A Technique to Help AI Understand Video Better

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

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

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.

Luminar 3 Photography Software: $29

We have a deal on Luminar 3, photo editing software for Mac and Windows. It features Accent AI 2.0, which lets you make dozens of adjustments using one slider; “human-aware” technology that recognizes people and applies adjustments selectively for more realistic results; you can enhance the skies in your photos with AI Sky Enhancer; and, more than 70 instant looks hand-crafted by pro photographers. Luminar 3 is $29 through our deal.


Amazon's Move Into the Elections Market

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.

Developer Offers Tips for How to Handle Getting Sherlocked

Savannah Reising of Astropad posted a killer blog post (via Dave Mark at The Loop) offering six tips for how to handle being sherlocked by Apple. Getting sherlocked means that Apple just announced the product, software, or feature that you built your business on, and it’s a known risk for Apple ecosystem veterans. It happened to Astropad when Apple announced Sidecar at WWDC this past June. Her lessons include Know your true competition; Don’t wait to diversify; Build a culture of experimentation; Go where your customers go; Seize the narrative; and, When Apple goes wide — dive deep. It’s a very good read, and I strongly recommend it.

But now that the Sidecar dust has settled, I want to share our experience with other players in the Apple ecosystem. My intent is two-fold: On a personal level, it’s therapeutic to reflect on how this has impacted our work. But more importantly, my hope is that by candidly sharing our story, I can pass along some of the painful insights we learned along the way — like how you can prevent getting sherlocked, and what to do if it happens to you.

North Korea Targets Macs with Fake Cryptocurency Trading Site and App

North Korean hacking group “Lazarus Group” has been targeting Macs with a bit of fake website used to promote an open source app that served as a trojan horse. The fake site was called JMT Trading, and was designed to look like a trading platform. To use the trading platform, you had to download an app from Github, but even though the app was open source, it contained malware for Macs, with the whole scheme being part of North Korea’s efforts to steal Bitcoin. Check out Forbes‘s report:

The hackers may then go a step further by contacting administrators and users of cryptocurrency exchanges, asking them to test and review their new app, Wardle told Forbes. If they get lucky, they get a bit of leverage in an official cryptocurrency vendor and start infecting targets.

Bitcoin Top Crypto on the Darkweb, but Privacy-Oriented Cryptos Are Gaining Steam

Bitcoin remains the cryptocurrency of choice on the dark web, according to a report from TheNextWeb. That might be mostly a matter of inertia, however, as privacy-oriented cryptos are gaining steam. Cryptos like Monero and Dash, as well as others, have features baked into their underlying blockchain that can make it much harder to trace transactions. From TheNextWeb‘s coverage:

Bitcoin is still very much the dark web‘s favorite cryptocurrency, but those looking to cover their tracks are slowly learning to use privacy-focused alternatives. […] Authorities say there has been a more “pronounced shift” towards more privacy-orientated cryptocurrencies, and expects this trend to continue as criminals become more security aware.