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Trump pardons Anthony Levandowski, who stole trade secrets from Google

Mashable

Donald Trump is on his way out of the White House, but that didn't stop him from pardoning 73 people and commuting the sentences of another 70 people on the last day of his presidency. One name on that list is Anthony Levandowski, who was sentenced to 18 months in prison for stealing trade secrets from the Google-owned, self-driving car company Waymo. Levandowski was a co-founder of Google's self-driving car division before leaving the tech giant in 2016 to start a self-driving truck company called Otto. That company was subsequently acquired by Uber, and Waymo filed a lawsuit alleging that their confidential information ended up in the hands of Uber. Levandowski was looking at a 10-year sentence, but he eventually pleaded guilty to trade secret theft, thus reducing his prison sentence.


Promaxo Raises $4.17 Million for AI-Powered Medical Imaging Platform - Mercom Capital Group

#artificialintelligence

Promaxo, an AI-powered medical imaging enhancement platform, announced the closing of an investment round of $4.17 million led by Huami. The medical technology company plans to use the new funds to accelerate its data strategy as it continues to incorporate artificial intelligence in imaging and image-based interventions. Using a combination of linear and genetic optimization algorithms, the company's medical imaging system forms the magnetic field within the field of view to maintain linearity and uniformity constraints while being thermally stable, the company said. "As an industry, we are just scratching the surface of how powerful MRI is poised to become in guided interventions, and we are proud to have Huami as a strategic investor as we introduce our truly open MRI system to the masses," said Dr. Amit Vohra, founder, and CEO of Promaxo. "Huami's mission is to connect health with technology, and we see tremendous opportunity in imaging to expand our growth opportunities. Companies such as Promaxo are disrupting the locations, applications, and costs of medical imaging. Huami has resources, such as miniaturization engineering expertise, that can help accelerate Promaxo's scaling, growth, and success, and we look forward to what our partnership can develop," said Huami Chief Operating Officer Mike Yeung.


FAA approves first fully-automated commercial drone flights (with a catch)

Mashable

You can officially claim autonomous commercial drones for your 2021 bingo card. On Friday, Massachusetts-based industrial drone developer American Robotics announced it had received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to operate its fully-automated "Scout" drones without any humans on-site. It's the first waiver of its kind, as the FAA has previously approved the use of autonomous commercial drones exclusively under the condition that human observers be present along the flight path -- or that risk of collision be mitigated through otherwise hyper-strict limitations. Advocates of drone technology say those restrictions have long held the industry back. "Decades worth of promise and projection are finally coming to fruition," CEO and co-founder of American Robotics Reese Mozer said in a press release.


Apple will build a learning hub in Atlanta as part of its racial equity pledge

Engadget

Apple has shed more light on its $100 million pledge to improve racial equity. Today, the company announced that it will be making a $25 million contribution to the Propel Center, a learning hub designed for members of the HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). It will include a physical campus at the Atlanta University Center, a virtual platform for remote learning and events at partner institutions' campuses. In a press release, Apple said the Propel Center will teach a variety of subjects including AI and machine learning, app development, augmented reality, creative arts and entrepreneurship. Apple employees will help design the curricula and offer mentorship opportunities, including internships.


CES 2021: LG's press conference featured a virtual person presenting

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

Typically the presenters at a CES press conference don't get a lot of attention. Wearing a pink hooded sweatshirt with the phrase "Stay punk forever," Reah Keem was among presenters highlighting some of the offerings from LG, ranging from appliances to personal technology. LG describes her as a "virtual composer and DJ made even more human through deep learning technology." Keem was there to introduce the LG CLOi robot, which can disinfect high-traffic areas using ultraviolet light. You can watch Reah make her debut during LG's press conference Monday morning, at roughly the 22-minute mark.


A 'virtual human' presented some of LG's CES event

Engadget

CES has gone all-digital for the first time this year. Unsurprisingly, some companies are using the format change to experiment with their live-streamed press conferences. LG, for instance, used an entirely virtual human called Reah Keem to promote some of its products today. Sporting a hoodie with the slogan "stay punk forever," she explained that travel was an important part of her life, and how desperate she was to roam around the world and perform once again. Keep used those wishes to transition into the LG CLOi UV-C Robot, an already-announced machine that uses ultraviolet light to disinfect public and generally popular areas.


'Augmented creativity': How AI can accelerate human invention

#artificialintelligence

In 2012, economist Robert Gordon published a controversial paper in which he argued that economic growth was largely over, due in no small part to our failure to maintain the engines of innovation in recent decades. A study from the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research supported his general thesis and argued that while we're spending even more money on creativity and innovation, our returns are flatlining. And this investment is not only in dollars, as the research revealed roughly 20 times as many people work in R&D today as did in 1930. Why has creating things become so difficult? Researchers from Northwestern University attempt to answer this in a paper that shows a growing percentage of today's creation is what's known as recombination.


Equifax acquires fraud prevention company Kount for $640 million

ZDNet

Equifax said Friday that it has signed a deal to acquire Kount, providers of digital identity and fraud prevention software, for $640 million. Equifax said it plans to use Kount's technology to bolster its footprint in digital identity and fraud prevention market. Kount's software relies on artificial intelligence to link trust and fraud data signals from billions of digital interactions, devices, and annual transactions. The signals are collected and combined with Kount's AI-driven predictive insights to help businesses prevent digital fraud and protect against account takeovers in real time. Applied to business transactions, Equifax posits that Kount's technology can help facilitate faster and more accurate identity trust decisions, including payments, account creations and login, while also reducing fraud, chargebacks, false positives, and manual reviews.


Sony reveals full details on its upcoming 360 Reality Audio speakers

Engadget

Earlier today, Sony announced plans to expand its 360 Reality Audio platform. The key updates were a two-fold approach for expanding the limited content library, licensing tech to other companies and -- most importantly -- news that it would ship its own speakers built for the immersive sound this spring. At the time, the company said it didn't have any info beyond a few vague details, but that's wasn't entirely true. Sony's UK website has already posted full details for both the SRS-RA5000 and SRS-RA3000 "premium wireless speakers." If you've been following our 360 Reality Audio coverage since 2019, you'll recognize the designs.


Waymo ditches the term 'self-driving' to avoid confusion in a move takes a jab at Elon Musk's Tesla

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Waymo, a unit of Google parent Alphabet Inc., is saying good-bye to'self-driving'--not the technology, just the term. In a blog post Wednesday, the company announced it would now be using the phrase'autonomous driving' to avoid confusion that could lead a driver to take their hands off the wheel at a dangerous moment. 'It may seem like a small change, but it's an important one,' the company said in a blog post, 'because precision in language matters and could save lives.' But industry insiders believe the change is a jab at Elon Musk's Tesla, which began touting its'full self-driving' (FSD) option last fall - but is only capable of assisting drivers. Waymo announced it will no longer use the term'self-driving' in favor of'autonomous driving,' to avoid confusion.