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

IBM Divides Data Among Servers, Speeds Up Deep Learning

IBM says it has made a significant improvement in its deep learning techniques, by figuring out a way to divide the data among 64 servers running up to 256 processors. Up until now, companies have run deep learning on a single server, because of the difficulty of synchronizing data among servers and processors. With IBM’s new capability, deep learning tasks will benefit from big improvements in speed, enabling advances in many different tasks. Customers using IBM Power System servers will have access to the new technology. Continue reading IBM Divides Data Among Servers, Speeds Up Deep Learning

Facebook Research Aims to Read Minds With Neuroscience

Facebook is at work on a project that would enable users to control virtual reality and augmented reality experiences telepathically. The company unveiled this research in April at its annual F8 conference, and more details have emerged about a technology that could revolutionize the next era of computing. The technology is, however, a long shot, as both neuroscientists and engineers outside the company are dubious that it can succeed. The solution could be a simple headband, rather than the brain implant some companies propose. Continue reading Facebook Research Aims to Read Minds With Neuroscience

Facebook Develops Interface to Type Words via Brain Waves

At Facebook research unit Building 8, former Alphabet’s Regina Dugan is overseeing a project that will allow people to type using brain signals, the ultimate in hands-free smartphone communication. Dugan reports that, within a few years time, the system will be able to type 100 words per minute by monitoring the brain and without any implants. The technology may not require the person to think in letters. The same lab is also working on a way for people to hear through their skin.

Continue reading Facebook Develops Interface to Type Words via Brain Waves

Facebook Pursues App Ecosystem: AR Powered by Cameras

Bolstered by last summer’s breakout popularity of “Pokémon Go,” Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has shifted focus from VR to AR, which combines the real and digital worlds. At the annual F8 conference, he stated that Facebook will make its AR tools available to developers to create everything from custom masks to filters. Partners already include Nike, Electronic Arts and Warner Bros. The shift to AR puts Facebook in competition with its rival Snap’s Snapchat and Microsoft HoloLens. Continue reading Facebook Pursues App Ecosystem: AR Powered by Cameras

Feds, Tech Titans Grapple Over Approaches to Cybersecurity

President Obama’s Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity met with tech industry executives at UC Berkeley to gather suggestions on how to improve cybersecurity. Executives from Google, Facebook, Dropbox and others had their own agenda: to move the issues of consumer data privacy, transparency and sharing of cyber threats towards more openness. Former NSA director General Keith Alexander and Uber chief security officer Joe Sullivan are among the members of the commission. Continue reading Feds, Tech Titans Grapple Over Approaches to Cybersecurity

Image Recognition Tech Paving the Way for Future Advances

Image recognition, or computer vision, is the foundation of new opportunities in everything from automotive to advertising. Its growing importance is such that the upcoming LDV Vision Summit, an annual conference on visual technology, is now in its third year. Computer vision has expanded through trends that have benefited other forms of AI, including open source, deep learning technology, easier programming tools and faster, cheaper computing, opening up opportunities for a wide range of businesses. Continue reading Image Recognition Tech Paving the Way for Future Advances

Juniper Networks Backdoor Hack Likely From Foreign Nation

Tech giant Juniper Networks just found unauthorized code — essentially a backdoor — in the operating system running some of its firewalls. The hidden backdoor, found in versions of the company’s ScreenOS software dating back to at least August 2012, enable hackers to take complete control of Juniper NetScreen firewalls as well as decrypt encrypted traffic running through the Virtual Private Networks (VPN) on the firewalls. The FBI is investigating the breach, which appears to be the work of a foreign government. Continue reading Juniper Networks Backdoor Hack Likely From Foreign Nation

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