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

Twitter’s New Content Deals with Univision, WSJ and Others

Twitter hosted its second-ever Digital Content NewFronts event this week, showcasing a series of new and renewed video content deals. The social media mainstay announced 13 video content deals, including a new one with Univision that will cover Spanish-language sports, entertainment, and news, including 2020 election coverage. It also announced a deal with The Wall Street Journal for an original show called “What’s Now,” and other deals with major players like the NFL, Bleacher Report, CNET and others.

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Facebook Combats Fake News After Hoaxes End in Violence

In the wake of posts that have incited violence in Sri Lanka, Myanmar and India, Facebook has tweaked its fake news policy and agreed to remove posts that could lead to physical harm. In the incidents that sparked this change, rumors spread on Facebook led to physical attacks on ethnic minorities. The attacks have involved the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, Muslims in Sri Lanka, and other attacks in India and Mexico. Changes do not apply to Instagram or WhatsApp, despite the latter’s involvement in incidents in India. Continue reading Facebook Combats Fake News After Hoaxes End in Violence

Tech Firms Sign a Cybersecurity Pledge to Protect Customers

Led by tech titans Facebook and Microsoft, more than 30 tech companies have signed a Cybersecurity Tech Accord as part of their efforts to protect customers from cyberattacks and “the misuse of their technology.” According to the agreement, tech companies pledge not to assist governments that initiate attacks against “innocent civilians and enterprises.” Among the signatories are companies that power Internet technology and information infrastructure, including Cisco, Cloudflare, Dell, HP, LinkedIn, Nielsen, Nokia, Oracle, Symantec and VMware. Continue reading Tech Firms Sign a Cybersecurity Pledge to Protect Customers

UN Civil Aviation Group Brainstorms Global Drone Standards

The United Nations’ 191-member state International Civil Aviation Organization held its first-ever symposium to solicit industry ideas on global operating standards for drones. Held at the ICAO’s Montreal headquarters, the two-day event was not aimed at establishing specific rules but rather to spur discussion and ideas among those already involved in the drone industry. Amazon, NASA, Boeing and General Electric participated along with leading industry trade associations and Chinese and Brazilian researchers. Continue reading UN Civil Aviation Group Brainstorms Global Drone Standards

Sources Say China Is Planning to Shutter Bitcoin Exchanges

The Chinese government, increasingly uneasy about virtual currency, is on the verge of shutting down the country’s Bitcoin exchanges, say sources. The move comes as the government focuses on preventing capital from leaving to digital currencies. But if China, the world’s No. 2 economy, does indeed take this step, the market for cryptocurrencies, including all the new companies using it, will feel the impact. Of all the virtual currencies, Bitcoin is the largest, since restrictions on it were loosened in Japan and elsewhere. Continue reading Sources Say China Is Planning to Shutter Bitcoin Exchanges

Rocket Explosion is a Setback for Facebook’s Internet Program

A Falcon 9 rocket designed by Elon Musk’s SpaceX exploded during a prelaunch test at Cape Canaveral yesterday, destroying a satellite and its payload that was scheduled to launch into orbit on Saturday. The accident marks a setback for Facebook’s effort to bring Internet access to the world. The satellite was a joint venture between the social giant and France’s Eutelsat Communications, part of Facebook’s Internet.org initiative to help get unconnected people online and lower the cost of Internet access. This particular satellite would have reached more than a dozen countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Continue reading Rocket Explosion is a Setback for Facebook’s Internet Program

Lytro Debuts First VR Film Shot with Immerge Camera System

Up until now, virtual reality content from The New York Times, the United Nations, Facebook, YouTube and others is actually more accurately described as 360-degree video. What that means is that, although it is immersive, the viewer can’t move inside the VR experience, limited to three “degrees of freedom” (3DOF). In computer-generated videogames, the player has six degrees of freedom (6DOF), and Lytro has advanced its plans to bring that to cinematic virtual reality with its light field camera system. Continue reading Lytro Debuts First VR Film Shot with Immerge Camera System

UN Human Rights Council Calls for an End to Internet Blocking

The 47-member United Nations Human Rights Council “passed a resolution condemning countries that prevent or disrupt access to the Internet,” according to The Hill. The nonbinding resolution, likely most useful for public pressure, calls on nations to address security and privacy concerns while securing freedom of expression. It also “condemns violence or intimidation against people for ‘exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms on the Internet.’” Digital rights group Access Now cited at least 15 Internet shutdowns around the world last year, and 20 so far this year. Continue reading UN Human Rights Council Calls for an End to Internet Blocking

Vrse Envisions a Cinematic Future for Virtual Reality Content

Vrse, a virtual reality content company headquartered in Los Angeles, recently brought on former Rdio chief executive Drew Larner as its chief operating officer. The company has also drawn investment from Andreessen Horowitz, Live Nation, Vice Media and Annapurna Pictures. It’s all about creating content that goes beyond gaming, notes chief executive Chris Milk. To that end, the company plans to produce its own content, through Vrse Works, and distribute its own and others’ through the Vrse app for VR headsets. Continue reading Vrse Envisions a Cinematic Future for Virtual Reality Content

Facebook’s Standalone Video App to Support 360-Degree Video

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has called virtual reality the next computing platform after mobile devices. His company also shelled out $2 billion to acquire Oculus VR last year; the company will ship its Rift headset for consumers in early 2016. So it’s no surprise that the company is reportedly working on a standalone video app to support 360-degree video on multiple platforms, including Apple and Android devices. Zuckerberg has also stated that Facebook would support 360-degree video in its newsfeed. Continue reading Facebook’s Standalone Video App to Support 360-Degree Video

New VR Content Shows the Future of News and Documentaries

Virtual reality is poised as the next revolution in storytelling, and the creators of VR content are not picking the easy stories. For example, Vice News is using VR to cover the New York Million March, a demonstration in which 25,000 people protested police violence. The United Nations’ campaign to raise awareness of vulnerable communities includes a VR film that follows the plight of 12-year-old Syrian refugee. Both the news report and the film are available on the VRSE platform, which makes such stories readily accessible.  Continue reading New VR Content Shows the Future of News and Documentaries

The Future of Media: Global Shift, Away from U.S. And Europe

Media as a business and cultural force is in a period of transformation in all respects. There is a shift underway in media consumption from the U.S. and Europe toward Asia, Africa and Latin America. Print and music may be declining, but TV and on-demand content remain strong. Low-cost mobile devices continue to impact the creation, distribution and consumption of content for a new global audience. As a result, there is an increased focus on non-English media content. Continue reading The Future of Media: Global Shift, Away from U.S. And Europe