Schlagwort-Archive: google+

Sensorvault Googles Location Database – using cellphone users’ locations into a digital dragnet for law enforcement

The warrants, which draw on an enormous Google database employees call Sensorvault, turn the business of tracking cellphone users’ locations into a digital dragnet for law enforcement. In an era of ubiquitous data gathering by tech companies, it is just the latest example of how personal information — where you go, who your friends are, what you read, eat and watch, and when you do it — is being used for purposes many people never expected. As privacy concerns have mounted among consumers, policymakers and regulators, tech companies have come under intensifying scrutiny over their data collection practices.

The Arizona case demonstrates the promise and perils of the new investigative technique, whose use has risen sharply in the past six months, according to Google employees familiar with the requests. It can help solve crimes. But it can also snare innocent people.

https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/tracking-phones-google-is-a-dragnet-for-the-police/

‘I Don’t Really Want to Work for Facebook.’ So Say Some Computer Science Students.

Surprisingly a number of students and generation Y digital natives turn against social media giants.

Computer Science Students.

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The Cal Hacks 5.0 competition drew students to the University of California, Berkeley, including, from left, Haitao Zhang, Ingrid Wu and Emily Hu, all students at Berkeley. Some students at the hackathon expressed a reluctance to work for big tech firms.CreditCreditMax Whittaker for The New York Times

BERKELEY, Calif. — A job at Facebook sounds pretty plum. The interns make around $8,000 a month, and an entry-level software engineer makes about $140,000 a year. The food is free. There’s a walking trail with indigenous plants and a juice bar.

But the tone among highly sought-after computer scientists about the social network is changing. On a recent night at the University of California, Berkeley, as a group of young engineers gathered to show off their tech skills, many said they would avoid taking jobs at the social network.

“I’ve heard a lot of employees who work there don’t even use it,” said Niky Arora, 19, an engineering student, who was recently invited to a Facebook recruiting event at the company’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. “I just don’t believe in the product because like, Facebook, the baseline of everything they do is desire to show people more ads.”

Emily Zhong, 20, a computer science major, piped up. “Surprisingly, a lot of my friends now are like, ‘I don’t really want to work for Facebook,’” she said, citing “privacy stuff, fake news, personal data, all of it.”

“Before it was this glorious, magical thing to work there,” said Jazz Singh, 18, also studying computer science. “Now it’s like, just because it does what you want doesn’t mean it’s doing good.”

As Facebook has been rocked by scandal after scandal, some young engineers are souring on the company. Many are still taking jobs there, but those who do are doing it a little more quietly, telling their friends that they will work to change it from within or that they have carved out more ethical work at a company whose reputation has turned toxic.

Facebook, which employs more than 30,000 full-time workers around the world, said, “In 2018, we’ve hired more engineers than ever before.” The company added, “We continue to see strong engagement and excitement within the engineering community at the prospect of joining our company.”

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Niky Arora, 19, a student at Berkeley, said she was skeptical about working for Facebook, which invited her to a recruiting event recently. “I’ve heard a lot of employees who work there don’t even use it,” she said.CreditMax Whittaker for The New York Times

The changing attitudes are happening beyond Facebook. Across Silicon Valley, tech recruiters said job applicants in general were asking more hard questions during interviews, wanting to know specifically what they would be asked to do at the company. Career coaches said they had tech employees reaching out to get tips on handling moral quandaries. The questions include “How do I avoid a project I disagree with?” and “How do I remind my bosses of the company mission statement?”

“Employees are wising up to the fact that you can have a mission statement on your website, but when you’re looking at how the company creates new products or makes decisions, the correlation between the two is not so tightly aligned,” said David Chie, the head of Palo Alto Staffing, a tech job placement service in Silicon Valley. “Everyone’s having this conversation.”

When engineers apply for jobs, they are also doing it differently.

“They do a lot more due diligence,” said Heather Johnston, Bay Area district president for the tech job staffing agency Robert Half. “Before, candidates were like: ‘Oh, I don’t want to do team interviews. I want a one-and-done.’” Now, she added, job candidates “want to meet the team.”

“They’re not just going to blindly take a company because of the name anymore,” she said.

Yet while many of the big tech companies have been hit by a change in public perception, Facebook seems uniquely tarred among young workers.

“I’ve had a couple of clients recently say they’re not as enthusiastic about Facebook because they’re frustrated with what they see happening politically or socially,” said Paul Freiberger, president of Shimmering Careers, a career counseling group based in San Mateo, Calif. “It’s privacy and political news, and concern that it’s going to be hard to correct these things from inside.”

Chad Herst, a leadership and career coach based in San Francisco since 2008, said that now, for the first time, he had clients who wanted to avoid working for big social media companies like Facebook or Twitter.

“They’re concerned about where democracy is going, that social media polarizes us, and they don’t want to be building it,” Mr. Herst said. “People really have been thinking about the mission of the company and what the companies are trying to achieve a little more.”

He said one client, a midlevel executive at Facebook, wanted advice on how to shift her group’s work to encourage users to connect offline as well. But she found resistance internally to her efforts.

“She was trying to figure out: ‘How do I politic this? How do I language this?’” Mr. Herst said. “And I was telling her to bring up some of Mark Zuckerberg’s past statements about connecting people.”

On the recent evening at the University of California, Berkeley, around 2,200 engineering students from around the country gathered for Cal Hacks 5.0 — a competition to build the best apps. The event spanned a weekend, so teenage competitors dragged pillows around with them. The hosts handed out 2,000 burritos as students registered.

It was also a hiring event. Recruiters from Facebook and Alphabet set up booths (free sunglasses from Facebook; $200 in credit to the Google Cloud platform from Alphabet).

In the auditorium, the head of Y Combinator, a start-up incubator and investment firm, gave opening remarks, recommending that young people avoid jobs in big tech.

“You get to program your life on a totally different scale,” said Michael Seibel, who leads Y Combinator. “The worst thing that can happen to you is you get a job at Google.” He called those jobs “$100,000-a-year welfare” — meaning, he said, that workers can get tethered to the paycheck and avoid taking risks.

The event then segued to a word from the sponsor, Microsoft. Justin Garrett, a Microsoft recruiter who on his LinkedIn profile calls himself a senior technical evangelist, stepped onstage, laughing a little.

“So, Michael’s a tough guy to follow, especially when you work for one of those big companies,” Mr. Garrett said. “He called it welfare. I like to call it tremendous opportunity.”

Then students flooded into the stadium, which was filled with long tables of computers where they would stay and compete. In the middle of the scrum, three friends joked around. Caleb Thomas, 21, was gently made fun of because he had accepted an internship at Facebook.

“Come on, guys,” Mr. Thomas said.

“These are the realities of how the business works,” said Samuel Resendez, 20, a computer science student at the University of Southern California.

It turned out Mr. Resendez had interned at Facebook in the summer. Olivia Brown, 20, head of Stanford’s Computer Science and Social Good club and an iOS intern at Mozilla, called him out on it. “But you still worked at Facebook, too,” she said.

“Well, at least I signed before Cambridge Analytica,” Mr. Resendez said, a little bashful about the data privacy and election manipulation scandal that rocked the company this year. “Ninety-five percent of what Facebook is doing is delivering memes.”

Ms. Brown said a lot of students criticize Facebook and talk about how they would not work there, but ultimately join. “Everyone cares about ethics in tech before they get a contract,” she said.

Ms. Brown said she thought that could change soon, though, as the social stigma of working for Facebook began outweighing the financial benefits.

“Defense companies have had this reputation for a long time,” she said. “Social networks are just getting that.”

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/15/technology/jobs-facebook-computer-science-students.html

Google needs to apologize for violating the trust of its users once again

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MAY 28: Google senior vice president of product Sundar Pichai delivers the keynote address during the 2015 Google I/O conference on May 28, 2015 in San Francisco, California. The annual Google I/O conference runs through May 29. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

  • An Associated Press investigation recently discovered that Google still collects its users‘ location data even if they have their Location History turned off.
  • After the report was published, Google quietly updated its help page to describe how location settings work.
  • Previously, the page said „with Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored.“
  • Now, the page says, „This setting does not affect other location services on your device,“ adding that „some location data may be saved as part of your activity on other services, like Search and Maps.“
  • The quiet changing of false information is a major violation of users‘ trust.
  • Google needs to do better.

Google this week acknowledged that it quietly tracks its users‘ locations, even if those people turn off their Location History — a clarification that came in the wake of an Associated Press investigation.

It’s a major violation of users‘ trust.

And yet, nothing is going to happen as a result of this episode.

It’s happened before

Google has a history of bending the rules:

  • In 2010, Google’s Street View cars were caught eavesdropping on people’s Wi-Fi connections.
  • In 2011, Google agreed to forfeit $500 million after a criminal investigation by the Justice Department found that Google illegally allowed advertisements from online Canadian pharmacies to sell their products in the US.
  • In 2012, Google circumvented the no-cookies policy on Apple’s Safari web browser and paid a $22.5 million fine to the Federal Trade Commission as a result.

Ultimately, Google came out of all of these incidents just fine. It paid some money here and there, and sat in a few courtrooms, but nothing really happened to the company’s bottom line. People continued using Google’s services.

Other companies have done it too

Remember Cambridge Analytica?

Five months ago in March, a 28-year-old named Christopher Wylie blew the whistle on his employer, the data-analytics company, Cambridge Analytica, at which he served as a director of research.

It was later revealed that Cambridge Analytica had collected the data of over 87 million Facebook users in an attempt to influence the 2016 presidential election in favor of the Republican candidate, Donald Trump.

One month later, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was summoned in front of Congress to answer questions related to the Cambridge Analytica scandal over a two-day span.

mark zuckerberg congress facebook awkwardFacebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, takes a drink of water while testifying before a joint hearing of the Commerce and Judiciary Committees on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 10, 2018, about the use of Facebook data to target American voters in the 2016 election.AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Many users felt like their trust was violated. A hashtag movement called „#DeleteFacebook“ was born.

And yet, nothing has really changed at Facebook since that scandal, which similarly involved the improper collection of user data, and the violation of users‘ trust.

Facebook seems to be doing just fine. During its Q2 earnings report in late July, Facebook reported over $13 billion in revenue — a 42% jump year-over-year — and an 11% increase in both daily and monthly active users.

In short, Facebook is not going anywhere. And neither is Google.

Too big — and too good — to fail

Just like Facebook has no equal among the hundreds of other social networks out there, the same goes for Google and competing search engines.

According to StatCounter, Google has a whopping 90% share of the global search engine market.

The next biggest search engine in the world is Microsoft’s Bing, which has a paltry 3% market share.

In other words, a cataclysmic event would have to occur for people to switch search engines. Or, another search engine would have to come along and completely unseat Google.

But that’s probably not going to happen.

GoogleUladzik Kryhin/Shutterstock

For almost 20 years now, Google dominated the search engine game. Its other services have become similarly prevalent: Gmail, and Google Docs, have all become integral parts of people’s personal and work lives. Of course, there are similar mail and productivity services out there, but using Google is far more convenient, since most people use more than one Google product, and having all of your applications talk to each other and share information is mighty convenient.

This isn’t meant to cry foul: Google is one of the top software makers in the world, but it has earned that status by constantly improving and iterating on its products, and even itself, over the past two decades. But one does wonder what event, if any, could possibly make people quit a service as big and convenient and powerful as Google once and for all.

The fact is: That probably won’t happen. People likely won’t quit Google’s services, unless there’s some major degradation of quality. But Google, as a leader in Silicon Valley, should strive to do better for its customers. Intentional or not, misleading customers about location data is a bad thing. Google failed its customers: It let users think they had more control when they did, and they only corrected their language about location data after a third-party investigation. But there was no public acknowledgement of an error, and no mea culpa.

Google owes its users a true apology. Quietly updating an online help page isn’t good enough.

 

http://uk.businessinsider.com/google-location-data-violates-user-trust-nothing-will-happen-2018-8?r=US&IR=T

Google introduces an ad blocker to Chrome – Filtering – Censorship?

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Google will introduce an ad blocker to Chrome early next year and is telling publishers to get ready.

The warning is meant to let websites assess their ads and strip any particularly disruptive ones from their pages. That’s because Chrome’s ad blocker won’t block all ads from the web. Instead, it’ll only block ads on pages that are determined to have too many annoying or intrusive advertisements, like videos that autoplay with sound or interstitials that take up the entire screen.

Sridhar Ramaswamy, the executive in charge of Google’s ads, writes in a blog post that even ads “owned or served by Google” will be blocked on pages that don’t meet Chrome’s guidelines.

Instead of an ad “blocker,” Google is referring to the feature as an ad “filter,” according toThe Wall Street Journal, since it will still allow ads to be displayed on pages that meet the right requirements. The blocker will work on both desktop and mobile.

Google is providing a tool that publishers can run to find out if their sites’ ads are in violation and will be blocked in Chrome. Unacceptable ads are being determined by a group called the Coalition for Better Ads, which includes Google, Facebook, News Corp, and The Washington Post as members.

Google shows publishers which of their ads are considered disruptive.

The feature is certain to be controversial. On one hand, there are huge benefits for both consumers and publishers. But on the other, it gives Google immense power over what the web looks like, partly in the name of protecting its own revenue.

First, the benefits: bad ads slow down the web, make the web hard and annoying to browse, and have ultimately driven consumers to install ad blockers that remove all advertisements no matter what. A world where that continues and most users block all ads looks almost apocalyptic for publishers, since nearly all of your favorite websites rely on ads to stay afloat. (The Verge, as you have likely noticed, included.)

By implementing a limited blocking tool, Google can limit the spread of wholesale ad blocking, which ultimately benefits everyone. Users get a better web experience. And publishers get to continue using the ad model that’s served the web well for decades — though they may lose some valuable ad units in the process.

There’s also a good argument to be made that stripping out irritating ads is no different than blocking pop ups, which web browsers have done for years, as a way to improve the experience for consumers.

But there are drawbacks to building an ad blocker into Chrome: most notably, the amount of power it gives Google. Ultimately, it means Google gets to decide what qualifies as an acceptable ad (though it’s basing this on standards set collectively by the Coalition for Better Ads). That’s a good thing if you trust Google to remain benign and act in everyone’s interests. But keep in mind that Google is, at its core, an ad company. Nearly 89 percent of its revenue comes from displaying ads.

The Chrome ad blocker doesn’t just help publishers, it also helps Google maintain its dominance. And it advantages Google’s own ad units, which, it’s safe to say, will not be in violation of the bad ad rules.

This leaves publishers with fewer options to monetize their sites. And given that Chrome represents more than half of all web browsing on desktop and mobile, publishers will be hard pressed not to comply.

Google will also include an option for visitors to pay websites that they’re blocking ads on, through a program it’s calling Funding Choices. Publishers will have to enable support for this feature individually. But Google already tested a similar feature for more than two years, and it never really caught on. So it’s hard to imagine publishers seeing what’s essentially a voluntary tipping model as a viable alternative to ads.

Ramaswamy says that the goal of Chrome’s ad blocker is to make online ads better. “We believe these changes will ensure all content creators, big and small, can continue to have a sustainable way to fund their work with online advertising,” he writes.

And what Ramaswamy says is probably true: Chrome’s ad blocker likely will clean up the web and result in a better browsing experience. It just does that by giving a single advertising juggernaut a whole lot of say over what’s good and bad.

https://www.theverge.com/2017/6/1/15726778/chrome-ad-blocker-early-2018-announced-google

Google built its own computer chip specifically for running deep neural networks, called the Tensor Processing Unit, or TPU

9 Steps to Get Millions of Views on Your YouTube Channel

9-steps-to-get-millions-of-views-on-your-youtube-channel

YouTube is the second most powerful search engine on the planet, and holds the top spot as the largest video network in existence.

The video site continues to grow more pervasive with the maturation of smartphone technology. Today, half of YouTube video views stem from mobile devices.

For this reason, and many others, YouTube is the master of reaching across generational boundaries to impact and engage members of GenX, GenY and GenZ. For example, YouTube currently reaches more 18-34 and 18-49 year-olds than any U.S cable network currently broadcasting.

Because of the popularity of the platform, influencers have spawned from the network and continually leave lasting impressions on their dedicated viewers. Studies suggest that recommendations from influencers are trusted 92% more than from celebrities or advertisements.

The trust factor brought forth by influencers is one of the most notable reasons as to why influencer marketing is so effective.

It’s not as simple as it looks

Leveraging influencers on YouTube is not as simple as it sounds. Because there are many performance and brand risks associated with YouTubers that need to be managed in order to deliver rockstar results.

YouTubers are legitimate masters of their craft and make their living by presenting themselves authentically. This means that brand interference regarding their voice or image is not normally welcomed.

Despite the challenges, brands and YouTubers can get along famously when the right partnership is forged.

The balancing act

By way of example, Google recently recruited famed YouTube influencer Lewis Hilsenteger from the channel Unbox Therapy to help make some noise about Android Pay.

The video depicted Lewis travelling throughout New York City, visiting destinations that accept the form of payment to prove that you could survive solely with Android Pay. This is a prime example of recruiting an influencer that expresses a brand’s message while maintaining their authenticity.

The video generated 1.7 million views while showing off the real-world capabilities of Android Pay.                     

unbox-therapy-for-views-on-your-youtube-channel

No doubt successful collaborations like these and the significant revenue generation potential spurred Google to recently acquire influencer marketplace Famebit.

The 9 key steps to get millions of views on YouTube

Below you’ll find nine steps that fast-casual restaurant chain Qdoba Mexican Eats took when engaging the YouTube audience for the first time.

The results were phenomenal (and, in full disclosure, delivered under the direction of, as well as executed by digital marketing agency Evolve!, Inc.).

If you’re planning on diving into YouTube to help grow your business, use this campaign as a model – it delivered 3 million views, 84K social engagements, and 200M potential impressions, all while adhering to strict brand guidelines and beating aggressive price targets.

1. Set your goals and success criteria

As with any marketing campaign, align your influencer marketing campaign with your overall marketing and sales goals.

Define success using quality metrics, such as messaging and how the brand is portrayed, as well as quantifiable targets such as cost per video view, average length of video view, number of targeted views, and cost per conversion.

2. Set a budget

The cost per view charged for YouTube sponsorships varies WIDELY, depending on factors such as audience size, reach, demographics, engagement, their industry vertical and genre, the type of sponsorship and length of integration, the YouTuber’s desire to work with a particular brand, and whether the talent is represented by an agency.

A good rule of thumb is to target a .04 – .07 cents cost per view (CPV) for video integrations and a .08 to .15 CPV for dedicated videos.

Brands should also set aside budget for content generation (landing pages, blog posts, prizes and and/or promotions), analytics software for tracking, a promotional ad budget, and manpower.

3. Create a theme and campaign messaging that supports your goals

It can be something as simple as capturing people’s excitement as they try delicious Qdoba entrees for the first time (#QdobaUnbox), or reveling in the occasions when More is Better (#MoreIsBetter), including indulging in Qdoba’s generous array of delicious toppings (#MoreFlavorIsBetter).

Evolve even created a contest celebrating Qdoba’s key differentiating factor: Free Guacamole (#FreeGuac).

Develop brand, and campaign-specific messaging, but leave ample room for YouTubers to exercise their creative license.

create-a-theme-for-views-on-your-youtube-channel

Remember, integrations are NOT advertisements.  Videos that come off as too commercial tend to get panned in the comments and generate lower-than-expected view counts.

4. Establish your selection criteria

What constitutes a brand match?

Start with genres, industries and channel demographics, including age, sex and geography.

Does the campaign theme fit their interests? Do they create content that would resonate with or offend your audience?

Identify any influencers that meet this criteria, fall within the audience size that you are looking to engage, and begin the outreach process.

5. Develop a pitch letter

Be clear about the campaign requirements, and set expectations: Are you looking for an integration or a dedicated video?  What four or five key messages do YouTubers need to address in the video?  And what is your timeline?

Basically, what are the promotional requirements and is there any additional information you need from them when they respond to your proposal.

But bear in mind that people who have built sizeable, engaged followings can afford to be choosy about which brands they want to work with. You may want to excite them with something that’s unique about your brand.

Qdoba offered vloggers a summer of free food, in addition to the paid sponsorship.

6. Recruit enthusiastic YouTubers

This is perhaps the most time-consuming step, and the most critical to the success of your campaign.

You know you’ve hit gold when you’ve identified YouTubers who meet your brand criteria, like your brand and offer creative story lines, and sometimes bonus promotions in their response.

There are 3 routes to recruit YouTubers:

  • Outreach directly to the people you want to work with via the email listed on their YouTube channel
  • Work with talent agencies you know and trust
  • Solicit proposals through influencer marketplaces like Famebit, Grapevine Logic or Reelio

recruit-enthusiastic-youtubers-for-views-on-your-youtube-channel

7. Spell out everything in the contract

Flush out the creative before finalizing the contract, and include the type of integration, key messages, project timeline, the reviews process and video promotions.

YouTubers tend NOT to want the brand to weigh in on things like the Video Title or storyline outside the integration. On the same token, it is vital to be somewhat flexible when working with influencers on the creative direction of the content. These folks have built substantial followings that are enchanted by their unique voice. Setting too rigid of a structure that is outside the norm for influencers could result in a deal going south or a video not receiving the attention it deserves.

8. A/B test everything. Measure, tweak and repeat

Test various genres, campaign themes, messaging, calls to action, and amplification strategies. At this stage, we generally prefer to partner with YouTubers that have small but engaged audiences. This will allow you to get the most bang for your buck while simultaneously minimizing any potential losses for creatives that do not resonate with audiences.

ab-test-everything-for-views-on-your-youtube-channel

Measure campaign performance, focusing on actual video views, social engagements and cost per conversions, if that’s relevant. Pivot as needed and update projected outcomes.

We use several tools simultaneously, including Simply Measured, to monitor multiple channels to gain the most clear and comprehensive picture possible.

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9. Scale!

Once the campaign has been optimized, turn up the volume. Contract larger YouTube channels, and consider using contests or launching several videos at once to support product launches.

These introduce an added layer of complexity because they need to adhere to strict timelines and you potentially need to manage multiple videos at once. On the flipside, they also generally produce much more significant results, so while efforts will become more intricate, they will also become much more fruitful.

Qdoba A/B tested several concepts before running a two week #FreeGuac campaign, which drove 2.4 million video views. Participating YouTube vloggers invited their viewers to enter into a scavenger hunt contest for the chance to win cash prizes, free food and cool SWAG.

Contests like these are ideal for scaling a campaign as almost any marketing element that engages an audience on a participatory level is going to garner more attention compared to content that is merely observed through comments and shares. The contest subsequently resulted in Qdoba collecting over 10K contest submissions.

Wrap

As video continues to grow, YouTube is quickly transitioning into the premier influencer marketing channel. The power of video content is unmatched by its predecessors and influencer marketing, when managed properly, has the ability to permeate and engage an audience in unparalleled fashion.

The most challenging aspect of this discipline is that the rules of engagement are constantly in flux, meaning that for the best results, it is advisable to collaborate with specialty digital marketing agencies that work day-in and day-out crafting influencer strategies on YouTube that resonate, sell, and make a brand’s efforts worthwhile.

9 Steps to Get Millions of Views on Your YouTube Channel

Samsung Plans To Give Galaxy S8 An AI Digital Assistant

All the cool companies have them: digital assistants. Apple has Siri, Microsoft has Cortana, and Google  has the cleverly named Google Assistant. Now, Samsung plans to bring its own iteration of a virtual assistant in the Galaxy S8 next spring, according to a new report from Reuters.

The assistant will be based on work by Viv Labs, a San Jose-based AI company that Samsung acquired this October (the move immediately fueled speculation that Samsung was moving into the AI space). The founders of Viv Labs already have a strong track record in the field as the creators of Siri, which Apple bought in 2010.

Samsung appears to be tapping into Viv’s existing strengths rather than aiming to revamp the platform. One of Viv’s hallmarks is that it is designed to be a one-stop-shop that works seamlessly with third-party services. “Developers can attach and upload services to our agent,” Samsung Executive Vice President Rhee In-jong said during a briefing, according to Reuters. “Even if Samsung doesn’t do anything on its own, the more services that get attached the smarter this agent will get, learn more new services and provide them to end-users with ease.”

If the digital assistant is a hit, it could help Samsung make up for its financial losses over the Galaxy Note 7 recall, which is projected to cost the company at least $5.4 billion. It could also rebuild consumer confidence after the Note 7 debacle and, more recently, a recall of a Samsung top-loading washing machine due to “impact injuries.”

But the company is entering a crowded market. Apple paved the way with Siri, though its early lead is shrinking after the launch of Google’s Assistant, which can tap into Google’s well-established knowledge graph and search capabilities. And there’s always Amazon Alexa, which already has a home in the smart-home devices the Echo, Dot and Tap.

„Every door can be unlocked.“  Ellen Fondiler

http://www.forbes.com/sites/shelbycarpenter/2016/11/06/samsung-plan-galaxy-s8-ai-digital-assistant

Google Hits a Samsung Roadblock With New AI Assistant – Viv & Adam Cheyer

Google just debuted a digital assistant, which it hopes to place inside smartphones, watches, cars and every other imaginable internet-connected device. It’s already hit a snag.

The Alphabet division launched new smartphones last week with the artificially intelligent assistant deeply embedded. It also rolled out a speaker with the feature at its core and announced plans to let other companies tie their apps and services to the assistant.

A day later, Samsung, which just announced it was ending production of its problematic Galaxy Note 7 smartphones, said it was acquiring Viv Labs, a startup building its own AI voice-based assistant.

At first, the deal looked like a counter-punch to Samsung rival Apple — Viv is run by the creators of Apple’s Siri assistant. But buying Viv may be more of a problem for Google, because Samsung is the biggest maker of phones running Google’s Android mobile operating system.

Google strategy is now centered on the assistant, rather than its search engine, because it’s a more natural way for people to interact with smartphones and other connected devices. Getting all Android phone makers to put the Google assistant on their devices would get the technology into millions of hands quickly. But Samsung’s Viv deal suggests assistants are too important for phone makers to let other companies supply this feature.

Last week, despite the Note 7 crisis, Samsung executive Injong Rhee said the company plans to put Viv’s technology in its smartphones next year and then embed it into other electronics and home appliances. A Samsung representative and a Google spokeswoman declined to comment.

That’s a necessity for Samsung, according to some analysts and industry insiders.

„As AI is becoming more sophisticated and valuable to the consumer, there’s no question it will be important for hardware companies,“ said Kirt McMaster, executive chairman of Cyanogen, a startup that makes Android software. Mr. McMaster, a frequent Google critic, said other Android handset makers will likely follow Samsung’s move.

„If you don’t have an AI asset, you’re not going to have a brain,“ he added.

Google may already have known that some Android phone makers — known as original equipment manufacturers, or OEMs — were reluctant to embrace its assistant.

„Other OEMs may want to differentiate“ Google’s Android chief Hiroshi Lockheimer told Bloomberg before it released its own smartphones. „They may want to do their own thing — their own assistant, for example.“

Samsung and Google have sparred in the past over distribution. Google requires Android handset makers to pre-install 11 apps, yet Samsung often puts its own services on its phones. And the South Korean company has released devices that run on its own operating system, called Tizen, not Android.

Viv was frequently on the short-list of startups that could help larger tech companies build assistant technology. Founded four-years ago by Dag Kittlaus, Adam Cheyer and Chris Brigham, the startup was working on voice technology to handle more complex queries than existing offerings.

While it drummed up considerable attention and investment, Viv has not yet released its product to the public. And some analysts are skeptical of Samsung’s ability to convert the technology into a credible service, given its mixed record with software applications.

„It will be very hard to compete with Google’s strength in data and their AI acquisitions,“ said Jitendra Waral, senior analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence. „Samsung would need to prove that its AI solutions are superior to that of Google’s. They are handicapped in this race.“

Samsung is also focused on handling the fallout from its exploding Galaxy Note 7 phones, potentially taking management time away from its Viv integration.

But it’s a race Samsung has to join. In recent years, Samsung acquired mobile-payments and connected-device startups to keep up with Apple, Google and Amazon. Digital voice-based assistants may be more important, if they become the main way people interact with devices.

Silicon Valley titans are rushing into the space because of this potential. Amazon is trying to sign up developers for its Alexa voice technology. Apple has recently touted more Siri capabilities and opened the technology to other developers. And now Google, considered the leader in artificial intelligence, is making its own push.

„I don’t ever remember a time when every single major consumer tech company — and even enterprise companies — have been singularly focused on an identical strategy,“ said Tim Tuttle, chief executive officer of MindMeld Inc., a startup working on voice interaction software. „They’re all following the exact same playbook.“

 

http://adage.com/article/digital/google-hits-a-roadblock-ai-assistant/306244/

Google hired writers from Pixar and The Onion to make Assistant more personable

Google wants its Assistant to be more than just an order-taking robot — so it hired some clever writers from outside the company to help make it happen.

A new story from the Wall Street Journal’s Christopher Mims details the advancements of different artificial intelligence devices like Amazon Echo and Google’s rival product Home, and how they’re comforting for those who live alone thanks to how personable the AI’s have become.

For Google, that friendly personality is thanks to a team of writers from Pixar and The Onion who helped make the Assistant — which powers Google’s Home device — sound more like a human and less like a robot, according to the Journal. Google’s eventual goal is to help users build an emotional connection with the Assistant, the Journal reports.

Google unveiled its Assistant-enabled Home device last week, a direct competitor to other AI-powered hardware devices like Amazon’s Echo. The Assistant itself is similar to Alexa, which powers the Echo: It has voice-recognition software, natural language recognition, and it gets smarter over time.

You can ask the Assistant to tell you a joke, give you the weather or set a timer, but you can also ask it to do things like remember your favorite sports team or the city you live in. Much like other AI — like Alexa or Apple’s Siri — the Assistant can be equal parts sweet and sassy, which is what helps it seem more relatable and more human. The Assistant lives inside Google Home, but it’s also enabled in Google’s new messaging app, Allo and its new Pixel smartphone.

 

http://www.businessinsider.de/google-assistant-pixar-the-onion-2016-10

A High-Stakes Bet: Turning Google Assistant Into a ‘Star Trek’ Computer

Google’s new assistant will be incorporated in new products like Google Home, an Amazon Echo-like talking computer. CreditJustin Sullivan/Getty Images

Google is one of the most valuable companies in the world, but its future, like that of all tech giants, is clouded by a looming threat. The search company makes virtually all of its money from ads placed on the World Wide Web. But what happens to the cash machine if web search eventually becomes outmoded?

That worry isn’t far-fetched. More of the world’s computing time keeps shifting to smartphones, where apps have supplanted the web. And internet-connected devices that may dominate the next era in tech — smartwatches, home-assistant devices like Amazon’s Echo, or virtual reality machines like Oculus Rift — are likely to be free of the web, and may even lack screens.

But if Google is worried, it isn’t showing it. The company has long been working on a not-so-secret weapon to avert its potential irrelevance. Google has shoveled vast financial and engineering resources into a collection of data mining and artificial intelligence systems, from speech recognition to machine translation to computer vision.

Now Google is melding these advances into a new product, a technology whose ultimate aim is something like the talking computer on “Star Trek.”It is a high-stakes bet: If this new tech fails, it could signal the beginning of the end of Google’s reign over our lives. But if it succeeds, Google could achieve a centrality in human experience unrivaled by any tech product so far.

The company calls its version of this all-powerful machine the Google Assistant. Today, it resembles other digital helpers you’ve likely used — things like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana. It currently lives in Google’s new messaging app, Allo, and will also be featured in a few new gadgets the company plans to unveil next week, including a new smartphone and an Amazon Echo-like talking computer called Google Home.

But Google has much grander aims for the Assistant. People at the company say that Sundar Pichai, who took over as Google’s chief executive last year after Google was split into a conglomerate called Alphabet, has bet the company on the new tech. Mr. Pichai declined an interview request for this column, but at Google’s developer conference in May, he called the development of the Assistant “a seminal moment” for the company.

If the Assistant or something like it does not take off, Google’s status as the chief navigator of our digital lives could be superseded by a half-dozen other assistants. You might interact with Alexa in your house, with Siri on your phone, and with Facebook Messenger’s chatbot when you’re out and about. Google’s search engine (not to mention its Android operating system, Chrome, Gmail, Maps and other properties) would remain popular and lucrative, but possibly far less so than they are today.

That’s the threat. But the Assistant also presents Google with a delicious opportunity. The “Star Trek” computer is no metaphor. The company believes that machine learning has advanced to the point that it is now possible to build a predictive, all-knowing, superhelpful and conversational assistant of the sort that Captain Kirk relied on to navigate the stars.

Photo

CreditStuart Goldenberg

The Assistant, in Google’s most far-out vision, would always be around, wherever you are, on whatever device you use, to handle just about any informational task.

Consider this common situation: Today, to book a trip, you usually have to load up several travel sites, consult your calendar and coordinate with your family and your colleagues. If the Assistant works as well as Google hopes, all you might have to do is say, “O.K., Google, I need to go to Hong Kong next week. Take care of it.”

Based on your interactions with it over the years, Google would know your habits, your preferences and your budget. It would know your friends, family and your colleagues. With access to so much data, and with the computational power to interpret all of it, the Assistant most likely could handle the entire task; if it couldn’t, it would simply ask you to fill in the gaps, the way a human assistant might.

Computers have made a lot of everyday tasks far easier to accomplish, yet they still require a sometimes annoying level of human involvement to get the most out of them. The Assistant’s long-term aim is to eliminate all this busywork.

If it succeeds, it would be the ultimate expression of what Larry Page, Google’s co-founder, once described as the perfect search engine: a machine that “understands exactly what you mean and gives you back exactly what you want.”

At this point, a few readers may be recoiling at the potential invasion of autonomy and privacy that such a machine would necessitate.

The Assistant would involve giving ourselves over to machines more fully. We would trust them not just with our information but increasingly with our decisions. Many people are already freaked out by what Google, Facebook and other tech companies know about us. Would we be willing to hand over even more power to computers?

Those are important questions, but they are also well down the road. For now, the more pressing question for the Assistant is: Will it even work?

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Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive, calls the development of the assistant “a seminal moment” for the company. CreditJustin Sullivan/Getty Images

Google has technological advantages that suggest it could build a more capable digital assistant than others have accomplished. Many of the innovations that it has built into its search engine — including its knowledge graph database of more than a billion people, places and things, and the 17 years it has spent trying to understand the meaning of web queries — will form the Assistant’s brain.

Google has also been one of the leaders in machine learning, the process that allows computers to discover facts about the world without being explicitly programmed. Machine learning is at the heart of a number of recent advances, including Google Photos’ uncanny capacity to search through your images for arbitrary terms (photos of people hugging, for instance).

“We are in the process of transforming into a machine-learning company,” Jeff Dean, who is in charge of Google Brain, the company’s artificial intelligence project, told me this year. For each problem Google solves this way, it gets better at solving other problems. “It’s a boulder going downhill gathering more momentum as it goes,” Mr. Dean said.

If you use the Assistant today, you’ll see some of these advances. As my colleague Brian X. Chen explained last week, if your friend sends you a picture of his dog on Allo, Google Assistant will not only recognize that it’s a dog, but it will also tell you the breed.

That’s an amazing technological feat. But as Brian pointed out, it’s also pretty useless. Why does your friend care if you know his dog’s a Shih Tzu?

This gets to a deeper difficulty. The search company might have the technical capacity to create the smartest assistant around, but it’s not at all clear that it has the prowess to create the friendliest, most charming or most useful assistant. Google needs to nail not just Assistant’s smarts, but also its personality — a new skill for Google, and one that its past forays into social software (Google Plus, anyone?) don’t speak highly of.

Then there is the mismatch between Google’s ambitions and Assistant’s current reality. Danny Sullivan, the founding editor of Search Engine Land, told me that so far, he hadn’t noticed the Assistant helping him in any major way.

“When I was trying to book a movie, it didn’t really narrow things down for me,” he said. “And there were some times it was wrong. I asked it to show me my upcoming trip, and it didn’t get that.”

Of course, it’s still early. Mr. Sullivan has high hopes for the Assistant. It would be premature to look at the technology today and get discouraged about its future, especially since Google sees this as a multiyear, perhaps even decade-long project. And especially if Google’s future depends on getting this right.