HPA Tech Retreat: ETC Details Its Executive Coffee Program

During the HPA Tech Retreat, ETC Immersive Media Initiative program lead Phil Lelyveld presented highlights from the Entertainment Technology Center’s “Executive Coffee With…” program, a series of discussions between ETC industry members and USC students on a range of topics related to the future of entertainment. To date, executives from Verizon, Universal, Fox, Equinix, Vubiquity and Dolby have posed questions to the USC students, on topics from production during COVID-19 to the future of the theater experience. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: ETC Details Its Executive Coffee Program

CES: Panel Examines Issues of Gender and Racial Bias in AI

During a CES 2021 panel moderated by The Female Quotient chief executive Shelley Zalis, AI industry executives probed issues related to gender and racial bias in artificial intelligence. Google head of product inclusion Annie Jean-Baptiste, SureStart founder and chief executive Dr. Taniya Mishra and ResMed senior director of health economics and outcomes research Kimberly Sterling described the parameters of such bias. At Google, Jean-Baptiste noted that, “the most important thing we need to remember is that inclusion inputs lead to inclusion outputs.” Continue reading CES: Panel Examines Issues of Gender and Racial Bias in AI

Twitch Announces New Policies on Harassment, Hate Speech

Amazon-owned Twitch debuted tougher guidelines on sexual harassment and hateful conduct, broadening its definitions of both offenses and separating them into a new category that will be subject to more aggressive action. Under the new rules — its biggest update in almost three years — the live-streaming platform frequented by video-game players will ban unsolicited links to nudity, lewd or repeated comments about anyone’s physical appearance, comments about immigration status and displaying the Confederate flag. Continue reading Twitch Announces New Policies on Harassment, Hate Speech

Impact Creative Rolls Out App to Connect Writers with Execs

In Hollywood, screenwriters are hired based on personal relationships and past successes but filmmakers Brian Grazer and Ron Howard believe the paradigm needs to change. “Promising writers blow years of their lives trying to get agents and have their work seen by the right people,” said Howard. For two years, their startup, Impact Creative Systems (formerly Imagine Impact) offered an eight-week bootcamp to help writers get their scripts ready to pitch. Now, they’ve added the free-to-join Creative Network app to connect them with executives. Continue reading Impact Creative Rolls Out App to Connect Writers with Execs

Facebook Greenlights Equity Teams to Study Algorithmic Bias

Facebook-owned Instagram created an “equity and inclusion team” to look at how Black, Hispanic and other U.S. minority users are impacted by the company’s algorithms and machine-learning systems. An Instagram spokesperson revealed that Facebook is planning a similar team. Only last year, Facebook wouldn’t allow employees to study the issue of bias introduced by algorithms, so the move is a reversal. Meanwhile, the advertiser boycott against Facebook, in part for how it deals with racial issues, is still in effect. Continue reading Facebook Greenlights Equity Teams to Study Algorithmic Bias

Niantic Creates Virtual Format for Two-Day Pokémon GO Fest

Rather than bringing people together in a park, Niantic‘s Pokémon GO Fest 2020 will enable gamers from around the world to join virtually from July 25 to July 26. Niantic chief executive John Hanke referenced COVID-19 when he explained his company wants to support players during the lockdown. “We want to bring the fun, and we want to make a safe adventure for people, as we have in the past year after year,” he said. He added that Niantic supports Black Lives Matter and wants to be a force for good for users and their communities. Continue reading Niantic Creates Virtual Format for Two-Day Pokémon GO Fest

CES Panel Examines Problem of Bias in Artificial Intelligence

As artificial intelligence is increasingly embedded into devices and experiences, the problem of racial and gender bias has become apparent, in several embarrassing and disturbing incidents. The industry has paid attention to studying how bias is introduced — often via the underlying data — and how to fix it. Former FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn, now at MLC Strategies, led a discussion with Helloalice.com president Elizabeth Gore and Uber head of inclusive engagement Bernard Coleman on the topic. Continue reading CES Panel Examines Problem of Bias in Artificial Intelligence

Experts Examine Ethical Implications of Artificial Intelligence

IEEE Ethically Aligned Design outreach committee co-chair Maya Zuckerman presided over an NAB 2019 panel examining the thorny issues surrounding ethics and artificial intelligence. With Augmented Leadership Institute chief executive Sari Stenfors and Corto chief executive Yves Bergquist, who is lead of AI and neuroscience at USC’s Entertainment Technology Center, the consensus was there is too much focus on AI creating dystopian outcomes. In fact, Stenfors strongly believes AI can contribute to a utopian society. Continue reading Experts Examine Ethical Implications of Artificial Intelligence

Google Aims to Promote Diverse Voices With Podcasts App

Google hasn’t had its own podcast app since it discontinued Google Listen in 2012. Now, it is unveiling Google Podcasts, an Android app that includes a “For You” section that keeps track of podcasts the user is subscribed to, and includes recommendations of top and trending podcasts and categories such as comedy, society & culture, news & politics, sports, religion & spirituality and the arts. Clicking on any podcast, the app will recommend related podcasts. It also offers an option to add the podcast to the user’s home screen. Continue reading Google Aims to Promote Diverse Voices With Podcasts App

Former Uber CEO Tries to Thwart Effort to Reduce His Power

In the latest drama at the troubled Uber, former chief executive Travis Kalanick appointed two new directors — former Xerox chief executive Ursula Burns and former Merrill Lynch chief John Thain — to the board, without informing new chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi or current board members. The likely trigger for Kalanick’s action was a proposal that included reducing his voting power and increasing Khosrowshahi’s. By adding two members to the nine-member board, Kalanick attempted to gain new allies. Continue reading Former Uber CEO Tries to Thwart Effort to Reduce His Power

Uber CEO Steps Away as Company Initiates Major Changes

Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick announced his plans to take a leave of absence as chief exec while the company works to salvage its brand and launches a reorganization that includes closer supervision by its board of directors. “At a packed meeting with employees on Tuesday morning,” reports The New York Times, “Uber released 13 pages of recommendations compiled as part of an investigation into sexual harassment and other wrongdoing conducted by the former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. and his law firm, Covington & Burlington.” Continue reading Uber CEO Steps Away as Company Initiates Major Changes

Mary Meeker: Internet Growth is Slowing, Video Remains King

Analyst and venture capitalist Mary Meeker has released her annual Internet Trends report, noting that nearly everything is now being optimized for mobile, online video continues its upward trajectory, global Internet user growth is finally showing signs of slowing (as is smartphone adoption), the on-demand economy is healthier than ever, and diversity increasingly matters to the tech industry. Interestingly, Meeker points out that video was responsible for 64 percent of Internet traffic and 55 percent of mobile traffic last year. Continue reading Mary Meeker: Internet Growth is Slowing, Video Remains King

Comcast Confirms That It Has Dropped $45 Billion Bid for TWC

Comcast issued a statement this morning that the proposed merger with Time Warner Cable has officially been terminated. “Today, we move on,” noted Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts. “Of course, we would have liked to bring our great products to new cities, but we structured this deal so that if the government didn’t agree, we could walk away.” Reports had circulated in recent days that a merger of the country’s two largest cable operators was ending as Comcast faced intense regulatory scrutiny regarding the $45.2 billion acquisition. Continue reading Comcast Confirms That It Has Dropped $45 Billion Bid for TWC

Nickelodeon Shifts Direction to Draw Today’s Younger Viewers

To attract a new generation of young viewers, children’s television channel Nickelodeon is retooling its strategy to produce shows with the more media-savvy viewer in mind. This latest generation of kids has typically consumed more media on TV and YouTube by the age of 12 than their older brothers and sisters did, so re-runs of older content no longer keep them hooked. Nickelodeon is now filming outdoors, adding multi-episode plotlines, and adding fresh writing and acting talent. Continue reading Nickelodeon Shifts Direction to Draw Today’s Younger Viewers