Government Establishes Task Force to Promote AI Innovation

The Biden administration has formed the National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource Task Force with plans to “develop a roadmap to democratize access to research tools that will promote AI innovation and fuel economic prosperity.” The task force, composed of 12 academic, government and industrial members led by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), will establish the National AI Research Resource (NAIRR). The task force is charged with drafting a strategy to create an AI research system about Americans and finding enough computing power to analyze the data.  Continue reading Government Establishes Task Force to Promote AI Innovation

China Is First Country to Debut a National Digital Currency

China has begun issuing a digital currency from by its central bank, a move that will give that country’s government new ways to monitor its economy and people. The digital yuan will be aimed at international uses and not linked to the global financial system. At the People’s Bank of China, director of the Digital Currency Research Institute Mu Changchun noted that, “in order to protect our currency sovereignty and legal currency status, we have to plan ahead.” China is the first to issue a national digital currency. Continue reading China Is First Country to Debut a National Digital Currency

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

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

Court Decision Allows California to Enforce Net Neutrality Law

In 2018, former California governor Jerry Brown signed a bill making the state the first to enact a net neutrality law. The Trump administration sued to block it, and the Biden administration dropped that suit, but the telecom industry had filed a separate suit. Now, U.S. District Court judge John A. Mendez denied the telecom suit, allowing the state to enforce the 2018 law. State senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) called the decision “a huge victory for open access to the Internet, our democracy and our economy,” while some industry groups suggest federal legislation would be a preferred approach to a state-by-state model. Continue reading Court Decision Allows California to Enforce Net Neutrality Law

Vocal Facebook Critics Form Their Own Rival Oversight Board

About 25 experts in various fields formed the Real Facebook Oversight Board, an alternative to the one Facebook has promised to launch soon. Hosted by Recode founder and The New York Times contributing opinion writer Kara Swisher, the Real Facebook Oversight Board will hold its first meeting — via Facebook Live — on October 1, to analyze the social media platform’s content moderation, policies and other issues as the 2020 presidential election looms. Meanwhile, Facebook’s board is expected to begin reviewing cases in October. Continue reading Vocal Facebook Critics Form Their Own Rival Oversight Board

Microsoft Introduces Teams Updates to Reduce User Fatigue

As COVID-19 keeps schools and businesses shut down, Microsoft has unveiled updates for its video communication platform Teams to help online meeting participants feel more connected. One such feature is Together Mode, which lets participants set the call to a shared background image so everyone feels a bit more like they’re sitting in the same room. The genesis of the feature came when Stanford University professor Jeremy Bailenson realized how fatiguing videoconferences could be, and contacted his friend, Microsoft Research scientist Jaron Lanier. Teams is also adding emoji, video filters, and integration of Tasks and Cortana. Continue reading Microsoft Introduces Teams Updates to Reduce User Fatigue

National Research Cloud Gains Big Tech, Legislator Support

The National Research Cloud, which has bipartisan support in Congress, gained approval of several universities, including Stanford, Carnegie Mellon and Ohio State, and participation of Big Tech companies Amazon, Google and IBM. The project would give academics access to a tech companies’ cloud data centers and public data sets, encouraging growth in AI research. Although the Trump administration has cut funding to other kinds of research, it has proposed doubling its spending on AI by 2022. Continue reading National Research Cloud Gains Big Tech, Legislator Support

Supreme Court Will Review Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

Many cybersecurity experts believe the current anti-hacking law, the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), is woefully out of date and applied too broadly by prosecutors and law enforcement. The Supreme Court is now taking another look at the law with a case in which a former Georgia police officer, Nathan Van Buren, was convicted in 2017 after allegedly selling information from a police database to an acquaintance for $6,000. Stanford University law professor Jeffrey L. Fisher is the lead attorney in the case. Continue reading Supreme Court Will Review Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

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

Pixar’s Catmull, Hanrahan Honored With ACM’s Turing Award

Computer graphics pioneering researchers Ed Catmull and Pat Hanrahan were awarded the A.M. Turing Award from the Association for Computing Machinery and are splitting the $1 million prize money. Catmull recruited Hanrahan, a fellow computer graphics researcher, to found Pixar in 1986. Catmull started his work as a grad student at the University of Utah’s graphics lab in 1970 and vowed to create a feature film from computer generated imagery. Catmull and Hanrahan, between them, have received eight Academy Awards. Continue reading Pixar’s Catmull, Hanrahan Honored With ACM’s Turing Award

Intel to Unveil Experimental Neuromorphic Computing System

Intel will debut Pohoiki Springs, an experimental research system for neuromorphic computing that simulates the way human brains work and computes more quickly and with less energy. It will first be made available, via the cloud, to the Intel Neuromorphic Research Community, which includes about a dozen companies (such as Accenture and Airbus), academic researchers and government labs. Intel and Cornell University jointly published a paper on the Loihi chip’s ability to learn and recognize 10 hazardous materials from smell. Continue reading Intel to Unveil Experimental Neuromorphic Computing System

Stanford Project Studies Phone Use, Aims to Identify Patterns

Starting three years ago, Stanford University researchers began the Human Screenome Project to create a digital map with detailed information about how people use their phones. Stanford School of Medicine professor of pediatrics Thomas Robinson, one of the lead researchers on the project, is focused on the portion of the project on adolescents. Although the iPhone first debuted over ten years ago, said the researchers, we have very little information about how such screens impact this cohort’s well-being. Continue reading Stanford Project Studies Phone Use, Aims to Identify Patterns

AI-Powered App Enables Improved Virtual Apparel Try-Ons

Researchers from Adobe, the Indian Institute of Technology and Stanford University teamed up to create SieveNet, an AI-powered technology that allows a user to virtually try on clothing. The “image-based virtual try-on” maps the item to the virtual body, retaining its characteristics without creating blurry or bleeding textures. According to banking company Klarna, 29 percent of shoppers want to virtually try on apparel, accessories and cosmetics and 49 percent would like solutions that take their measurements into account. Continue reading AI-Powered App Enables Improved Virtual Apparel Try-Ons

IBM Expands Partnerships to Advance Quantum Computing

During CES 2020 in Las Vegas this month, IBM announced its continued efforts to develop practical applications using quantum computing. The company emphasized the expansion of IBM Q Network, which now includes more than 100 organizations across industries such as air travel, automotive, banking, electronics, energy, health and insurance. IBM announced new collaborations with Anthem, Delta Air Lines, Georgia Tech, Goldman Sachs, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Stanford University, Wells Fargo and Woodside Energy, in addition to a number of government research labs and startups. Continue reading IBM Expands Partnerships to Advance Quantum Computing

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