Google is restructuring to put machine learning at the core of all it does

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Steven Levy is in characteristic excellent form in a long piece on Medium about the internal vogue for machine learning at Google; drawing on the contacts he made with In the Plex, his must-read 2012 biography of the company, Levy paints a picture of a company that's being utterly remade around newly ascendant machine learning techniques. Read the rest

Cataloging the problems facing AI researchers is a cross between a parenting manual and a management book

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Concrete Problems in AI Safety, an excellent, eminently readable paper from a group of Google AI researchers and some colleagues, sets out five hard problems facing the field: robots might damage their environments to attain their goals; robots might figure out how to cheat to attain their goals; supervising robots all the time is inefficient; robots that are allowed to try novel strategies might cause disasters; and robots that are good at one task might inappropriately try to apply that expertise to another unrelated task. Read the rest

Google Fiber now forces subscribers into binding arbitration; days left to opt out

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Borrowing a trick from the Comcast/AT&T playbook, Google Fiber now forces customers who are unhappy with the service to surrender their right to sue and to join class actions in favor of binding arbitration, a one-sided system of shadow courts that overwhelmingly delivers rulings in favor of the big companies that pay for it. Read the rest

Neo-Nazis make a Chrome extension that alerts you to potential Jewish names

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If you install "Coincidence Detector," a Chrome plugin from Altrightmedia, then every time a Jewish-seeming name appears in your browser, it will be surrounded in (((triple parentheses))) (the extension also uses a crowdsourced list of known Jews to enfold their names in parenthetical hugs where they appear). Read the rest

Google may abandon passwords for 'trust score'

REUTERS

Hate passwords? Google does too, and may begin doing away with conventional passwords on Android devices this year. At Google I/O, the company announced the next steps in its plans to begin using a password alternative: "trust scores" that determine your creds based on various data points. Developed by Google's Google's Advanced Technology and Projects group, the Trust API will roll out to "several very large" financial institutions within the next few weeks.

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Nintendo claims ownership over fans' Minecraft/Mario mashups

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Nintendo continues its long-running campaign of legal harassment against its biggest fans: this time, they're targeting fan-videos showing gameplay from the official, licensed Mario/Minecraft mashup pack for the Wii U. Read the rest

Report: Google to introduce Amazon Echo competitor device called 'Google Home'

REUTERS
Anonymous sources quoted in the New York Times and elsewhere today said Google will introduce a competitor to Amazon's Echo on Wednesday. Its long-anticipated entry into the voice-activated home device market is said to be named Google Home.

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Google Chrome to avoid using Flash

Sundar Pichai, then nsenior vice president of Google, now  is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Google Inc., speaks during Google I/O Conference at Moscone Center in San Francisco, June 28, 2012. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Google Chrome will soon be preferring to use other video playback methods, and will be asking users if they want to enable Flash when no other options are available. They will turn it on by default for YouTube, cause you know.

Via the BBC:

In a message posted on a Chromium-dev discussion forum, Anthony Laforge, Google's technical lead on Chrome, said internal metrics revealed the 10 chosen sites were the most popular Flash-using sites that users visited.

Mr Laforge said the changes would mean that on other sites Chrome would seek to use alternative technologies, such as HTML5, to play video. Where only Flash is available, browser users will be asked if they want to allow the software to run.

Chrome will remember which sites have permission to run Flash so users are not endlessly bothered with pop-ups.

Google said it was also working on ways to ensure that Flash still ran unimpeded when companies used it on internal networks.

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Algorithmic cruelty: when Gmail adds your harasser to your speed-dial

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Inbox by Gmail combs through your email looking for frequent correspondents and puts the people who email you the most in a "speed dial" sidebar (that you can't edit) that puts their names and pictures front-and-center for you every time you go to your email. Read the rest

"Nerds getting owned by normals" in Oracle v Google

Sarah Jeong's covering the Oracle v. Google trial, whereby the two companies are fighting over Java, copyright and the difficulty of explaining things like APIs to "normals." Most interesting is how the trial reveals not only how completely alien "nerd subculture" is, but that normal people -- judges! juries! -- are surprisingly good at spotting and exposing Silicon Valley's hypocrisy and narcissism.

The nerds struggle to be understood. It doesn’t help that towards the end of his cross-examination by Oracle, Schwartz became snippier and snippier, answering the Oracle lead attorney’s questions with passive-aggressive hostility.

Schwartz seemed less upset about being called one of the worst CEOs in America, and more put off by the sheer indignity of being cross-examined by a man who didn’t know what a blog is—enough that he broke a 10-month long Twitter silence to snark about it.

In public! With billions on the line! During the trial! Shades of Matthew Keys -- an almost supernatural level of arrogance before the people who, literally, are there to judge you. Read the rest

More Google Earth anomalies

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Artist Clement Valla collects the most remarkable machine-vision nightmares and curiosities from Google Earth, a world whose parallels to our own become uncannier with each sweep of the satellites and Googlecars. [Previously. via] Read the rest

Google warns that Google.com hosts malware

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Google is pointing a finger at its own website, declaring it "partially unsafe" for web visitors. It's not clear if the report is one part of the sprawling company telling the truth about another part, a mistake, or a clever "googlebomb" of inbound links designed to trigger this result.

In any case, the warnings posted are delicious.

Some pages on this website install malware on visitors' computers.

Attackers on this site might try to trick you to download software or steal your information (for example passwords, messages, or credit card information).

Some pages on this website redirect visitors to dangerous websites that install malware on visitors' computers, including: 7b726aeb-a-62cb3a1a-s-sites.googlegroups.com, polnu4ewtan4iwki.ws, and 40d0dfd9-a-62cb3a1a-s-sites.googlegroups.com.

Dangerous websites have been sending visitors to this website, including: maeaflordapele.com, valeimaginar.blogspot.com, and bou7out.blogspot.com.

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What sound does this animal make? Google just got better at answering that.

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Do a Google search for 'animal noises.' You should see a field up at the top of your search results that shows images of various animals, and audio samples of a noise each of them makes.

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Google reaches into customers' homes and bricks their gadgets

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Revolv is a home automation hub that Google acquired 17 months ago; yesterday, Google announced that as of May 15, it will killswitch all the Revolvs in the field and render them inert. Section 1201 of the DMCA -- the law that prohibits breaking DRM -- means that anyone who tries to make a third-party OS for Revolv faces felony charges and up to 5 years in prison. Read the rest

_applyChinaLocationShift: In China, national security means that all the maps are wrong

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Chinese law makes independent mapmaking a crime (you may not document "the shapes, sizes, space positions, attributes, etc. of man-made surface installations") and requires tech companies to randomly vary the locations of all landmarks by 100-500m. Read the rest

Google launches Project Shield, to protect news sites from DDoS attacks

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Insecure desktop operating systems (and even server/CMS vulnerabilities) has led to the creation of enormous, powerful botnets comprised of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of machines -- and thanks to the law of supply and demand, it's remarkably cheap and easy to rent time on a botnet and blast any site of your choosing off the Internet. Read the rest

Google Ideas think tank becomes Jigsaw, Alphabet's new technology incubator

REUTERS

Google's Eric Schmidt today broke the news that the 'Google Ideas' thinktank will become a technology incubator to be called Jigsaw.

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