Connect with us

Tech

Hashtag Trending – Snowden back in the news; Ontario’s $100K bid for new talent; Fortnite hits Apple with Epic ad – IT World Canada

Published

on


Donald Trump says he is considering pardoning whistleblower Edward Snowden, Ontario makes a bid for Silicon Valley talent, and Fortnite throws a counterpunch at Apple.

It’s all the tech news that’s popular right now. Welcome to Hashtag Trending! It’s Monday, August 17, and I’m your host Alex Coop.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s latest distraction comes in the form of a sudden decision to potentially pardon the former government contractor who illegally leaked classified documents exposing the National Security Agency’s gathering of American phone records in 2013. Back then, Trump called Edward Snowden a “traitor” who should be executed. There’s a tweet to prove it. There’s always a Tweet. Trump first signalled a change in heart about Snowden in an interview with the New York Post last week.

Ontario’s tech industry is enticing workers to move to Canada through a $100,000 billboard campaign in Silicon Valley. Nine billboards along Highway 101 ask “What if my visa gets cancelled?” and “What if I lose my job and health insurance?” The billboard campaign, led by Canadian tech group Communitech, comes after U.S. President Donald Trump announced the suspension of some work visas. Canadian tech companies are seeing the U.S. visa ban as an opportunity to welcome new talent, CBC News reports.

And lastly, we’re dipping our toes into the world of video games for a moment, because Fortnite creator Epic Games is swinging back at Apple for removing the massively popular game from its app store in a legal battle over payments. Epic Games’ Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite commercial, a parody of one of Apple’s most iconic ads, “1984,” is turning heads and garnering applause from marketers. Here’s the backstory: Epic is suing Apple and Google after the two companies removed Fortnite from their app stores. Epic had introduced a “payment gateway” offering discounts on in-app purchases if customers paid the game maker directly. Apple and Google claim the move violates their respective app stores’ terms.

That’s all the tech news that’s trending right now. Hashtag Trending is a part of the ITWC Podcast network. Add us to your Alexa Flash Briefing or your Google Home daily briefing.


Related Download
Sponsor: LG


LG Business Solutions

New technologies can ease the burden on IT departments while enhancing productivity and satisfaction for the end users they serve.
Learn More

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Tech

AI Weekly: Amazon went wide with Alexa; now it’s going deep – VentureBeat

Published

on


Amazon’s naked ambition to become part of everyone’s daily lives was on full display this week at its annual hardware event. It announced a slew of new Alexa-powered devices, including a home surveillance drone, a suite of Ring-branded car alarm systems, and miscellany like an adorable little kids’ Echo device. But it’s clear Amazon’s strategy has shifted, even if only for a product cycle, from going wide to going deep.

Last year, Amazon baked its virtual assistant into any household device that could accommodate a chip. Its list of new widgets with Alexa seemed a mile long and included a menagerie of home goods, like lamps and microwaves. The company also announced device partnerships that ensure Alexa would live on some devices alongside other virtual assistants, tools to make it easier for developers to create Alexa skills, networking devices and capabilities, and wearables. It was a volume play and an aggressive bid to build out its ecosystem in even more markets.

This year, Amazon had fewer devices to announce, but it played up ways it has made Alexa itself better than ever. That’s the second prong of the strategy here: Get Alexa everywhere, then improve the marquee features such that the experience for users eclipses anything the competition offers.

As is always the case at these sorts of events, Amazon talked big and dreamy about all the new Alexa features. Users will find out for themselves whether this is the real deal or just hype when Amazon rolls out updates over the course of the next year (they’re landing on smart home devices first). But on paper and in the staged demos, Alexa’s new capabilities certainly seem to bring it a step closer to the holy grail of speaking to a virtual assistant just like talking to a person.

That’s the crux of what Amazon says it has done to improve Alexa, imbuing it with AI to make it more humanlike. This includes picking up nuances in speech and adjusting its own cadence, asking its human conversation partner for clarifications to fill in knowledge, and using feedback like “Alexa, that’s wrong” to learn and correct itself.

Amazon is particularly proud of the new natural turn-taking capabilities, which help Alexa understand the vagaries of human conversation. For example, in a staged demo two friends talked about ordering a pizza through an Alexa device. Like normal humans, they didn’t use each other’s names in the conversation, they paused to think, they changed their minds and adjusted the order, and so on. Alexa “knew” when to chime in, as well as when they were talking to each other and not to the Alexa device.

At the event, Alexa VP and head scientist Rohit Prasad said this required “real invention” and that the team went beyond just natural language processing (NLP) to embrace multisensory AI — acoustic, linguistic, and visual cues. And he said those all happen locally, on the device itself.

This is thanks to Amazon’s new AZ1 Neural Edge processor, which is designed to accelerate machine learning applications on-device instead of in the cloud. In the event liveblog, Amazon said: “With AZ1, powerful inference engines can run quickly on the edge — starting with an all-neural speech recognition model that will process speech faster, making Alexa even more responsive.” There are scant details available about the chip, but it likely portends a near future when Alexa devices are able to do more meaningful virtual assisting without an internet connection.

Given the utter lack of information about the AZ1, it’s impossible to say what it can or can’t do. But it would a potential game changer if it was able to handle all of Alexa’s new tricks on devices as simple as an Echo smart speaker. There could be positive privacy implications, too, if users were able to enjoy a newly powerful Alexa on-device, keeping their voice recordings from Amazon’s cloud.

But for Amazon, going deep isn’t just about a more humanlike Alexa; it involves pulling people further into its ecosystem, which Amazon hopes is the sum of adding device and service ubiquity to more engaging user experiences.

Part of that effort centers on Ring devices, which now include not just front-door home security products but also car security products and a small autonomous drone for the inside of your home. They’re essentially surveillance devices — and taken together, they form an ecosystem of surveillance devices and services that Amazon owns, and that connects to law enforcement. You can buy into it as deeply as you want, creating a surveillance bubble inside your home, around your home, and on board your vehicles, regardless of where you’ve parked them. The tension over Ring devices — what and who they record, where those recordings go, and who uses them for what purpose — will only be amplified by this in-home drone and the car alarm and camera.

Whether Amazon goes deep or wide, what hasn’t changed is that it wants to be omnipresent in our lives. And with every event’s worth of new devices and capabilities, the company takes another step closer to that goal.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Tech

Epic Games and Spotify are founder-members of a new 'anti-app-tax' organization – Notebookcheck.net

Published

on


Please share our article, every link counts!

Deirdre O’Donnell, 2020-09-25 (Update: 2020-09-25)

I became a professional writer and editor shortly after graduation. My degrees are in biomedical sciences; however, they led to some experience in the biotech area, which convinced me of its potential to revolutionize our health, environment and lives in general.
This developed into an all-consuming interest in more aspects of tech over time: I can never write enough on the latest electronics, gadgets and innovations. My other interests include imaging, astronomy, and streaming all the things. Oh, and coffee.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Tech

Amazon's new Ring security camera will fly around your home – BNN

Published

on


Amazon.com Inc. has built a camera on a small drone designed to fly around the house and investigate suspicious activity.

The Ring Always Home Cam moves autonomously and is equipped with an indoor camera, giving users multiple view points of their homes. The drone can take a path around the home that’s pre-determined by the user and only records when in flight, not when docked, the company said.

The device will be available in 2021 for US$250, the company said during a live-stream event on Thursday.

Ring, based in southern California, makes internet-connected doorbells and home cameras. Since Amazon’s acquisition of the startup in early 2018, it has seen sales surge. Ring has also been beset by privacy concerns, from hacks of its products due to weak passwords, to reports of employees sharing unencrypted user videos.

On Thursday, Ring said it would enable end-to-end encryption for user videos.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending