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How Stitch Fix used AI to personalize its online shopping experience


Online retailers have long lured customers with the ability to browse vast selections of merchandise from home, quickly compare prices and offers, and have goods conveniently delivered to their doorstep. But much of the in-person shopping experience has been lost, not the least of which is trying on clothes to see how they fit, how the colors work with your complexion, and so on.

Companies like Stitch Fix, Wantable, and Trunk Club have attempted to address this problem by hiring professionals to choose clothes based on your custom parameters and ship them out to you. You can try things on, keep what you like, and send back what you don’t. Stitch Fix’s version of this service is called Fixes. Customers get a personalized Style Card with an outfit inspiration. It’s algorithmically driven and helps human style experts match a garment with a particular shopper. Each Fix included a Style Card that showed clothing options to complete outfits based on the various items in a customer’s Fix. Due to popular demand, last year the company began testing a way for shoppers to buy those related items directly from Stitch Fix through a program called Shop Your Looks. Read More

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Why simple tech should excite us more


Picture any film scene set in “the future.” More often than not, it’s a futurescape populated by flying cars, efficient robots, and teleportation. These dazzling fictions color our perception of what progress looks like. And this means it’s the inventions that come with bells and whistles that grab our attention in real life too — think SpaceX’s Starlink mission or the Asimo robot from Honda. Technological propositions that are big, glitzy, and out of this world (sometimes literally) are those that attract the accolades and the headlines. And whilst such innovations are indeed incredible, truly impactful progress often comes from humbler technology. As we face the challenge of building a better future post-crisis, it’s the simple technology that should be getting us excited. Read More

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Does race matter in tech?


After the death of George Floyd and civil unrest across the United States I find myself asking more often what role I can play in defining the future social construct of what it means to be Black in America. Although sometimes I find myself pondering how much race matters in 2020 and debating both sides of the issue, I remind myself that the reason I got into tech was my hypothesis that race matters less in tech than it does in everyday non-technical workplaces. Here’s my story.

The journey: 8 professional certifications and 2 graduate certifications

By the age of 30 I had been laid off twice — once from an airline (oil prices went through the roof and I wasn’t the only one laid off) and once while working as a contractor in the U.S. government (budget cuts and a number of contracts weren’t extended). In both cases I was not singled out in any regard, but I seemed to be among the least likely to be laid off based on my qualifications. After the second layoff, I took a hard look in the mirror and said, “How do I prevent this from happening again?” At the time, I had two professional certifications, an engineering background, and was working in an engineering research and development group. Read More

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Social media must add a do-not-track option for images of our faces


Facial recognition systems are a powerful AI innovation that perfectly showcase The First Law of Technology: “technology is neither good nor bad, nor is it neutral.” On one hand, law-enforcement agencies claim that facial recognition helps to effectively fight crime and identify suspects. On the other hand, civil rights groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union have long maintained that unchecked facial recognition capability in the hands of law-enforcement agencies enables mass surveillance and presents a unique threat to privacy. Read More

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A survey about VR sickness and gender


Several months ago, VR Heaven — a blog that we, Aaron Santiago (VR software engineer) and Winston Nguyen (VR marketer), run — posted an informal survey on Reddit asking participants how often they experienced VR motion sickness and their gender.

They could answer frequently, sometimes, rarely or never. These are the results:

The full data and our collection method is at VR Heaven. Note: This is not a scientific survey; it’s informal. It had 292 participants, most coming from Reddit, with some coming from Discord groups and family/friends we reached out to on Facebook. Read More

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Microsoft’s partnership with Facebook Gaming could mean future VR support for Xbox


Earlier this week Microsoft revealed it was shutting down the Mixer streaming platform and partnering with Facebook Gaming instead. Could this potentially mean big things for Xbox VR support finally via a relationship with Facebook-owned Oculus?

In order to understand the significance of what this could mean for Xbox and for VR as a whole, it’s important to first look back and understand the past four years of broken promises and misleading marketing.

Microsoft’s frustrating history with Xbox VR

During the E3 2016 Microsoft presentation, Xbox boss Phil Spencer revealed Project Scorpio, which later went became the Xbox One X. In that speech, he explicitly stated the console would provide, “true 4K gaming and high-fidelity VR. True 4K visuals without sacrificing quality. Premiere VR experiences without sacrificing performance.” Read More

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How AI can empower communities and strengthen democracy


Each Fourth of July for the past five years I’ve written about AI with the potential to positively impact democratic societies. I return to this question in hopes of shining a light on technology that can strengthen communities, protect privacy and freedoms, and otherwise support the public good.

This series is grounded in the principle that artificial intelligence is capable of not just value extraction, but individual and societal empowerment. While AI solutions often propagate bias, they can also be used to detect that bias. As Dr. Safiya Noble has pointed out, artificial intelligence is one of the critical human rights issues of our lifetimes. AI literacy is also, as Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott asserted, a critical part of being an informed citizen in the 21st century. Read More

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CCPA compliance lags as enforcement begins in earnest


Enforcement of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) began on Wednesday July 1, despite the final proposed regulations having just been published on June 1 and pending review by the California Office of Administrative Law (OAL). The July 1 date has left companies, many of which were hoping for leniency during the pandemic, scrambling to prepare.

COVID-19 appears to be shifting the privacy compliance landscape in other parts of the world — both Brazil’s LGDP and India’s PDPB have seen delays that will impact when the laws will go into effect. Nonetheless, the California Attorney General (CAG) has not capitulated on the CCPA’s timeline, with the attorney general’s office stating: “CCPA has been in effect since January 1, 2020. We’re committed to enforcing the law starting July 1 … We encourage businesses to be particularly mindful of data security in this time of emergency.” Read More

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An AI founder’s struggle to be seen in the age of Black Lives Matter 


I’m founder of AI4US. We build high-performing AI teams with majority Black women scientists to help companies overcome the tech gender and diversity talent shortage.

Our flagship program is RAPIDS. Here’s how it works: In Fall 2020, students will be placed in virtual cohorts of 20-25 students based on computing proficiency. These students take Nvidia’s Fundamentals of Accelerated Data Science. The course is given as a three semester-credit course. (Our first cohort went through the program last year, but they were taught by White male instructors. 2020 is our first cohort with Black women instructors.) Read More

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PlayStation’s The Last of Us Part II campaign boosts game TV ad spending in June


Gaming industry TV ad spend jumped up to an estimated $18.7 million in June, an 81% increase from May’s $10.3 million, with PlayStation serving as the main driver of that growth. Together with Nintendo, the two brands have been the powerhouses of gaming industry TV spend so far in 2020. Looking at January 1 through June 30, Nintendo accounts for a greater share of spend (59.5%) versus PlayStation’s 31.2%.

But this period, Sony accounted for 79% of the industry’s TV ad spend.

GamesBeat has partnered with iSpot.tv, the always-on TV ad measurement and attribution platform, to bring you a monthly report on how gaming brands are spending. The results below are for the top five gaming-industry brands in June, ranked by estimated national TV ad spend. Read More