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Tag Archives: development

A New BioShock Game Is Reportedly In Development – Ubergizmo

Ubergizmo A New BioShock Game Is Reportedly In Development Ubergizmo Back in 2014, Irrational Games announced that they would be shutting down. For those unfamiliar, the studio is behind the immensely popular BioShock franchise which led to some speculating as to what the future might hold for the series. However 2K ... and more »

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Dutch uni spinout gets $1.2M for its zero ink printing tech

Tocano , a spinout from Delft Technology University in the Netherlands which is working on an inkless printing technology, has closed a €1 million angel round to fund the next stage of its tech development and move a step closer to building its first commercial product. The startup began as the graduate student project of co-founder Venkatesh Chandrasekar who, along with fellow student Van der Veen, founded the business in 2015, gaining early backing from the university. The team now consists of eight employees and is part of the business incubator Yes!Delft . Now it’s true there are already some ‘inkless’ printing technologies in use commercially. One we covered back in 2009  is Zink : A color printer which doesn’t require ink cartridges in the actual printer; but does require special Zink photo paper which has colored ink embedded in it. So an ‘inkless printer’, technically, but not actually ink-less technology. Tocano’s tech — which it is branding Inkless — has a much cleaner claim to the name because it doesn’t involve having to use ink-saturated paper. Nor any other type of special paper, such as thermal-coated paper — which is another type of inkless printing already in use (such as for receipts). Rather they are using an infrared laser to burn the surface of the paper — so carbonization is being used as the printing medium. And they claim their technique is able to produce black and white printing with blacks as dark and stable as ink-based prints. Though, clearly, they’re still early in the development process. Here’s a photo of their current prototype, alongside a sample of text printed with it: The angel funding will be used to try to reach what they dub “a competitive printing performance”

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Tradeshift’s Gert Sylvest and Bancor’s Galia Benartzi sign on for TC Sessions: Blockchain in July

We are excited to announce two more top-quality speakers for our forthcoming TC Sessions: Blockchain event which takes place on July 6. Gert Sylvest, co-founder of Tradeshift and GM of Tradeshift Frontiers, and Galia Benartzi, co-founder and head of business development for Bancor, join our growing list of confirmed speakers. In case you missed those, they include Brian Behlendorf, the executive director of the Hyperledger project ,  Jun Hasegawa, CEO and founder of OmiseGO, and  Leanne Kemp, CEO and founder of Everledger . The event — which will be the first TechCrunch show dedicated to the blockchain — takes place in Zug, Switzerland, the city known as “Crypto Valley” because of the numerous companies that have moved there to capitalize on Zug’s openness to blockchain experiments and forward-thinking approach to regulation. At the event, we’ll cover how decentralization will impact the internet and web services today; how big businesses and enterprises are moving forward to tap the potential of the blockchain; what the future of financing through crypto and ICOs might look like; and the important technological breakthroughs and challenges facing blockchain. Sylvest and Benartzi and their companies represent two important sides of the emergence of blockchain. That is companies born in a decentralized world with innovative ideas about how to use technology, and already-established tech firms exploring the potential for solutions that can roll out at scale. The Zug event comes off the back of a TechCrunch meetup held there in January and the hugely successful Disrupt San Francisco 2017 event, which included discussions on blockchain startups, cryptocurrency and ICOs with guests such as Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin . You can find ticket information for TC Sessions: Blockchain here . Now, more about our two newest confirmed guests. Galia Benartzi, co-founder and head of product of Bancor Bancor is developing a system that uses the blockchain to disintermediate bitcoin exchanges, making it easier for individuals to trade crypto coins and, among other things, smoothening the path to holding ICOs. The company has pioneered ‘smart tokens,’ which it describes as cryptocurrencies with built-in convertibility directly through their smart contracts. Bancor released a wallet service in April  that is designed to be a one-stop shop for trading between cryptocurrencies. The wallet builds on Bancor’s original open-source protocol for automated token conversions by allowing users to exchange any of 75 cryptocurrencies without needing to visit an exchange. There’s also an option to buy supported cryptocurrencies using credit or debit card.

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Facebook did not inform the FTC about initial Cambridge Analytica leak

In testimony before the Senate Judiciary and Commerce, Science, and Transportation committees, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said that his company did not notify the Federal Trade Commission about the initial user data leak that triggered its most recent privacy scandal. “They considered it a ‘closed case’,”Zuckerberg said in response to a question over whether Facebook’s staff notified anyone at the FTC about the leak of consumer data in 2015 when Facebook claimed it learned about the data leak. Cambridge Analytica’s access to Facebook user data, which it acquired improperly through a third party quiz app, is at the heart of Facebook’s latest scandal — and Facebook’s failure to notify the FTC of the data leak could have triggered the commission’s recent probe. FTC confirms probe into Facebook data misuse scandal In a statement issued at the time about Facebook’s privacy controls, Tom Pahl, acting director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said: The FTC is firmly and fully committed to using all of its tools to protect the privacy of consumers. Foremost among these tools is enforcement action against companies that fail to honor their privacy promises, including to comply with Privacy Shield, or that engage in unfair acts that cause substantial injury to consumers in violation of the FTC Act. Companies who have settled previous FTC actions must also comply with FTC order provisions imposing privacy and data security requirements. Accordingly, the FTC takes very seriously recent press reports raising substantial concerns about the privacy practices of Facebook. Today, the FTC is confirming that it has an open non-public investigation into these practices. The terms of the initial settlement deal that Facebook inked with the SEC in 2011 barred the company from making misrepresentations about the privacy or security of consumers’ personal information; and required the company to get the express consent before changing privacy preferences. The agreement also included the following commitment from Facebook: that it “establish and maintain a comprehensive privacy program designed to address privacy risks associated with the development and management of new and existing products and services, and to protect the privacy and confidentiality of consumers’ information; and required, within 180 days, and every two years after that for the next 20 years, to obtain independent, third-party audits certifying that it has a privacy program in place that meets or exceeds the requirements of the FTC order, and to ensure that the privacy of consumers’ information is protected.”  

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Confirmed: Six months after leaving DFJ, Steve Jurvetson is starting new venture firm

Last year, renowned VC Steve Jurvetson parted ways with his longtime firm, DFJ, in what appeared a painful split. Six months later, he’s back with a new firm, Future Ventures , Jurvetson tells us via email. (Recode was first to take notice of its new site.) Says Jurvetson: “I am incredibly excited about the future — the future of entrepreneurship, disruptive technologies, and my “future ventures” to come. I strongly believe that mission-driven founders forge the future. At Future Ventures, we will support those passionate founders. Jurvetson’s fast return to the venture scene isn’t a complete surprise. In November, we talked with numerous institutional investors who agreed that if they could invest behind a new Jurvetson effort, they would. Largely, that interest ties to Jurvetson’s track record, which includes SpaceX, Tesla Motors and the satellite company Planet , among other bets. The circumstances around Jurvetson’s departure from DFJ appear to have provided an opening for his return, too. Though Jurvetson left DFJ as he was being investigated by the firm for harassment, the one person who had complained about DFJ publicly, at least, a founder named Keri Kukral, later made clear that her relationship to the firm was not in a professional context. Meanwhile, two women who’d previously worked at DFJ came to Jurvetson’s defense specifically, writing on Medium that, “The fact that we are in leadership positions in the industry today is a testament to Steve and DFJ cultivating an environment where women advance professionally.” Ultimately, opacity around Jurvetson’s alleged transgressions, combined with his long history of success in Silicon Valley, appeared to embolden investors whose livelihood depends on betting on winning VCs

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Coinbase unveils fund for early-stage cryptocurrency startups

Coinbase has launched a new fund called Coinbase Ventures to invest in early-stage cryptocurrency and blockchain startups. In a blog post , Coinbase head of corporate and business development Emilie Choi said that the fund’s goal is to strengthen the sector. “At least in the beginning, our goal is simply helping the most compelling companies in the space flourish,” she wrote. “This means we don’t have the strategic requirement of formalizing partner relationships with such companies, as some corporate venture programs do. Our focus is on building strong relationships and helping spur the development of the ecosystem.” This includes investing in companies that may potentially compete with Coinbase because “it’s in everyone’s interest to see the ecosystem innovate,” Choi added. She also said the fund will keep an eye on founders who have worked for Coinbase and “enthusiastically invest in ideas from our own alumni network.” One potential benefit of helping other cryptocurrency and blockchain companies grow is lending more stability to the sector, which is currently under scrutiny by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and considered risky by many investors. In an interview on CNBC’s “Fast Money,” Coinbase chief operating officer Asiff Hirji said that as more mature investors take an interest in cryptocurrency, that will “dampen volatility to some extent.” There’s been “tremendous take up on the fund, well beyond anything we were expecting,” he added and that it “confirmed what we thought, that there is actually more demand on the investor side than on the trader side.” While Coinbase doesn’t have current plans to add more cryptocurrencies to its exchange, investing in promising startups will help it find promising tokens, Hirji said.

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Should AI researchers kill people?

AI research is increasingly being used by militaries around the world for offensive and defensive applications. This past week, groups of AI researchers began to fight back against two separate programs located halfway around the world from each other, generating tough questions about just how much engineers can affect the future uses of these technologies. From Silicon Valley, The New York Times published an internal protest memo written by several thousand Google employees, which vociferously opposed Google’s work on a Defense Department-led initiative called Project Maven, which aims to use computer vision algorithms to analyze vast troves of image and video data . As the department’s news service quoted Marine Corps Col. Drew Cukor last year about the initiative: “You don’t buy AI like you buy ammunition,” he added. “There’s a deliberate workflow process and what the department has given us with its rapid acquisition authorities is an opportunity for about 36 months to explore what is governmental and how best to engage industry to advantage the taxpayer and the warfighter, who wants the best algorithms that exist to augment and complement the work he does.” Google’s employees are demanding that the company step back from exactly that sort of partnership, writing in their memo : Amid growing fears of biased and weaponized AI, Google is already struggling to keep the public’s trust. By entering into this contract, Google will join the ranks of companies like Palantir, Raytheon, and General Dynamics. The argument that other firms, like Microsoft and Amazon, are also participating doesn’t make this any less risky for Google. Google’s unique history, its motto Don’t Be Evil, and its direct reach into the lives of billions of users set it apart. Meanwhile, in South Korea, there is growing outrage over a program to develop offensive robots jointly created by the country’s top engineering university KAIST — the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology — and Korean conglomerate Hanhwa, which among other product lines is one of the largest producers of munitions for the country . Dozens of AI academics around the world have initiated a protest of the collaboration , writing that: At a time when the United Nations is discussing how to contain the threat posed to international security by autonomous weapons, it is regrettable that a prestigious institution like KAIST looks to accelerate the arms race to develop such weapons. We therefore publicly declare that we will boycott all collaborations with any part of KAIST until such time as the President of KAIST provides assurances, which we have sought but not received, that the Center will not develop autonomous weapons lacking meaningful human control. Here’s the thing: These so-called “killer robots” are seriously the least of our concerns

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April Underwood is now Slack’s chief product officer

Former Twitter product lead April Underwood is getting another promotion this morning, now rising to the role of chief product officer of what aims to be the dead-simple employee communications platform Slack, according to Fortune . Underwood previously served as director of product at Twitter, where she worked for five years before joining Slack as its head of platform. Shortly after that Underwood was promoted to the company’s VP of product, and will now serve as the company’s first chief product officer. These kinds of promotions imply some additional responsibility — especially as Slack looks to diversify and pitch itself as a more robust product than just a messenger — but also another point of maturation for Slack. The company hired its first chief financial officer, Allen Shim, in February this year . Slack is one of those companies that faces a tense push-and-pull as it looks to get into larger and larger enterprises, which all have niche needs. The company is a darling in Silicon Valley thanks to its very simple interface, but with companies with thousands (or, eventually, tens of thousands of employees) just a tool with groups and direct messages could easily become unwieldy. That’s why Slack has invested in a variety of tools, including rolling out threaded messaging a little more than a year ago . Slack is likely one of those companies that gets hundreds of feature requests a year for larger businesses that have niche use cases, but it still has to demonstrate that it’s a simple product without hitting feature creep status. Underwood getting more authority over that evolution (of which she was already a huge part, including the development of threaded messages) is another signal that the company is looking to tap her consumer background at Twitter to create some kind of middle ground between feeling like a satisfying consumer product while still operating as an enterprise tool. Slack is increasingly looking to apply machine learning to help employees get to answers right away, and it still has to take the same kind of care in rolling out new features that satisfy the needs of larger organizations without sacrificing that simplicity that made it a darling in the first place. Slack most recently hit a $5.1 billion valuation in a recent investment round, and said it had around 6 million daily active users in September last year. That might be small-ish compared to the size and scale of Twitter, but as something geared toward internal communications at companies, that level of engagement in the workplace is going to increasingly be a selling point for the company as it looks to grow into that valuation

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Google’s Smart Display Device Remains A Possibility – Ubergizmo

Ubergizmo Google's Smart Display Device Remains A Possibility Ubergizmo The Echo Show was Amazon's first Echo-branded device to feature a display. This smart display was powered by the company's Alexa assistant and it allowed users to do more than what they could on any other Echo device. It was first reported then that ... An Apple, Samsung search for 'competition' to now throw up Google Economic Times all 347 news articles »

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Here’s Cambridge Analytica’s plan for voters’ Facebook data

More details have emerged about how Facebook data on millions of US voters was handled after it was obtained in 2014 by UK political consultancy Cambridge Analytica for building psychographic profiles of Americans to target election messages for the Trump campaign. The dataset — of more than 50M Facebook users — is at the center of a scandal that’s been engulfing the social network giant since newspaper revelations published on March 17 dropped privacy and data protection into the top of the news agenda. Facebook responds to data misuse A UK parliamentary committee has published a cache of documents provided to it by an ex CA employee, Chris Wylie, who gave public testimony in front of the committee at an oral hearing earlier this week . During that hearing he said he believes data on “substantially” more than 50M Facebookers was obtained by CA. Facebook has not commented publicly on that claim. Among the documents the committee has published today (with some redactions) is the data-licensing contract between Global Science Research (GSR) — the company set up by the Cambridge University professor, Aleksandr Kogan, whose personality test app was used by CA as the vehicle for gathering Facebook users’ data — and SCL Elections (an affiliate of CA), dated June 4, 2014. The document is signed by Kogan and CA’s now suspended CEO Alexander Nix . The contract stipulates that all monies transferred to GSR will be used for obtaining and processing the data for the project — “to further develop, add to, refine and supplement GS psychometric scoring algorithms, databases and scores” — and none of the money paid Kogan should be spent on other business purposes, such as salaries or office space “unless otherwise approved by SCL”. Wylie told the committee on Tuesday that CA chose to work with Kogan as he had agreed to work with them on acquiring and modeling the data first, without fixing commercial terms up front. The contact also stipulates that Kogan’s company must gain “advanced written approval” from SCL to cover costs not associated with collecting the data — including “IT security”. Which does rather underline CA’s priorities in this project: Obtain, as fast as possible, lots of personal data on US voters, but don’t worry much about keeping that personal information safe. Security is a backburner consideration in this contract. CA responded to Wylie’s testimony on Tuesday with a statement rejecting his allegations — including claiming it “does not hold any GSR data or any data derived from GSR data”

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Spotify For Apple Watch Release Expected This June – Ubergizmo

Spotify For Apple Watch Release Expected This June Ubergizmo Many Apple Watch owners have been waiting for the official Spotify app to arrive and with good reason. It's the most widely used music streaming service in the world, even more so than Apple's own music streaming service, so there certainly exists a ... KGI: New Apple Watch models later this year with new design, ~15% bigger display 9to5Mac all 1,309 news articles »

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Google Chrome Will Soon Let You Cast Local Files – Ubergizmo

Ubergizmo Google Chrome Will Soon Let You Cast Local Files Ubergizmo Google's casting functionality works like a charm when you're casting a webpage, video or even the entire screen to a TV but there has long been one glaring shortcoming. It didn't allow users to cast local files from the PCs to the TV using the Chrome ... and more »

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Family networking app Life360 acqui-hires PathSense team to boost location-based services

Life360 , the app for networking families together via mobile devices, has acquired the developer team behind PathSense, responsible for the creation of a location-based mobile application toolkit, to build out its location-based offerings. The San Francisco-based Life360 will see all of PathSense’s employees joining its staff, while the tech that PathSense developed will be licensed by the family networking and security monitoring service. PathSense uses location software and sensing technologies that use less battery power than other GPS apps, according to the company. “For Life 360 it is very critical to have accurate geofencing to locate assets especially family members and if they leave specific geofenced areas,” wrote Neil Shahe, an analyst for Counterpoint Research . Specifically, Life360 is applying the technology to crash detection services for families in the event of an accident. “The PathSense technology, and the team’s expertise in utilizing all of the sensors available on smartphones in a unique way, provides our users with a world-class car crash detection and response system,” said Alex Haro, co-founder and CTO of Life360. “This ensures we fulfill our vision to make every family member a safer driver and be there for them when accidents happen.” That service will detect when an accident occurs and initiates a call to the phone of whichever subscriber was in the accident. If the user needs assistance, Life360 says it will notify emergency contacts and dispatch emergency services to a location. The feature is part of the company’s Driver Protect subscription service — which also includes monitoring of phone usage in cars. PathSense’s team, now a part of Life360 was behind the development of Trapster — a Waze -like app using crowd-sourced data to provide traffic and accident alerts. As part of the talent acquisition, Life360 gets a new technology development hub in San Diego — which the company intends to continue to staff up as it develops new location-based applications.

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