Microsoft executive shakeup signals big changes for Windows, Office and more


Microsoft handed the reins of its Windows and Devices team from Terry Myerson to Rajesh Jha on Thursday, part of a series of moves signalling that Microsoft wants to bring a "unifying product ethos" to Windows, Office, and third-party apps. In an email to employees, chief executive Satya Nadella explained that the future of Microsoft lay in "the intelligent cloud and the intelligent edge," Nadella's new way of describing Microsoft's mission. Familiar names will help Microsoft get there: Panos Panay, who helped bring the original Surface to market, is now Microsoft's Chief Product Officer, and Joe Belfiore will continue leading Microsoft's Windows experiences. But Nadella also offered some insight as to how he expects Jha to move forward, and what he expects out of him: coherence. "The purpose of this team is to instill a unifying product ethos across our end-user experiences and devices," Nadella wrote.

GV leads $60 million investment in Ethos for data-driven life insurance


Ethos, a company that's using predictive analytics and big data to issue life insurance policies, has raised $60 million in a series C round of funding led by Alphabet's venture capital (VC) arm GV, with participation from Sequoia Capital, Accel, and Goldman Sachs. An Ethos spokesperson told VentureBeat that it was valued at nearly $500 million at its latest funding round. The typical life insurance application process is a lengthy, time-consuming endeavor, involving reams of paperwork and medical exams -- and all this driven by commission-incentivized salespeople looking to shoehorn their client onto the most lucrative plan. Ethos is pitching itself as the antitheses of all this, with an application process it says takes a matter of minutes and requires no medical exams "for most applicants." The user answers some questions about their health and medical history, with Ethos verifying this against a person's medical and pharmaceutical records -- this data is "algorithmically analyzed to understand the assumed mortality for each individual," Ethos cofounder and CEO Peter Colis told VentureBeat.

When Robots Play Dice: The Flameless Fire – It’s Never Been Easier to Burn Books

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Under the auspices of “being green,” we have given our printed word over to a cyber-medium that cannot be touched or felt or folded. Our information is as volatile as the authority protecting our storage devices. Eliminating a book or changing its text can be done by literally pressing a button -- without a fire or an erasure marking, without smoke, without evidence. Our data is ephemeral along with the web in which we weave it. This paper considers the current ease of censorship, and that the non-permanence of data and links can wreak havoc on our societal infra-structure if the wrong entities (human or machine) with the wrong motives have the control to determine its fate.

ARM launches new Cortex, Mali processors to boost AI, VR mobile tech ZDNet


ARM has unveiled a set of new processors to provide the brainpower for our mobile devices to cope with advanced artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR) technologies. On Monday, the British semiconductor giant said the new Cortex-A75 and Cortex-A55 processors, alongside the new Mali-G72 graphics processor, have been designed to "address the changing nature of computers driven by AI and other more human-like experiences." "Distributed intelligence" is at the heart of this trend, which includes connecting AI and the cloud, on-device learning, enhanced security and privacy, and the use of 4K, HDR, and 5G for more "human-like" interfaces. ARM says that by providing low-power, efficient and powerful processors, device vendors will be able to explore the possibilities of distributed intelligence, and the new Cortex-A architecture enables system-on-a-chip (SoC) architecture designers to scale up to eight cores in a single cluster. The Cortex-A75 and Cortex-A55 have been designed with this concept in mind.

Life insurance startup Ethos raises $60 million, quadruples revenue


Ethos is betting on predictive analytics and big data to shake up the legacy life insurance industry. And investors are lining up. On Tuesday, the insurtech startup announced it had raised $60 million in its Series C funding round led by Google Ventures, Goldman Sachs, and Sequoia Capital. That brings the total funding to date to more than $100 million. Speaking to Yahoo Finance's The Ticker, CEO and Co-Founder Peter Colis said the company would use the fresh funding to expand its team and build on its momentum.