Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Posts Tagged ‘artificial intelligence

New (Google Ad) Rules

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Google is jumping on the political advertising guard rail bandwagon, announcing new limits on its microtargeting to age, gender, and general location (zip code). Google will also continue to allow retargeting based on content of website visits.

They will no longer allow ads to be directed to specific audiences based on public voting records or political affiliations (“left-leaning,” “right-leaning,” etc.)

The policies will impact both Google search results, on YouTube, and via the Google Content Network which displays ads on other sites.

The move left many politicos stunned, for in past campaigns they have leaned mightily on microtargeting specific sets of voters, an efficiency that makes many grassroots campaigns financially feasible.

Also on the GOOG front…remember Google Duplex, the creepy-crawly AI that would sound like a human and call to make your hair appointments? Well, Duplex is now officially moving beyond the confines of voice ops and launching as “Google Assistant in Chrome” as a streamlined workflow to help you buy movie tickets.

Next up: Streamlining the process of renting a car. And then?…maybe using Google Duplex to more easily buy political search ads from Google??!

Written by turbotodd

November 21, 2019 at 10:32 am

Making Copies

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Happy Monday.

Only 10 days to Turkey Day. Get ready to gobble gobble.

I’ll tell you who’s not making copies. That would be HP, the board of which rejected Xerox’s acquisition bid over the weekend claiming the $22/share bid undervalued HP and was not in the best interest of shareholders.

Operators of Yahoo sites in Japan and the Line chat app have reached agreement on a merger, one where SoftBank Group and SK internet firm Naver will form a joint holding company. The new entity is expected to become the largest internet player in Japan.

On the funding front: AI-driven news app SmartNews has raised a $92M round at a valuation of $1.2B. The app is said to use machine learning (rather than human curation) to generate personalized news experiences.

The company is focused initially on Japan and the U.S. as key markets.

Self-driving startup Wayve has raised $20M in a Series A to help teach cars to drive autonomously using reinforcement learning, simulation, and computer vision.

Wayve is looking to improve AI through simulation and knowledge transfer to the real world, rather than “hand-coded” rules. It plans to launch a pilot fleet of autonomous Jaguar I-Pace cars in Central London which will include, for now, safety drivers. 

Written by turbotodd

November 18, 2019 at 10:53 am

Bad Weather

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Happy Friday, and TGIF.

Yesterday, some news about the weather from IBM with the introduction of its GRAF weather forecasting model.

GRAF stands for “Global High-Resolution Atmospheric Forecasting” and is the first global weather model to run on a GPU-accelerated supercomputer called “DYEUS.”

In partnership with the National Center for Atmospheric Research, this new system uses state-of-the-art science to forecast the atmosphere on a global scale, providing hourly (vs every 6-12 hours) updates and bringing forecast fidelity once limited to a few countries to the rest of the world.

Forecasts from the new system will be available via The Weather Channel and Weather Underground apps and websites, and also to businesses via IBM offerings.

IBM GRAF runs on supercomputer powered by the IBM Power9 System and CPUs and GPUs optimized on open source software for AI and high-performance computing.

Also on the cloud front…Amazon is filing a protest of the Pentagon’s decision to award the JEDI contract to Microsoft, claiming “unmistakable bias” and “errors” in process.

And Apple is just saying no to vaping, announcing it will remove all 181 vaping-related apps from its store amid growing health concerns over e-cigarettes.

Written by turbotodd

November 15, 2019 at 10:33 am

Bot Smoke

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Happy Monday. Tech conferences and announcements worthy of note this week.

India Mobile Congress got started earlier today in New Delhi. The always-interesting Gartner IT Symposium|Expo starts this weekend.

And tomorrow Google’s hardward event is expected to see the announcement of the Pixel 4, Pixel 4 XL, Pixelbook, and new Google Home speakers.

Rumor is the Pixel 4 will include its iteration of a Face ID tech for secure authentication, and support for gesture commands using radar-detection technology.

Story this AM about a congressional committee and the MA attorney general investigating whether millions of bot-generated social media messages about e-cigarettes misled consumers about safety and health issues.

Specifically, the committee is looking for evidence of deceptive or misleading use of social media for targeted marketing and advertising.

Nicotine marketers, you’ve come a long way, baby!

And, the winner of the 2019 Call for Code was announced at a gathering at the UN this weekend. The Barcelona-based Prometeo team built an AI-based platform to monitor and act on firefighter health and safety in real-time and over the long-term. Congrats!

Written by turbotodd

October 14, 2019 at 10:10 am

A Changing SAP

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Big news on the enterprise software front overnight. SAP announced that CEO Bill McDermott would be leaving the company after nearly a decade at the helm. McDermott has overseen SAP’s shift to the cloud, and the company’s stock was up 75% over the past five years.

Board members Jennifer Morgan and Christian Klein were appointed co-CEOs.

For SAP clients out there, also know that IBM just rolled out a new open source SDK that lets users call Watson services directly from ABAP code in SAP systems. ABAP is the primary programming language supported on the SAP NetWeaver ABAP server platform.

On the frenzied AI dealmaking front, AI-powered checkout firm Standard Cognition has bought DeepMagic, which provides autonomous retail kiosks. This apparently to better compete with Amazon Go’s checkout experience.

DeepMagic allows customers to swipe a payment card when entering a smaller kiosk or store, pick up items that are detected by cameras and then walk out while having their card charged.

Sorry, no cash!

And for those of you who are using G Suite (especially those in newsrooms) who thought your documents were encrypted end-to-end, the Freedom of the Press Foundation says differently. 

Written by turbotodd

October 11, 2019 at 10:45 am

Big Builds, Bigger Dogs

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Yesterday it was AI and agriculture, today it’s AI and construction. Built Robotics is a company looking to make construction equipment autonomous and has raised a $33M Series B round. Recognizing that the industry is facing a labor shortage, Built is building systems that would allow one equipment operator to oversee a fleet of vehicles working autonomously in parallel. 

But there’s plenty more VC money sloshing around where that came from…Wordpress parent Automattic raised $300M in a Series D round from Salesforce Ventures, valuing the company at $3B. Thirty-four percent of the world’s top 10 million websites now run on WordPress. No word yet if that means everyone at the company gets an “automattic” raise! 

There’s also more consolidation on the developer tooling front with GitHub’s acquisition of code analysis tool Semmle. Semmle streamlines security testing and offers developers a query languages to allow researchers to more easily test their code. No price on the deal, but Semmle was born from Oxford just last year and had raised a $21M Series B round led by Accel.

And app performance monitoring firm Datadog raised $648M in its U.S. IPO, valuing the company at $7.83B. Datadog had previously declined a buyout offer from Cisco.

Written by turbotodd

September 19, 2019 at 9:45 am

FarmBots

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If you thought automation was limited to e-commerce warehouses and factory floors, think again. TechCrunch is reporting that a number of robotics and autonomy firms are looking next to agriculture.

From farm to C3P0 to table.

According to a report from TechCrunch, Ag robotics firm FarmWise just raised $14.5M to continue development of an autonomous weeding vehicle.

Though they are currently prototypes, the large machines scan the ground for invasive weeds among crops and carefully pluck them out. 

From the company’s press release on the fund raise: “FarmWise’s autonomous, AI-enabled robots are designed to solve farmers’ most pressing challenges by performing a variety of farming functions — starting with weeding, and providing personalized care to every plant they touch.”

The company suggests that machine learning models, computer vision and high-precision mechanical tools will allow sophisticated robots to cleanly pick weeds from fields, leaving crops with the best opportunity to thrive while eliminating harmful chemical inputs.

FarmWise is supported by a team of 25 farming and AI experts from MIT, Stanford, and Columbia. 

Written by turbotodd

September 18, 2019 at 10:05 am

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