Recent Articles By Charlotte Henry [RSS]

A Technique to Help AI Understand Video Better

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Which AI is smarter, Siri or Alexa?

AI technology is improving at an amazing rate. However, video is still a significant challenge. Wired reported on a development that may improve things, whilst also using less processing power.

A group from MIT and IBM developed an algorithm capable of accurately recognizing actions in videos while consuming a small fraction of the processing power previously required, potentially changing the economics of applying AI to large amounts of video. The method adapts an AI approach used to process still images to give it a crude concept of passing time. The work is a step towards having AI recognize what’s happening in video, perhaps helping to tame the vast amounts now being generated. On YouTube alone, over 500 hours of video were uploaded every minute during May 2019. Companies would like to use AI to automatically generate detailed descriptions of videos, letting users discover clips that haven’t been annotated. And, of course, they would love to sell ads based on what’s happening in a video.

Elizabeth Warren is Not Going to Take Any More Big Donations From Tech

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Elizabeth Warren announced Tuesday that she is not going to accept any more big campaign donations from execs at big tech firms. The contender to be the Democratic-presidential nominee said all contributions over $200 will be rejected, Fast Company reported.

The senator from Massachusetts announced on her website today that she will turn away “contributions over $200 from executives at big tech companies, big banks, private equity firms, or hedge funds.” As CNBC notes, the pledge expands on an earlier promise from Warren, a leading contender in the Democratic presidential primaries, not to accept large contributions from execs at pharmaceutical and fossil fuel companies. Few Democrats in the 2020 presidential race have catered to workers at Apple, Google, Facebook, and the like. A Fast Company analysis in September found that more workers at large tech companies donated to the campaigns of President Donald Trump and businessman Andrew Yang than to Joe Biden’s campaign. (Despite this, Biden raised more money from Big Tech in total.) Warren has specifically campaigned to “Break Up Big Tech” and even put that slogan on a billboard in San Francisco.

Patent Suggests Radar System in Bodywork of Apple's Self-Driving Car

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Car with Apple logo

Apple’s much speculated upon self-driving car might have a radar system hidden within the bodywork. That’s according to a patent granted Tuesday and uncovered by AppleInsider.

In Apple’s design, it suggests the use of antennas to transmit a radar beam towards a portion of a field of view, along with a vertical antenna array to receive the bounced-back signal. The receive antenna array can consist of multiple antenna elements grouped into sub-arrays, with each sub-array used to receive scatter signals reflected back at it from a smaller subsection of the field of view. Circuitry is then used to combine the received scatter signals from the antenna array into a combined scatter signal, which is then digitized. A second horizontal receive array performs a similar job, again with sub-arrays and the same process. A signal processor is then used to process the scatter signals from both vertical and horizontal arrays, and to correlate the data from each to give effectively a 3D radar layout.

'The Missing Cryptoqueen' is 'Serial' With a Tech Twist

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Dr. Ruja was a business superstar who sold out arenas when she spoke. Leading a cryptocurrency firm called Onecoin, she promised to change her investors’ lives and make them rich beyond their wildest dreams. Then, suddenly, she disappeared. Journalist and author Jamie Bartlett, an expert in the darkest parts of the internet, tried to uncover what happened for this impeccably produced podcast, The Missing Cryptoqueen. Like Serial, I was gripped from episode 1, totally invested in finding out what happened. It is one of the best non-news podcasts I’ve heard in a long time. The podcast was produced by the BBC and is available via the BBC Sounds app or Apple Podcasts.

‘The Missing Cryptoqueen’ is ‘Serial’ With a Tech Twist

Amazon's Move Into the Elections Market

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U.S. elections are big business. Reuters published a fascinating report into how Amazon moved into the world of politics.

Amazon pitches itself as a low-cost provider of secure election technology at a time when local officials and political campaigns are under intense pressure to prevent a repeat of 2016 presidential elections, which saw cyber-attacks on voting systems and election infrastructure. “The fact that we have invested heavily in this area, it helps to attest to the fact that in over 40 states, the Amazon cloud is being trusted to power in some way, some aspect of elections,” Michael Jackson, leader, Public Health & U.S. Elections at AWS, told prospective government clients in February via a presentation on a webinar, which was viewed by Reuters.

Disney+ Reveals All the Shows Coming to The Service

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One Day at Disney

Disney+ tweeted almost all of the shows and movies coming to the streaming service in a flurry of tweets on Monday. Techcrunch has a good of rundown of what is on the way.

For anyone who grew up on Disney, the list is a nostalgic look back at not just the studio’s hits, but also the titles that had quickly faded from your memory, or those that even make you cringe. While most streaming services today round out their catalog lineup with less popular content in order to claim a larger number of total titles available, they don’t tend to promote their B movies and crappy TV shows in any of their marketing or advertising, for obvious reasons. Disney’s approach, by comparison, is refreshingly transparent.

iPhone SE2 Will be 'Key Growth Driver' in 2020

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Analyst Ming-Ching Kuo believes that the iPhone SE2 will be Apple’s key growth driver next year.  He made the prediction in a new note, sent to investors Sunday, CNBC reported.

In a note to investors Sunday, Kuo reiterated that the iPhone SE2 will have a similar design to the iPhone 8. That suggests Apple will be able to reuse parts from that phone while upgrading some of the internal components, like the processor and camera. It will be offered in silver, space gray and red, Kuo said. Kuo also predicted that the budget iPhone will likely attract people who are still using the iPhone 6 and 6s, which he estimates are still being used by as many as 200 million people, even though those phones launched five years ago. He said the new phone will be a “key growth driver” for Apple next year.

Things Are Not Gong Well for Facebook's Cryptocurrency

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Facebook cryptocurrency has lost a number of big-name backers in recent times. Reuters reported on the problems facing Libra, and looked at where the project might go next.

PayPal (PYPL.O) started the Libra Association exodus this month, leaving Facebook without the backing of any major payments firms for the project, due for launch by June 2020. Libra said this month it would give details after the meeting of the 1,500 “entities” that have indicated “enthusiastic interest” to take part in the project. Members will review a charter and appoint a board at the Libra meeting, which will be held in Geneva, the Wall Street Journal reported this month. A spokeswoman did not immediately respond to enquiries on the meeting of the Libra Association, whose remaining members include Vodafone (VOD.L) and ride-hailing firms Uber and Lyft.

Looking Ahead to the 2020 iPhone

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I know. You’re only just getting used to your new iPhone 11. But Lisa Eadicicco at Business Insider is already looking at what comes next for Apple.

Among the biggest changes that’s expected to come with Apple’s 2020 iPhones is the introduction of a more sophisticated three-dimensional camera, according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman and Debby Wu. Such a camera system would include a laser scanner to create 3D replicas of the real world, boosting the iPhone’s augmented reality capabilities. With the new 3D camera, the iPhone would be better at placing virtual objects in augmented reality and would offer enhanced depth perception, according to Bloomberg. Apple’s iPhones have supported augmented reality applications for years, and the company made its first big push into AR when it launched ARKit in 2016 — a set of tools to help mobile developers build high-quality AR apps.