In a statement released Thursday, Microsoft says about 12,500 of the professional and factory positions will be cut as part of its $7.2 billion acquisition of Nokia’s handset business. Read the rest of this entry »
What is perverse, is that we look for bloggers who are influential, but only if they are nice about people.”
— Caroline Doudet, Blogger
– Translated from French via Google Translate –
“New: restaurants continue their customers who dare to criticize I must say they are the judges to prove them right.”. The lawyer-blogger Maître Eolas was surprised last night of the decision of the Tribunal de Grande Instance de Bordeaux on June 30, which condemned referred blogger “The Irregular” € 1500 as a provision on damages 1000 € of costs of proceedings (Article 700 of the Code of Civil Procedure) for a review of a restaurant in Cap Ferret (33).
[A better analysis of this at The Corner by National Review's Ian Tuttle - "French Court Criminalizes Food Critic’s Google Success"]
This restaurant had just enjoyed a post “The Irregular” titled “The place to be avoided at Cap-Ferret” followed by the name of the institution (the article has since been removed but is still available in the cache here) published in August 2013, and appeared on the first page of Google when you typed the name of the restaurant.
‘The Place to be Avoided at Cap-Ferret’
The paper lamented including disruption of service in the institution and the attitude of the owner of the premises, described as a “diva”. “All that for two appetizers … take what wars” concluded the post with reference to a dark history of appetizers arrived at the same time as the main course (the blogger had therefore returned). Read the rest of this entry »
SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (AP) — A high-priced prostitute accused of leaving a Google executive to die on his yacht in California after shooting him up with a fatal hit of heroin has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter and heroin charges.
Twenty-six-year-old Alix Tichelman entered the plea on Wednesday in a Santa Cruz County courtroom. Prosecutors, additionally, charged her with great bodily injury.
A judge refused to reduce her $1.5 million bail.
Police say Tichelman did not help 51-year-old Forrest Hayes or call 911 as he went unconscious after she administered heroin to him.
According to police, surveillance footage from the yacht shows Tichelman gather her belongings, including the heroin and needles, casually step over Hayes’ body to finish a glass of wine, clean up a counter, then lower a blind before leaving the yacht on Nov. 23.
Hayes was found the next day. Read the rest of this entry »
Police hunted down the prostitute accused of watching a Google exec overdose—and found a trail of dead and damaged men in her past
But the detectives could see no drugs and no syringe on the yacht where 51-year-old Forrest Timothy Hayes had been found dead from a heroin overdose. What the detectives did see was a pair of wine glasses on a table. They also noted that somebody appeared to have straightened up the cabin.
“We’re like, ‘Holy smoke, this isn’t her first rodeo.’”
The body had been discovered on the floor of the main cabin by the captain, who had been retained by Hayes after he purchased the 50-foot powerboat. Hayes had started out as an automotive executive in his native Michigan, which was in keeping with his decision to eschew eco-friendly sails such as were favored by other Silicon Valley types and buy a craft powered by big fuel guzzlers.
But he had come West to take increasingly senior positions with Sun Microsystems and then Apple and finally with Google X, the research and development division whose projects included the perfect one for a one-time car guy: the self-driving auto. Hayes had become enough of a techie that he had installed a wireless surveillance camera system on his yacht. Read the rest of this entry »
For the LATimes, Joseph Serna reports: The woman accused of being a high-priced escort who administered a lethal dose of heroin to a former tech executive on his yacht in Santa Cruz will not be charged with murder in the case, but still faces manslaughter, prostitution and drug counts, prosecutors said Wednesday.
“Police identified her as a suspect after learning that she and Hayes allegedly had a relationship that began with the help of Seeking Arrangements, a website that caters to affluent clients seeking ‘sugar babies.’”
“Rather than trying to help or calling 911, police say, Tichelman packed up the drugs and needles and at one point stepped over the body to finish a glass of wine before leaving.”
Tichelman had been booked on suspicion of murder, but on Wednesday, Santa Cruz County prosecutors charged her with eight counts, including manslaughter, prostitution, destroying evidence and several related to administering and possessing heroin.
Tichelman’s arraignment was postponed until July 16, but she remained in custody in lieu of $1.5-million bail.
Prosecutors said the charges could still change as the investigation continues. Read the rest of this entry »
EUGENE VOLOKH writes:
The New York Times Bits blog reports:
Google on Wednesday released statistics on the makeup of its work force, providing numbers that offer a stark glance at how Silicon Valley remains a white man’s world.
But wait — just a few paragraphs down, the post notes that non-Hispanic whites are 61 percent of the Google work force, slightly below the national average. (That average, according to 2006-10 numbers, is 67 percent.) Google is thus less white than the typical American company. White men are probably slightly overrepresented; assuming that the 30 percent number it gives for women Google employees worldwide carries over to the U.S. (the article gives no separate number for U.S. women Google employees), white men are 42 percent of the Google work force, and 35 percent of the U.S. work force — not a vast disparity. Indeed, if the goal is “reflecting the demographics of the country” as to race –
Google’s disclosures come amid an escalating debate over the lack of diversity in the tech industry. Although tech is a key driver of the economy and makes products that many Americans use everyday, it does not come close to reflecting the demographics of the country — in terms of sex, age or race.
– Google can only accomplish that by firing well over three-quarters of its Asian employees, and replacing them with blacks and Hispanics (and a few whites, to bring white numbers up from 61 percent to 67 percent). Read the rest of this entry »
This is the phrase that is Googled the most in each of the 50 states, according to Estately, which “ran hundreds of search queries” to determine what your state is searching for the most…(read more)
In a joint letter Wednesday, some 150 companies told the Federal Communications Commission its proposed rules over net neutrality would permit phone and cable firms to discriminate “both technically and financially” against companies providing online services.
“Instead of permitting individualized bargaining and discrimination, the commission’s rules should protect users and Internet companies on both fixed and mobile platforms against blocking, discrimination, and paid prioritization,” they said.
They said the regulations “should make the market for Internet services more transparent” and warned that fair rules “are essential for the future of the Internet.”
The letter challenged the FCC’s proposed rules on how Internet service providers — mainly a handful of telecommunications giants who control the transmission of data via cable and airwaves — can negotiate individual deals over access levels, speed and priority with online companies rather than keeping access completely neutral. Read the rest of this entry »
Discovery and Science Channels are headed to the moon.
The sibling cable networks have signed on to chronicle the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition for privately funded teams to land an unmanned craft on the moon by Dec. 31, 2015.
Lesley Goldberg writes: The networks will chronicle the historic race with a miniseries event that follows teams from around the world as they race to complete the requirements for the grand prize: landing a craft on the surface of the moon, traveling 500 meters and transmitting live pictures and video back to Earth.
Science and Discovery will follow the entire process — from testing and lift-off to live coverage of the winning lunar landing, estimated to take place in 2015.
“The $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE offers all the ingredients of fantastic television; stakes, competition, big characters and mind-blowing visuals.
Scientists in Japan are trying to create a computer program smart enough to pass the University of Tokyo‘s entrance exam, it appears.
The project, led by Noriko Arai at Japan’s National Institute of Informatics, is trying to see how fast artificial intelligence might replace the human brain so that people can start training in completely new areas. “If society as a whole can see a possible change coming in the future, we can get prepared now,” she tells the Kyodo news agency.
But there’s also another purpose behind the Can A Robot Get Into The University of Tokyo? project, which began in 2011. If machines cannot replace human beings, then “we need to clarify what is missing and move to develop the technology,” says Noriko Arai.
The Singularity is Coming and it’s Going To Be Awesome: ‘Robots Will Be Smarter Than Us All by 2029′Posted: February 23, 2014
Adam Withnall writes: By 2029, computers will be able to understand our language, learn from experience and outsmart even the most intelligent humans, according to Google’s director of engineering Ray Kurzweil.
“Today, I’m pretty much at the median of what AI experts think and the public is kind of with them…”
One of the world’s leading futurologists and artificial intelligence (AI) developers, 66-year-old Kurzweil has previous form in making accurate predictions about the way technology is heading.
[Ray Kurzweil's pioneering book The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology is available at Amazon]
When the internet was still a tiny network used by a small collection of academics, Kurzweil anticipated it would soon make it possible to link up the whole world.
Klint Finley writes: Nothing beats a movie recommendation from a friend who knows your tastes. At least not yet. Netflix wants to change that, aiming to build an online recommendation engine that outperforms even your closest friends.
The online movie and TV outfit once sponsored what it called the Netflix Prize, asking the world’s data scientists to build new algorithms that could better predict what movies and shows you want to see. And though this certainly advanced the state of the art, Netflix is now exploring yet another leap forward. In an effort to further hone its recommendation engine, the company is delving into “deep learning,” a branch of artificial intelligence that seeks to solve particularly hard problems using computer systems that mimic the structure and behavior of the human brain. The company details these efforts in a recent blog post.
Netflix is following in the footsteps of web giants like Google and Facebook, who have hired top deep-learning researchers in an effort to improve everything from voice recognition to image tagging.
With the project, Netflix is following in the footsteps of web giants like Google and Facebook, who have hired top deep-learning researchers in an effort to improve everything from voice recognition to image tagging. But Netflix is taking a slightly different tack. The company plans to run its deep learning algorithms on Amazon’s cloud service, rather than building their own hardware infrastructure a la Google and Facebook. This shows that, thanks to rise of the cloud, smaller web companies can now compete with the big boys — at least in some ways.
To create one of those 3-D holographic images, you record how countless beams of light bounce off an object and then you store these little bits of information across a vast database. While still in high school, back in 1960s Britain, Hinton was fascinated by the idea that the brain stores memories in much the same way. Rather than keeping them in a single location, it spreads them across its enormous network of neurons.
‘I get very excited when we discover a way of making neural networks better — and when that’s closely related to how the brain works.’
This may seem like a small revelation, but it was a key moment for Hinton — “I got very excited about that idea,” he remembers. “That was the first time I got really into how the brain might work” — and it would have enormous consequences. Inspired by that high school conversation, Hinton went on to explore neural networks at Cambridge and the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, and by the early ’80s, he helped launch a wildly ambitious crusade to mimic the brain using computer hardware and software, to create a purer form of artificial intelligence we now call “deep learning.”
Douglas Rushkoff writes: The crises arrive from everywhere, and all at once. The responses do, too. New allegations about NSA eavesdropping, for instance, pop up on Twitter before the White House has had a chance to fully spin the last set. A Cabinet secretary is presumed ripe for firing over a botched health care website even before the site’s problems are fully diagnosed. The pauses between an event and a response to it—the space in which public opinion was once gauged—is gone, and now the feedback is indistinguishable from the initial action. The verdict, the takeaway, the very meaning behind what is happening is more elusive than ever before. We cobble together narratives and hunt for conclusions. Millions of social media posts per minute are parsed and analyzed as if those vast bits of opinion, conjecture and fancy somehow coalesce into a story.
But they don’t.
Welcome to the world of “present shock,” where everything is happening so fast that it may as well be simultaneous. One big now. The result for institutions—especially political ones—has been profound. This transformation has dramatically degraded the ability of political operatives to set long-term plans. Thrown off course, they’re now often left simply to react to the incoming barrage of events as they unfold. Gone, suddenly, is the quaint notion of “controlling the narrative”—the flood of information is often far too unruly. There’s no time for context, only for crisis management.
Mike Orcutt writes: For all the hype around smart glasses, none of them actually look like normal glasses. But Vuzix, which develops wearable display technology for military and industrial applications, plans to change that this summer by releasing a pair of sleek wraparound shades that will let users see colorful images projected over objects in the real world.
Sunglasses made with nanoscale optical technology hint at a near future of inconspicuous head-mounted displays.
Vuzix CEO Paul Travers says his company’s sunglasses will not only be less bulky and obtrusive than Google Glass, they’ll also provide an augmented reality experience that actually resembles the one portrayed in Google’s first promotional video for Glass, in which useful bits of information like navigational cues are displayed in the middle of the wearer’s field of vision. This isn’t possible today with Glass, whose display sits off to the side, above the right eye, and is the visual equivalent of a 25-inch high-definition television seen from eight feet away.
Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and the other tech titans have had to fight for their lives against their own government. An exclusive look inside their year from hell—and why the Internet will never be the same.
Christoph Niemann writes: On June 6, 2013, Washington Post reporters called the communications departments of Apple, Facebook, Google, Yahoo, and other Internet companies. The day before, a report in the British newspaper The Guardian had shocked Americans with evidence that the telecommunications giant Verizon had voluntarily handed a database of every call made on its network to the National Security Agency. The piece was by reporter Glenn Greenwald, and the information came from Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old IT consultant who had left the US with hundreds of thousands of documents detailing the NSA’s secret procedures.
Greenwald was the first but not the only journalist that Snowden reached out to. The Post’s Barton Gellman had also connected with him. Now, collaborating with documentary filmmaker and Snowden confidante Laura Poitras, he was going to extend the story to Silicon Valley. Gellman wanted to be the first to expose a top-secret NSA program called Prism. Snowden’s files indicated that some of the biggest companies on the web had granted the NSA and FBI direct access to their servers, giving the agencies the ability to grab a person’s audio, video, photos, emails, and documents. The government urged Gellman not to identify the firms involved, but Gellman thought it was important. “Naming those companies is what would make it real to Americans,” he says. Now a team of Post reporters was reaching out to those companies for comment.
Gary Marcus writes: According to the Times, true artificial intelligence is just around the corner. A year ago, the paper ran a front-page story about the wonders of new technologies, including deep learning, a neurally-inspired A.I. technique for statistical analysis. Then, among others, came an article about how I.B.M.’s Watson had been repurposed into a chef, followed by an upbeat post about quantum computation. On Sunday, the paper ran a front-page story about “biologically inspired processors,” “brainlike computers” that learn from experience.
This past Sunday’s story, by John Markoff, announced that “computers have entered the age when they are able to learn from their own mistakes, a development that is about to turn the digital world on its head.” The deep-learning story, from a year ago, also by Markoff, told us of “advances in an artificial intelligence technology that can recognize patterns offer the possibility of machines that perform human activities like seeing, listening and thinking.” For fans of “Battlestar Galactica,” it sounds like exciting stuff.
But, examined carefully, the articles seem more enthusiastic than substantive. As I wrote before, the story about Watson was off the mark factually. The deep-learning piece had problems, too. Sunday’s story is confused at best; there is nothing new in teaching computers to learn from their mistakes. Instead, the article seems to be about building computer chips that use “brainlike” algorithms, but the algorithms themselves aren’t new, either. As the author notes in passing, “the new computing approach” is “already in use by some large technology companies.” Mostly, the article seems to be about neuromorphic processors—computer processors that are organized to be somewhat brainlike—though, as the piece points out, they have been around since the nineteen-eighties. In fact, the core idea of Sunday’s article—nets based “on large groups of neuron-like elements … that learn from experience”—goes back over fifty years, to the well-known Perceptron, built by Frank Rosenblatt in 1957. (If you check the archives, the Times billed it as a revolution, with the headline “NEW NAVY DEVICE LEARNS BY DOING.” The New Yorker similarly gushed about the advancement.) The only new thing mentioned is a computer chip, as yet unproven but scheduled to be released this year, along with the claim that it can “potentially [make] the term ‘computer crash’ obsolete.” Steven Pinker wrote me an e-mail after reading the Times story, saying “We’re back in 1985!”—the last time there was huge hype in the mainstream media about neural networks.
Boston Dynamics’ four-legged robot named WildCat can gallop at high speeds
Google confirmed on Friday that it had completed the acquisition of Boston Dynamics, an engineering company that has designed mobile research robots for the Pentagon. The company, based in Waltham, Mass., has gained an international reputation for machines that walk with an uncanny sense of balance and even — cheetahlike — run faster than the fastest humans.
It is the eighth robotics company that Google has acquired in the last half-year. Executives at the Internet giant are circumspect about what exactly they plan to do with their robot collection. But Boston Dynamics and its animal kingdom-themed machines bring significant cachet to Google’s robotic efforts, which are being led by Andy Rubin, the Google executive who spearheaded the development of Android, the world’s most widely used smartphone software.
The deal is also the clearest indication yet that Google is intent on building a new class of autonomous systems that might do anything from warehouse work to package delivery and even elder care.
Philip Elmer-DeWitt writes: “How would you feel,” Google chairman Eric Schmidt asked in the Guardian last April, “if your neighbour went over and bought a commercial observation drone that they can launch from their back yard. It just flies over your house all day. How would you feel about it?”
How would I feel about a drone that could snoop on me? Probably the same way I’d feel about a company that monitored all my online activities — the e-mail I send and receive, the websites I visit, the places I visit, the products I buy, the YouTubes I watch, etc. etc. — and sold that information to advertisers.