Trump signs executive order ‘prioritizing’ AI development

It also includes language aimed at increasing efforts to educate American workers using a mix of programs spearheaded by the National Council for the American Worker and AI fellowships care of federal agencies. In addition, it calls upon the government to improve access to cloud computing and data-sharing for the development of new AI systems.

The executive order comes amid growing concerns over China’s push to become a global AI superpower and the threat of job losses in the impending age of automation. The initiative also urges federal branches to establish a regulatory framework for AI across industrial sectors. This despite the Trump administration’s past assurances to big tech that it would take a hands-off approach to the field.

social experiment by Livio Acerbo #greengroundit #engadget

Saudi Arabia denies involvement in leak of Jeff Bezos’ private messages

In his extraordinary Medium post last week accusing American Media Inc of “extortion and blackmail,” Bezos hinted (but did not explicitly state) that there may be a connection between Saudi Arabia and the publication of his personal messages with Lauren Sanchez. Now Saudi Arabia’s minister of foreign affairs has denied it was involved, stating during an interview with CBS’ “Face the Nation” that the Saudi government had “nothing to do with it.”

Last month, the National Enquirer published a series of texts between Bezos, who is separated from wife MacKenzie Bezos, and Sanchez. In his post last Thursday, Bezos claimed AMI, the owner of the National Enquirer, threatened to release messages that included intimate photos unless he cancelled an investigation into the source of the leaks and stopped claiming AMI was “politically motivated or influenced by political forces.” Bezos wrote that “the Saudi angle seems to hit a particularly sensitive nerve with” AMI CEO  [...]  read more

Paris sues Airbnb over illegal rental ads

The lawsuit could prove expensive for Airbnb. The law permits fines of 12,500 euros per illegal posting, which could leave the company paying nearly $14.2 million if every ad is deemed illegal.

In response, Airbnb told Reuters that it had taken steps to ensure visitors to Paris honor European law, but claimed the Parisian approach was “inefficient, disproportionate and in contravention of European rules.” It’s not going to quietly accept the allegations, then.

 [...]  read more

FDA accuses Juul of undermining efforts to prevent teen vaping

There was “deeply concerning data” that Juul use represented a “significant proportion” of kids’ e-cigarette use, Gottlieb said. He added that there was “no reason to believe” that trend would slow down or reverse in in the near future.

In a statement to Gizmodo, a Juul spokesperson insisted that the company was “as committed as ever” to preventing teen vaping, and was “moving full steam ahead” on a reduction plan it had unveiled in November. It also anticipated “constructive dialogue” with the FDA.

Juul has already been under tighter scrutiny in recent months, including a request in September to prove that its marketing wasn’t aimed at underage users. It has also tried to head off complaints by halting [...]  read more

Woody Allen sues Amazon for backing out of film deals

Allen’s action against Amazon Studios comes after the company decided to shelve his film A Rainy Day in New York. The romantic comedy starring Timothée Chalamet, Selena Gomez, Jude Law and Elle Fanning has been complete for more than six months, but Amazon has declined to distribute it. The company hasn’t set a release date for the project, which it paid $15 million to secure the rights for. Amazon also struggled to find theatrical distribution for Allen’s 2016 film Wonder Wheel. The film came out while Allen was once again under scrutiny for sexual assault allegations, making the director’s work toxic to most parties.

Amazon Studios entered into an agreement with Allen back in 2016 that was supposed to cover five films and a TV show. The company has since reneged on that agreement, though has not commented publicly on it. Allen claims there is “no legal basis” for Amazon Studios’ [...]  read more

FCC loses bid to cut tribal broadband subsidies

The FCC also didn’t follow basic procedures, the court added. Officials didn’t provide an “adequate opportunity for comment,” giving people roughly a two-week notice through a draft order. The notice didn’t include important information that would influence the decision, such as a note that the change wouldn’t affect towns with fewer than 10,000 people.

There is a possibility the FCC can appeal this ruling, although it hasn’t said how it will respond (we’ve asked for comment). If it doesn’t challenge the decision or runs out of appeals, though, it will have to create rules that pass muster — which may be difficult given the evidence requirements. As Ars Technica noted, this also makes it harder for the FCC to push a proposal that would force resellers out of the Lifeline program as a whole.

It could also be the start of more headaches for the FCC. The newly empowered House Energy and Commerce Committee has sent [...]  read more

Google’s Jigsaw is giving European politicians free DDoS protection

The primary goal of Project Shield is to make sure no one can take down a website that might have vital information for an upcoming election. That includes sites for news publications, journalists, human rights groups, and elections monitoring services. A DDoS attack might attempt to flood those sites and services with traffic that overwhelms the server and knocks them offline, making them inaccessible to people who need them. Project Shield defends against those attacks by sniffing out malicious traffic and rejecting the malicious attempts to connect to the server.

The protection of Project Shield comes just ahead of what promises to be a contentious time in the European Union. The 2019 European Parliament election is coming up in May and will likely draw more attention than usual as the European Union reshapes itself following Brexit. Russian hackers are known to have targeted elections in [...]  read more

US charges Huawei with stealing trade secrets and violating sanctions

Prosecutors say that Huawei stole trade secrets from T-Mobile, and that it offered bonuses to employees who were successful in obtaining technology from rivals. They also claim the company and two affiliates committed bank fraud and violated sanctions when it carried out business with Iran. Engadget has contacted Huawei for comment.

In 2017, a jury awarded T-Mobile $4.8 million in a suit against Huawei — it claimed the Chinese company stole parts from “Tappy,” a robot that simulates smartphone use. Last month, Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada last month for allegedly committing fraud to bypass Iran sanctions. She was released on bail, though faces extradition to the US after she was charged in Monday’s indictments.

There [...]  read more

Politiscope, an app to track Congressional voting records and bills, launches on android devices

Last September, two former National Football League players launched an app called Politiscope to track the voting records of members of Congress and the bills that they were introducing — and provide non-partisan information about what those bills and votes would mean to voters.

The pro-football-playing brothers, Walter Powell Jr. and Brandon Williams, launched the app to provide an accurate accounting of what Congressional leadership was doing — something the two felt was necessary given the political climate and the ways in which the traditional sources of education on political issues were being called into question.

“A claim of ‘Fake News’ from the current national leaders in response to unflattering news threatens this nation’s democracy and the concept that this great nation was built upon,” said Powell in a statement when the app first launched in September.

Now the two brothers are expanding Politiscope’s reach by launching the Android version of the service.

While [...]  read more

Facebook introduces political petitions to your News Feed

The company is well aware of the possibility for abuse. Aside from limiting Community Actions to a relatively narrow scope, it’s betting that a mix of algorithmic abuse detection, human oversight and user reports will prevent people from starting racist or otherwise offensive petitions. Not surprisingly, Facebook also won’t let you tag the President or Vice President. It instead prefers that you reach out to your local representatives, and will even apply a “constituent” badge to make clear that you have a stake in this political request.

Whether or not Community Actions work well in practice is another matter. While Facebook is trying to minimize abuse and told TechCrunch that its early tests went well, there are concerns that fringe groups could game the system and artificially inflate their support. And then there’s the not-so-small matter of bias accusations [...]  read more