Amazon to Surpass Walmart as Top Global Private Employer

Amazon is on track to become the world’s largest private employer within two years. The company has added 427,300 more employees between January and October this year, for a total workforce of 1.2+ million around the world. Two years ago, its workforce was less than 650,000 people. The National Retail Federation reported that sales at Amazon, the top e-commerce player, will grow by as much as 30 percent compared with last year’s holiday season. The company has earmarked $500 million for employee holiday bonuses. Continue reading Amazon to Surpass Walmart as Top Global Private Employer

Microsoft Develops Video Authenticator to Identify Deepfakes

Microsoft debuted a Video Authenticator tool that can analyze a still photo or video to determine the percentage of the chance that it is an AI-manipulated deepfake. For videos, Microsoft said the tool will work on a frame-by-frame basis in real time. The company’s tool is based on a FaceForensics++ public database and detects the “blending boundary” of the deepfake, with “subtle fading or grayscale elements” that may be indistinguishable by the human eye. It has been tested on the Deepfake Detection Challenge dataset. Continue reading Microsoft Develops Video Authenticator to Identify Deepfakes

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

Use of Messaging App Signal Skyrockets During Civil Unrest

In May, according to App Annie, the encrypted messaging app Signal was downloaded one million times worldwide, a result of both the COVID-19 pandemic and the more recent protests over George Floyd’s death and police brutality. Sensor Tower reports that Signal currently has 32.4 million installs. Privacy advocates have always been attracted to Signal’s ability to limit the information it can give to authorities. Signal’s end-to-end encryption is considered more secure than what is offered by Facebook’s WhatsApp and Apple’s iMessage. Continue reading Use of Messaging App Signal Skyrockets During Civil Unrest

SuperGLUE Is Benchmark For Language-Understanding AI

Researchers recently introduced a series of rigorous benchmark tasks that measure the performance of sophisticated language-understanding AI. Facebook AI Research with Google’s DeepMind, University of Washington and New York University introduced SuperGLUE last week, based on the idea that deep learning models for today’s conversational AI require greater challenges. SuperGLUE, which uses Google’s BERT representational model as a performance baseline, follows the 2018 introduction of GLUE (General Language Understanding Evaluation), and encourages the creation of models that can understand more nuanced, complex language. Continue reading SuperGLUE Is Benchmark For Language-Understanding AI

Another Perspective on Deep Fakes: Threat and Opportunity

At the NAB 2019’s Broadcast Cybersecurity course, Emblematic Group founder/chief executive Nonny de la Peña introduced deep fakes by showing pairs of images and asking the audience to call out which was fake and which was real. From paired images of Presidents Obama and Trump, among others, audience members were consistently unable to pick the correct “fake” image. University of Washington researchers created a very convincing — but fake — video of Barack Obama, she revealed, by using neural network AI and 14 hours of Obama footage. Continue reading Another Perspective on Deep Fakes: Threat and Opportunity

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

Amazon to Debut New Delivery Service in 37 Cities Next Month

Amazon is introducing Amazon Key, a service that, via a smart lock and a security camera, allows its couriers to unlock the consumer’s front door and drop a package inside. Similarly, Latch, a startup that makes smart locks, inked a deal this summer with Walmart online shopping site Jet.com to pay for its locks to be installed in 1,000 New York City apartment buildings. Amazon Key, which starts at $250, is a kit that includes an Amazon Cloud Cam (available separately for $120) and a Yale or Kwikset smart door lock. Continue reading Amazon to Debut New Delivery Service in 37 Cities Next Month

AR Experiences a Breakout Year, More to Come at CES 2017

Until “Pokémon Go” burst onto the scene last summer, augmented reality was developing quietly in the shadow of virtual reality. With the spike of awareness around the success of “Pokémon Go,” we are rapidly redefining and evolving our ideas of what an AR experience can be. The AR landscape includes developers, storytellers, world builders, platforms and SDKs, apps and browsers, glasses and lenses, image recognition, spatial audio and spatial awareness tech, haptic feedback and other sensory input/output tools, agencies, research institutions, and more. We expect AR to be a major topic at next month’s CES 2017. Continue reading AR Experiences a Breakout Year, More to Come at CES 2017

WhatsApp Updates Privacy Policy, Shares Data with Facebook

When Facebook bought the popular free messaging service WhatsApp, it promised it wouldn’t change the privacy policies. Now the company has done just that, and organizations including the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and the Center for Digital Democracy are not happy. Facebook has stated it will now connect users’ phone numbers with Facebook’s systems, offering “better friend suggestions” and more relevant ads. The new approach will help Facebook finally monetize WhatsApp. Continue reading WhatsApp Updates Privacy Policy, Shares Data with Facebook

AWE: Grandfather of VR Seeds an Industry, Calls it to Action

In a wide-ranging keynote at the Augmented World Expo tradeshow this week, Tom Furness, a pioneer in human interface technology, traced his career innovating in virtual reality and announced the formation of the Virtual World Society. Often called a grandfather of VR, Furness’s groundbreaking work includes developing the first VR flight simulator, first VR consumer product and first retina display. His latest vision is for a network of labs where young creatives and technologists turn their talents to solving Earth’s urgent environmental and social problems. Continue reading AWE: Grandfather of VR Seeds an Industry, Calls it to Action