Tech Expands its NYC Foothold, Investors Build Film Studio

Although Amazon bypassed New York City for its second headquarters four months ago, the Big Apple has attracted numerous other high-tech companies that are renting office space and creating jobs. Google inked a deal to lease 1.3 million square feet in lower Manhattan, with plans to add 7,000 jobs over 10 years. Facebook is also in talks to lease one million square feet of office space on the far West Side. Now, actor Robert De Niro and his son are part of an investment team building a film and TV production studio in Queens. Continue reading Tech Expands its NYC Foothold, Investors Build Film Studio

Ford, VW Collaborate on Autonomous and Electric Vehicles

Ford Motor Co. and Volkswagen AG are extending their seven-month-old alliance to include collaborating on self-driving and electric car technology. In a joint statement today, the companies announced that Volkswagen would invest $2.6 billion in Ford’s autonomous-vehicle partner Argo AI by providing $1 billion in funding and contributing its Audi $1.6 billion Autonomous Intelligent Driving unit, based in Munich. In 2017, Ford invested $1 billion in Pittsburgh-based autonomous vehicle startup Argo. Once the Ford-VW deal is finalized, Argo’s value is expected to reach $7 billion. Continue reading Ford, VW Collaborate on Autonomous and Electric Vehicles

Alexa Conversations For Complex Tasks With Less Coding

At its re:MARS AI conference earlier this month, Amazon previewed Alexa Conversations, a module within the Alexa Skills Kit that melds Alexa voice apps to allow users to perform complicated tasks requiring multiple skills — all with fewer lines of code. That’s because a recurrent neural network will be able to “generate dialogue flow” automatically, thus limiting the number of steps a user needs to order food or reserve a ticket. Amazon vice president David Limp dubbed Conversations “the Holy Grail of voice science.” Continue reading Alexa Conversations For Complex Tasks With Less Coding

Amazon, Target, Walmart Ramp Up Their Delivery Services

Walmart launched Delivery Unlimited, which offers consumers a subscription grocery delivery service for $98 per year or $12.95 per month, with a 15-day trial period. Per-order fees run $9.95 or less. The new subscription service is priced competitively, with Shipt and Instacart charging $99 per year. Prime Now costs $119 per year, but touts all of the benefits of Amazon Prime, including fast shipping and streaming media content. Target, which bought Shipt, now offers shoppers same-day delivery and a first-time $9.99 per order fee.

Continue reading Amazon, Target, Walmart Ramp Up Their Delivery Services

Uber Demonstrates Its Drone Delivery Service in San Diego

Uber demonstrated the transport of a McDonald’s meal via its Uber Elevate A4200 drone with custom-designed delivery box. The drone was set to fly only half a mile away, but the trip was canceled due to a 26-knot breeze. The demo is still noteworthy as a practical application of the technology. Uber isn’t the only company pinning some of its high-tech hopes on drone delivery. Google already has the greenlight from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to make similar unmanned commercial deliveries in Virginia, and Amazon also debuted its drone delivery service. Continue reading Uber Demonstrates Its Drone Delivery Service in San Diego

California Considers Law That Would Reclassify Gig Workers

The California Assembly introduced a law that would require Amazon Flex, Postmates, Uber and other similar companies to treat their gig economy contractors as employees, with the wages and benefits of that classification. The bill, which was approved 53 to 11, comes only a few weeks after Uber’s IPO was met with a brief strike by ride-hail drivers around the world protesting their low pay and contractor status. The bill now heads to the Democratic-controlled state senate where it is likely to be signed into law. Continue reading California Considers Law That Would Reclassify Gig Workers

World Economic Forum Launches Councils on AI, IoT, More

The World Economic Forum’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution this week announced the creation of six new councils to address policy guidance in areas including artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, blockchain, IoT and precision medicine. Already a source of friction between the U.S. and China, AI is one emerging technology seen by many nations as crucial to future development and competition. As Stanford Institute for Human-Centered AI deputy director Michael Sellitto puts it, “many see AI through the lens of economic and geopolitical competition … [creating] barriers that preserve their perceived strategic advantages, in access to data or research.” Continue reading World Economic Forum Launches Councils on AI, IoT, More

NLRB Considers Uber Drivers Freelancers, Not Employees

In an opinion released May 14, the National Labor Relations Board concluded that Uber drivers should be classified as independent contractors, and not company employees. According to the NLRB, Uber drivers qualify as independent workers because they are given “significant entrepreneurial opportunity” and “virtually complete control of their cars, work schedules, and log-in locations, together with their freedom to work for competitors of Uber.” The opinion is a victory for Uber and a setback for drivers and labor advocates, since it makes it more challenging for drivers to file labor complaints, form a union, or seek federal protection. Continue reading NLRB Considers Uber Drivers Freelancers, Not Employees

Microsoft Rolls Out Additional Plans to Combat Patent Trolls

Microsoft revealed plans to expand its Azure IP Advantage patent troll defense program by offering its customers building Azure-compatible IoT services with access to a library of 10,000 patents that can help protect them from IP lawsuits, especially related to cloud computing. The tech giant also announced that it is contributing some 500 patents to the non-profit LOT Network, founded in 2014, which provides patents from a growing number of member companies and additional sources to help protect startups against patent trolls. Continue reading Microsoft Rolls Out Additional Plans to Combat Patent Trolls

Companies Bid On Their Own Brands For Google Search Ads

According to NetMarketShare, Google controls 81+ percent of the mobile search market, which is why many businesses believe buying ads on the platform is necessary to stay in business. Appearing on top of search results is critical for many companies, and buying ads is the best way to achieve that. The urgency heats up when it comes to branded keywords, whereby companies must bid on their own names or see their rivals capture the space. If Lyft, for example, doesn’t buy the ad, Uber likely will, and grab the top spot. Continue reading Companies Bid On Their Own Brands For Google Search Ads

CES Panel: Possibilities of Marrying 5G With Edge Computing

What is edge computing and what can it bring when married with 5G, asked TechRepublic editor-in-chief Jason Hiner, who moderated a CES panel on the topic. AT&T vice president Alicia Abella described edge computing in historical context, as the pendulum has swung back and forth from centralized computing (in the 1960s to 1980s) to compute power on the desktop (with the advent of the desktop PC), back again to a centralized notion with the cloud, and now back to a distributed model with edge computing. Continue reading CES Panel: Possibilities of Marrying 5G With Edge Computing

CES Panel: Envisioning Entertainment in the 5G Ecosystem

UTA chief innovation officer Brent Weinstein convened technology and entertainment honchos to parse out 5G’s impact on a range of M&E applications. Intel senior vice president/general manager of the network platforms group Sandra Rivera opined that, “it’s never too early to be on the forefront of innovation.” “The work we did on 4G created the environment that drew in investment and services from Airbnb to Netflix and Uber,” she said. “We’re not quite at 5G, but the excitement is attracting the entrepreneurs and engineers.” Continue reading CES Panel: Envisioning Entertainment in the 5G Ecosystem

CES Panel: Innovators/Disruptors Discuss Paths to Success

Shelley Zalis, chief executive of The Female Quotient, dubs herself a chief disruptor in many roles in her life, making her the ideal person to speak with a panel of like-minded innovators and disruptors at CES 2019. They included John Padgett, chief experience and innovation operator at Carnival Corporation; Arlan Hamilton, founder and managing partner of Backstage Capital; and Patrick Brown, founder/chief executive of Impossible Foods. They all had tales to tell about their challenging roads to success. Continue reading CES Panel: Innovators/Disruptors Discuss Paths to Success

CES Panel: Imagining, Building a New Autonomous Ecosystem

At a CES panel on “connecting the world,” independent consultant Matt Jones posed the question all involved parties are asking as we move to an autonomous ecosystem. “We need to solve problems for real users,” he said. “It could be providers or cities looking at those questions, of how we’ll deploy and service these vehicles.” He started by looking at the issues from the level of a city — Los Angeles in this case — as represented by Los Angeles Department of Transportation general manager Seleta Reynolds. Continue reading CES Panel: Imagining, Building a New Autonomous Ecosystem

We Were Passengers in a Las Vegas ‘Self-Driving’ Rideshare

Autonomous vehicles have been a part of tech culture for so long that it’s hard to realize that only a handful of people have actually ridden in one. So it was with great surprise that our very first Lyft ride out of our Las Vegas hotel on Sunday night was in a “self-driving” vehicle. Lyft partnered with Irish auto-parts-company-turned-autonomous-vehicle-startup Aptiv (formerly known as Delphi) to offer CES attendees and Vegas commuters the option to ride in one of their 30 “self-driving” BMW 5 Series. Continue reading We Were Passengers in a Las Vegas ‘Self-Driving’ Rideshare

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