Category Archives: google

Google To Take On Uber, Lyft With Major Expansion Of Waze Carpooling Service

It seems you can’t throw a rock in the street these days without hitting a ride-sharing vehicle (but don’t do that, seriously). Google is going to make that marketplace even more crowded with a major expansion it has planned for the carpooling function included in its Waze navigation app.

The tech company will be launching the Waze carpool service in several U.S. cities as well as Latin America over the next few months after tests in Israel and San Francisco went well, Waze chief Noam Bardin told The Wall Street Journal.

This move will finally pit Google directly against its former buddy Uber, something that’s been buzzed about for years: While Google invested $258 million in Uber in Aug. 2013 through its Google Ventures capital arm, there were rumors two years ago that the tech giant was planning a ride-sharing service to rival Uber and Lyft.

The Waze carpooling service is not currently a direct competitor to UberPool or Lyft Line. Those offerings are effectively taxi cab operations with professional drivers, while Waze puts everyday drivers in touch with folks who need a ride and are heading the same way.

Sounds a bit like organized hitchhiking — or like one of those “Who needs a ride to Saginaw for Fall Break?” posts on college bulletin boards.

“Can we get the average person on his way to work to pick someone up and drop them off once in a while? That’s the biggest challenge,” Bardin explained.

There’s also the price: A trip from downtown Oakland to downtown San Francisco cost a Waze user $4.50 to carpool, while the same route using UberPool and Lyft Line cost $10.57 and $12.40, respectively, WSJ notes. However, Waze rides have to be requested hours in advance, and even then, you aren’t guaranteed a driver.

In an effort to keep Waze drivers from turning semi-professional like Uber and Lyft drivers, riders only pay drivers $.54 per mile, which is also the current IRS mileage reimbursement rate.

Waze also doesn’t take a cut of a driver’s earning at this point, but there will likely be an extra 15% fee for riders soon if the service takes off, Bardin told the WSJ.

And with a company like Google behind the wheel, there could come a day when Waze uses self-driving cars from the company’s Waymo driverless vehicle division.

Search Engines to Push Down Pirate Sites in Search Results in Britain

Google and Microsoft’s Bing have signed up to a voluntary code of practice in the U.K. to make it more difficult for British internet users to find illegally streamed movies, music, and sport broadcasts. The tech companies will ensure transgressing websites are demoted in search results. The deal between entertainment trade bodies, including the Motion… Read more »

YouTube Does Everyone A Favor, Kills Off 30-Second Unskippable Pre-Roll Ads

You know the moment: You’ve just spent the last few minutes telling your friends how great — nay! — how utterly life-changing this video you watched last night and how they just have to watch it immediately. Your audience primed, you find it on YouTube, hit “Play”… and then everyone is forced to watch a 30-second ad that cannot be skipped. Buzz. Kill.

In a bit of good news, Google has decided to be cool and is killing off YouTube’s 30-second, non-skippable pre-roll ads (trying say that three times fast), Campaign was the first to report. Google says it wants to provide a better advertising experience for online users.

“As part of that, we’ve decided to stop supporting 30-second unskippable ads as of 2018 and focus instead on formats that work well for both users and advertisers,” a Google spokesperson explained.

Don’t get your party pants on just yet, folks: YouTube will still allow 20-second, non-skippable pre-roll ads, as well “bumper” ads that are better suited for mobile, and play for six unskippable seconds.

YouTube Has 1 Billion Videos With Closed-Captioning, But Not All of Them Are Accurate

YouTube is boasting that a whopping 1 billion videos on the service now include closed-captioning for deaf and hearing-impaired users. That certainly sounds impressive — except when you realize that many of the site’s automatically generated captions aren’t completely right. The Google-owned video giant first launched captions back in 2006, and three years later introduced automatic… Read more »

Disney, Google Distance Themselves From PewDiePie Over Anti-Semitic Posts

NEW YORK (AP) — Disney’s Maker Studios and Google’s YouTube are distancing themselves from a top YouTube star after he made jokes construed as anti-Semitic and posted Nazi imagery in his videos.

Felix Kjellberg, known online as PewDiePie, has the most popular YouTube channel, with more than 53 million subscribers. The Swedish YouTube star rose to fame by posting videos of him playing and commenting about video games. More recently, he branched out into non-gaming videos that show him performing skits, stunts or making jokes.

Disney, whose Maker Studios runs Kjellberg’s channels and network, said he crossed the line with some of his videos. One video from January shows two Indian men paid by Kjellberg to hold up a sign that says “Death to all Jews.” Kjellberg said the video was meant to demonstrate how far people will go if they get paid to do something, but he didn’t think they would actually do it. Other videos show Nazi imagery in a satirical way.

In blog post Kjellberg said he was making jokes, but realizes now that they were offensive.

Kjellberg’s channel was already part of Maker Studios when the Walt Disney Co. bought Maker in 2014 for $675 million. Maker contracts with individuals such as Kjellberg to produce videos for various YouTube channels.

Kjellberg pulled the video showing the two men displaying the anti-Semitic sign, but it is excerpted in a Wall Street Journal video. Other videos still on the site show Nazi imagery being used satirically.

Maker Studios said in a statement that while Kjellberg’s channel is popular because he is irreverent and provocative, the studio is ending its affiliation with him because he went too far.

YouTube spokeswoman Michelle Slavich said YouTube has canceled the release of the second season of Kjellberg’s reality show “Scare PewDiePie” and removed the PewDiePie channel from its Google Preferred advertising program, which aggregates top YouTube content for advertisers to buy time on.

© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Disney Ends Deal With YouTube Star Over Anti-Semitic Stunt

SAN BRUNO (CBS SF/AP) — Disney’s Maker Studios and Google’s YouTube are distancing themselves from a top YouTube star after he made jokes construed as anti-Semitic and posted Nazi imagery in his videos.

Felix Kjellberg, known online as PewDiePie, has the most popular YouTube channel, with more than 53 million subscribers. The Swedish YouTube star rose to fame by posting videos of him playing and commenting about video games. More recently, he branched out into non-gaming videos that show him performing skits, stunts or making jokes.

Disney, whose Maker Studios runs Kjellberg’s channels and network, said he crossed the line with some of his videos. One video from January shows two Indian men paid by Kjellberg to hold up a sign that says “Death to all Jews.” Kjellberg said the video was meant to demonstrate how far people will go if they get paid to do something, but he didn’t think they would actually do it. Other videos show Nazi imagery in a satirical way.

In blog post Kjellberg said he was making jokes, but realizes now that they were offensive.

Kjellberg’s channel was already part of Maker Studios when the Walt Disney Co. bought Maker in 2014 for $675 million. Maker contracts with individuals such as Kjellberg to produce videos for various YouTube channels.

Kjellberg pulled the video showing the two men displaying the anti-Semitic sign, but it is excerpted in a Wall Street Journal video. Other videos still on the site show Nazi imagery being used satirically.

Maker Studios said in a statement that while Kjellberg’s channel is popular because he is irreverent and provocative, the studio is ending its affiliation with him because he went too far.

YouTube spokeswoman Michelle Slavich said YouTube has canceled the release of the second season of Kjellberg’s reality show “Scare PewDiePie” and removed the PewDiePie channel from its Google Preferred advertising program, which aggregates top YouTube content for advertisers to buy time on.

TM and © Copyright 2017 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

Is Google Trying To Make Maps A Social Network?

Sure, it might seem social networking giants like Snapchat and Instagram continuously mimic each other in a phenomenon we’re calling “samification,” but now it looks as if a seemingly unrelated app is dipping its toes in the social pool, too: Google is adding a more social, sharable function to its Maps app.

Google announced in a blog post Monday that it would expand its starring — or save — option that allowed users to save locations for later use, to include a function that would let users create lists of their favorite places and then share them with friends.

The feature, which was previously available to Google Local Guides, allows users to create lists of places, share their lists with others, and follow the lists of friends and family.

To use the feature, Map users tap on a location, click the “save” icon, and select a pre-made list.

In order to view a list later, users simply go to the Your Places section of the menu and then tap the saved tab. Icons of saved locations will then appear on your Google Map.

Users can also share their saved lists with friends and family via email, text, or other apps by clicking on the “share” button associated with the specific list. The lists can also be made public for anyone using Google Maps to see.

Will Our Robot Overlords Work Together Or Work Against Each Other?

One day, robots and computers with artificial intelligence will inevitably be tasked with managing everything from our economy to our traffic systems. But will these man-made managers have the empathy, reasoning, and emotions needed for cooperation?

That’s the question asked by DeepMind, the A.I. subsidiary of Google parent company Alphabet Inc. In a new study [PDF], DeepMind researchers attempt to determine under what circumstances selfish agents — either humans or robots — would work together toward one goal.

To determine this, the researchers pitted the robots — or artificial intelligence agents — against one another in two “social dilemmas.”

The outcomes of the dilemmas, DeepMind says in a blog post, could enable companies to better create systems to manage things like the economy, traffic, and environmental challenges.

In the first social dilemma, researchers required two agents to maximize the number of apples they can collect. Each apple collected results in a reward for the robot.

The game allowed the agents to “tag” the other, temporarily removing them from the game. However, that action does not result in a reward for the original robot.

When there were enough apples to go around, the agents tended to work peacefully. But when researchers limited the number of available apples, the agents found it was easier to tag their opponent and take time to collect apples themselves.

While the Gathering game showed that the agents would look out for themselves when the situation became more difficult, the second game showed the opposite.

The second game, dubbed Wolfpack, required robots to hunt for a third in an obstacle-filled environment. Points are awarded to the agent who captures the prey and to those in the same vicinity.

Researchers note that because of the way points were rewarded, the robots were more likely to implement complex strategies to cooperate.

“Depending on the situation, having a greater capacity to implement complex strategies may yield either more or less cooperation,” the researchers say in a blog post. “The new framework of sequential social dilemmas allows us to take into account not only the outcome of the interaction, but also the difficulty of learning to implement a given strategy.”

In the end, the researchers believe that the interaction of the agents was mainly based on the rules and complexities they were faced with.

For example, in the Gathering game the cleverer AI agent decided it was better to be aggressive in all situations because zapping was more challenging, as the agent had to aim the beam at the other agent and track their movements.

In the Wolfpack game, cooperating was more challenging for the robots as they worked to track the prey.

Based on the study, the researchers say they may be able to better understand and control systems that depend on continued cooperation.

Google Combines YouTube Music, Google Play Music Teams as First Step to Unified Music Offering

Google has combined the product teams for its two music subscription services, YouTube Music and Google Play Music. The combined team is working to eventually unify Google’s music services. Google informed its staff about these changes Wednesday morning, and confirmed them with the following statement sent to press: “Music is very important to Google and we’re… Read more »

Google, Facebook Team Up With French Media To Fight Fake News

PARIS (CBS SF/AP) — French journalists are teaming up with Silicon Valley internet giants Google and Facebook to fight propaganda and misinformation online, mirroring similar efforts already underway in the United States and Germany.

The French daily newspaper, Le Monde, says it is one of eight media organizations working with social networking site Facebook to fact-check questionable content ahead of France’s upcoming presidential election.

At the same time, nonprofit First Draft News announced the launch of CrossCheck, a verification project aimed at helping French voters “make sense of what and who to trust online.” Google’s News Lab is also involved.

Read Also: Google, Facebook Crack Down On Fake News

Google and Facebook have both been under increasing scrutiny over the spread of hoaxes, conspiracy theories and propaganda — sometimes referred to by the catchall term “fake news.”

Le Monde said Monday the collaboration was “an experiment.”

TM and © Copyright 2017 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten. The Associated Press contributed to this report.