchers. Last week, it went a step further with the release of its open-sourced Google-Landmarks-v2, which contains double the photos featuring seven times the landmarks.

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U.S., China Advance Negotiations on Trade, Cybersecurity

U.S. and China just held a meeting to resolve several issues that have risen to the forefront in their yearlong trade dispute. The Trump administration is pushing China to lift restrictions that make it difficult for U.S. companies to operate there. U.S. businesses also chafe against China’s cybersecurity laws that require them to store data in China and rely on Chinese network equipment. Although these topics have not been on the negotiating table, China has recently made it clear it is willing to discuss them. Continue reading U.S., China Advance Negotiations on Trade, Cybersecurity

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

Amazon, Eero Stress Privacy Policies Will Remain the Same

After announcing its purchase of Eero last month, Amazon said the deal with the company, which makes easy-to-use Internet routers, just closed. According to Amazon senior vice president of devices and services David Limp, Eero will continue to be its own entity within Amazon, similar to Ring and Blink. Eero sells a package of one second-generation hub and two beacons for $400, which was discounted by $100 on the first day of the announcement. The package is enough to connect hardware in an apartment or small home. Continue reading Amazon, Eero Stress Privacy Policies Will Remain the Same

U.K. Considers Big Tech Regulation in Preparation for Brexit

The U.K. government released a 150-page report stressing that the country needs to update its antitrust policies to deal with big technology companies. The report, which was ordered by the U.K.’s top treasury official, Exchequer chancellor Philip Hammond, states that the U.K. should implement tighter rules on acquisition in the tech sector to make it easier for new competitors to arise. The European Union and U.S. presidential hopefuls Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Amy Klobuchar have expressed similar points of view. Continue reading U.K. Considers Big Tech Regulation in Preparation for Brexit

GAO Report Suggests GDPR-Like Internet Data Privacy Law

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), an auditing agency, issued an independent report that encouraged Congress to develop an Internet data privacy legislation similar to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The House Energy and Commerce Committee requested this GAO report two years ago; a February 26 hearing will discuss the report’s findings and the possibility of drafting such legislation. Prospects for such a law now is weaker due to partisan divides over federal regulation. Continue reading GAO Report Suggests GDPR-Like Internet Data Privacy Law

Facebook to Integrate Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp

Facebook chief exec Mark Zuckerberg reportedly plans to integrate the company’s Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp messaging apps. According to those familiar with the plan, the three services will continue operating as standalone apps, but their tech infrastructure will be stitched together. For the first time, the messaging networks’ 2.6 billion global users will be able to communicate across platforms. The initiative is expected to be completed by the end of this year or early 2020. It will require teams to significantly reconfigure functionality of all three services and will include new end-to-end encryption. Continue reading Facebook to Integrate Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp

At Davos, a Call for Worldwide Oversight of Tech, Including AI

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, several countries’ leaders called for a global regulation of technology. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose country is chair of the Group of 20 nations (G20) this year, said he would push for an international system to oversee use of data when the group meets for its annual June summit in Osaka. Abe he would like the Osaka G20 to be “the summit that started worldwide data governance,” with a focus on expanding World Trade Organization rules to include data. Continue reading At Davos, a Call for Worldwide Oversight of Tech, Including AI

AI Firm Shows Multilingual Translator That Fits in Your Pocket

The iFLYTEK Translator 2.0 is a handheld spoken language translator developed with Chinese AI technology and training. The size of a mobile phone, it can translate between any two of 63 languages and is trained in a number of “professional vocabularies.” The device touts a 5-hour battery life, and at $450, would be a useful and affordable business and personal tool. This Chinese tech also raises some interesting privacy and geopolitical issues. In addition to the upgraded Translator 2.0, the company also announced its iFLYREC Series voice-to-text products, AI Note for recording and transcription, and iFLYOS voice-interaction system at CES. Continue reading AI Firm Shows Multilingual Translator That Fits in Your Pocket

CES 2019: Big Technology Changes Await the Arrival of 5G

At CES 2019’s opening event at Mandalay Bay, CTA vice president of market research Steve Koenig aimed to whip up enthusiasm in the packed room for the technologies attendees would be seeing both at CES Unveiled, which followed this session, and on the many exhibit floors opening on Tuesday. He pinpointed the importance of 5G in bringing to full fruition many of the technologies that have been percolating at the annual CES confab over the past five years, including the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles and 8K TV. Continue reading CES 2019: Big Technology Changes Await the Arrival of 5G

CES 2019: Synamedia Offers AI Solution to Password Sharing

At CES 2019 this week, Synamedia will debut Credentials Sharing Insight, a service enabled by artificial intelligence to discover and halt password sharing, from the casual to the criminal. It’s part of a growing trend among pay TV and streaming video services to curtail the use of shared passwords, especially among friends and family. Synamedia chief product officer Jean-Marc Racine noted that, “the way you secure OTT is evolving.” Parks Associates estimates a loss of as much as $9.9 billion due to password sharing by 2021. Continue reading CES 2019: Synamedia Offers AI Solution to Password Sharing

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