Tag Archives: Clear

Amazon’s Alexa Has A Clear Favorite – and Some Savage Analysis – for the NBA Finals
June 3, 2018 6:01 pm|Comments (0)

Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant is a handy, seamless way to listen to music and find out about the weather. As the NBA finals head into tonight’s Game 2 between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers, though, the voice assistant is also dabbling in sports analysis.

If you ask Alexa “Who will win the NBA Finals this year,” it gives you the following dissertation:

“Even with both conference finals going to game 7, these playoffs were over before they even started. I think the Warriors will win the playoffs pretty handily, and the rest of the league will spend the off-season trying to figure out what they will do to damper the dynasty.”

Yes, savage. You’d be forgiven for thinking that Alexa is showing some bias – the Warriors’ home base in Oakland is much closer than the Cav’s HQ to both Amazon’s Seattle headquarters and to Silicon Valley, which you might call Alexa’s spiritual home. But Alexa’s stance is also shared by most NBA analysts (and, if the memes are any indicator, LeBron himself).

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Of course, it’s deeply misleading to say that “Alexa” has any opinions at all. While the voice assistant incorporates an array of what are known as “limited” or “weak” artificial intelligence functions, such as search and natural language processing, it doesn’t have any more opinions, emotions, or sports analysis skills than your laptop (or, for that matter, your refrigerator). Those are the realm of human-like “general” A.I., which we won’t see for nearly 20 years, at the very least.

That becomes clear if you ask Alexa a more nuanced or specific question. Ask “Alexa, who will win Game 2 of the NBA finals?” and you get the same spiel about the series as a whole. Ask “Who will be NBA MVP this season?” and the machine draws a blank. Ask “Who will be MVP of the NBA Playoffs?” and you’ll be treated, for some reason, to a summary of Game 1.

Most likely, the scripted pro-Warriors response was plugged in manually by Amazon’s Alexa team. The Game 1 report that Alexa spits out in response to almost any other Finals-related query might have been scraped from news feeds by a more automated process, similar to the way Alexa finds and reads the news or stock reports.

Fortune has reached out to Amazon for more details about their creation’s anti-Cleveland bias. But don’t worry – Alexa won’t be replacing Jeff Van Gundy on the mic anytime soon.

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Facebook to allow users to clear browsing history with new feature
May 1, 2018 6:05 pm|Comments (0)

(Reuters) – Facebook Inc (FB.O) Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said on Tuesday the social network is building a new privacy control called “clear history” to allow users to delete browsing history.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at Facebook Inc’s annual F8 developers conference in San Jose, California, U.S. May 1, 2018. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Zuckerberg, in a post on his Facebook account, said he will discuss the feature at Facebook’s annual F8 conference which begins today.

“This feature will enable you to see the websites and apps that send us information when you use them, delete this information from your account, and turn off our ability to store it associated with your account going forward,” the company said in a separate blog post.( here )

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at Facebook Inc’s annual F8 developers conference in San Jose, California, U.S. May 1, 2018. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Zuckerberg compared the new tool to the option of clearing cookies in a browser, which he said can make parts of the user experience worse as users may have to reconfigure things.

Facebook said it will take a few months to build the update, adding the company will work with privacy advocates, academics, policymakers and regulators to get their input on the new approach.

Tech companies are under intense scrutiny about how they protect customer data after Facebook was embroiled in a huge scandal where millions of users’ data were improperly accessed by a political consultancy.

“One thing I learned from my experience testifying in Congress is that I didn’t have clear enough answers to some of the questions about data,” Zuckerberg wrote.

Reporting by Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr

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Spotify says path to profits clear ahead of April 3 listing
March 15, 2018 6:21 pm|Comments (0)

LONDON/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Streaming music leader Spotify said on Thursday it has a clear path to profit as it spelled out to investors its growth plans and how it aims to fend off big rivals Apple Inc and Amazon.com Inc ahead of an April 3 listing.

FILE PHOTO: Headphones are seen in front of a logo of online music streaming service Spotify, February 18, 2014 REUTERS/Christian Hartmann/File Photo

Chief Executive Daniel Ek made a direct pitch to retail investors during a public webcast that stood in place of a traditional closed-door “road show” typically used to woo institutional investors in initial public offerings (IPOs).

The Stockholm-based company’s stock will hit the public markets in a unusual direct listing without traditional underwriters. Spotify must convince investors that its business is sound and that investors who buy shares in the public market debut won’t be hurt by unexpected volatility.

“You won’t see us ringing any bells or throwing any parties,” Ek said. “Since Spotify isn’t selling any stock in the listing, we’re really entirely focused on the long-term performance of the business.”

Ek portrayed Spotify as an underdog not tied to a major technology company. He pointed out that Spotify has more than twice as many paying users as its nearest rival, Apple, and that its strategy is to be an ubiquitous music service across phones, smart speakers and desktops from various makers.

Because the company will not issue any new shares, it did not specify a listing price. Based on private transactions, it is valued at roughly $ 19 billion, according to Reuters calculations. It has hired brokerage Morgan Stanley to match buy and sell orders to set its opening trading price.

Spotify has warned investors it faces a variety of risks.

It says the royalty costs it pays to artists and publishers are so difficult to calculate that in the past it has been unsure how much it owed, prompting what are known as “material weaknesses in internal controls” for each of the past three years with the danger of more in the future.

In addition, its music services are primarily delivered over devices such as Apple’s iPhone and Amazon.com’s Echo series of speakers, which could emphasize their own services over Spotify’s.

“Operating losses have grown with revenue, but the trend towards profitability is clear when you look at operating losses as a percentage of revenue,” the company said in the presentation in New York.

Revenue grew 39 percent to 4.09 billion euros ($ 5.04 billion) in 2017 from 2.95 billion euros in 2016, it said in a securities filing. At the same time, net financing costs of 855 million euros pushed up operating losses to 378 million euros from 349 million euros.

Reporting by Eric Auchard in London and Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Editing by Susan Thomas and Peter Henderson

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Skype Has Disappeared From App Stores in China. It’s Not Clear Which Law It Broke
November 21, 2017 12:02 pm|Comments (0)

Microsoft’s Skype may still be functioning in China, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find a way to download it in that country.

According to a New York Times report on Tuesday, Skype has been unavailable on Apple’s Chinese App Store and on various Android app repositories for almost a month now.

Apple (aapl) told the publication that it had been “notified by the Ministry of Public Security that a number of voice over internet protocol apps do not comply with local law,” so it had removed those apps in its Chinese store.

Android app stores run by local web giants such as Huawei and Xiaomi also don’t carry Skype anymore—Google (googl) doesn’t run its Play Store in the country because of local laws, so Android users have to turn to third-party services such as these for their app downloads.

Microsoft (msft) told the Times that Skype’s removal from Apple’s App Store was only temporary, and it was “working to reinstate the app as soon as possible.”

It’s not clear which law Skype is breaking. It doesn’t provide end-to-end encryption, though it might be that the Chinese authorities don’t like its encryption of messages in transit between people’s computing devices and Skype’s servers. It’s also possible that Skype is falling foul of a recently introduced Chinese rule that demands the use of verified real names on online platforms.

China has recently been particularly restrictive of online speech, due to the high-stakes Communist Party meeting that took place last month. However, Skype’s disappearance from the app stores seems to have taken place after that event.

Apple took flak from digital rights activists earlier this year when it removed from its Chinese App Store apps that could be used to bypass state censorship in the country.

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