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Google forms AI team in France for health, science, and art research
Google today announced plans to expand its investments in France, including its intention to create a new AI research team, its second such research initiative in two months after opening an AI center in China. Our new research team will work closely with the AI research community in France on issues like health, science, art and the environment. The new research team accompanies plans also announced today to open four Google Hubs to provide free online skills courses or retrain workers.
AltspaceVR CEO joins Facebook months after selling his startup to Microsoft
After selling his social virtual reality startup to Microsoft in October, Eric Romo, the co-founder of AltspaceVR is joining the competing social VR team at Facebook as its Product Director where he will be exploring how VR can help communities connect. It wasn't an easy decision, but I left AltspaceVR with confidence that the team is well-placed to continue pushing forward the promise of virtual communication as part of the Microsoft mixed reality ecosystem, Romo wrote in a Facebook post.
Another short-lived, overfunded startup is shutting down: Primary Data
A startup that's operating in stealth mode raises an almost stunning amount of money before it releases the product. Instead, Primary Data, a four-year-old, Los Gatos, Ca.-based data virtualization startup, is in the processing of shutting down after raising a whopping $100 million in equity and debt and attracting the likes of Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak to its management team.
Montana governor's executive order could force ISPs to follow net neutrality rules
The FCC's wildly unpopular decision to kill net neutrality has sent legislators, companies and individuals scrambling for ways to keep the Obama era regulations in place. A new bid by Montana Governor Steve Bullock would cut through much of the red tape and force internet service providers to abide by earlier net neutrality rules. If you want to do business with Montana, the Governor said in the interview, there are standards on net neutrality you will have to follow.
Linus Torvalds declares Intel fix for Meltdown/Spectre 'complete and utter garbage'
The always outspoken Linus Torvalds, best known for his continuing work on the innermost code of Linux systems, has harsh words to say and accusations to level against Intel. His evaluation of Intel's latest proposed fix for the Meltdown/Spectre issue: the patches are COMPLETE AND UTTER GARBAGE. The issue is a clumsy and, Torvalds argues, insane implementation of a fix that essentially does nothing while also doing a bunch of unnecessary things.
AI assistants are poised for major growth in 2018
Artificial intelligence assistants such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant have been a major topic of discussion over the past few months. Meanwhile, experts point to these assistants as the next big boom in consumer tech and AI. AI has some exciting developments on the horizon, and 2018 is shaping up to be an amazing year in the industry. No matter what happens with AI assistants, one thing is for sure: The future has never sounded better.
Apple debuts a dashboard for artists that tracks both streams and purchases
The dashboard, called Apple Music for Artists, is currently available only for select beta users ahead of a broader launch planned for later this spring. Apple's advantage with its new dashboard is that it track both streams and purchases at a granular level. The dashboard shows the current number of plays, spins, song purchases and album purchases in its interface, going as far back as the 2015 launch of Apple Music itself.
Ex-Uber Maps exec Brian McClendon running for office
Brian McClendon, a notable engineering executive at startups and large tech companies including Google and Uber, has announced his candidacy to run for the open seat of Secretary of State of Kansas. McClendon has been a lifelong engineer, growing up in the state and receiving his undergraduate degree in electrical engineering at the University of Kansas. He was most recently VP of Maps and Business Platform at Uber.
Indianapolis' Springbuk raises $20 million for its employer-facing health analytics software
Springbuk, an Indianapolis-based provider of health intelligence software, announced today that it has raised a $20 million series B round. Springbuk, which launched its software in 2015, targets employers that are looking to assess how effective the various benefits services they offer are. There's a lot of software that's solving the provider and payer side of the equation, Springbuk cofounder and vice president Phil Daniels told VentureBeat.
SpecialEffect charity raises $621,777 to help disabled people play games
The UK-based charity SpecialEffect received $621,777 (446,000) in donations from game companies during its annual One Special Day event in September. The charity focuses on making games more accessible to folks with disabilities. SpecialEffect offers individualized support by creating alternative controllers to enable people who may not have use of their hands to play the games they want. Companies that participate in One Special Day commit to contributing 100 percent of their UK or global sales that day.
Ziro's robotics kit for kids now works with Alexa
Ziro is a nifty programmable robotics kit for kids that had a successful Indiegogo campaign last year. Ziro now also works with Alexa. For instance, you can ask your robot to wave at you and the robot will wave its arm. If ZeroUI manages to sell enough Ziro kits, a community of builders could pop up and share robot designs. It would be nice if you could follow a guide on an online forum to build a dinosaur or a dancing robot using cardboard layouts.
Deutsche Telekom predicts 5G will integrate carriers closer into public and private sectors
Carriers' evolution from selling data packages to offering larger solutions will kick off a revolution in 5G services, Hoettges said, ultimately benefitting consumers, cities, companies, and carriers alike. Hoettges explained that the revenue-sharing concept is pragmatic, enabling carriers to directly repay their soon-to-be-massive 5G infrastructure investments. As 5G deployment takes place, Hoettges expects that carriers will offer new 5G services to cities and companies, jointly delivering superior experiences that can be monetized.
Integris raises another $1.5M for data privacy intelligence platform as GDPR deadline looms
The GDPR sets strict new expectations for data handling and carries stiff fines for companies that violate those regulations. Integris has developed a privacy intelligence solution that utilizes a combination of machine learning, natural language processing, data mining, and much more to help companies automate how they manage customer data. Bergman said that nowadays, data privacy compliance is a technology issue more than just a legal issue.
Unbound's Polly Rodriguez talks about the future of sexuality
Unbound is a self-described sextech webshop for rebellious women and its founder, Polly Rodriguez, is a unique and fascinating representative for the site. In this Technotopia podcast I talk to Rodriguez about the future of sex toys and why sex robots probably won't win us over. It's refreshing to hear someone like Rodriguez talk about the future of human-to-human content and what it takes to go beyond the cliches. Technotopia is a podcast by John Biggs about a better future.
Epic acquires Cloudgine so Unreal devs can offload game processing to servers
Epic is unlocking the power of the cloud for its Unreal Engine 4 game-development tools. The company has acquired Cloudgine, a startup that enables Unreal Engine 4 to run certain game computations in the cloud, for an undisclosed amount. Cloudgine's tech uses cloud servers to enable console, PC, and virtual reality games to render content and interactive objects without worrying about the platform. For example, Cloudgine was working with Microsoft on its upcoming Crackdown 3 open-world crime game.
How MyHeritage found a new business in DNA
In the last few years, both Ancestry and MyHeritage also expanded their business with DNA testing services - not to help you find potential health issues but to help you find your relatives and tell you where your family comes from. Over the course of the last year, MyHeritage sold more than 1 million DNA kits, and revenue from DNA sales was $58 million.
Global Insurance Leader AXA Acquires Maestro Health
Maestro Health will join forces with AXA Group and continue to empower people in the US and abroad to live better lives. Once the acquisition is final, Maestro Health will maintain its identity, mission and team, while operating as a wholly-owned subsidiary of AXA. With AXA, Maestro Health customers will see enhancements in their experience and access to leading product offerings. Maestro Health makes employee health & benefits people-friendly again by delivering an all-in platform that meets todays needs of employers, employees, brokers and carriers.
Coinbase hires a new VP of Operations to lead its customer service effort
Coinbase just announced they're hiring Tina Bhatnagar as VP of Operations and Technology to lead all operational teams at Coinbase and GDAX. Perhaps most relevant right now is the fact that her responsibilities will include overseeing the fast growing startup's customer service division. It's no secret that Coinbase is in need of some help with it comes to support and customer service.

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