New Google Chip Streamlines Video Transcoding on YouTube

Google’s YouTube infrastructure team has built a Video (trans)Coding Unit (VCU) to streamline the transcoding of videos into the many versions required for a bandwidth-efficient and profitable website. Google software engineer Jeff Calow said the Argos chip offers “up to 20-33x improvements in compute efficiency compared to our previous optimized system, which was running software on traditional servers.” The VCU package is a full-length PCI-E card with two Argos ASIC chips under an aluminum heat sink. Continue reading New Google Chip Streamlines Video Transcoding on YouTube

Scams Are a Problem for Apple App Store, Digital Advertising

The Apple App Store is full of scams, according to Kosta Eleftheriou, who has hunted down scam apps for iPhones and iPads that lure consumers into a “free trial” and then charge them insanely high monthly subscription rates without an obvious way to cancel. Eleftheriou, who said these scam apps advertise themselves with thousands of fake 5-star reviews, has come to the conclusion that Apple doesn’t care or is incompetent. Apple isn’t the only target for fraudsters, who have a lucrative business scamming digital advertisers. Continue reading Scams Are a Problem for Apple App Store, Digital Advertising

EU Releases Its Draft Policy to Regulate Artificial Intelligence

The European Union issued a 108-page policy that establishes rules to govern the use of artificial intelligence, setting limits on its use in everything from bank lending and school enrollment to self-driving cars and hiring decisions. Use of artificial intelligence by law enforcement and court systems, considered “high risk” because of the potential to threaten safety and fundamental rights, is also regulated. Live facial recognition in public spaces would be banned except in cases of national security “and other purposes.” Continue reading EU Releases Its Draft Policy to Regulate Artificial Intelligence

New York Makes Internet Affordable for Low-Income Families

New York governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill requiring Internet service providers to offer broadband to low-income families for $15 per month, noting that it is “an essential service.” At the signing, Cuomo was accompanied by former Google chief executive Eric Schmidt, who chairs a state commission on technology. The new mandate was passed by the New York State Legislature. Cuomo also revealed that Schmidt Futures and the Ford Foundation will provide free Internet to 50,000 students in the 2021-2022 school year. Continue reading New York Makes Internet Affordable for Low-Income Families

C-Suite Trends: Spending on Defensive AI, IT to Rise in 2021

MIT Technology Review Insights and cybersecurity firm Darktrace published a survey of 300+ worldwide C-level executives, directors and managers that reveals 96 percent are adopting “defensive AI” against AI-driven attacks. Of this cohort, 55 percent said traditional security solutions aren’t able to anticipate such AI-driven attacks. Defensive AI is comprised of self-learning algorithms that recognize normal user, device and system patterns and can spot anomalies. Gartner reported that global spending on IT will reach $4.1 trillion this year. Continue reading C-Suite Trends: Spending on Defensive AI, IT to Rise in 2021

University of Chicago Debuts First U.S. Quantum Accelerator

The University of Chicago and partners launched the first U.S. program to support quantum-tech startups. University of Chicago physicist and molecular engineer professor David Awschalom, who helped create the Duality accelerator, said, “we are at the birth of a new field of technology … at the point where the transistor is being invented.” Chicago is home to three of the eight federally funded quantum research centers founded in 2020. The University of Toronto has also unveiled a program to support quantum-tech startups. Continue reading University of Chicago Debuts First U.S. Quantum Accelerator

Pew Research Study Finds Social Media Use Remains Stable

A new report from the Pew Research Center found that 72 percent of U.S. adults use social media, a number that has been stable over the past five years. The survey drilled down into use of a variety of individual sites and apps, finding that YouTube and Facebook still are dominant, with 81 percent and 69 percent respectively of those surveyed reporting using those sites. YouTube and Reddit were the only platforms that saw “statistically significant” growth since 2019. Forty percent said they ever use Instagram. Continue reading Pew Research Study Finds Social Media Use Remains Stable

Facebook, Apple, Niantic Develop AR Glasses for Consumers

New augmented reality glasses intended for consumers are on the horizon. Facebook plans to release a version in partnership with EssilorLuxottica’s Ray-Ban brand and is developing AR glasses that work with sensor-enabled wristbands. Meanwhile, Niantic and Qualcomm have teamed to manufacture AR glasses, and Apple is working on an AR headset for consumers, to be followed by AR glasses. Snap is also developing AR glasses aimed at consumers. Google, which debuted Google Glass in 2013, is also said to be planning another attempt at the consumer market. Continue reading Facebook, Apple, Niantic Develop AR Glasses for Consumers

Supreme Court: Google Engaged in Fair Use of Java Code

In a 6-2 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court took Google’s side in a copyright battle with Oracle over the former’s use of Java APIs in its Android operating system. Oracle, which had purchased Java in 2010 when it bought Sun Microsystems, sought billions of dollars in damages for what it claimed was copyright infringement. Google argued that free access to the Java software interfaces was important to innovation. Writing for the majority, Justice Stephen Breyer said that Google made “fair use” of the Java code. Continue reading Supreme Court: Google Engaged in Fair Use of Java Code

Senators Press Ad-Auctioneers for Personal Data Sales Info

Senate Finance Committee chair Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) heads a bipartisan group of U.S. senators attempting to understand more about digital advertising auctions and their relationship to personalized ads. The group sent a letter to the largest companies that run these auctions, including AT&T, Index Exchange, Google, Magnite, OpenX Software, PubMatic, Twitter and Verizon Communications. The senators want the names of all foreign clients gaining access to user data through the auctions, citing concerns of national security. Continue reading Senators Press Ad-Auctioneers for Personal Data Sales Info

Google Funds Initiatives for News Publishers in U.S., Europe

Google inked licensing deals with 600+ news outlets worldwide and continues to negotiate with more publishers. In the U.S., it plans to spend $1 billion to bring publishers onboard for its News Showcase, an effort that will be ongoing until 2023 to invest in news. But Google also made it clear it won’t hold publishers accountable for positive business results. Google is also contributing €25 million ($29 million) to the European Union’s European Media and Information Fund to tackle misinformation and fake news. Continue reading Google Funds Initiatives for News Publishers in U.S., Europe

OpenAI and EleutherAI Foster Open-Source Text Generators

OpenAI’s GPT-3, the much-noted AI text generator, is now being used in 300+ apps by “tens of thousands” of developers and generating 4.5 billion words per day. Meanwhile, a collective of researchers, EleutherAI is building transformer-based language models with plans to offer an open source, GPT-3-sized model to the public for free. The non-profit OpenAI has an exclusivity deal with Microsoft that gives the tech giant unique access to GPT-3’s underlying code. But OpenAI has made access to its general API available to all comers, who then build services on top of it. Continue reading OpenAI and EleutherAI Foster Open-Source Text Generators

Advertisers Strategize as Apple Rolls Out Its Privacy Initiative

Apple will finally roll out its app-tracking transparency initiative to protect user privacy. With new software, users will be asked in a pop-up window whether they want a given app to be able to track their activities. Advertisers, ad-tech companies and app developers are preparing ways to weather the change, which could include tweaked payment models and new advertising strategies. Many experts expect users to reject tracking. Facebook plans to debut its own pop-up window telling users the benefits of tracking. Continue reading Advertisers Strategize as Apple Rolls Out Its Privacy Initiative

T-Mobile Swaps TVision for Its Partner Google’s YouTube TV

Five months ago, T-Mobile debuted its TVision streaming service. Now, the company explains that its three live channel bundles — Live, Live Plus and Live Zone — will end April 29th. That’s due to its new partnership with Google and YouTube, in which YouTube TV will “now fill the role of its live TV solution.” Customers who subscribed to one of the TVision Live packages will get one free month of YouTube TV, and all T-Mobile subscribers can save $10 on the YouTube TV monthly rate of $64.99 and get three free months of YouTube Premium. Continue reading T-Mobile Swaps TVision for Its Partner Google’s YouTube TV

Verizon to Launch Media Hub with Yahoo Branded Products

Verizon Media Group has three million subscribers across its Yahoo-related products such as Yahoo Fantasy and Yahoo Finance. In the future, explained Verizon Media head of consumer Joanna Lambert, the company’s media products will all be rebranded under the Yahoo rubric and reside in a subscription hub dubbed Yahoo Plus. Lambert said its non-Yahoo brands will, over time, also be centralized around Yahoo. For example, RYOT has already been rebranded Yahoo Ryot Lab and the women’s media brand MAKERS will be known as MAKERS by Yahoo. Continue reading Verizon to Launch Media Hub with Yahoo Branded Products