Google Debuts Deep Planning Network Agent with DeepMind

Google unveiled the Deep Planning Network (PlaNet) agent, created in collaboration with DeepMind, to provide reinforcement learning via images. Reinforcement learning uses rewards to improve AI agents’ decision-making. Whereas model-free techniques work by getting agents to predict actions from observations, agents created with model-based reinforcement learning come up with a general model of the environment leveraged for decision-making. In unfamiliar surroundings, however, agents must create rules from experience. Continue reading Google Debuts Deep Planning Network Agent with DeepMind

Advertisers to Spend More on Digital Than Traditional Media

New estimates from eMarketer indicate that advertisers in the U.S. will spend more on digital advertising through the likes of Facebook and Google in 2019 than traditional media such as television, radio and newspapers. Advertisers are expected to spend in excess of $129 billion on digital advertising this year as compared to the more than $109 billion they will spend on traditional advertising. The shift would mark the first time in history that digital advertising would comprise more than half of the U.S. ad market. Continue reading Advertisers to Spend More on Digital Than Traditional Media

Japan’s Recruit Aims to Compete With Top Global Websites

In Japan, Recruit Holdings, the center of a corporate scandal that ended with the ousting of the prime minister, is being put back together by a group of employees. Whereas the former Recruit was a magazine publisher and job-placement firm, the new version is an Internet behemoth that combines the capabilities of LinkedIn, Zillow, Yelp, eHarmony, Booking.com, Square and many other apps. Recruit chief executive Masumi Minegishi is betting the company has the experience and resources to dominate consumer spending by 2030. Continue reading Japan’s Recruit Aims to Compete With Top Global Websites

Twitch Streamers in the U.S. Generated $87 Million in 2017

A new study from Recreate Coalition suggests that Amazon’s live-streaming video platform Twitch is gaining in popularity with content creators. The study “estimates that revenue-earning American Twitch streamers grew to nearly 9,800 in 2017 (a 59 percent increase from 2016) and made an estimated $87.1 million (representing a 30 percent YOY increase),” reports TechCrunch. “In terms of year over year growth in number of creators themselves, Twitch falls just behind Instagram and YouTube, and ranks second behind Instagram in YOY revenue growth for those creators.” Continue reading Twitch Streamers in the U.S. Generated $87 Million in 2017

HPA Tech Retreat: Jim Burger Presents Washington Update

In what has been an annual presentation at the HPA Tech Retreat, Thompson Coburn attorney Jim Burger delivered his update of legislation and litigation from the nation’s capital. His take on “administrative-legislative developments in copyright” was summed up by a slide of stars and the sounds of crickets, reflecting the government shutdown. Burger first briefly defined copyright as “an original expression in a fixed tangible medium,” and described the four-factor test that defines non-exclusivity. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Jim Burger Presents Washington Update

Equinix Selected for Google’s Subsea Cable Landing Station

Google has selected Equinix for its Los Angeles cable landing station that will support the Curie subsea cable system to Chile. The high-capacity subsea cable, expected to go live this year, will connect in El Segundo, California at the Equinix LA4 International Business Exchange data center. “With the significant increase in global data traffic, we see corporations running global businesses demanding access to high-capacity, low-latency networks capable of connecting them to data centers across oceans with stringent levels of reliability,” said Equinix VP of business development Jim Poole. Continue reading Equinix Selected for Google’s Subsea Cable Landing Station

Google Chrome Extension Alerts Users to Password Issues

To combat data breaches, Google has created a Chrome extension to provide a “password checkup” that compares users’ passwords with a database of four billion unique usernames and passwords that have been compromised. The extension works in the background, only showing a warning if it finds a match. That’s all it does: it is not a password manager that determines how weak or strong passwords are. Google accounts, often the key to a user’s email address, are breached mainly because people reuse passwords on multiple sites. Continue reading Google Chrome Extension Alerts Users to Password Issues

Alphabet Revenue Robust, But Costs of Diversification Grow

Alphabet’s revenue is booming, but its costs are also increasing, the result of its efforts to diversify beyond online advertising. Thus, although Internet search showed very strong returns, Alphabet shares fell in after-hours trading due to its shrinking margins and slower revenue growth. In addition to its Google search engine, Alphabet comprises YouTube and Waymo self-driving car divisions. The parent company’s increased spending on those two divisions in Q4 pushed margins down to 21 percent from 24 percent a year earlier. Continue reading Alphabet Revenue Robust, But Costs of Diversification Grow

Google’s AI White Paper Calls for Self-Regulation, Not Laws

After Google co-founder Sergey Brin wrote shareholders about the potential downsides of AI in April, chief executive Sundar Pichai released “guiding principles” for the company’s AI projects in June. This came after employee protests succeeded in getting Google to drop a Pentagon contract to interpret drone footage. Now, Google has released a 30-page white paper that stresses the benefits of artificial intelligence, arguing that its downsides can be avoided without more regulation “in the vast majority of instances.” Continue reading Google’s AI White Paper Calls for Self-Regulation, Not Laws

Ireland Is Investigating Facebook, Apple, LinkedIn and Twitter

Ireland, where many U.S. tech firms have European headquarters, is investigating Facebook in seven separate cases. Ireland’s data protection commissioner Helen Dixon reported that these probes are among 16 cases looking into Apple, LinkedIn, Twitter, as well as Facebook’s WhatsApp and Instagram. She added that the Irish and EU investigations are “centered on the activities of very big Internet companies with tens and hundreds of millions of users,” which would be “a very large factor when looking at the scale of a fine.” Continue reading Ireland Is Investigating Facebook, Apple, LinkedIn and Twitter

Twitch, YouTube Gaming Continue Growth in Viewing Hours

According to a new “State of the Stream” report from live-streaming platform StreamElements, gaming fans watched nearly 9.4 billion hours of content on Twitch last year, a 25 percent growth rate over 2017. While YouTube Gaming’s live content viewing totaled 2.3 billion hours (or about a quarter of Twitch’s hours), YouTube’s year-to-year growth rate was an impressive 104 percent. Microsoft’s live-streaming Mixer, which launched in 2016, had almost 168 million hours watched last year, which was an increase of 179 percent over 2017. Continue reading Twitch, YouTube Gaming Continue Growth in Viewing Hours

Facebook, Google Continue to Experience Digital Ad Growth

Despite the widespread pushback against their privacy policies and lack of regulation, Facebook and Google are enjoying booming ad sales. According to industry analysts, robust consumer spending and the continued evolution from brick-and-mortars to online shopping is what’s keeping digital ad sales healthy. At online advertising agency Merkle, associate director of research Andy Taylor noted that, despite its woes, Facebook — especially Instagram — continues to do well among advertisers. Continue reading Facebook, Google Continue to Experience Digital Ad Growth

Hamlet 360 and Other Stage Plays Integrate Immersive Tech

Theaters, from the experimental to the commercial, are using augmented reality, 360-degree videography and other new technologies to make their productions more immersive, even on traditional stages. In one recent production, “Hamlet 360,” technical direction by Sensorium transforms the 61-minute Shakespearean play into virtual reality. Another recent example is The Builders Association’s AR-integrated production “Elements of Oz,” where audience members use their cellphones to see a tornado approach Dorothy’s house. Continue reading Hamlet 360 and Other Stage Plays Integrate Immersive Tech

Augmented Reality Drives Need for New Cloud Infrastructure

The potential of augmented reality is massive but despite software development kits including Apple’s ARKit, Google’s ARCore, Amazon Sumerian and Microsoft’s Mixed Reality ecosystem, actual implementations have been limited. That’s because the current cloud infrastructure constrains actual consumer-facing AR projects. The popularity of “Pokémon Go” in summer of 2016 was an example of that; at the first Pokémon Go Fest in Chicago, 20,000 players experienced slowdowns and outages due to constrained network bandwidth. Continue reading Augmented Reality Drives Need for New Cloud Infrastructure

Dropbox, Google and Sony Debut Tech at Sundance Festival

At the Sundance Film Festival, tech companies now pitch new tools to the M&E industry. This year, Dropbox is offering a time-based commenting feature for video files, and Google and Sony are open-sourcing a tool that will simplify cloud rendering. Dropbox’s new feature will aid audio and video review by adding time-based commenting. Google, in partnership with Sony Picture Imageworks, will introduce OpenCue, which breaks down rendering steps and then schedules and manages the job across rendering farms. Continue reading Dropbox, Google and Sony Debut Tech at Sundance Festival

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