Big Tech Attempts to Balance Worker Needs Moving Forward

Alphabet conducted internal research that found Google software engineers felt as productive working from home as before the pandemic, although 75 percent of employees said they wanted more “collaboration and social connections” at work. Human resources vice president Brian Welle reported that “most staff also specifically craved physical proximity when working on new projects.” As a result, Alphabet still plans to bring employees back to the office this fall, although some will be able to work full-time from home. Continue reading Big Tech Attempts to Balance Worker Needs Moving Forward

Rotten Tomatoes to Debut Channel on Roku, Peacock, Xumo

Rotten Tomatoes has been synonymous with movie scores since it was cooked up by three UC Berkeley undergrads in 1998. The site aggregates reviews from professional critics and provides a “Tomatometer” that averages out the reviews with a Fresh rating when 60 percent or more are positive or Rotten if it goes below that threshold. It also provides an audience score, based on what Rotten Tomatoes users think. Now, the company is debuting an ad-supported OTT service called the Rotten Tomatoes Channel, currently on Roku, to offer nonstop content and a lifestyle brand. Continue reading Rotten Tomatoes to Debut Channel on Roku, Peacock, Xumo

Gig Economy Companies Fight for California’s Proposition 22

DoorDash, Lyft and Uber executives had already pledged $90 million to back California Proposition 22, exempting them from a new state labor law requiring gig workers to be reclassified as employees. But, said sources, political strategists told them they needed to spend even more to have a chance of passing the measure. Now, as we get closer to the November 3 election, backers have spent almost $200 million. A UC Berkeley poll found only 39 percent of likely voters support the measure and 36 percent are opposed. Continue reading Gig Economy Companies Fight for California’s Proposition 22

Adobe Beta-Testing New Tool to Detect Manipulated Images

Adobe released a beta version of a Photoshop tool that will make it easier to determine if an image is real or has been manipulated. The so-called attribution tool, which will first be tested with a select group of people, enables photo editors to attach more detailed, secure metadata to images. In addition to including who created the image, the metadata will provide information on how it was altered and if AI tools were used to do so. Adobe said it will also be clear if the metadata has been tampered with. This could be a step toward combatting deepfakes. Continue reading Adobe Beta-Testing New Tool to Detect Manipulated Images

New TikTok Chief Executive Departs Over U.S.-China Battle

TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer quit the company only months after assuming the role. The company’s general manager Vanessa Pappas will become the interim chief. Sources stated that Mayer, formerly of Disney, decided to leave TikTok after President Trump issued a ban on the popular social platform unless its Chinese parent company ByteDance sold its assets to a U.S. company within 90 days. Mayer’s resignation letter stated that he had reflected on “what the corporate structural changes will require, and what it means for the global role I signed up for.” Continue reading New TikTok Chief Executive Departs Over U.S.-China Battle

How 5G Will Impact Transportation, Surgery, Factories, VR

Industry experts have recently been tantalizing consumers with the super-fast speed and zero latency of 5G networks. But to achieve the kind of coverage they depict will require as many as 20 access points per square kilometer — an expensive proposition. Consumers will have to get used to the idea that 5G will roll out, but not in an evenly distributed manner. Autonomous vehicles, Internet-assisted surgery, factory automation and virtual reality are some of the first sectors that will see the impact of 5G networks. Continue reading How 5G Will Impact Transportation, Surgery, Factories, VR

Big Tech, Academics Launch Deepfake Detection Challenge

A coalition of Big Tech companies and academics have banded together to fight deepfakes. Facebook, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft, the Partnership on AI, and academics at Cornell Tech, MIT, University of Oxford, UC Berkeley, University of Maryland College Park and the State University of New York at Albany just launched the Deepfake Detection Challenge announced in September. The problem is serious; deepfakes have swindled companies and could sway public opinion during upcoming elections. Continue reading Big Tech, Academics Launch Deepfake Detection Challenge

Microsoft Pairs Azure Cloud Platform, Graphcore AI Chips

Microsoft will begin providing customers of its Azure cloud platform with chips made by U.K. startup Graphcore, with the goal of speeding up the computations for artificial intelligence projects. Graphcore, founded in Bristol in 2016, has attracted several hundred million dollars in investment and the attention of many AI researchers. Microsoft invested in Graphcore last December, with the hope of making its cloud services more compelling. Graphcore’s chips have not previously been available publicly. Continue reading Microsoft Pairs Azure Cloud Platform, Graphcore AI Chips

Gig Economy Companies Responding to New California Law

On Wednesday, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 5 (AB5), a law that will classify some independent contractors as employees and takes effect January 1. Companies such as Lyft and Uber Technologies, whose employees are among those that might be reclassified, redoubled both their resistance to the law and plans to negotiate again with relevant labor unions. At the same time, these companies are making noise about initiating a ballot-measure campaign to rewrite the standards for independent contractors. Continue reading Gig Economy Companies Responding to New California Law

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

Universities Team Up to Promote Public Interest Technology

Twenty-one universities have partnered to create the Public Interest Technology University Network aimed at creating the next generation of software engineers, social justice advocates and leaders to “develop, regulate and use technology for the public good.” Among those schools founding the network are Arizona State University, City University of New York, Harvard University, Howard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and University of California, Berkeley. Continue reading Universities Team Up to Promote Public Interest Technology

DTR and Academics Tackle Faster, Scalable Cryptocurrency

A group of professors from universities including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and University of California, Berkeley are at work on the Unit-e, a “globally scalable” cryptocurrency that can achieve blazing speeds and retain Bitcoin’s vaunted decentralization. Unit-e will be the first project of the non-profit Distributed Technologies Research (DTR), an academic-formed foundation supported by hedge fund Pantera Capital Management. They hope to design a coin that will process transactions faster than Visa. Continue reading DTR and Academics Tackle Faster, Scalable Cryptocurrency

The Industry Built Upon Analyzing, Selling Your Location Data

Location data has become big business. According to recent research from The New York Times, at least 75 companies receive reams of precise, anonymous location data from apps with enabled location services. Some of these companies state they track up to 200 million mobile devices, to collect such data, which they sell, use or analyze for customers such as advertisers, retail companies and financial outlets including hedge funds. The location-targeted advertising industry is valued at $21 billion this year. Continue reading The Industry Built Upon Analyzing, Selling Your Location Data

Facebook Explores Robotics and NLP, Opens More AI Labs

To strengthen its AI Research division (FAIR) and focus on robotics, Facebook is adding five highly regarded computer scientists to its Menlo Park, California headquarters, as well as facilities in Pittsburgh, Seattle and London. The new hires include Carnegie Mellon University professors Jessica Hodgins and Abhinav Gupta, who will head a lab focusing on robotics, a newer area for Facebook. University of Washington’s Luke Zettlemoyer, an expert on natural language processing (NLP), will join the Seattle AI research team. Continue reading Facebook Explores Robotics and NLP, Opens More AI Labs

Google Project Aims to Use AI to Develop More AI Algorithms

Google Senior Fellow Jeff Dean, who works on the Google Brain team, recently highlighted AutoML (for machine learning), a project aimed at using AI-empowered machines to build other AI machines, removing humans from the equation. The need for AI algorithms grows as its capabilities are becoming important to a wide range of industries. But only an estimated 10,000 people worldwide have the education, expertise and ability to construct those algorithms, and Facebook, Google and Microsoft pay millions of dollars for them. Continue reading Google Project Aims to Use AI to Develop More AI Algorithms