By BeauHD from Slashdot's exponential-growth department
In March, Google secretly signed an agreement with the Pentagon to provide cutting edge AI technology for drone warfare, causing about a dozen Google employees to resign in protest and thousands to sign a petition calling for an end to the contract. Google has since tried to quash the dissent, claiming that the contract was "only" for $9 million, according to the New York Times. Internal company emails obtained by The Intercept tell a different story: The September emails show that Google's business development arm expected the military drone artificial intelligence revenue to ramp up from an initial $15 million to an eventual $250 million per year. In fact, one month after news of the contract broke, the Pentagon allocated an additional $100 million to Project Maven [the endeavor designed to help drone operators recognize images captured on the battlefield]. The internal Google email chain also notes that several big tech players competed to win the Project Maven contract. Other tech firms such as Amazon were in the running, one Google executive involved in negotiations wrote. (Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.) Rather than serving solely as a minor experiment for the military, Google executives on the thread stated that Project Maven was "directly related" to a major cloud computing contract worth billions of dollars that other Silicon Valley firms are competing to win. The emails further note that Amazon Web Services, the cloud computing arm of Amazon, "has some work loads" related to Project Maven.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's someone-poked-you department
PolygamousRanchKid shares a report from Quartz: In an ironic twist in the saga of Facebook's troubles, Russian lawmakers have declared that they, too, would like to question Mark Zuckerberg. According to the Moscow Times, senator Anton Belyakov yesterday offered to invite the Facebook CEO to address the upper chamber of the Russian parliament. "After all, he spoke about information security, not giving access to personal data, preventing the dissemination of harmful content," Belyakov reportedly said, referring to Zuckerberg's meetings with the U.S. Congress and European Parliament. Another reason for those meetings was to discuss whether the social network facilitated Russian meddling in foreign elections.
The U.S. company is in trouble with Russian authorities for disobeying a 2015 law that requires it to store the data of Russian citizens on the country's soil. In April, the state communications watchdog threatened that if Facebook didn't comply, it would face the same fate as LinkedIn, which was banned in the country last year. Much to the chagrin of UK politicians, he (Zuckerberg) has not agreed to multiple calls, and even a mild threat, to testify in front of a UK parliamentary committee.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's imitation-learning department
Artem Tashkinov shares a report from The Register: DeepMind has taught artificially intelligent programs to play classic Atari computer games by making them watch YouTube videos. Exploration games like 1984's Montezuma's Revenge are particularly difficult for AI to crack, because it's not obvious where you should go, which items you need and in which order, and where you should use them. That makes defining rewards difficult without spelling out exactly how to play the thing, and thus defeating the point of the exercise. For example, Montezuma's Revenge requires the agent to direct a cowboy-hat-wearing character, known as Panama Joe, through a series of rooms and scenarios to reach a treasure chamber in a temple, where all the goodies are hidden. Pocketing a golden key, your first crucial item, takes about 100 steps, and is equivalent to 100^18 possible action sequences.
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By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-and-improved department
MojoKid writes: Last week, Arm showed off its new Machine Learning Processor design, but today it has lifted the veil on its next-generation Cortex and Mali CPU, GPU, and VPU architectures, destined for 2019 smartphones and mobile devices. The Arm Cortex-A76 CPU, Mali-G76 GPU, and Mali-V76 VPU designs all step up performance and efficiency over previous generation designs, though there are architectural and layout changes and more advanced manufacturing processes. Arm believes its A76 core, which can be clocked at 3GHz+ when produced on a 7nm process, can perform within 10 percent of an Intel Skylake core within the same thermal constraints, but at approximately half the footprint. The Mali-G76 improves density and energy efficiency by 30 percent over the previous generation G72, while providing a 2.7x uplift in machine learning workloads. And the Mali-V76 VPU improves on the recently announced V52 by adding support for 8K UltraHD content, among many other improvements.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's slim-pickings department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Three years ago, Facebook was the dominant social media site among U.S. teens, visited by 71 percent of people in that magic, trendsetting demographic. Not anymore. Now only 51 percent of kids ages 13-17 use Facebook, according to Pew Research Center. The world's largest social network has finally been eclipsed in popularity by YouTube, Snapchat and Facebook Inc.-owned Instagram. Alphabet Inc.'s YouTube is the most popular, used by 85 percent of teens, according to Pew.
Instagram is slightly more popular than Snapchat overall, Pew said, with 72 percent of respondents saying they use the photo-sharing app, compared with Snapchat's 69 percent. But Snap Inc. is holding its own, despite Instagram's frequent parroting of its features. About one-third of the survey's respondents said they visit Snapchat and YouTube most often, while 15 percent said Instagram is their most frequent destination. Meanwhile, only 10 percent of teens said Facebook is their most-used online platform. The Pew analysis was based on a survey of 1,058 parents who have a teenager from 13 to 17, as well as interviews with 743 teens themselves. The survey also found that 99% of teens own a smartphone or have access to one, and 45% said they're online "on a near-constant basis."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's admission-of-defeat department
AT&T has given up its years-long quest to cripple the Federal Trade Commission's authority to regulate broadband providers. "Just weeks ago, AT&T said it intended to appeal its loss in the case to the U.S. Supreme Court before a deadline of May 29," reports Ars Technica. "But today, AT&T informed (PDF) court officials that it has decided not to file a petition to the Supreme Court and did not ask for a deadline extension." From the report: AT&T had been trying to limit the FTC's authority since October 2014, when the FTC sued AT&T for promising unlimited data to wireless customers and then throttling their speeds by as much as 90 percent. With AT&T having ruled out a Supreme Court appeal, the FTC can finally pursue its case against AT&T and try to secure refunds for affected customers. AT&T's decision also means that traditional phone companies will have to face some net neutrality oversight from the FTC after the Federal Communications Commission finalizes its net neutrality repeal. AT&T said it will try to settle the case with the FTC instead of going to trial. AT&T's decision might indicate that it is already having settlement talks with the agency.
"We have decided not to seek review by the Supreme Court, to focus instead on negotiating a fair resolution of the case with the Federal Trade Commission," AT&T said in a statement to Ars. The FTC is barred from regulating common carriers, and AT&T has long been a common carrier for its mobile voice and landline phone services. AT&T previously argued that the FTC can't regulate any product offered by AT&T, whether it is or isn't a common carrier service. Though ultimately unsuccessful, AT&T's attempt to deny the FTC's authority to regulate any aspect of its business has delayed the throttling case for years.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's end-of-an-era department
As spotted by PetaPixel, Canon this week announced with no fanfare that it's sold its last film camera. TechCrunch reports: The model in question is the EOS-1V, which, incidentally, the company actually stopped making a full eight years ago. Since it has simply been selling out the rest of its stock, which, it seems, has finally depleted. It's less of a bang than a prolonged whimper, but it's the end of an era, nonetheless, marking the first time Canon hasn't offered a film camera since the 30s, when its parent company started offering a device called the "Kwanon." Those who are feeling suddenly nostalgic, you can likely pick one up used fairly easily (though this news might bump up their premium a bit), and I'm sure the inevitable Kickstarter project to revive the technology can't be too far off, because that's how these things go now. Canon will continue to offer repair on the EOS-1V until October 31, 2025, "though that could end as early as 2020 for some, if parts and inventory run out sooner," adds TechCrunch.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's tussle-continues department
With the threat of Trump's ever-looming trade war with China and his administration's sanctions on Chinese companies like ZTE, it's hard to remember a more contentious period between the two countries in recent times. Adding fuel to the conversation, an Alibaba co-founder alleged that many Americans want to stop China from upgrading its technology and from becoming more innovative. From a report: Chinese media outlets have repeatedly asserted that American complaints about the tech sector are really just efforts to slow the country's rise as a global power. "There's nothing wrong with a country wanting to upgrade its own manufacturing sector, go higher tech, be more innovative," Tsai said. "But then, from the Chinese perspective, what we're seeing is there are a lot of people in America that want to stop China from doing that." After three decades of producing low-end manufacturing goods, Tsai said, China recognizes the need to develop better technology, upgrade its manufacturing sector and focus more on value-added areas like robotics, aeronautics and high-tech medical equipment.Read Replies (0)