By BeauHD from Slashdot's changing-strategy department
YouTube is removing the paywall for its original programming. Starting next year, the company will move to make all of its new original programming available for free for anyone to watch. "With the change, YouTube is moving toward more mainstream celebrity-driven and creator-based reality fare, while it will continue to greenlight scripted productions," reports Variety. From the report: Until now, YouTube Originals have mainly been available on its YouTube Premium subscription service, although YouTube also has expanded the shows and movies it makes available on an ad-supported basis. The company calls the new YouTube Originals strategy its "Single Slate," which will combine ad-supported and subscription VOD programming initiatives that by 2020 will provide free windows for all YouTube users. Some original productions will remain behind the paywall, including season 2 of "Cobra Kai," an offshoot of the "Karate Kid" movies. Moving forward, YouTube Premium will include early access to original, exclusive content as a reason to pay for the service. YouTube has faced stiff competition in trying to lure paying customers with original content against the likes of Netflix, Hulu and Amazon, which spend far more on content. "As we look to 2019, we will continue to invest in scripted programming and shift to make our YouTube Originals ad supported to meet the growing demand of a more global fanbase," a YouTube rep said in a statement. "This next phase of our originals strategy will expand the audience of our YouTube Original creators, and provide advertisers with incredible content that reaches the YouTube generation."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's more-the-merrier department
Google's Project Fi mobile service will reportedly be adding support for Samsung, OnePlus, and iPhones. "More handsets from existing Fi partners LG and Motorola will also gain Fi support," reports The Verge. "The iPhone experience is apparently 'in beta,' which is a sign that users might run into bugs or be left without some of Fi's features." From the report: The lineup of "Fi-ready" compatible phones -- those that Google says have been fully optimized for the network -- is fairly short: Google is currently selling the Pixel 3, 3 XL, 2 XL, LG G7, LG V35, Moto G6, and Moto X4 (Android One edition) directly through its Project Fi website.
And although Google is apparently about to widen support and officially allow more devices onto Fi, those "Fi-friendly" phones will still offer the best overall user experience for subscribers, according to the report. It's not yet entirely clear what that means, but we should know more once Google makes a proper announcement. Either way, adding that pool of popular hardware will allow for many more consumers to give the service a shot and see if the pricing model and performance are preferable over Fi's larger competitors.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's international-attention department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from NPR: In the past decade or so, China has been expanding its commitment to scientific research, and it shows. Chinese researchers now produce more scientific publications than U.S. scientists do, and the global ratings of Chinese universities are rising. Five years ago [professor of chemistry at the University of California, San Diego, JaySiegel] became dean of the school of pharmaceutical science and technology at Tianjin University. He says the university president recruited him to build an undergraduate program that would attract students from all over -- not just China. Siegel says the program is taught entirely in English. There's another aspect of getting a pharmaceutical science degree at Tianjin that Siegel expects students from throughout the world to find particularly attractive: The Chinese government plans to offer scholarships to cover the cost for students who enroll. Siegel says this is all part of China's effort to attract international scientists. Of course, there are some drawbacks with working in China. There are internet restrictions, making it difficult to reach certain websites; English isn't spoken throughout most of the country, posing a problem for many foreign visitors; and free speech isn't the same concept as it is in the United States. With that said, "There's no interference politically on the science," says Greg Herczeg, an astronomer at the Kavli Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics at Peking University.
"We've had no political restrictions," says Siegel. "I know that people talk about them being out there, and I've heard rumors of things. But, for us personally, I would have to say no, I've not had that experience."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Human emissions of carbon dioxide have gone up for the first time since 2013, according to the UN's ninth annual Emissions Gap Report, meaning the world isn't on track to mitigate the worst of climate change's already disastrous effects. From the report: The report, published on Tuesday, says that while carbon emissions stayed relatively level between 2014 and 2016, carbon emissions in 2017 went up by 1.2 percent. Composed by climate scientists using the most up-to-date scientific data, the report aims to determine whether we're on track to meet the goals set by international climate agreements, such as the 2015 Paris Climate Accord. The "emissions gap" is the difference between how low our emissions need to be, and where they actually are. The UN report concludes that the world isn't hitting the emissions targets necessary to curb warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. While the goal is not impossible, it's unlikely to be met under current political conditions, which have rendered us unable to take significant action against climate change for more than half a century. "According to the current policy and [Nationally Determined Contributions] scenarios, global emissions are not estimated to peak by 2030, let alone by 2020," the report reads. "As the emissions gap assessment shows, this original level of ambition needs to be roughly tripled for the 2C scenario and increased around fivefold for the 1.5C scenario."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's meanwhile-in-bad-Facebook-PR-today department
A UK Commons committee chair claims a seized trove of Facebook documents reveals that a company engineer flagged Russian "entities" were using a Pinterest API to pull billions of points of Facebook data every day in 2014. From a report: Damian Collins appeared to use parliamentary privilege to outline the detail from the sealed documents, during a fiery session of questioning of Facebook executive Richard Allan before the first sitting of the "international grand committee on disinformation and fake news" in London on Tuesday. The most contentious moment came during an exchange between Allan and the chair of the committee over what's alleged to be in a set of documents that are subject to the protective order of a California court.
During the questioning of Allan on Tuesday, Collins said the emails would not be released. But he did outline details from an alleged incident which, if true, would raise further questions about how Facebook responded to learning about data being taken from the platform. "An engineer at Facebook notified the company in October 2014 that entities with Russian IP addresses have been using a Pinterest API key to pull over 3 billion data points a day," Collins said. "Now was that reported to any external body at the time?" Allan dismissed the claim by focusing on the source of the information, Six4Three, labelling it a "hostile litigant." Further reading: Facebook Exec Admits Zuckerberg Not Appearing Before UK Parliament Doesn't Look Great (CNBC);
'The Problem is Facebook,' Lawmakers From Nine Countries Tell Zuckerberg's Accountability Stand-in (TechCrunch); and
"When You Get That Wealthy, You Start to Buy Your Own Bullshit": The Miseducation of Sheryl Sandberg (VanityFair).Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department
Police in the UK want to predict serious violent crime using artificial intelligence, New Scientist is reporting. The idea is that individuals flagged by the system will be offered interventions, such as counseling, to avert potential criminal behavior. From the report: However, one of the world's leading data science institutes has expressed serious concerns about the project after seeing a redacted version of the proposals. The system, called the National Data Analytics Solution (NDAS), uses a combination of AI and statistics to try to assess the risk of someone committing or becoming a victim of gun or knife crime, as well as the likelihood of someone falling victim to modern slavery. West Midlands Police is leading the project and has until the end of March 2019 to produce a prototype. Eight other police forces, including London's Metropolitan Police and Greater Manchester Police, are also involved. NDAS is being designed so that every police force in the UK could eventually use it. Police funding has been cut significantly over recent years, so forces need a system that can look at all individuals already known to officers, with the aim of prioritizing those who need interventions most urgently, says Iain Donnelly, the police lead on the project.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department
Urged by China President Xi Jinping to dare to do something that has never been done before, scientists say challenges could give China huge technology lead. From a report: China is planning to build a deep sea base for unmanned submarine science and defence operations in the South China Sea, a centre that might become the first artificial intelligence colony on Earth, officials and scientists involved in the plan said. The project -- named in part after Hades, the underworld of Greek mythology -- was launched at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing this month after a visit to a deep sea research institute at Sanya, Hainan province, by Chinese President Xi Jinping in April.
Xi urged the scientists and engineers to dare to do something that has never been done before. "There is no road in the deep sea, we do not need to chase [after other countries], we are the road," he said.
The idea of an outpost for deep sea exploration has been a favourite of scientists, engineers and fiction writers for hundreds of years, while the Greek allegory of Atlantis has inspired many "city beneath the sea" stories. The Hadal zone that would be home to the base is the deepest part of an ocean -- typically a V-shape abyss -- at a depth of 6,000 to 11,000 metres (19,685 to 36,100 feet). The project will cost Chinese taxpayers 1.1 billion yuan (US$160 million), the scientists said. That is half as much again as the cost of the FAST radio telescope -- the world's largest -- in Guizhou province, southwest China.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's nickeled-and-dimed department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Comcast is raising its controversial "Broadcast TV" and "Regional Sports Network" fees again on January 1, with the typical total price going from $14.50 to $18.25 a month. The newly raised broadcast TV fee will be $10 a month, and the sports fee will be $8.25 a month, Cord Cutters News reported last week. The new fee sizes are confirmed in a Comcast price list for the Atlanta market. The new price hikes will take effect in most of Comcast's regional markets across the U.S. on January 1, but some cities will get the increase later in 2019, a Comcast spokesperson told Ars. The fee sizes can vary by city based on which stations are available, so in some cases they could be less than $10 and $8.25, Comcast said.
The fees, which have become common in the industry, are controversial because they are not included in Comcast's advertised prices and because Comcast imposes fee increases even on customers who are under contract. The broadcast and sports fee increases will also be applied to customers who pay Comcast's promotional rates, which typically last one year, Comcast told Ars. Equipment rental fees are rising, too. Comcast last year raised its modem rental fee from $10 to $11 a month. The new price list for January 1 lists an "Internet/Voice Equipment Rental" fee as $13. Comcast confirmed to Ars that the modem rental fee is rising $2 a month. Customers can avoid that fee by purchasing their own modem.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's hand-picked department
Misinformation was chosen Monday as Dictionary.com's word of the year. "Jane Solomon, a linguist-in-residence at Dictionary, said in a recent interview that her site's choice of 'mis' over 'dis' was deliberate, intended to serve as a 'call to action' to be vigilant in the battle against fake news, flat earthers and anti-vaxxers, among other conduits," reports CBS News. From the report: It's the idea of intent, whether to inadvertently mislead or to do it on purpose, that the Oakland, California-based company wanted to highlight. The company decided it would go high when others have spent much of 2018 going low. "The rampant spread of misinformation is really providing new challenges for navigating life in 2018," Solomon told The Associated Press ahead of the word of the year announcement. "Misinformation has been around for a long time, but over the last decade or so the rise of social media has really, really changed how information is shared. We believe that understanding the concept of misinformation is vital to identifying misinformation as we encounter it in the wild, and that could ultimately help curb its impact."
"Disinformation would have also been a really, really interesting word of the year this year, but our choice of misinformation was very intentional," she said. "Disinformation is a word that kind of looks externally to examine the behavior of others. It's sort of like pointing at behavior and saying, 'THIS is disinformation.' With misinformation, there is still some of that pointing, but also it can look more internally to help us evaluate our own behavior, which is really, really important in the fight against misinformation. It's a word of self-reflection, and in that it can be a call to action. You can still be a good person with no nefarious agenda and still spread misinformation." Some of the runners-up include "representation," "self-made," and "backlash."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's intentionally-vague department
A small group of Pixel owners in "select" U.S. cities are able to use Google's new Duplex feature to automatically make voice calls to restaurants and other businesses on their behalf. Referencing a demo from VentureBeat, The Verge notes that "the exchange between Duplex and a restaurant on the other side of the call is raising some early concerns about transparency." From the report: [Y]ou'll notice that Duplex never identifies itself as a robot. It never tells the person taking the call that they're interacting with an automated system. "Hi, I'm calling to make a reservation for a client. I'm calling from Google, so the call may be recorded," is what Duplex says to begin the conversation. And that little bit -- about the call coming "from Google" and potentially being recorded -- is the only disclosure that it ever provides. From then on, Duplex handles the requested dinner reservation smoothly.
This disclosure doesn't match up with a promotional video for Duplex that Google posted to YouTube back in June. In that example (embedded below), Duplex makes it very clear that it's a bot. "Hi, I'm the Google Assistant calling to make a reservation for a client. This automated call will be recorded." That's a much better approach. You're talking to the Google Assistant. It's an automated call, and it is being recorded; no maybes about it. The report notes that some Duplex calls -- such as the one VentureBeat included in their demo -- are actually handled by a human. "When a human operator at Google places a Duplex call, they don't necessarily disclose anything about Google Assistant or note it's an automated call," reports The Verge. "Because it's not. Not entirely, anyway. Google's Duplex tests involve a mix of the two; some are led by Googlers, while others let the AI steer. The majority of calls are the latter and automated, from what I'm told."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's digging-new-holes department
President Donald Trump on Monday rejected a central conclusion of a dire report on the economic costs of climate change released by his own administration. Associated Press reports: But economists said the National Climate Assessment's warning of hundreds of billions of dollars a year in global warming costs is pretty much on the money. Just look at last year with Hurricanes Harvey, Maria and Irma, they said. Those three 2017 storms caused at least $265 billion in damage, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The climate report, quietly unveiled Friday, warned that natural disasters are worsening in the United States because of global warming. It said warming-charged extremes "have already become more frequent, intense, widespread or of long duration." The report noted the last few years have smashed U.S. records for damaging weather, costing nearly $400 billion since 2015.
"The potential for losses in some sectors could reach hundreds of billions of dollars per year by the end of this century," the report said. It added that if emissions of heat-trapping gases continue at current levels, labor costs in outdoor industries during heat waves could cost $155 billion in lost wages per year by 2090. The president said he read some of the report and "it's fine" but not the part about the devastating economic impact. "I don't believe it," Trump said, adding that if "every other place on Earth is dirty, that's not so good."Read Replies (0)