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VentureBeat

AI Weekly: Constructive ways to take power back from Big Tech

Facebook launched an independent oversight board and recommitted to privacy reforms this week, but after years of promises made and broken, nobody seems convinced that real change is afoot. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is expected to decide whether to sue Facebook soon, sources told the New York Times, following a $5 billion fine last year. In other investigations, the Department of Justice filed suit against Google this week, accusing the Alphabet company of maintaining multiple monopolies through exclusive agreements, collection of personal data, and artificial intelligence. News also broke this week that Google’s AI will play a role in creating a virtual border wall. What you see in each instance is a powerful company insistent that it can regulate itself as government regulators appear to reach the opposite conclusion. If Big Tech’s machinations weren’t enough, this week there was also news of a Telegram bot that undresses women and girls; AI being used to add or change the emotion of people’s faces in photos; and Clearview AI, a company being investigated in multiple countries, allegedly planning to introduce features for police to more responsibly use its facial recognition services. Oh, right, and there’s a presidential election campaign happening. It’s all enough to make people reach the conclusion that they’re helpless. But that’s an illusion, one that Prince Harry, Duchess Meghan Markle, Algorithms of Oppression author Dr. Safiya Noble, and Center for Humane Technology director Tristan Harris attempted to dissect earlier this week in a talk hosted by Time. Dr. Noble…Continue readingAI Weekly: Constructive ways to take power back from Big Tech

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VentureBeat

Apple’s MagSafe Charger suggests a confusing future for wireless power

As 2020 nears its long-awaited end, wireless charging technology has become reasonably common, somewhat affordable, and certainly more convenient than fumbling for a traditional power cable. Today, it’s possible to casually drop depleted phones, watches, and/or Bluetooth earphones onto a $12 or $20 inductive charging pad, then pick them back up fully recharged hours later — no simple feat if you realize how long companies struggled to reach this point. But wireless charging is about to become more confusing. And Apple is surprisingly at the heart of that confusion. Last week, Apple announced the return of MagSafe, its trademarked name for the magnetic charging connectors found in MacBook laptops before USB-C unceremoniously replaced them. For computer users concerned about tripping over their power supplies, MagSafe was a bona fide sensation, promising the full speed charging of a traditional power plug with the instant detachment of a magnet. Now there’s a MagSafe Charger for the iPhone — a surprisingly large metal and plastic puck that promises a similar mix of speed and convenience for certain iPhones, under specific conditions, at premium prices. My informed belief is that MagSafe’s late 2020 release has set the stage for iPhones to move away from traditional connectors in 2021, a move that rivals will likely mock before following suit in subsequent years. Consequently, smartphone users will soon care less about fidgeting with cables than finding charging plates, but the transition to fully wireless charging won’t necessarily be smooth for any company, least of all Apple. Here’s…Continue readingApple’s MagSafe Charger suggests a confusing future for wireless power

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TechCrunch

VCs reload ahead of the election as unicorns power ahead – TechCrunch

This is The TechCrunch Exchange, a newsletter that goes out on Saturdays, based on the column of the same name. You can sign up for the email here. It was an active week in the technology world broadly, with big news from Facebook and Twitter and Apple. But past the headline-grabbing noise, there was a steady drumbeat of bullish news for unicorns, or private companies worth $1 billion or more. A bullish week for unicorns The Exchange spent a good chunk of the week looking into different stories from unicorns, or companies that will soon fit the bill, and it’s surprising to see how much positive financial news there was on tap even past what we got to write about. Databricks, for example, disclosed a grip of financial data to TechCrunch ahead of regular publication, including the fact that it grew its annual run rate (not ARR) to $350 million by the end of Q3 2020, up from $200 million in Q2 2019. It’s essentially IPO ready, but is not hurrying to the public markets. Sticking to our theme, Calm wants more money for a huge new valuation, perhaps as high as $2.2 billion which is not a surprise. That’s more good unicorn news. As was the report that “India’s Razorpay [became a] unicorn after its new $100 million funding round” that came out this week. Razorpay is only one of a number of Indian startups that have become unicorns during COVID-19. (And here’s another digest out this week concerning…Continue readingVCs reload ahead of the election as unicorns power ahead – TechCrunch

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Tech Radar

Best power banks 2020: top portable chargers to keep your gadgets going

The best power bank for you depends on what you need to charge and how much juice you need away from the mains. We’ve all got phones that need topping up on long days out, but there are also power banks that can top up larger electronics like a Nintendo Switch or even a laptop. So think about the three Ps: price, power, and portability. Consider these things and you’ll find the right portable charger. Do you need it to top up your phone when you’re at the football or on a night out? Or are you going camping for three days and need to charge several devices more than once without access to wall chargers? Look out for the mAh rating – the higher the number, the more charge the bank will hold. You should also check how fast it can output charge, as if you’re relying on it to charge a big device like an iPad or laptop, you might be waiting around a while if the output is slow.  The best deals on the best power banks can be seen below, but both Black Friday and Cyber Monday are coming up in November and we’re likely to see big discounts around that time. Below we’ve listed the best portable chargers by capacity, slimness, and port selection. Make sure to read the full descriptions of each to see which best suits your needs and budget. Best power banks for capacity Image Credit: iMuto iMuto 20,000mAh power bank Two…Continue readingBest power banks 2020: top portable chargers to keep your gadgets going

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Engadget

Apple cuts prices on EarPods and its iPhone power adapter by $10

Apple made its EarPods and new power adapter for the iPhone a bit more affordable after confirming that the new iPhones will no longer ship with accessories. The tech giant now sells the EarPods with Lightning connector on the Apple Store for $19 (as noticed by MacRumors), down $10 from its original price. At the same time, the new 20W power adapter for the iPhone also costs $19, which is $10 less than the old adapter the company has discontinued. It has long been rumored that the new iPhones won’t come with the EarPods and the charger old models used to come with. And that turned out to be true, which does’t really come as a huge surprise, seeing as the new Apple Watches shipped without chargers. Apple cited environment reasons for the move when it announced the iPhone 12, explaining that shipping without accessories would reduce its products’ manufacturing needs. Source linkContinue readingApple cuts prices on EarPods and its iPhone power adapter by $10

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The Next Web

How brain-like circuits could push computing power to the next level

For the first time, my colleagues and I have built a single electronic device that is capable of copying the functions of neuron cells in a brain. We then connected 20 of them together to perform a complicated calculation. This work shows that it is scientifically possible to make an advanced computer that does not rely on transistors to calculate and that uses much less electrical power than today’s data centers. Our research, which I began in 2004, was motivated by two questions. Can we build a single electronic element – the equivalent of a transistor or switch – that performs most of the known functions of neurons in a brain? If so, can we use it as a building block to build useful computers? Neurons are very finely tuned, and so are electronic elements that emulate them. I co-authored a research paper in 2013 that laid out in principle what needed to be done. It took my colleague Suhas Kumar and others five years of careful exploration to get exactly the right material composition and structure to produce the necessary property predicted from theory. Kumar then went a major step further and built a circuit with 20 of these elements connected to one another through a network of devices that can be programmed to have particular capacitances, or abilities to store electric charge. He then mapped a mathematical problem to the capacitances in the network, which allowed him to use the device to find the solution to a small…Continue readingHow brain-like circuits could push computing power to the next level

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Engadget

Unreal Engine will power the Hummer EV’s infotainment display

You most likely know Unreal Engine as the game engine behind some of the most popular titles in recent years, including Fortnite, Final Fantasy VII Remake and Valorant. Apparently, though, it can also be used to design vehicles’ infotainment systems: in fact, Epic Games has just revealed that GMC’s upcoming all—electric Hummer will be the first vehicle to use the engine for its digital display. The video game developer says it’s long been interested in human-machine interfaces (HMI) for the automotive industry, since Unreal Engine already has the technologies needed to design them. As such, the company has launched a human-machine interface initiative and has formed a team dedicated to making it easier for automakers to use Unreal Engine as the basis for their infotainment systems. Epic says it will be rolling out HMI-specific features for the engine in the coming months and throughout 2021, most likely with the goal of forging partnerships with more auto manufacturers. Source linkContinue readingUnreal Engine will power the Hummer EV’s infotainment display

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Wired

Congress Unveils Its Plan to Curb Big Tech’s Power

Anyone who’s paid even slight attention to the congressional investigation of the power wielded by tech giants won’t be surprised by the report released Tuesday by the subcommittee’s Democrats. They say four companies—Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google—have monopoly power that threatens core economic and political liberties. The report, which ends a 16-month investigation and includes a trove of internal documents, lays out the most thorough case yet that Big Tech exploits its advantages in unfair ways. And it outlines a detailed vision for new legislation to fix those problems—with implications that could go far beyond just the tech industry. The case against each firm is complex, but some key themes emerge in the 400-plus-page report, built on hearings, other testimony, and more than a million documents. The subcommittee accuses Apple of using its control over mobile apps to squeeze excessive fees out of app developers, who often pass those costs along to users. Amazon allegedly uses its dominant share of online retail to unfairly compete against the outside sellers who use its platform—37 percent of whom, the subcommittee finds, derive all their income through Amazon. The case against Google focuses on the company’s use of its dominant share of the search market to entrench its own position, advantage its own products, and take over other markets like maps and advertising. As for Facebook, the report contains explosive internal emails, some revealed for the first time, showing that the company’s executives openly discussed acquiring companies including Instagram and WhatsApp in order…Continue readingCongress Unveils Its Plan to Curb Big Tech’s Power

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The Verge

The original Google Wifi gets a new $99 price tag and power supply

Google has quietly refreshed its original Google Wifi router as a $99 entry-level option for the company’s wireless networking setup. According to Google, the main update here is the new $99 (for a single unit) and $199 (for three devices) pricing — a drop from the original $129 and $299 prices that the product originally launched for back in 2016. The same hardware, but much cheaper It’s also not here to replace the more recent Nest Wifi that Google launched last year and which offers better range than the original, or the Nest Wifi Points, which offer an integrated Google Assistant smart speaker. The Nest Wifi products are also considerably more expensive, starting at $149 for the Nest Wifi Point and $169 for the Nest Wifi router. There are some minor hardware changes, too: the charger is a 15W barrel plug, instead of USB-C (to match Google’s other smart home products), the case is now made out of partially recycled plastic, and the logo on top has been lightly updated. Along with the minor refresh and new hardware, Google is also rolling out some improvements on the software side of things to all Google Wifi and Nest Wifi setups. There’s now an option to add notification alerts whenever a new device joins your network. Google also says that it’s done more work to help “avoid congestion when multiple devices are online” by reducing delays and improving overall network performance. Source linkContinue readingThe original Google Wifi gets a new $99 price tag and power supply

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Tech Radar

Introducing the realme 7 series: incredible features, amazing battery power

The realme 7 series, the exciting new release from the world’s fastest-growing smartphone brand, will launch in the UK on October 7, providing users with an experience that will push the boundaries of what they can expect from a smartphone. The new phones from realme are designed for the younger generation that need a device that can keep up with their lifestyle – starting with an incredible battery.  The new realme 7 Pro boasts an ultra-long battery life, a staple of the modern smartphone users needs, but more importantly brings in ways to help you when you do need juice. The new realme 65W Charging Evolution, with its 65W SuperDart Charge (4500mAh battery), can charge the 7 Pro to 100% in just 34 minutes.  The phone is also the perfect device for budding photographers, featuring a Sony 64MP Quad Camera – this comes with Starry Mode, a suite of new filters, and 32MP in-display selfie cam for beautiful looks married with impressive photographic power. To power all these great features there’s a Snapdragon 720G Processor, plus you’re getting a 6.4-inch Super AMOLED full-screen display, which is ideal for those who want to capture the world around them in stunning, sharp imagery. In addition to the Pro, the realme 7 also offers epic power and epic charge, with 30W Dart Charge (5000mAh battery) providing more than a month of standby time.  Powered by the world’s first MediaTek Helio G95 Gaming Processor, offering a 90Hz Ultra Smooth Display and a 48MP AI…Continue readingIntroducing the realme 7 series: incredible features, amazing battery power