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Showing posts from November, 2016

ESPN has now lost 1.176 million subscribers in the past two months. Is it still viable?

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ESPN Loses Another 555,000 Subscribers Per Nielsen ESPN lost another 555,000 subscribers per Nielsen estimates, following up its worst month ever with its second worst month ever. By Clay Travis Nov 29, 2016 at 9:42a ET Last month ESPN lost 621,000 subscribers according to Nielsen media estimates, which was the worst month in the company's history. This month things weren't much better -- ESPN lost another 555,000 subscribers according to Nielsen media estimates, meaning that the worst month in the history of ESPN has now been followed up by the second worst month in ESPN history. ESPN has now lost a jawdropping 1.176 million subscribers in the past two months. Putting that into perspective, that means nearly 20,000 people a day are leaving ESPN for each of the past two months.   If that annual average subscriber loss continued, ESPN would lose over seven million subscribers in the next 12 months. And at an absolute minimum, these 1.176 million lost subscribers in the past two mont…

Microsoft Confirms Its Chinese-Language Chatbot Filters Certain Topics

Microsoft Confirms Its Chinese-Language Chatbot Filters Certain Topics
by  Kevin Lui  NOVEMBER 28, 2016, 5:04 AM EST
Xiaoice appeared to evade users’ questions deemed sensitive by China.
Microsoft’s Chinese-language AI chat bot filters certain topics, the company confirmed Monday, although it did not clarify whether that included interactions deemed politically sensitive.
Last week, CNNMoney and China Digital Times reported that Xiaoice would not directly respond to questions surrounding topics deemed sensitive by the Chinese state. References to the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989 or “Steamed Bun Xi,” a nickname of Chinese President Xi Jinping, would draw evasive answers or non sequiturs from the chat bot, according to the report.
“Am I stupid? Once I answer you’d take a screengrab,” read one answer to a question that contained the words “topple the Communist Party.”
Even the mention of Donald Trump, the American President-elect, drew an evasive response from the chat bot, accordi…

Index on Censorship: journalists now under 'unprecedented' attack

Index on Censorship: journalists now under 'unprecedented' attack
Study finds growing hostility toward media around the world has lead to rise in assaults on individuals as well as press freedom
By Jane Martinson Monday 28 November 2016 02.00 EST
Journalists are facing an “unprecedented” wave of attacks around the world with increased hostility to the media leading to assaults on individuals as well as press freedom, according to a new report.
A series of crackdowns on media workers and news outlets in Europe as well as elsewhere has confirmed 2016 as one of the most dangerous times to be a journalist, according to the latest figures compiled by Index on Censorship.
The study found 406 verified reports of violence, threats or violations throughout European Union member states and neighbouring countries including Russia, Turkey and Ukraine in the three months to the end of September.
Melody Patry, senior advocacy officer at Index, said the year so far had been striking for the…

Tesla to begin Enhanced Autopilot rollout in 'about three weeks'

Tesla to begin Enhanced Autopilot rollout in 'about three weeks'
The full deployment is set to take months, and it's likely that more traditional safety systems will comprise the first releases.
Tesla to begin Enhanced Autopilot rollout in 'about three weeks' 2 Electric Cars
by Andrew Krok November 28, 2016 9:00 AM PST
Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in October that all models built from that point on would contain the hardware capable of Level 5 autonomous driving, but none of its systems would be enabled until a later date. It appears that rollout will begin in December.
Over Thanksgiving weekend, Musk responded to a question about the Enhanced Autopilot rollout, and he said it would begin in "about three weeks." The rollout will be an incremental one, taking place over a span of months, so don't expect the first part of that plan to be Earth-shattering in any way.
26 Nov  Edward Sanchez @edwardsanchez @elonmusk got the Model S with new hardware. Upset th…

Germany: Hackers suspected as 900,000 hit by internet outage

Hackers suspected as 900,000 hit by internet outage
Published: 28 Nov 2016 09:40 GMT+01:00 Updated: 28 Nov 2016 11:06 GMT+01:00
Update: German Telekom is now looking into evidence of a hacker attack after 900,000 internet, phone and television clients were hit by a massive outage starting on Sunday and going into Monday.
Around 900,000 routers across Germany were hit by the outage which started on Sunday, a company spokesman told DPA on Monday.
The routers connect customers not only to the internet, but also to telephone and television services. The spokesman explained that the problem was not with the network itself, but rather with identifying routers upon dial-up.
The company is now looking into evidence found by IT analysts that the connection problem may have been due to an outside attack rather than a normal system failure, Telekom said late Monday morning.
"We have found the first indications that we were possibly victims of a hacker attack," a spokesman said.
The co…

SWEEPING UK SPY BILL DUBBED 'SNOOPERS' CHARTER' BECOMES LAW

SWEEPING UK SPY BILL DUBBED 'SNOOPERS' CHARTER' BECOMES LAW
BY JILL LAWLESS ASSOCIATED PRESS Nov 26, 8:06 AM EST
LONDON (AP) -- In Britain, Big Brother just got bigger.
After months of wrangling, Parliament has passed a contentious new snooping law that gives authorities - from police and spies to food regulators, fire officials and tax inspectors - powers to look at the internet browsing records of everyone in the country.
The law requires telecoms companies to keep records of all users' web activity for a year, creating databases of personal information that the firms worry could be vulnerable to leaks and hackers.
Civil liberties groups say the law establishes mass surveillance of British citizens, following innocent internet users from the office to the living room and the bedroom.
Tim Berners-Lee, the computer scientist credited with inventing World Wide Web, tweeted news of the law's passage with the words: "Dark, dark days."
The Investigatory Powe…

U.S. Thanksgiving, Black Friday store sales fall, online rises

U.S. Thanksgiving, Black Friday store sales fall, online rises
By Siddharth Cavale November 26, 2016
(Reuters) - Sales and traffic at U.S. brick-and-mortar stores on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday declined from last year, as stores offered discounts well beyond the weekend and more customers shopped online.
Internet sales rose in the double digits on both days, surpassing $3 billion for the first time on Black Friday, according to data released on Saturday.
Data from analytics firm RetailNext showed net sales at brick-and-mortar stores fell 5.0 percent over the two days, while the number of transactions fell 7.9 percent.
Preliminary data from retail research firm ShopperTrak showed that shopper visits to such stores fell a combined 1 percent during Thanksgiving and Black Friday when compared with the same days in 2015.
The data highlights the waning importance of Black Friday, which until a few years ago kicked off the holiday shopping season, as more retailers start discounting e…

Google's AI just created its own universal 'language'

Google's AI just created its own universal 'language'
The technology used in Google Translate can identify hidden material between languages to create what's known as interlingua
By MATT BURGESS Wednesday 23 November 2016
Google has previously taught its artificial intelligence to play games, and it's even capable of creating its own encryption. Now, its language translation tool has used machine learning to create a 'language' all of its own.
In September, the search giant turned on its Google Neural Machine Translation (GNMT) system to help it automatically improve how it translates languages. The machine learning system analyses and makes sense of languages by looking at entire sentences – rather than individual phrases or words.
Following several months of testing, the researchers behind the AI have seen it be able to blindly translate languages even if it's never studied one of the languages involved in the translation. "An example of this wo…

Scientists close to creating Computer that electronically replicates the human brain - biological synapses...

Is AI around the corner? Scientists close to creating LIVING COMPUTER with ‘HUMAN BRAIN’
COMPUTER scientists attempting to electronically replicate the human brain are close to creating a 'living PC'.
By JOEY MILLAR PUBLISHED: 19:35, Fri, Nov 25, 2016 | UPDATED: 19:43, Fri, Nov 25, 2016
Computers will soon be able to mimic humans
Engineers at the University of Massachusetts are developing microprocessors which mimic biological synapses - the nerve cells which pass messages across the human body.
The science fiction-style project is being undertaken by Joshua Yang and Qiangfei Xia, professors of electrical and computer engineering at the US college.
Their work focuses heavily on memristors - a computer component which could change science forever, switching the focus from electronics to ionics.
Ionics, unlike electronics, is not dependent on a power source. It essentially has a memory, so even if it loses power it can remember what it was doing before and continue the action…

Uber in landmark EU court battle on Tuesday to escape strict rules

Uber in landmark court battle on Tuesday to escape strict rules
By Foo Yun Chee November 25, 2016
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Uber will seek to convince Europe's top court next week that it is a digital service, not a transport company, in a case that could determine whether app-based startups should be exempt from strict laws meant for regular companies.
The European Commission is trying to boost e-commerce, a sector where the EU lags behind Asia and the United States, to drive economic growth and create jobs.
The U.S. taxi app, which launched in Europe five years ago, has faced fierce opposition from regular taxi companies and some local authorities, who fear it creates unfair competition because it is not bound by strict local licensing and safety rules.
Supporters however say rigid regulatory obligations protect incumbents and hinder the entry of digital startups which offer looser work arrangements to workers in the 28-country European Union looking for more flexibility, albeit wit…

No Credit History? No Problem. Lenders Are Looking at Your Phone Data

No Credit History? No Problem. Lenders Are Looking at Your Phone Data By Olga Kharif November 25, 2016 — 5:00 AM EST
FICO, Equifax stike partnerships to expand access to loans ‘The way you use the phone is a proxy for the way you live’
Financial institutions, overcoming some initial trepidation about privacy, are increasingly gauging consumers’ creditworthiness by using phone-company data on mobile calling patterns and locations.
The practice is tantalizing for lenders because it could help them reach some of the 2 billion people who don’t have bank accounts. On the other hand, some of the phone data could open up the risk of being used to discriminate against potential borrowers.
Phone carriers and banks have gained confidence in using mobile data for lending after seeing startups show preliminary success with the method in the past few years. Selling such data could become a more than $1 billion-a-year business for U.S. phone companies over the next decade, according to Crone Consu…

Delete yourself from the internet by pressing this button

Delete yourself from the internet by pressing this button
by JUAN BUIS — 1 day ago in APPS
The internet can be a beautiful and horrible place at the same time, and it isn’t weird to sometimes feel like you want to leave — there’s wasn’t an easy way out, until now.
Swedish developers Wille Dahlbo and Linus Unnebäck created Deseat.me, which offers a way to wipe your entire existence off the internet in a few clicks.
When logging into the website with a Google account it scans for apps and services you’ve created an account for, and creates a list of them with easy delete links.
Every account it finds gets paired with an easy delete link pointing to the unsubscribe page for that service. Within in a few clicks you’re freed from it, and depending on how long you need to work through the entire list, you can be account-less within the hour.
If you’re getting tired of social media and internet-induced stress in general, it’s the quickest way to get back to a state of tranquility — and to b…

Switch Off the Football - Young people are turning off sport

Switch Off the Football - Young people are turning off sport By Leila Abboud
Nov 25, 2016 2:00 AM EST
Young people are turning off sport on the box -- something that will strike fear into television executives who hoped live matches would be immune from the diversions of Netflix and video games.
European broadcasters like Sky Plc and Telefonica SA pay billions for sports rights and rely on the games' allure to attract people to their more expensive broadband and television bundles. Walt Disney Co., the owner of ESPN, and broadcasters including NBC also use sport to build audiences and sell advertising.
But there are signs it doesn't hold the same spell over young people as their parents. Viewers between the ages of 18 and 24 were the least interested in sport as a genre, according to a survey of 31,000 people across 10 countries carried out by research firm Ampere Analysis.
The trend was most pronounced in the U.S. and U.K., the most advanced markets in terms of internet adop…

China’s internet is flourishing inside the wall

China’s internet is flourishing inside the wall The country shows how censorship coexists with vibrant ecommerce and entertainment By John Gapper NOVEMBER 23, 2016
In Beijing’s old hutong alleyway districts, an inner wall faces the door to every courtyard house. The wall is there to stop bad spirits from entering the inner sanctum.
China’s internet has a similar design to its courtyard houses. The way is blocked to foreigners such as Google and, despite Mark Zuckerberg’s efforts, Facebook while Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent, the largest Chinese internet enterprises, have prime spaces. Cyber space is walled and divided.
A few years ago, China’s government seemed to be in conflict with the very nature of the internet, struggling to censor bloggers with millions of followers on Weibo, the Twitter-like service. Since then, it has shown that censorship can coexist with a vibrant online culture, as ecommerce and entertainment have taken over from political debate and the sharing of sensitive …

Facebook Said to Create Censorship Tool to Get Back Into China

Facebook Said to Create Censorship Tool to Get Back Into China By MIKE ISAAC NOV. 22, 2016
SAN FRANCISCO — Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, has cultivated relationships with China’s leaders, including President Xi Jinping. He has paid multiple visits to the country to meet its top internet executives. He has made an effort to learn Mandarin.
Inside Facebook, the work to enter China runs far deeper.
The social network has quietly developed software to suppress posts from appearing in people’s news feeds in specific geographic areas, according to three current and former Facebook employees, who asked for anonymity because the tool is confidential. The feature was created to help Facebook get into China, a market where the social network has been blocked, these people said. Mr. Zuckerberg has supported and defended the effort, the people added.
Facebook has restricted content in other countries before, such as Pakistan, Russia and Turkey, in keeping with the typical practice…