Apple acquires AI software firm

Apple has reportedly acquired the AI startup Silk Labs as the Cupertino-based tech giant looks to expand its artificial intelligence and smart home offerings.

According to The Information, the sale took place earlier this year and it was likely a small acquisition as Silk Labs only had around a dozen employees.

The startup raised $4m in funding which it used to develop a smart home product that was later shelved. Silk Labs then went on to develop artificial intelligence software “lightweight enough to fit onto consumer hardware like cameras”.

This could have huge implications for future Apple products that may one day be able to utilise AI to process data without sending it to the cloud.

Sense smart home hub

Silk Labs is not a well known name in the tech industry but the company was co-founded by Mozilla’s former CTO Andreas Gal. The company only announced one product, an intelligent camera and smart home hub called Sense.

Sense launched on Kickstarter back in February of 2016 but the smart home hub only received around $150,000 in funding from 774 backers. Silk Labs then cancelled the product in June at which time it announced that it would shift its focus to developing AI software for other companies.

Apple has not officially confirmed the acquisition and it will likely be some time before we see Silk Labs’ technology make its way into an Apple Watch or iPhone.

Via The Information

Facebook appeals UK data watchdog’s £500k Cambridge Analytica fine

Facebook has said it will appeal against a £500,000 penalty issued by the UK’s data watchdog this summer following a lengthy investigation into the Cambridge Analytica data misuse scandal.

Facebook told the regulator an estimated one million UK users were among the 87M of its users whose private data was harvested by Dr. Aleksandr Kogan and his company Global Science Research back in 2014 — which passed the data to the now defunct political consultancy, Cambridge Analytica.

Their intent had been to build psychographic profiles of US voters. Although Kogan shared the harvested Facebook data more widely — and the UK regulator is still looking into all the places it ended up.

In July, the ICO announced it intended to fine Facebook the maximum possible amount under the UK’s old data protection regime — saying it was “clear” the company had contravened the law “by failing to keep users data safe” when its systems allowed Kogan’s app to scrape Facebook user data.

It confirmed the penalty a month ago, with commissioner Elizabeth Denham saying then: “Facebook failed to sufficiently protect the privacy of its users before, during and after the unlawful processing of this data. A company of its size and expertise should have known better and it should have done better.”

Although the text of its October decision includes the admission that the ICO had not found evidence that any UK Facebook users’ data had actually been passed to Kogan.

“Facebook has asserted that the only individuals whose personal data was used in this way [shared by Kogan with third parties including Cambridge Analytica] were US residents,” it writes on this, before adding that even if Facebook’s assertion is correct some US residents would also have been UK users “from time to time” (e.g. if visiting the UK) — and thus would fall under its remit.

It also pointed to “serious risk” to UK users’ data being material to its decision, writing: “Dr. Kogan and/or GSR were put in a position where they were effectively at liberty (if they so chose) to use the personal data of UK residents for such purposes, or to share such data with persons or companies who would use it for such purposes.”

On that basis, Facebook appears to be resting its appeal against the ICO decision on its own assertion to the ICO that there’s no evidence of UK users’ data being used.

Commenting on its decision to appeal against the ICO’s fine in a statement, Anna Benckert, its EMEA VP & associate general counsel, said:

We have said before that we wish we had done more to investigate claims about Cambridge Analytica in 2015. We made major changes to our platform back then and have also significantly restricted the information app developers can access. And we are investigating all historic apps that had access to large amounts of information before we changed our platform policies in 2014.

The ICO’s investigation stemmed from concerns that UK citizens’ data may have been impacted by Cambridge Analytica, yet they now have confirmed that they have found no evidence to suggest that information of Facebook users in the UK was ever shared by Dr Kogan with Cambridge Analytica, or used by its affiliates in the Brexit referendum.

Therefore, the core of the ICO’s argument no longer relates to the events involving Cambridge Analytica. Instead, their reasoning challenges some of the basic principles of how people should be allowed to share information online, with implications which go far beyond just Facebook, which is why we have chosen to appeal.

For example, under ICO’s theory people should not be allowed to forward an email or message without having agreement from each person on the original thread. These are things done by millions of people every day on services across the internet, which is why we believe the ICO’s decision raises important questions of principle for everyone online which should be considered by an impartial court based on all the relevant evidence.

We’ve reached out to the ICO for comment. Update: An ICO spokesperson said: “Any organisation issued with a monetary penalty notice by the Information Commissioner has the right to appeal the decision to the First-tier Tribunal. The progression of any appeal is a matter for the tribunal. We have not yet been notified by the Tribunal that an appeal has been received.”

Last month Denham explained the decision to impose the maximum penalty on Facebook by saying: “We considered these contraventions to be so serious we imposed the maximum penalty under the previous legislation. The fine would inevitably have been significantly higher under the GDPR. One of our main motivations for taking enforcement action is to drive meaningful change in how organizations handle people’s personal data.”

This summer her office issued its first ever enforcement notice under the new GDPR data protection regime against Canadian data firm AIQ, which had supplied software and services to the disgraced Cambridge Analytica.

But last month the ICO issued a narrower enforcement notice, replacing the earlier notice, after AIQ appealed.

Civilization VI: Gathering Storm – Biggest Civ Expansion yet

Firaxis Games has announced that they will be bringing a brand new DLC to Civilization VI and it will be the “largest expansion ever created for a Civilization game.

 

 

The update titled ‘Gathering Storm’ will be adding a number of brand new content that will change the dynamic of the game completely. Gathering Storm will add environmental effects in the form of Volanco’s, storms, blizzards, sand storms, tornados, hurricanes, floods, climate change and even droughts.

 

Other content that is mentioned in the patch notes is the addition of nine new leaders from eight new civilizations. New scenarios will also be added, examples include; ‘The Black Death’ which will pout your Civilization to the test as your population struggles to survive and all hope seems lost. World Congress has also been added as well as 21st Century Technologies and Civics. For more information regarding the biggest content update to ever come to a Civilization game, visit the official patch summary in the entirety of this post, or visit the official Civilization wesbite patch notes here. Civilization VI: Gathering Storm will be rleeased on February 14th, 2019.

 

 

  • ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS: Volcanoes, storms (blizzards, sand storms, tornados, hurricanes), climate change, floods, and droughts.
  • POWER AND CONSUMABLE RESOURCES: Strategic resources play an additional role in Gathering Storm. These resources are now consumed in power plants to generate electricity for your cities. Initially you’ll be powering your most advanced buildings by burning carbon-based resources like Coal and Oil, but renewable energy sources also unlock as you progress to current-day technologies. Your choices about resource usage will directly affect the world’s temperature and can cause melting ice caps and rising sea levels.
  • ENGINEERING PROJECTS: Shape the world around your empire to overcome unfavorable land conditions by making improvements like canals, dams, tunnels and railroads. When settling cities, consider the flood risk to coastal lowland areas, but keep in mind that in the late-game, new technologies like Flood Barriers can be used to protect these tiles.
  • WORLD CONGRESS: Make your voice heard among the other leaders of the world. Earn Diplomatic Favor through Alliances, influencing city-states, competing in World Games, and more. Use Diplomatic Favor to extract promises from other leaders, vote on Resolutions, call a Special Session to address an emergency, and increase the weight of your votes in your quest to achieve the new Diplomatic Victory.
  • 21st CENTURY TECHNOLOGIES & CIVICS: A new era has been added to the Technology and Civics trees. Combat new environmental effects with speculative ideas such as relocating your population out to seasteads and developing technologies to recapture carbon emissions.
  • NEW LEADERS AND CIVS: Nine new leaders from eight new civilizations are introduced. Each brings unique bonuses and gameplay, as well as a total of nine unique units, four unique buildings, three unique improvements, two unique districts and one unique governor.
  • NEW SCENARIOS:
  • The Black Death: The Black Death ravaged Europe and western Asia in the mid-14thcentury, killing a greater share of the population than any other event in world history. The pandemic killed millions, ruined economies, upended political dynasties and transformed the face of the Western world. Your task is to lead your nation through the calamity: keep your population alive, your economy strong, and your faith unshaken amidst a world of terror and desperation.
  • War Machine: At the outset of WWI, the German Imperial Army had a daring plan: invade neutral Belgium and then rush the French heartland before they could mobilize to resist. If successful, the German forces would capture Paris within a month and end their resistance forever. In counter, the French command prepared Plan 17, an all-out onslaught designed to meet and stop a German offensive. When war was declared, both armies swung into motion and set up one of the most incredible and shocking military campaigns in world history. In this scenario, players take the side of one of these two great powers at this same precipice. As Germany, your task is to capture Paris. As France, your task is to prevent its capture. The clock is ticking, and the enemy is moving. Advance!
  • MORE NEW CONTENT: Seven new world wonders, seven natural wonders, 18 new units, 15 new improvements, 9 new buildings, 5 new districts, 2 new city sets, 9 new techs and 10 new civics have been added.
  • IMPROVED GAMEPLAY SYSTEMS: The Espionage system has been enhanced with new options, the Culture and Science Victories have been updated, new Historic Moments have been added, and additional improvements have been made to other existing systems.