Tag Archives: platform

Nvidia prices Jeston Xavier AI platform developer kit at $1,299

Today at Computex in Taipei, Nvidia CEO and founder Jensen Huang announced the availability of a drastically upgraded version of Issac. Nvidia calls the next-gen robotics system the next step in autonomous machines as it reportedly brings AI capabilities to a new set of industries. The company has been talking about this platform some time, touting its capabilities and use cases. A Jetson Xavier SoC provides the processing with more than 9 billion transistors, it delivers over 30 TOPS (trillion operations per second). Inside the Xavier is a Volta Tensor Core GPU, an eight-core ARM64 CPU, dual NVDLA deep learning accelerators, an image processor, a vision processor and a video processor. The platform developer kit will be available in August for $1,299 and includes the Isaac robotics software. “AI is the most powerful technology force of our time,” said Huang in a released statement. “Its first phase will enable new levels of software automation that boost productivity in many industries. Next, AI, in combination with sensors and actuators, will be the brain of a new generation of autonomous machines. Someday, there will be billions of intelligent machines in manufacturing, home delivery, warehouse logistics and much more.” The Isaac Robotics Software includes the Isaac SDK, a collection of APIs and tools to develop robotic algorithm software, the Isaac IMX, Nvidia-developed robotics software, and the Isaac Sim, a virtual simulation software to train autonomous machines. The availability of the developer kit should mark a turning point of robotics development. It provides serious processing power and capabilities in a ready-made package.

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Tango Card raises $35M for its ‘rewards as a service’ gift card aggregation platform

Gift cards today are a $100 billion business annually, and as they continue to grow as a key way for companies to incentivise people in our too-often unengaged digital world, a startup that is helping corral the long tail of retailers, and match that up to the wave of businesses that want to offer the cards — a model that it’s dubbed “rewards as a service” — has raised a substantial round of funding. Tango Card — which brings together some 500 companies’ gift cards so that they can easily be used by companies like Microsoft, Chevron and Marketo to help build out their own schemes for gifting those cards to their employees, customers, or other businesses to in turn offer them to customers — has raised $35 million to expand its business. The round comes from a single investor, FTV Capital, a growth equity firm that has a long track record in taking stakes in e-commerce companies (its portfolio formerly included WePay, which was recently sold to Visa). David Leeds, the founder and CEO of Tango Card, said that Tango is not disclosing its valuation with this round except to note that it is “absolutely an up round”. The company has had an average of 1200 percent revenue growth over the last five years, he said, and it is “nearing profitability”. Tango had only raised $9.5 million previously with other investors including Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors , Allegro , Floodgate and others. The space that Tango Card is working in is akin to what Stripe is doing in payments. All the hard work is behind the scenes and taps into something that companies want or need to do but often find difficult, costly or time consuming to sort out themselves. Tango irons out the work in the backend and presents an easy way of integrating it at the front end by way of an API. In the case of gift cards, a lot of businesses have started to offer these as incentives to employees as a form of spot bonus either for work they have done, or to encourage them to engage with a new health or other initiative that is being run; or gift cards are awarded to customers when they engage in surveys and other interactions that they might not normally opt into. There is a problem for the companies doling out the gift cards, however: browsing a wider list of gift card options, and then selecting the ones that you might want to use in a campaign or service, and then actually having all that work automatically in the campaigns to award those cards, is not that straightforward

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Zuckerberg will meet with European parliament in private next week

Who says privacy is dead?  Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg has agreed to take European parliamentarians’ questions about how his platform impacts the privacy of hundreds of millions of European citizens — but only behind closed doors. Where no one except a handful of carefully chosen MEPs will bear witness to what’s said. The private meeting will take place on May 22 at 17.45CET in Brussels. After which the president of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, will hold a press conference to furnish the media with his version of events. It’s just a shame that journalists are being blocked from being able to report on what actually goes on in the room. And that members of the public won’t be able to form their own opinions about how Facebook’s founder responds to pressing questions about what Zuckerberg’s platform is doing to their privacy and their fundamental rights . Because the doors are being closed to journalists and citizens. The Conference of Presidents of the European Parliament will meet on 22 May at 17.45 with Mark Zuckerberg to discuss the use of personal data of millions of #Facebook EU users. After the meeting @EP_President Tajani will inform media of the discussions. Details will follow.

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Facebook launches Youth Portal to educate teens on the platform, how their data is being used

There’s probably an important gap in attention being paid at internet companies to young kids that are good targets for parental controls and older ones who are having to learn to use the internet in a responsible way on their own. Today, Facebook is releasing a new Youth Portal that offers some guidance to teens on how to navigate the service, how to stay secure, while also helping them understand how their data is used. Facebook says that that they began showing tips for teens in the newsfeed earlier this month related to some of these topics. While many of the sections in the portal are devoted to basic topics like how to unfriend or block someone, a bit of the information is structured in more of a journalistic format focused on helping Gen Z users start their internet usage off on the right foot in a way that older generations haven’t. In a “ Guiding Principles ” section, the tips are structured after oft-quoted real world advice: Think (for 5 seconds) before you speak Before you post publicly, pause and ask yourself, “Would I feel comfortable reading this out loud to my parents and grandparents?” There will always be people at your school who are social media oversharers (and adults in your life who are, too). Resist the urge, ignore their noise and save the juicy details for your close friends only. One of the more useful things it does is organize information related to Facebook’s data policy in a more accessible way that admittedly may not answer every single question but also doesn’t overwhelm young users who may just be looking for the basics. It generally aims to address stuff like what data Facebook collects and how they use that information. At the end of the day, it’s just an information page. The Youth Portal won’t directly curb how Facebook approach cyber-bullying or abuse, but the hub does organize a lot of information that pops up on the site while you’re using it into a single place where someone can just blaze through it in a single go. More importantly it’s just a nice resource for Facebook to refer younger users to when there’s an issue that’s more likely to get looked at then the Terms of Service-style help pages that generally hold this information.

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Favstar says it will shut down June 19 as a result of Twitter’s API changes for data streams

As Twitter develops an ever-closer hold on how it manages services around its real-time news and social networking service, a pioneer in Twitter analytics is calling it quits. Favstar , an early leader in developing a way to track and review how your and other people’s Tweets were getting liked and retweeted by others on the network, has announced that it will be shutting down on June 19 — a direct result, its creator Tim Haines notes, of changes that Twitter will be making to its own APIs, specifically around its Account Activity API, which is coming online at the same time that another API, User Streams, is being depreciated. Favstar and others rely on User Streams to power its services. “Twitter… has not been forthcoming with the details or pricing,” Favstar’s creator Tim Haines said of the newer API. “Favstar can’t continue to operate in this environment of uncertainty.” Favstar’s announcement was made over the weekend, but the issue for it and other developers has actually been brewing for a year. Twitter announced back in December  that, as part of the launch of the  Account Activity API  (originally announced April 2017 ), it would be shutting down User Streams on June 19. User Streams are what Favstar, and a number of other apps such as  Talon ,  Tweetbot ,  Tweetings , and  Twitterrific  (as pointed out in this  blog post signed by all four on “Apps of a Feather” ), are built on. Introduced as the Twitter Streaming API  for developers, the aim was to provide a way for developers to get continuous updates from a number of Twitter accounts — needed for services that either provided alternative Twitter interfaces or a way of parsing the many Tweets on the platform — in a way that did not slow the whole service down. The newer Account Activity API provides a number of features to developers to help facilitate tracking Twitter and using services like direct messaging for business purposes: As you can see, some of the features that the newer API covers are directly linked to functionality you get via Favstar. The crux of the problem, writes Haines, is that Twitter hadn’t given Favstar and other developers that had been working with User Streams (and other depreciating functionality) answers about pricing and other details so that they could see if a retooling of their services would be possible. (Twitter has provided a guide , it seems, but it doesn’t appear to address these points.) The post on Apps of a Feather further spells out the technical issues: “The new Account Activity API is currently in beta testing, but third-party developers have not been given access and time is running out,” the developers write. “With access we might be able to implement some push notifications, but they would be limited at the standard level to 35 Twitter accounts – our products must deliver notifications to hundreds of thousands of customers. No pricing has been given for Enterprise level service with unlimited accounts – we have no idea if this will be an affordable option for us and our users.” One of the consequences is that “automatic refresh of your timeline just won’t work,” they continue

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Facebook suspends ~200 suspicious apps out of “thousands” reviewed so far

Did you just notice a Facebook app has gone AWOL? After reviewing “thousands” of apps on its platform following a major data misuse scandal that blew up in March, Facebook has announced it’s suspended around 200 apps — pending what it describes as a “thorough investigation” into whether or not their developers misused Facebook user data. The action is part of a still ongoing audit of third party applications running on the platform announced by Facebook  in the wake of  the Cambridge Analytica data misuse scandal where a third party developer used quiz apps to extract and pass Facebook user data to the consultancy for political ad targeting purposes. CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the app audit on March 21 , writing that the company would “investigate all apps that had access to large amounts of information before we changed our platform to dramatically reduce data access in 2014, and we will conduct a full audit of any app with suspicious activity”. Apps that would not agree to a “thorough audit” would also be banned, he said then. Just under two months on and the tally is ~200 ‘suspicious’ app suspensions, though the review process is ongoing — and Facebook is not being more specific about the total number of apps it’s looked at so far (beyond saying “thousands”) — so expect that figure to rise. In the Cambridge Analytica instance, Facebook admitted that personal information on as many as 87 million users may have been passed to the political consultancy — without most people’s knowledge or consent. Giving an update on the app audit process in a  blog post , Ime Archibong ,  Facebook’s   VP of product partnerships, writes that the investigation is “in full swing”. “We have large teams of internal and external experts working hard to investigate these apps as quickly as possible,” he says. “To date thousands of apps have been investigated and around 200 have been suspended — pending a thorough investigation into whether they did in fact misuse any data. Where we find evidence that these or other apps did misuse data, we will ban them and notify people via this website . It will show people if they or their friends installed an app that misused data before 2015 — just as we did for Cambridge Analytica .” Archibong does not confirm how much longer the audit will take — but does admit there’s a long way to go, writing that: “There is a lot more work to be done to find all the apps that may have misused people’s Facebook data – and it will take time.” “We are investing heavily to make sure this investigation is as thorough and timely as possible,” he adds. Where Facebook does have concerns about an app — such as the ~200 apps it has suspended pending a fuller probe — Archibong says it will conduct interviews; make requests for information (“which ask a series of detailed questions about the app and the data it has access to”); and perform audits “that may include on-site inspections”. So Facebook will not be doing on site inspections in every suspicious app instance.

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Adobe CTO leads company’s broad AI bet

There isn’t a software company out there worth its salt that doesn’t have some kind of artificial intelligence initiative in progress right now. These organizations understand that AI is going to be a game-changer, even if they might not have a full understanding of how that’s going to work just yet. In March at the Adobe Summit , I sat down with Adobe  executive vice president and CTO Abhay Parasnis , and talked about a range of subjects with him including the company’s goal to build a cloud platform for the next decade — and how AI is a big part of that. Parasnis told me that he has a broad set of responsibilities starting with the typical CTO role of setting the tone for the company’s technology strategy, but it doesn’t stop there by any means. He also is in charge of operational execution for the core cloud platform and all the engineering building out the platform — including AI and Sensei. That includes managing a multi-thousand person engineering team. Finally, he’s in charge of all the digital infrastructure and the IT organization — just a bit on his plate. Ten years down the road The company’s transition from selling boxed software to a subscription-based cloud company  began in 2013, long before Parasnis came on board. It has been a highly successful one , but Adobe knew it would take more than simply shedding boxed software to survive long-term. When Parasnis arrived, the next step was to rearchitect the base platform in a way that was flexible enough to last for at least a decade — yes, a decade. “When we first started thinking about the next generation platform, we had to think about what do we want to build for. It’s a massive lift and we have to architect to last a decade,” he said. There’s a huge challenge because so much can change over time, especially right now when technology is shifting so rapidly. That meant that they had to build in flexibility to allow for these kinds of changes over time, maybe even ones they can’t anticipate just yet. The company certainly sees immersive technology like AR and VR, as well as voice as something they need to start thinking about as a future bet — and their base platform had to be adaptable enough to support that.

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