Big Five Tech Companies Dominate the Rise in Stock Market

The S&P 500 achieved record heights via the 37 percent rise in shares of the Big Five tech companies in the first seven months of 2020. Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, Microsoft and Facebook, the five largest publicly traded companies in the U.S., now account for 20 percent of the entire stock market’s total value. Meanwhile, according to Credit Suisse, all other stocks, fell a combined 6 percent. Apple’s valuation hit $2 trillion, the first U.S. company to do so, and only 21 weeks after its $1 trillion valuation. Continue reading Big Five Tech Companies Dominate the Rise in Stock Market

Big Tech Firms Step Up Acquisitions Despite Antitrust Probes

Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft — the five largest U.S. tech firms — are speeding up their acquisitions, even as they are under antitrust investigation by federal officials and state attorneys general. By the end of June, the companies had disclosed 27 deals, up 29 percent from the same period last year, when they announced 21 deals. The increase in purchases could be used as proof by regulators and economists that these companies are using their wealth to dominate competitors and increase their market share. Continue reading Big Tech Firms Step Up Acquisitions Despite Antitrust Probes

Use of Messaging App Signal Skyrockets During Civil Unrest

In May, according to App Annie, the encrypted messaging app Signal was downloaded one million times worldwide, a result of both the COVID-19 pandemic and the more recent protests over George Floyd’s death and police brutality. Sensor Tower reports that Signal currently has 32.4 million installs. Privacy advocates have always been attracted to Signal’s ability to limit the information it can give to authorities. Signal’s end-to-end encryption is considered more secure than what is offered by Facebook’s WhatsApp and Apple’s iMessage. Continue reading Use of Messaging App Signal Skyrockets During Civil Unrest

Big Tech Firms Are Thriving in the Midst of Global Pandemic

In the economic crisis generated by the coronavirus pandemic, Big Tech companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are thriving. Amazon and Facebook are viewed as essential services, and Apple and Google are working on tools that will help the nation’s state health departments trace COVID-19 infections. While funding for startups shrivels, these companies are hiring. Only months ago, these companies were embattled by regulators and privacy advocates. Now their lobbyists are working to delay California’s new privacy law. Continue reading Big Tech Firms Are Thriving in the Midst of Global Pandemic

Twitter Settles With Activist Investor, Dorsey Keeps Position

Twitter and activist investor Elliott Management have come to an agreement to keep chief executive Jack Dorsey in his position, at least for now. Elliott Management, a $40 billion hedge fund that has a 4 percent stake in Twitter, sought to oust Dorsey from his position, claiming that, by splitting his attention between Twitter and Square, the chief executive let the former company lose its competitive edge and slip behind rivals. On February 21, Elliott nominated four candidates for Twitter’s board to add to the pressure. Continue reading Twitter Settles With Activist Investor, Dorsey Keeps Position

FTC Reportedly Considering an Injunction Against Facebook

The Federal Trade Commission is contemplating a preliminary injunction against Facebook over antitrust issues related to its integration of apps and whether they work with competitors. The injunction could prevent Facebook from further integrating apps, and possibly reverse past integration as a step to breaking up the company. An injunction would require a majority vote of the five-member FTC. Prominent antitrust experts have presented a plan to separate Facebook from recent acquisitions Instagram and WhatsApp. Continue reading FTC Reportedly Considering an Injunction Against Facebook

T-Mobile, Sprint Defend Proposed Merger in Federal Court

The Democratic attorneys general of 13 states and the District of Columbia are suing to block the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint. According to legal experts, a suit in which so many states reject of the federal government’s settlement — and move to block it, without any federal support — is unprecedented. Merged, T-Mobile and Sprint, the third and fourth largest telecom carriers, would rival AT&T and Verizon Communications. The federal government approved the deal earlier this year, after demanding some concessions. Continue reading T-Mobile, Sprint Defend Proposed Merger in Federal Court

Google Reconsiders Micro-Targeted Ads Ahead of Election

Google is tweaking its policies in advance of the 2020 presidential election. The company has decided to restrict just how minutely political advertisers can target an online audience. While advertisers will still be able to target ads based on age, gender, location and content of the websites that users visited, they will no longer be able to target audiences based on public voter records or political affiliations described as “left-leaning,” “right-leaning” or “independent.” Meanwhile, social giant Facebook is considering a similar move. Continue reading Google Reconsiders Micro-Targeted Ads Ahead of Election

Government Makes Bipartisan Push to Investigate Big Tech

Democrats and Republicans have come together to examine big tech companies. Last Friday, a bipartisan group of attorneys general in eight states and the District of Columbia began an antitrust probe of Facebook, and, on Monday, another such group announced its intention to investigate Google. Sources said attorney general Ken Paxton (R-Texas) is leading the Google investigation. The Federal Trade Commission, Justice Department, and House and Senate committees are also scrutinizing the tech companies. Continue reading Government Makes Bipartisan Push to Investigate Big Tech

SuperGLUE Is Benchmark For Language-Understanding AI

Researchers recently introduced a series of rigorous benchmark tasks that measure the performance of sophisticated language-understanding AI. Facebook AI Research with Google’s DeepMind, University of Washington and New York University introduced SuperGLUE last week, based on the idea that deep learning models for today’s conversational AI require greater challenges. SuperGLUE, which uses Google’s BERT representational model as a performance baseline, follows the 2018 introduction of GLUE (General Language Understanding Evaluation), and encourages the creation of models that can understand more nuanced, complex language. Continue reading SuperGLUE Is Benchmark For Language-Understanding AI

Facebook Turns to Robots to Advance Artificial Intelligence

Humans learn from experience to not “do dumb things,” and Facebook chief AI scientist Yann LeCun is trying to create a version of that for robots, saying that systems that learn “models of the world” are our best shot at advancing artificial intelligence. Unlike a rewards/demerits-based reinforcement learning, Facebook’s tack is to instill curiosity, by giving the robot freedom to try new things. With New York University, Facebook also dramatically reduced the number of tries to teach a robotic arm to grasp an object. Continue reading Facebook Turns to Robots to Advance Artificial Intelligence

AI Pioneers Are Honored With the Prestigious Turing Award

The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) honored three artificial intelligence pioneers with the prestigious Turing Award for their work on neural networks. The Turing Award, often dubbed the Nobel Prize of computing, was launched in 1966 and includes a $1 million prize that the three honorees will share. Doctors Geoffrey Hinton, Yann LeCun and Yoshua Bengio helped lay the foundation for the evolution of technologies including facial recognition, digital assistants and self-driving vehicles. Continue reading AI Pioneers Are Honored With the Prestigious Turing Award

Google’s Geoff Hinton Tests Capsule Networks as AI Solution

In 2012, University of Toronto professor Geoffrey Hinton and two grad students showed off artificial neural networks, a technology that empowered machines to understand images. Google hired Hinton and his grad students six months later; Hinton now splits his time between Google and the university. Although neural networks now underlie speech transcription and many other tasks, Hinton isn’t enthused over the technology he helped launch. Instead, he’s now bullish on an “old” idea that could help reshape artificial intelligence. Continue reading Google’s Geoff Hinton Tests Capsule Networks as AI Solution

Some Men Are Working Less and Playing More Video Games

A paper from economists Erik Hurst, Mark Aguiar, Mark Bils and Kerwin Charles at the National Bureau of Economic Research posits that video games are the reason that younger men are working fewer hours. The idea first gained attention last year when Hurst’s graduation speech at the University of Chicago revealed some preliminary findings. That report, says Hurst, is now ready for public consumption. Among the findings was that, by 2015, American men ages 31 to 55 worked 163 fewer hours a year than the same age group in 2000. Continue reading Some Men Are Working Less and Playing More Video Games

Business, Sports, Medicine Embrace Virtual Reality Training

Walmart plans to use virtual reality at its 200 employee training centers. It’s not the only business gravitating to virtual reality, as an increasing number of companies, in industries as diverse as construction to medicine, find that customized 360-degree video is an effective, less expensive and often safer way to teach employees. Walmart, which tested VR in 31 centers, now plans to use it as a key part of training for 140,000 employees annually. As a result, shipments of VR/AR headsets are on track to skyrocket. Continue reading Business, Sports, Medicine Embrace Virtual Reality Training

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