China’s Internet Model Gains Popularity Among Autocracies

Autocratic countries are moving towards China’s version of the Internet — limited content and controlled data — as a way of ensuring their own continued power and mimicking the success of Chinese corporations such as Alibaba Group and Tencent Holdings. Vietnam, Thailand, India and Russia are among those embracing a government-controlled model. China has also become the first government to intentionally use artificial intelligence for racial profiling, in this case its 11 million Uighurs, a Muslim minority group. Continue reading China’s Internet Model Gains Popularity Among Autocracies

Gartner Labels AI a Megatrend, MIT Plans AI-Centric College

According to Gartner Research vice president Brian Burke, the democratization of AI is one of the five megatrends impacting emerging technologies. Although AI is currently in the “hype” stage of its evolution, to be followed by disillusionment, by 2020 it is expected to shape 80 percent of new technologies. Pursuant to that prediction, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) released plans for a college of artificial intelligence to be built with $1 billion in investment, of which two-thirds has already been raised. Continue reading Gartner Labels AI a Megatrend, MIT Plans AI-Centric College

Google, Government Partner on AI to Analyze Drone Footage

Google and the Department of Defense are exploring the use of artificial intelligence to identify objects in drone footage. The tech giant has been working with the Pentagon’s Project Maven, an initiative focused on big data and machine learning. According to sources, when the pilot project became an object of discussion at Google, some employees were angry that the company was working with the military on surveillance tech for drone operations. Google’s Eric Schmidt admitted that the tech community is concerned that the military-industrial complex will use Google’s research to kill innocent people. Continue reading Google, Government Partner on AI to Analyze Drone Footage

Alphabet, Uber and Lyft Take Actions to Promote Smart Cities

In October 2017, Alphabet debuted a partnership with Toronto to further the goals of a smart city. Dubbed Sidewalk Labs, Alphabet plans to observe and measure how people live, to optimize city streets. To that end, Alphabet just launched another venture under the Sidewalk Labs rubric, Coord, intended to utilize the company’s cloud-based platform to streamline transportation networks. Separately, ride-sharing competitors Uber and Lyft, with 13 other companies, signed a shared “mobility pledge” to enable more livable cities. Continue reading Alphabet, Uber and Lyft Take Actions to Promote Smart Cities

Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs to Develop a Smart City in Toronto

Alphabet executive chairman Eric Schmidt has always wondered what it would be like to apply all his company’s technology to a city. The company’s founders got excited about the idea, and now it’s about to become a reality. Plucked out of half a dozen proposals, Sidewalk Labs, an Alphabet subsidiary, will work with Canadian government officials and other technologists to develop 800 acres of waterfront property in Toronto, creating a potential model of the smart city and licensing its technologies to other cities. Continue reading Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs to Develop a Smart City in Toronto

Google Aims to Take On Snapchat With New Stamp Product

Google is joining Facebook in seeking to undercut Snapchat by offering similar features. The company is reportedly developing Stamp, a so-called news product that will offer articles in a magazine-like design, similar to Snapchat’s Discover feature. Snap, however, isn’t standing still, with plans to focus Discover more on episodic video content. News of Google’s development of Stamp follows buzz that the company floated an offer last year to purchase Snap for $30 billion, according to sources who call it an “open rumor.” Continue reading Google Aims to Take On Snapchat With New Stamp Product

White House American Technology Council Draws Top Execs

At the conclusion of the inaugural meeting of the White House’s American Technology Council, President Donald Trump called for a “sweeping transformation of the federal government’s technology,” admitting that the government needed to catch up with the private sector and that federal agencies had to deliver “dramatically better services to citizens.” The Council’s mandate is to convert paper forms into easy-to-use websites, and help the government buy better technology and use new tools like artificial intelligence. Continue reading White House American Technology Council Draws Top Execs

Alphabet Update on Wireless Internet, Search, Education, Cars

At its annual shareholders meeting, Alphabet chairman Eric Schmidt reiterated the company’s plan to wirelessly connect homes to high-speed Internet. The technology, viable now due to improvements in computer chips and more accurate wireless signal targeting, can deliver a 1 gigabit per second connection, equivalent to Google Fiber’s capabilities. Schmidt also delved into the company’s plans to advance search features, explore 3D printing for building construction, meatless meat, autonomous cars and other sectors. Continue reading Alphabet Update on Wireless Internet, Search, Education, Cars

Coming This Year: AI, VR, IoT, Robots and Self-Driving Cars

The Internet, digital medical devices, blockchain, gene editing, drones and solar energy all found their tipping point in 2015. What will 2016 bring? Some experts predict we’ll see “the inflexion point” in virtual reality and holodecks, the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), autonomous cars, robots and space exploration. Alphabet chairman Eric Schmidt has publicly stated that AI will solve the world’s hard problems, including population growth, climate change, human development and education. Continue reading Coming This Year: AI, VR, IoT, Robots and Self-Driving Cars

Amazon Unveils Data Science Used By 2012 Obama Campaign

Civis Analytics, founded by Dan Wagner, the former chief analytics officer for President Obama’s 2012 campaign, has rolled out a set of big data tools through Amazon Web Services. The year-old Chicago-based firm says it can eliminate much of the time and cost associated with marketing campaigns, in particular using cloud computing but without the need for customization. The service will start at about $5,000 a month, which Wagner claims will be “80 percent cheaper in most cases” than competing services. Continue reading Amazon Unveils Data Science Used By 2012 Obama Campaign

Tech Companies Target Developing Countries for Web Expansion

Despite attempts by tech companies to make the Internet more accessible to people around the world, especially to those living in developing countries, the Internet’s growth has been decelerating. Facebook and Google have both invested in technologies such as satellites, drones and high-altitude balloons to deliver global Web access. However promising these efforts have been, global Web access has proven to be more contingent on whether people deem the Internet useful in the first place.  Continue reading Tech Companies Target Developing Countries for Web Expansion

Cablevision and Google to Challenge Wireless Business Model

In a first time move for a U.S. cable operator, Cablevision announced it would launch a Wi-Fi-only mobile phone service dubbed Freewheel next month. For $9.95 per month, Freewheel will offer unlimited data, talk and text to Cablevision broadband Internet subscribers (the company also plans to offer a $29.95 service for non-customers). Meanwhile, Google is expected to launch its own wireless service this year through deals with Sprint and T-Mobile. Both services are expected to put pressure on the wireless industry, already at war over prices.  Continue reading Cablevision and Google to Challenge Wireless Business Model

Online Buzz Has No Measurable Impact on Short-Term Sales

According to a new study from Coca-Cola, online buzz has no measurable impact on short-term product sales. However, online display ads are about effective as TV ads, noted company exec Eric Schmidt during this week’s Advertising Research Foundation Re:think conference in New York. As a point of clarification, a top marketing exec for the company, Wendy Clark, was quick to note that social media still plays a crucial role. Continue reading Online Buzz Has No Measurable Impact on Short-Term Sales

New Biography Reveals Steve Jobs had Vowed to Destroy Android

  • According to the new Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson, the former Apple CEO was furious over Android’s strong resemblance to iOS.
  • Jobs told his biographer: “I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong. I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.”
  • GigaOm noted that Apple has followed up on this threat: “Apple has not backed down or granted broad licenses to any of the companies it has sued recently over its mobile patents… Apple’s not giving in to make a couple of bucks, the way Microsoft did, and there will be no tacit approval of the patent infringement in exchange for licensing any of the higher-level patents Apple holds.”
  • Jobs reportedly told Eric Schmidt: ”I don’t want your money. If you offer me $5 billion, I won’t want it. I’ve got plenty of money. I want you to stop using our ideas in Android, that’s all I want.”

Google+ is Google Itself: Social Network will be Identity Platform

  • Google intends for Google+ to become an identity platform for its other services such as Android, Chrome and YouTube to develop an “understanding of who you are,” Brad Horowitz, VP of product told Wired magazine.
  • “This comes on the heels of comments that Google chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt made earlier this year about how Google+ was intended to be an ‘identity service’ for other projects and services that the company either had in place or was planning to launch,” reports GigaOM. “It wasn’t clear exactly what Schmidt meant by those remarks at the time, but putting them together with Horowitz’s comments, it sounds like Google wants to make Google+ the central repository of everything it knows about you.”
  • GigaOM compares Google’s desire to “aggregate as much as it can about you and your interests via all the services it offers” to Facebook’s recent improvements in accumulating data through social apps and “frictionless” sharing.
  • The article contends that “all of this social-activity data and these ‘social signals’ are crucial information that Google needs not only to make its search better — since socially-influenced search is becoming a larger and larger part of how people find things online — but to make its advertising more targeted as well. Google’s giant market share in online advertising has been built on the back of its understanding of ‘intent’ when it comes to search, and without access to the Twitter firehose and Facebook’s walled garden, Google has to effectively create its own sandbox for social activity.”

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