Apple hires Google’s former AI boss to help improve Siri

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John Giannandrea, Google’s former head of search and artificial intelligence, is joining Apple. The hire, first reported by The New York Times, comes one day after the executive announced he was stepping down from his role at Google, itself a surprise move amid a broader executive reshuffle that now makes much more sense in hindsight.

Giannandrea, a machine learning expert who joined Google back in 2010, is a huge get for Apple, which has struggled for years to make progress in fast-moving and increasingly important AI fields like computer vision and natural language processing. Giannandrea will report directly to CEO Tim Cook as the leader of “machine learning and AI strategy,” according to the Times.

Both Facebook and Google, and to…

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Your boss will be able to download all of your private chats on Slack

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Thinking of Slack-ing off? Well your boss can now download all of your private chats on Slack.

Slack is an instant office messaging service that’s available for both desktop and mobile. It features chatroom-style “channels”, allowing businesses to compartmentalize teams. These channels are essentially public to every member of that particular Slack group, and users can also message each other privately.

But now Slack has updated its privacy policy and tools, and one of the larger changes is a bit alarming to those who use the platform:

Slack customers who pay for certain premium services will be able to download all the data from their workspace–both public and private–apparently without informing members of the community. Which is to say: Information from both private messages and room chats are fair game if the owner of the Slack wants it. (Fast Company)

Before the update, Slack had offered something called “compliance export“, a feature that was only available for customers who paid top dollar, but now with the settings change, this new tool will allow bosses to see all forms of communication between employees.

In short, if you want to secretly and easily spy on your workspace, you have to pay Slack for the option. (Fast Company)

This new feature will be available by April 2018.

What do you think?

Are you a big fan of this new feature from Slack? Or are you opposed to bosses being able to creep your convos?

Let me know what your thoughts are in the comments down below!

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Former ESPN boss John Skipper says he left his job because a cocaine dealer tried to extort him

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“I had placed the company in an untenable position.”

Former ESPN boss John Skipper says he resigned last year because someone who had sold him cocaine was threatening to extort him.

Skipper’s disclosure, made via an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, solves a much-discussed mystery: Why did the man running one of the most powerful media properties in the world abruptly leave his post?

In December, Skipper said he was stepping down to deal with an unnamed “substance addiction.”

Now, he tells journalist James Andrew Miller that he had been a cocaine user over “the past two decades,” but says that up until late last year, he had “never allowed it to interfere with my work, other than a missed plane and a few canceled morning appointments.”

What changed in December, Skipper says, was that “someone from whom I bought cocaine attempted to extort me.” At that point, he says, he told his family, and then Disney CEO Bob Iger. Skipper said he and Iger “agreed that I had placed the company in an untenable position and as a result, I should resign.”

Since Skipper’s surprise resignation, speculation has swirled about the backstory behind the move. Some industry observers wondered if Iger had asked Skipper to leave because he wasn’t happy with ESPN’s performance, or if Skipper had issues beyond substance abuse, perhaps involving sexual misconduct.

Skipper tells Miller that “those rumors and speculations are categorically and definitively untrue. There were no such incidents at work during my entire tenure, including no allegations.”

Last week, Disney announced that Jimmy Pitaro, who had been running the company’s digital and licensing business, would replace Skipper. I’ve asked Disney and ESPN reps for comment.


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Former CNN digital boss KC Estenson is running GoNoodle, an educational video company

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GoNoodle makes free software your kids may have used at school; he wants them to watch it at home, too.

KC Estenson used to spend his time trying to get you to click on his stories and watch his videos. Now he wants your kids to watch his videos and run around the classroom.

Estenson is the new CEO of GoNoodle, an education company that distributes videos to schools and homes, aimed at getting kids active while teaching them something, or at least entertaining them.

Estenson ran CNN’s digital arm from 2008 through 2014; he left two years into the Jeff Zucker era.

At GoNoodle, he replaces co-founder Scott McQuigg as the company’s leader; McQuigg will take a seat on the company’s board. The Nashville-based company has raised $ 16 million since 2013.

GoNoodle’s software is free. It generates revenue via underwriting deals from health care companies like HealthNet and, increasingly, licensing/ad deals from entertainment companies, who pay it to incorporate their characters and brands into the software.

Here’s the kind of video GoNoodle produces:

And here’s a sample of some GoNoodle-branded content from Viacom’s Paramount, promoting its upcoming Sherlock Gnomes movie:

GoNoodle says 14 million kids use its software, primarily in schools. One of Estenson’s jobs will be to increase its reach in homes. The challenge, which Estenson is well aware of: Kids and their parents have unlimited other options.

“The shelf space is super full, and yet there’s nothing healthy on the shelves,” he said. “We’ve found a way to create content that is good for kids and enjoyable to watch.”


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The Ready Player One tie-in games’ final boss is copyright law

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Making a tie-in video game for Ready Player One fans seems like a maddening task.

After all, what does it mean to be a fan of Ready Player One, a piece of pop culture designed as a wrapper for other, often better pop culture? Does it mean being invested in the journey of digital treasure hunter Wade Watts and his effort to protect the virtual reality world known as OASIS? Or is it more about enjoying its mashup of reference points, like DeLoreans, WarGames, and Rush?

If it’s the latter, fans might be disappointed by the collection of Ready Player One-themed VR games that’s being released soon for the HTC Vive. The collection is a lot more substantive than your usual VR film tie-in, but with a few exceptions, the designers apparently…

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Android Auto adds new partnerships with Clarion, Boss Audio, Karma Automotive, and more

Android Auto

Android Auto had a lot going for it as CES last month, but in all of the hubbub, new partnership announcements got missed. Some big names, like Clarion and Boss Audio, were added to the list over the course of the last few weeks, as well as other aftermarket OEMs and car manufacturers.

Here is a list of new current and upcoming partners:

  • Boss Audio: Aftermarket stereos (coming soon)
  • Clarion: NXV977D (launched in Japan)
  • Furion: Aftermarket stereos (coming soon)
  • Karma Automotive: 2018 Revero (launched)
  • iNav: Aftermarket stereos (coming soon)
  • Lifan: Vehicles (coming soon)
  • Macrom: M-DL9000 (launched in Italy)
  • Planet Audio: Aftermarket stereos (coming soon)
  • Prology: Aftermarket stereos (coming soon)
  • Skypine: Aftermarket stereos (coming soon)

That’s a good list of new partners, especially in an international sense.

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Android Auto adds new partnerships with Clarion, Boss Audio, Karma Automotive, and more was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Alexa’s coming to Windows but Cortana’s boss isn’t worried


Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella doesn’t seem worried about Alexa’s arrival on Windows, despite Amazon’s clear market dominance. At a recent investors’ call Nadella even went so far as to praise the impending addition of Amazon’s Alexa to the Windows 10 platform, according to a report from MSPowerUser’s Surur. That’s why we’re working with Alexa, and we would welcome it on our devices because we believe in a world where our own assistant should be available everywhere and so should other assistants be available on our devices. Maybe he’s cocky, but maybe he’s just being real. Each of the competitors suffer from…

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Silicon Valley FBI boss says the bureau loves Apple

Apple’s relationship with the FBI isn’t nearly as contentious as some government officials and critics would have you believe. That’s according to the FBI’s San Francisco chief, John Bennett, who says his office and Apple actually enjoy a great relationship. In fact, Apple actually trains FBI agents on how to do their jobs better. The […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)

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