EU Plans to Propose New Regulations on Artificial Intelligence

As the European Union readies to release new rules to govern digital platforms, Big Tech chief executives have made the trip to Brussels to add to the discussion on artificial intelligence. Alphabet chief executive Sundar Pichai, for example, noted during his trip to Brussels that, “while AI promises enormous benefits for Europe and the world, there are real concerns about the potential negative consequences.” With its General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the EU has set a standard that others look to follow. Continue reading EU Plans to Propose New Regulations on Artificial Intelligence

Google’s AutoFlip for Automated AI-Enabled Video Reframing

Google has unveiled AutoFlip, an open source, AI-enabled tool that offers smarter, automated video reframing. A lot of video is captured in landscape aspect ratios such as 16:9 and 4:3, not optimized for different (read: vertical) display devices. The traditional method has been to statically crop the material that doesn’t fit in the destination device, but that usually offers an unsatisfactory result. AutoFlip, however, relies on AI object detection and tracking to intelligently understand the video content. Continue reading Google’s AutoFlip for Automated AI-Enabled Video Reframing

UK Proposes Internet Laws, Reuters to Fact-Check Facebook

The United Kingdom proposed that its media regulator Ofcom take on the responsibility of regulating Internet content, in part to encourage Facebook, YouTube and other Internet behemoths to police their own platforms. Ofcom would be able to issue penalties against companies lax in fighting “harmful and illegal terrorist and child abuse content.” Many details have yet to be filled in. Meanwhile, Reuters has formed a new Fact Check business unit, which is poised to become a third-party partner aimed at ferreting out misinformation on Facebook. Continue reading UK Proposes Internet Laws, Reuters to Fact-Check Facebook

Google Appeals EU Fine, Argues Legality of Self-Preferencing

Google is trying to overturn three European Union antitrust rulings, claiming that it had no legal grounds for imposing $9+ billion in fines. The EU found that Google had abused its dominance over smaller competitors. Google attorney Thomas Graf told the five General Court judges that, “competition law does not require Google to hold back innovation or compromise its quality to accommodate rivals.” Although a verdict is expected early next year, its rulings can still be appealed at the European Court of Justice. Continue reading Google Appeals EU Fine, Argues Legality of Self-Preferencing

FTC Looks Into Acquisition Strategies of Big Tech Companies

The Federal Trade Commission is focused on acquisitions made by Big Tech companies, ordering Alphabet, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft to turn over information on such past deals. Specifically, the FTC wants to know about the smaller deals — many less than $100 million — that the companies were not required to report to regulators, in hopes of learning more about potential antitrust abuses. FTC chair Joseph Simons noted that if they find “problematic transactions,” they can conceivably “initiate enforcement action.” Continue reading FTC Looks Into Acquisition Strategies of Big Tech Companies

Researchers Create AI Technique to Generate Video Captions

Researchers at Microsoft Research Asia and the Harbin Institute of Technology have come up with a new technique to use artificial intelligence to generate live video captions. In the past, technologists have used encoder-decoder models, but didn’t model the interaction between videos and comments, resulting in mainly irrelevant comments. The new technique — based on a model that iteratively learns to capture the representations of audio, video and comments — outperforms current methods, according to the research team. Continue reading Researchers Create AI Technique to Generate Video Captions

Netflix Switching From VP9 Codec to the More Efficient AV1

With the claim that the new AV1 video codec much more efficiently compresses video, Netflix plans to introduce it to its Android app. Until now, Netflix has used the VP9 codec but says AV1 is 20 percent more efficient. The AV1 codec is already enabled for “selected titles” — although it didn’t name specifics — when the user activates the Save Data option. The company also stated it plans to introduce AV1 on all its platforms and is working with chip and device manufacturers to increase compatibility. Continue reading Netflix Switching From VP9 Codec to the More Efficient AV1

Shares Rise as Twitter’s Revenue Passes $1B for First Time

Twitter revealed that, in Q4, revenue rose 11 percent to $1.01 billion, the first time that quarterly revenue topped the billion-dollar mark, and surpassing the $992 million projected by Wall Street analysts. The company stated that income was $118.8 million, with costs rising 22 percent from a year earlier. Its operating income, a closely watched number, was $153 million, down from $207 million the previous year and lower than the $161 million predicted by analysts surveyed by FactSet. Shares rose about 15 percent. Continue reading Shares Rise as Twitter’s Revenue Passes $1B for First Time

Appeals Court Will Not Rule On the Repeal of Net Neutrality

In another win for the FCC, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia announced yesterday that it would not reconsider the October ruling that upheld the repeal of net neutrality rules. Requests had been made by 15 states and a collection of technology and advocacy groups to reconsider the earlier ruling. The net neutrality laws were first issued in 2015 to discourage Internet service providers from practices such as blocking or throttling traffic and enabling so-called “fast lanes” through paid prioritization. In December 2017, the FCC voted to repeal the Obama-era net neutrality laws that were largely supported by tech companies and consumer groups.  Continue reading Appeals Court Will Not Rule On the Repeal of Net Neutrality

DOJ’s Probe Into Google Focuses on Third-Party Ad Tools

The Justice Department is advancing its antitrust probe of Google with a more specific focus on how its third-party advertising business works with advertisers and publishers. The DOJ is also posing more detailed questions to executives inside the company, its rivals, advertising agencies, ad technology companies and publishers among others. Those questions center around Google’s integration of its ad server with its ad exchange, and Google’s requirement for advertisers to use its tools to buy ad space on YouTube. Continue reading DOJ’s Probe Into Google Focuses on Third-Party Ad Tools

Updated Chrome Ad Blocker Will Soon Address Video Ads

In August this year, Google’s Chrome ad blocker will expand to include video, per the new set of standards just unveiled by the Coalition for Better Ads. The Coalition based the standards on global research from 45,000 customers. Websites with video, including Google’s, will need to review their ads for compliance with the new rules. Google joined the Coalition for Better Ads two years ago and started blocking ads not compliant with Coalition standards — including those on its own websites — since February 2018. Continue reading Updated Chrome Ad Blocker Will Soon Address Video Ads

Google Fiber Will No Longer Offer Its Traditional TV Bundle

Alphabet’s Google Fiber, a service that provides fiber-to-the-premises IPTV content, is shutting down its bundle offering news, sports, local and premium channels. Existing subscribers to Fiber with TV will not see any changes to their service, but new customers won’t have the option. A company blog post explained that the service would return its focus “to where we started — as a gigabit Internet company.” It added that, “customers today just don’t need traditional TV … [because] the best TV is already online.” Continue reading Google Fiber Will No Longer Offer Its Traditional TV Bundle

Nvidia Launches Its GeForce NOW Cloud Gaming Service

Nvidia debuted its GeForce NOW gaming service, putting it in competition with rivals Apple, Google, Microsoft and Sony. It will connect to PCs, Android phones and Apple Macs, but there is no version for iPads or iPhones. After a free promotional period, GeForce NOW will be priced at $4.99 per month. The games will stream from Nvidia’s data centers, powered by its highest-end graphics cards, providing high definition gaming to all compatible devices. The service will also allow consumers to access titles they’ve bought elsewhere. Continue reading Nvidia Launches Its GeForce NOW Cloud Gaming Service

Dominance of Top Big Tech Companies Continues to Grow

The five Big Tech companies — Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft — are all getting richer, with three of them (Amazon, Apple and Microsoft) nearing $1 trillion in stock value. Alphabet’s revenue skyrocketed past $161 billion last year, and Facebook is over halfway to a $1 trillion value. This concentration of wealth and power is making it increasingly difficult for smaller companies to compete — with little to indicate that this state of affairs will change. The result is a market of haves and have-nots. Continue reading Dominance of Top Big Tech Companies Continues to Grow

Alphabet Reports Robust Growth For YouTube and Cloud

Alphabet revealed Q4 operating income of $9.3 billion, well short of a “consensus projection” of $9.9 billion. FactSet reported that this is the ninth out of 10 quarters that the company missed projections on that metric. Its Q4 revenue, $46.1 billion, also fell short of analyst expectations of $46.9 billion. In after-hours trading, shares dropped 4.7 percent, but were up 11 percent for the year by Monday’s end. The news wasn’t all grim: for the first time, Alphabet revealed growth numbers for YouTube and cloud computing. Continue reading Alphabet Reports Robust Growth For YouTube and Cloud

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