Author: Sarah Wells

DARPA announces $2B investment in AI

TECHCRUNCH At a symposium in Washington DC on Friday, DARPA  href=”https://www.darpa.mil/news-events/2018-09-07″ target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>announced plans to invest $2 billion in artificial intelligence research over the next five years. In a program called “AI Next,” the agency now has over 20 programs currently in the works and will focus on “enhancing the security and resiliency of machine learning and AI technologies, reducing power, data, performance inefficiencies and [exploring] ‘explainability’” of these systems. “Machines lack contextual reasoning capabilities, and their training must cover every eventuality, which is not only costly, but ultimately impossible,” said director Dr. Steven Walker. “We want to explore how machines can acquire human-like communication and reasoning capabilities, with the ability to recognize new situations and environments and adapt to them.” Artificial intelligence is a broad term that can encompass everything from intuitive search features to true machine learning, and all definitions rely heavily on consuming data to inform their algorithms and “learn.” DARPA has a long history of research and development in this space, but has recently seen its efforts surpassed by foreign powers like China, who earlier this summer announced plans to become an AI leader by 2030. In many cases these AI are still in their infancy, but the technology — especially machine learning — has the potential to completely transform not only how users interact with their own technology but how corporate and governmental institutions use...

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Tor Project launches official mobile browser for Android

TECHCRUNCH Tor Project, the group behind the anonymous Tor browser, has released an alpha version of its own anonymous browser for Android. Following this release, Orfox, the longstanding Tor Project-approved browsing app for Android, said it will be sunset by 2019. To run both apps, users will need to also download the Tor Project proxy app, Orbot. Tor Project’s anonymous browser uses a system of decentralized relays that bounce a user’s data to anonymize internet activity. This makes it almost impossible for ads, location trackers and even government surveillance to follow your tracks across the web. While Tor can often associated with illegal drug or weapons sales on the dark web, the browser is also a haven for political dissidents, journalists and just browsers who prefer to maintain their anonymity. This release comes just several days after Tor Project rolled out Tor Browser 8.0, based on Firefox’s 2017 Quantum browser structure. The major updates include a new user landing and on-boarding page, increased language support and improved bridging methods to enable users to access the browser in countries where Tor is banned — like Turkey. While the service regarded current gold standard of anonymous browsing, there are still vulnerabilities. Federal investigators can gain access and identify users through security flaws in the browser itself. It remains to be seen how secure Firefox Quantum will be for Tor 8.0, but users would be...

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Huawei caught cheating performance test for new phones

TECHCRUNCH UL, the company behind the tablet and phone performance benchmark app 3DMark, has delisted new Huawei phones from its “Best Smartphone” leaderboard after AnandTech discovered the phone maker was boosting its performance to ace the app’s test. The phones delisted were the P20, P20 Pro, Nova 3 and the Honor Play. “After testing the devices in our own lab and confirming that they breach our rules, we have decided to delist the affected models and remove them from our performance rankings,” the company said in a statement. For the Huawei case, the rules are actually a little fuzzy. Phones are permitted...

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YouTube TV now lets you pause your subscription for up to 6 months

TECHCRUNCH YouTube TV introduced a new feature to its service Thursday that allows users to pause their service between four week and six month periods at any time, as reported by Android Police. Unlike canceling and reopening your YouTube TV account, which users can also do at any time, the new pause option allows YouTubers to return to their saved content after a break. While not standard across all streaming services, YouTube TV is joining Hulu in allowing users to take this further action in controlling how and when they consume streaming content. To pause their account, users can...

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Instagram launches parent portal to teach internet safety

TECHCRUNCH For parents who grew-up with dial-up connections and tape players, the high-speed, digital social lives of their teens can be a mystery. Today, both the good and destructive aspects of social interactions are taking place behind screens on apps like Instagram. To help parents navigate these online environments Instagram released Thursday a parents guide to the app on its Well Being site. The PSA covers a basic introduction to the photo and video sharing app and introduces parents to the safety features that they — and perhaps their child — may not be aware of. These bullet points...

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TSA to expand 3D carry-on baggage screening to reduce security wait times

TECHCRUNCH The Transportation Security Agency will expand its 3D carry-on luggage scanning program it originally launched in more than a dozen airports this July. The agency originally estimated the program would be rolled out in 145 airports by 2019, but now raised that projection to 200 scanners, David Pekoske, the agency’s administrator, told lawmakers Wednesday. In contrast to traditional 2D scanners that take photos from just a couple of angles, 3D scanners will use computed tomography (CT) to take hundreds of images per second with a spinning X-ray camera. With a more granular picture of each bag, the CT technology can build an interactive image that can be rotated and analyzed from 360-degrees by screening staff. “They are a significant enhancement in security effectiveness,” said Pekoske in an open hearing at the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. “And I’ve also watched passengers actually self-align behind the CT machines because it’s a better passenger experience.” In addition to creating an intuitive and quick way for agents to analyze these bags, the technology will also lighten the load on travelers by requiring them to take fewer items out of their bag prior to scanning. The TSA might be one of the most unloved federal agency, but says its new scanning methods may one day allow flyers to leave their liquids and electronics inside their luggage without losing degrees of security. Pekoske also said that...

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Uber CEO: No plans to sell self-driving car unit ‘for now’

TECHCRUNCH Uber has no plans to sell its self-driving car research unit “at this time,” according to the company’s chief executive. Dara Khosrowshahi said that the ride-hailing giant will “absolutely” keep the research unit, known as the Advanced Technologies Group, including when the company files its initial public offering, which Khosrowshahi said is on track for 2019. “Ultimately, it is a big asset that we are building and we can monetize that in whatever way we want to,” he told Reuters, speaking at an event in New York. He added that the company is also open to partnering with other companies building self-driving car technology, including Toyota, which said last month that it would invest $500 million in developing self-driving technologies with the company. Earlier Wednesday, Uber announced new safety and security features, including “Ride Check,” which activates if the rider’s phone senses a crash. Khosrowshahi will be speaking at Disrupt SF on...

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Google announces ‘Dataset Search’ to help scientists and journalists tell stories

TECHCRUNCH Google announced Wednesday the launch of its new “Dataset Search” to help scientists and data journalists alike sift through the data-drenched web easier and quickly find stories between the numbers. Traditionally, datasets are spread far and wide across individual research websites, institutions like NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — and even data driven publications like ProPublica. With Dataset Search, Google is aiming to adapt its Google Scholar search scheme to help data geeks and researchers sift through this data in a single search bar. Google outlined guidelines for dataset providers that will help the search giant and...

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