TSMC Semiconductor Dominance Imperils Global Electronics

With its chips in billions of products, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is the world’s most dominant chipmaker and, with a market cap of about $550 billion, is also the world’s 11th most valuable company. According to research firm TrendForce, Taiwan generated about 65 percent of global revenues for outsourced chipmaking, with TSMC accounting for 56 percent of that figure. Capital Economics — and other analysts — opined that the world’s dependence on Taiwanese chips is “a threat to the global economy.” Continue reading TSMC Semiconductor Dominance Imperils Global Electronics

FBI Director Raises Alarm Over Ransomware Threats to U.S.

The FBI is investigating 100 ransomware variants, stated director Christopher Wray, who revealed that many of them trace back to Russian hackers. He noted that the cyberattacks share “a lot of parallels … a lot of importance, and a lot of focus by us on disruption and prevention” with the September 11 terrorist attacks. Most recently, a ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline cost its operators $4.4 million to regain control and restore services (however, federal authorities recovered $2.3 million in cryptocurrency yesterday). Another attack targeted JBS, the world’s largest meat processing company.  Continue reading FBI Director Raises Alarm Over Ransomware Threats to U.S.

OpenAI and Microsoft Introduce $100 Million AI Startup Fund

OpenAI unveiled a $100 million OpenAI Startup Fund to fund early-stage companies pursuing ways that AI can have a “transformative” impact on healthcare, education, climate change and other fields. OpenAI chief executive Sam Altman said the Fund will make “big, early bets” on no more than 10 such companies. OpenAI, with funding from Microsoft and others, will manage the Fund. Selected projects will get “early access” to future OpenAI systems, support from OpenAI’s team and credits for Microsoft Azure. Continue reading OpenAI and Microsoft Introduce $100 Million AI Startup Fund

Big Tech Fights Right-to-Repair Legislation at the State Level

Big Tech companies have long regulated who can fix their devices, keeping components in short supply or simply providing them only to authorized repair shops. Now, a group of independent repair shop owners and activists are promoting right-to-repair legislation across the United States. Although such bills were put before state legislators in 27 states in 2021, more than have of them have been dismissed or voted down, often with the help of powerful lobbyists for Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft among others. Continue reading Big Tech Fights Right-to-Repair Legislation at the State Level

Netflix Drops $465 Million to Produce ‘Knives Out’ Franchise

In 2019, director Rian Johnson (“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”) wrote and directed “Knives Out,” which became a surprise hit. Now, Netflix spent about $465 million to buy two sequels. Experts are debating if the streamer overpaid or made a canny move to create a new franchise. Former Lionsgate co-president Erik Feig, who was involved with both the “Twilight” and “Hunger Games” franchises, noted that the sequels could turn into a TV show and, more importantly, establish a long-term relationship with high-profile writer/director Johnson. Continue reading Netflix Drops $465 Million to Produce ‘Knives Out’ Franchise

Pinterest to Foster Influencer Content with New Creator Fund

Although image-sharing service Pinterest has been less reliant upon influencer culture than Instagram and other social media platforms, that began to change when it introduced Story Pins and creator profiles. These features were intended to make it easier for high-profile users to build a following and showcase their projects. Now, Pinterest is unveiling a $500,000 Creator Fund to pay a small group of influencers to create content for the platform. With this initiative, it joins TikTok and Snapchat in paying creators. Continue reading Pinterest to Foster Influencer Content with New Creator Fund

Fable Studio Bets on a Future with AI-Powered Virtual Beings

San Francisco-based Fable Studio, a VR studio that won an Emmy Award for its “Wolves in the Walls” project, has debuted its first efforts in creating conversational AI virtual beings. Charlie and Beck, two characters that can converse as if they were real people, are Fable Studio’s bet in the future of such virtual beings for entertainment and even companionship. Its first AI being was Lucy, an 8-year-old girl, who starred in “Wolves in the Walls” and is now a standalone online character after the company debuted her in alpha tests last month. Continue reading Fable Studio Bets on a Future with AI-Powered Virtual Beings

Niantic Gathers Telecom Dream Team to Advance AR Content

Niantic, the company that successfully created augmented reality experiences of Pokémon, Harry Potter and other intellectual properties, revealed its plans to offer its own consumer AR platform, with hardware, software and support for third-party developers. The Niantic Planet-Scale AR Alliance is a coalition of cell phone partners, including Deutsche Telekom, EE, Globe, Orange, SK Telecom, SoftBank Telus and Verizon that will distribute “exclusive 5G-ready AR content,” publicly demonstrating 5G consumer AR experiences. Continue reading Niantic Gathers Telecom Dream Team to Advance AR Content

Apple Is in a Patent Infringement Dispute Over Siri in China

Shanghai Zhizhen Network Technology Company was recently granted a Chinese patent for a voice assistant similar to Apple’s Siri. It has also filed a patent-infringement lawsuit against Apple, with about 10 billion yuan ($1.43 billion) in potential damages. The suit stated that Apple products violate a virtual assistant patent with technical architecture similar to Siri’s that is owned by a Chinese artificial intelligence company. Apple responded that Siri’s features are different from those described in the Chinese patent. Continue reading Apple Is in a Patent Infringement Dispute Over Siri in China

Microsoft Announces Azure-Hosted OpenAI Supercomputer

At Microsoft’s Build 2020 developer conference, the company debuted a supercomputer built in collaboration with, and exclusively for, OpenAI on Azure. It’s the result of an agreement whereby Microsoft would invest $1 billion in OpenAI to develop new technologies for Microsoft Azure and extend AI capabilities. OpenAI agreed to license some of its IP to Microsoft, which would then sell to partners as well as train and run AI models on Azure. Microsoft stated that the supercomputer is the fifth most powerful in the world. Continue reading Microsoft Announces Azure-Hosted OpenAI Supercomputer

Amazon: Rising Revenue and Technical Operation Challenges

With the coronavirus pandemic spurring online buying, Amazon saw its revenue for the quarter ending March rise 26 percent from a year earlier to $75.5 billion — the highest ever reached for what is ordinarily Amazon’s slowest quarter. According to FactSet, profit fell 29 percent from a year earlier to $2.5 billion, disappointing analysts’ average estimate of $3.26 billion. Amazon hired 175,000 new warehouse and delivery employees, and chief executive Jeff Bezos told investors this is “the hardest time” the company has faced. Continue reading Amazon: Rising Revenue and Technical Operation Challenges

Tech Players Join Forces, Provide IP for COVID-19 Research

Intel, Mozilla and Creative Commons have joined the Open COVID Pledge, a consortium of organizations, scientists and legal experts vowing to make intellectual property available to fight the coronavirus. They have agreed to provide free licenses to patents, copyrights and other IP to anyone working on technologies to diagnose, prevent or treat COVID-19. “IP … is the engine to help the globe out of the coronavirus pandemic,” states the Pledge. The end date is a year after the World Health Organization declares the pandemic over. Continue reading Tech Players Join Forces, Provide IP for COVID-19 Research

FaceBank Group and fuboTV Announce a Merger Agreement

Florida- and New York-based FaceBank Group, Inc. — developer of hyper-realistic digital humans for use in artificial intelligence, entertainment, productivity and social media — is merging with OTT live TV streaming service fuboTV, which currently touts “more top Nielsen-ranked sports, news and entertainment channels for cord cutters than any other live platform.” The combined digital entertainment company, to be led by fuboTV CEO and co-founder David Gandler, will be named fuboTV, Inc. with plans to offer a premium viewing experience across a global distribution network. Continue reading FaceBank Group and fuboTV Announce a Merger Agreement

Manticore Games Launches Alpha Test for Development Tools

In 2016, Frederic Descamps and Jordan Maynard formed Manticore Games to build real-time experiences, adding a tool to quickly test out ideas and insert them into a game and enabling gamers to easily customize the experience with new items. Now they’ve turned those intuitive tools into a service, dubbed Core, currently in closed alpha testing. An open alpha test is expected “in the near future.” As a game creation tool and eventual marketplace, Core is intended to democratize game development. Continue reading Manticore Games Launches Alpha Test for Development Tools

Commission Finds U.S. Is Unprepared for Major Cyberattacks

The Cyberspace Solarium Commission released a report based on a months-long study that showed the U.S. government’s lack of ability to block cyber threats. The Commission lists 75 recommendations for major structural changes, including the creation of Congressional committees dedicated to cybersecurity and a White House-based national cybersecurity director to be confirmed by the Senate. The report is blunt in its assessment that the U.S. government’s current approach to cyberattacks is “fundamentally flawed.” Continue reading Commission Finds U.S. Is Unprepared for Major Cyberattacks

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