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

U.S. Takes Steps Against Russian and Chinese Cyberattacks

Blaming Russia for attacks that interfered in the 2020 U.S. presidential election, President Biden imposed new sanctions on 32 entities and individuals in that country. Although sanctions will make it more difficult to partake in the global economy, the White House did not immediately limit Russia’s ability to borrow money on the global market. Biden noted he “chose to be proportionate” and “is not looking to kick off a cycle of escalation and conflict with Russia.” The FBI has also recently taken strong steps to stop Chinese hacking. Continue reading U.S. Takes Steps Against Russian and Chinese Cyberattacks

Microsoft to Buy AI and Speech Recognition Provider Nuance

Microsoft is on track to acquire Nuance Communications, an AI and speech recognition software company, for about $16 billion. The company intends to expand its offerings in medical computing; Nuance already has speech and text data related to healthcare, an established customer base and the transcription tool Dragon. According to Microsoft, the purchase will “double the size of the healthcare market where it competed to almost $500 billion.” With the purchase, Microsoft could also develop advanced AI solutions for the workplace across numerous industries. Microsoft’s last big purchase was LinkedIn, for $26.2 billion in 2015.  Continue reading Microsoft to Buy AI and Speech Recognition Provider Nuance

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

IBM Debuts Advanced Encryption Service After Years of R&D

As data moves to the cloud, security has become increasingly important. Fully homomorphic encryption (FHE) has been developed in labs and is nearly ready to emerge to enable artificial intelligence and machine learning use cases for that data. Microsoft and Intel have been proponents of homomorphic encryption, which follows the data across systems. In December, IBM released its first FHE services, which include educational materials, prototyping environments for companies that want to experiment and support. Continue reading IBM Debuts Advanced Encryption Service After Years of R&D

Biden to Issue Executive Order Upgrading U.S. Cybersecurity

President Joe Biden is working on a draft executive order to require companies doing business with the federal government to report hacks within a few days. Homeland Security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas stated the order would also require the companies to use data encryption and two-factor authentication and would combat ransomware and improve protection for industrial control systems, transportation and election security. The SolarWinds hack has prompted the government to pay closer attention to cybersecurity. Continue reading Biden to Issue Executive Order Upgrading U.S. Cybersecurity

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

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

States Lead the Way in Proposing Laws to Regulate Big Tech

Arizona, Maryland and Virginia are just three states pushing legislation to limit Big Tech companies such as Google and Apple on issues including digital advertisements, app-store fees and online privacy. Their actions appear to highlight a growing trend: that state capitals are emerging at the forefront of potentially regulating Silicon Valley behemoths. While the federal government is holding hearings and suing some Big Tech companies, states may beat them to passing laws that will become de facto national standards. Continue reading States Lead the Way in Proposing Laws to Regulate Big Tech

Cybersecurity: White House Pursues Public-Private Alliances

Russia and China recently ran sophisticated hacks from servers inside the United States, going undetected by the National Security Agency, which is prohibited from conducting surveillance in the U.S., as well as the FBI and Department of Homeland Security. Private computer security firms were the first to raise the alarm on these foreign attacks, and Microsoft reported that its patches are being reverse-engineered by criminal groups to launch ransomware attacks on corporations. The White House is paying attention. Continue reading Cybersecurity: White House Pursues Public-Private Alliances

Game Platform Roblox Goes Public, Now Valued at $45 Billion

Gaming platform Roblox went public on Wednesday and saw its shares rise from a reference price of $45 to $69.50, valuing the company at $45 billion. A year ago, the company was valued at $4 billion. The NPD Group reported that a record-breaking $56.9 billion was spent on gaming in the U.S. in 2020, up 27 percent from 2019. Sony enjoyed a 62 percent rise in profit, and Microsoft recorded a first-ever $5 billion in quarterly gaming revenue. In a hot gaming market, Roblox delayed its listing to more accurately price its shares. Continue reading Game Platform Roblox Goes Public, Now Valued at $45 Billion

Study Suggests Deepfakes Fool Top Facial Recognition Tech

Deepfakes, in which a person in a video is swapped for another person via AI-enabled tools, are on the rise. Deeptrace reported that, between October 2019 and June 2020, the number of deepfakes on the Internet jumped 330 percent, reaching 50,000 at the peak. Deepfakes have been used to place celebrities in embarrassing and inappropriate content, defraud a major energy producer and many other disruptive or criminal uses. Tools to create deepfakes are readily available, and a recent study said deepfakes can reliably fool commercial facial recognition services. Continue reading Study Suggests Deepfakes Fool Top Facial Recognition Tech

Startup Debuts a DVR-Like App for Media Content: ‘Channels’

Startup Fancy Bits, founded by two former GitHub employees, has launched Channels, a kind of DVR for the streaming age. The $8 per month service pulls video from feeds as disparate as cable channels, live streaming apps, on-demand services and over-the-air broadcasts and places them into a single app. “What we’re building towards is something that was sort of built 20 years ago,” said co-founder Jon Maddox. “Really, we’re just trying to make this single place for people to go watch their TV that everybody is looking for.” Continue reading Startup Debuts a DVR-Like App for Media Content: ‘Channels’