ZDNet


Is your brain an analog or digital device? New research surprises

ZDNet

Compare an analog and a digital audio recording medium. VHS video tape - an analog medium - stores a continuous curve of modulated audio/visual information. In a digital CD continuous audio is sliced into 44,100 frames a second, and represented by discrete numbers. On playback the sounds are presented as continuous, much as the individual still frames of a motion picture appear continuous when played back fast enough. Most people can't hear the difference between digital and analog recordings, me included, but those who say they do may spend thousands on turntables and tube amps to get the full analog experience.


Now Amazon employees rebel: 'End police facial-recognition contracts, ICE support'

ZDNet

Video: AWS demonstrates Amazon Rekognition Video in real time. It seems every tech giant with powerful AI is facing a clash with employees concerned by how government customers are using their technology. A group of Amazon employees have written a letter to CEO Jeff Bezos asking him to cancel sales of Amazon's Rekognition facial-recognition software to police, and more broadly to take an ethical stand on how its technology is used. The employees also want Amazon to stop providing AWS cloud services to analytics firm, Palantir, which helps Immigration and Customers Enforcement's (ICE) controversial detention and deportation programs. In the letter, published by The Hill, the employees object to building technology that government and law enforcement can use to build a surveillance state.


Nvidia reveals special 32GB Titan V 'CEO Edition' GPU, and then gives away a bunch

ZDNet

Video: AMD and Intel: Frenemies aligned vs Nvidia. Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang has unveiled a new souped-up variant of its $3,000 Titan V GPU, which the company launched last year and billed as the most powerful PC GPU ever. Huang unveiled the'Titan V CEO Edition' at the Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, where he gave away 20 of the cards to AI researchers working on robotics and autonomous driving projects. And for now, these are the only people in the world who can get their hands on this limited edition model. The Titan V is Nvidia's most powerful PC GPU, but while gamers may drool over its power, the $3,000 board is aimed primarily at researchers and scientists.


Microsoft's new visual search: Now you can use your phone's camera to search web

ZDNet

Video: Google Assistant vs Siri vs Bing: This IQ test shows which is smarter. Microsoft has unveiled its answer Google Lens in the form of Bing visual search, which lets you take a snap from your phone and search for it on the web. And just as Google rolled out Lens to every Android user via the Google Photos app, Microsoft will use its existing apps to speed up the rollout. For users in the US, visual search is now part of the Bing app for iOS and Android, the Android version of the Microsoft Launcher, and Edge for Android. The feature could come in handy, say, on a trek when you find a flower or animal and would like to know its name but lack the words to search for it.


Australian space capabilities would boost our Five Eyes role: Former astronaut

ZDNet

A "strong sovereign capability in space" would make Australia a stronger partner in the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance with the US, the UK, Canada, and New Zealand, according to Colonel (Ret'd) Pamela Melroy, a former US Air Force test pilot and NASA Space Shuttle commander. "Australia needs to embrace this, because you're going to have a much more muscular role in the Five Eyes as a result," Melroy told the conference "Building Australia's Strategy for Space", which was organised by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) in Canberra last week. One example is space surveillance, which involves the detection, tracking, cataloging, and identification of objects in space. With new systems soon to come online, such as Space Fence, the ground-based Space Surveillance Telescope (SST) in Western Australia, and commercial systems, Melroy says Australia should not simply be passing on their raw data to the US. "Australia can and should develop a domestic capability to generate and provide processed information -- not data, information -- that supports its own defence force in real time, but is also of much greater value to our Five Eyes partners," she said.


Exclusive: 61% of financial services companies will use AI this year

ZDNet

Financial services and insurance companies are delivering on digital transformation promises faster than other industries, according to a Thursday report from Adobe and Econsultancy. Of 700 senior industry leaders surveyed, the majority (61%) are either already using artificial intelligence (AI), or plan to adopt the technology within the next 12 months--putting the industry far ahead of other sectors (44%). Among the 20% of financial service companies already using AI, 43% said they are tapping the technology for data analysis, the report found. A sizeable number of others are already using AI for on-site personalization, optimization, testing, and automated campaigns (about 20% each). SEE: IT leader's guide to the future of artificial intelligence (Tech Pro Research) AI has become one of the great, meaningless buzzwords of our time.


Walmart store-scanning robot gets big boost

ZDNet

Bossa Nova, the company that makes the shelf-scanning robots that are rolling around a few dozen Walmart stores as part of an ongoing trial program, just announced $29 million in new funding. The latest round brings the company's total funding to $70 million. Bossa Nova has been billed as a robot replacement for clerks with scanner guns, but that's not the core pitch. The company has been aggressive in creating a multi-disciplinary platform at a time when brick and mortar heavyweights -- those that have thus far survived the digital onslaught -- are looking for ways to cut into Amazon's lead. With robust onboard AI, the robots are Big Data mining machines writ small.


GitHub: Changes to EU copyright law could derail open source distribution

ZDNet

Could the imposition of content filters, mandated by the European Union for use by all Internet content distributors, wreck the distribution systems on which the entire open source ecosystem now depends? The largest public open source repository, GitHub -- in the midst of its being acquired by Microsoft in a friendly deal -- warns that, should new legislation be passed by the European Parliament, the systems with which open source applications are distributed and maintained, would effectively fall apart. "Automated upload filtering of code would require entirely new technology," stated GitHub Policy Director Mike Linksvayer, in a note to ZDNet Wednesday, "and would result in either vast numbers of false positives -- causing software to become much more fragile, literally breaking builds -- or vast numbers of false negatives -- because most software, including proprietary software, includes some open source components." Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee voted 14-9-2 Wednesday, Brussels time, to approve the latest draft of a directive to impose sweeping changes to the continent's copyright protections. Ostensibly, the purpose of this Parliamentary Directive would be to ensure the accessibility of all forms of content to "cultural heritage institutions" (mainly libraries and museums).


Box, IBM intro new services for building Box Skills with Watson

ZDNet

Box and IBM are rolling out two new services for building custom Box Skills with Watson smarts. First announced in October, Box Skills provide a framework for applying machine learning to the Box cloud content management platform. The aim is to use AI to help customers extract insights and additional value out of their Box content. IBM signed up as a Box Skills partner at launch and is now introducing new services that leverage Watson Visual Recognition and Watson Natural Language Understanding. The image insights skill analyzes image data, marks it with classifiers and trains custom visual models to pull insights.


The software robot invasion is underway

ZDNet

An executive guide to the technology and market drivers behind the $135 billion robotics market. One of the more disruptive emerging technologies, robotic process automation (RPA), appears primed for significant growth, despite the fact that many organizations remain confused or concerned about the impact these tools might have on their operations. For some, RPA is seen as a technology designed to replace full-time human labor outright and therefore to be treated with caution. For others, it has the potential for huge cost savings and can enable enterprises to move people from mundane tasks such as data entry to more exciting endeavors. Recent research indicates that there's a growing demand for RPA, which involves the use of software robots to handle any rules-based repetitive tasks quickly and cost effectively.